Others were born and reared here from deep family roots of several generations.
One unique people group that makes up a population of about 1,500 people in North Central Ohio are our Amish neighbors. It was very early in my ministry experience at Bethel that I encountered our Amish friends since many of our Bethel families were farmers in northern Ashland County, particularly the Clear Creek Township area; the Amish and English families were friends. These friendships were deep and abiding. Each of them did many things together: they cut wood, built barns, cared for one another and worked side by side on the farms.
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We began to have several former Amish people attend Bethel as well. They were excellent resources to educate us on the Amish beliefs and practices. We were soon able to discover the Amish were just like the rest of humanity, underneath the veil of clothing and community were a people who needed Jesus.
Over 25 years ago, Joe and Esther Keim came to Bethel as a young couple who had just left the Amish. Jerry and Carol Gess, a family from our church, invited the Keim's into their family. They were soon discipled, loved and incorporated into our church family as well.
Joe was instrumental in teaching us about the Amish. And soon, the Lord extended a call upon Joe and Esther to reach their own people. Hence, Mission to the Amish People was birthed. The rest is history.
MAP ministry quickly took a unique place in a global missionary effort because of the heritage of the Amish back to Menno Simons and his Dutch reformation history. These Anabaptist were rich in spiritual heritage, but over the generations they strayed from the truth of the Scriptures. This allowed the Amish to morph into a unique culture of community and religion.
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It amazes me that in the United States and Canada we have more than 500,000 people who are in a category of an "unreached" people group. Most people do not see the validity of reaching the Amish, but we know differently. They are kind, sweet, loving and hardworking Americans who have their own culture, but are predominantly blind to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How can we do anything less than reach out to them?
I challenge anyone who has knowledge of the Amish, lives in close proximity to them, or just has an interest in their spiritual well-being to attend this conference. You will be thrilled at the education you will receive, and you will be challenged by the efforts being implemented in reaching the Amish and your heart will be expanded to do more.
Join us for the Amish Awareness Conference; you will not be disappointed. If you have not already, please register today and then pass the word along.
God bless and favor you, Friend, and may He continue to do great things through you.
Praying for you,
John A. Bouquet