What Do You Think About the Amish?

amish.jpgWhen we
lived in Alabama,
we would often visit an Amish community just across the Tennessee state line, near
Lawrenceburg.  We would go from house to
house where each Amish family would have something for sale.  One house would be selling
cookies, eggs, or bread.  Another would
be selling furniture.  Still another
might be building carriages—always black. 


One one occasion, a friend
and I watched several Amish men as they were building a carriage.  We both felt comfortable with one particular
gentleman.  Finally I said, “Your
carriages—they are always black…”  He
laughed and then said, “Yes, if they were different colors, we would be
standing here thinking about what color the carriages needed to be, now wouldn’t
we?  Now we know.  They will be black.”  Then we all laughed together.    


I thought
about some of  these memories recently in
the aftermath of the school shootings. 
Five children killed.  Five others
wounded.  A tragic and horrible day in a small Pennsylvania community. 


But that
was not all of the story.

The Amish
in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, have been amazing.  They very quickly expressed their sympathy
for the killer’s family.  On the day of
the killer’s funeral, forty people gathered for the funeral, including this person’s
three children.  Then, thirty of the Amish
showed up at this funeral, joining these forty. 
They were there to console this family. 


One observer said, “It was deeply moving…. 
It was a display of Christ’s love as I’ve never seen it.”  The same person went on to say, “The love
expressed by this community is uncommon. 
The most moving thing was to see the love and grace extended by the


On one occasion, a reporter asked some people in the community, regarding the killer’s family, if
they thought the family would have to move elsewhere.  One Amish gentleman quickly jumped in with
his opinion, “We need them here.  We need
them to be here so we can hug them and take care of them.”


The secular
press has had great difficulty understanding these people.  Yet, one student of the Amish people explained it
this way:


As do other Anabaptists, the Amish
take the life and teachings of Jesus seriously….  Their model is the suffering Jesus who
carried his cross without complaint.  And
who, hanging on the cross, extended forgiveness to his tormentors, “Father,
forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


Donald Kraybill, www.philly.com,


Some days
have now gone by since this incident.  We
have all had the opportunity to watch these people as they responded to such a
tragedy.  What are you thinking?  What has impressed you most?


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “What Do You Think About the Amish?

  1. Jim,
    I have friends who are Amish and Mennonite in Lancaster County, PA. In fact, the morning of the shootings some of the guys I work with were staying with these families. I called to make sure all was okay and see if there was any connection between some of the victims and our ministry. Our guys were only five minutes away from that school that morning, but thankfully all were fine.
    The reaction of the Amish did not surprise me in the least. I have never know a less pretentious or selfless people. Our friends in the Amish country display the most complete gift of hospitality I have ever witnessed. There are lessons for all of us in the lifestyle they lead. There is no room for things that do not matter.
    God has surely been blessed by His people during this tragic time. The reaction of those living in the shadow of grace has baffled the world. But then again, aren’t we supposed to?

  2. Keith,Thanks for your comment which just affirms in a personal way what we all have been hearing through the press. This example of the Amish is very encouraging.

  3. Jim:Thank you for gently bringing this back to our attention. Like you, my wife and family often enjoy our times of retreat into Amish country. The place in which these shootings occurred is only 25 miles or so from our front door. When we interact with them, I’m always struck by the fact that though there are noticeable differences between the Amish and the English, we share much more than we may have realized. They laugh, they cry, they mourn, they hope, they love–all of this just like others in the world. But, what I have noticed, something that I’m still trying to get my mind around, is the fact that their ability to cope–no, their ability to overcome this tragedy seems to grow in no small part from the fact that their thinking is not cluttered by past wrongs, past sufferings.  One of the most common expressions I’ve heard when the Amish have been quoted on this is something like: We need deal with this properly, do the grieving, do the forgiving and then get back to living.  The first time I read this it seemed to be a bit insensitive to what had just occurred, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. They have no political agendas to advance, they have no scores to settle, they have no law-suits for which to position themselves. So, while their pain is real, their priority is to go on living. This is sort of a rambling comment, but that’s what running through my brain this afternoon.Blessings to you, my friend,-bill