Today is Veteran’s Day . . . a day we honor all the men and women who risk their lives for our freedom. My husband and son are both veterans and I’m so proud of both of them. As Christians, we know that there is also a spiritual battle taking place all around us . . . one that tries to keep us from the freedom that comes from knowing Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
Our guest blogger today, Brenda Nixon, is a friend, fellow Leafwood Author, and veteran mom helping Amish children who want to escape the Amish life. Brenda’s story gives quite a different perspective to the romanticized Amish novels that are so popular today.
Late at night he crept down the steps and out the door of his farm house. He walked along the shadowy country road for two miles conflicted about his decision to leave. Wearing handmade, plain clothes, and with $50 tucked into his pocket, he tearfully made his stealth escape fearing being caught and stopped, yet dreading the painful consequences if he succeeded.
Eighteen-year-old Mosie, born into a New York Amish family, one of twelve children, turned from his life and culture because “there had to be more” yet he’d later say, “I never felt so wrong and so alone.”
Mosie walked it to his English (non-Amish) neighbor’s home and used their telephone to dial another Amish runaway. “Can you get me now?” he whispered. Then he sat and waited until a car made its way down the country lane and quietly inched into the driveway. With a sigh of relief, Mosie climbed in. His contact, David, brought him to Ohio where, one year later, our lives intersected.
My husband and I met Mosie when he tagged along with other “Ex-Men” – as my daughter affectionately called them. The group consisted of young, polite, hardworking men who’d all left the Amish life and were struggling to adapt to life “outside.”
We learned that Mosie had just received a letter from his Amish parents telling him he was not welcome back, “even for a wedding or a funeral.” He was, in essence, shunned or ostracized by his family now. A teenager with no family contact or support. My heart broke for him.
“If his parents don’t want him, we’ll take him,” I immediately said upon hearing about his rejection.
Within weeks of meeting Mosie – and after much prayer – we suggested to him that we become his English parents. “I’d like that,” he softly replied, his brown cow eyes cast downward.
Mosie moved in and lived with us for a year. During that time I “mothered” him the best I could; teaching him about personal hygiene, car insurance, dating, and other life lessons our teens take for granted. I mentored him in making new friends, tutored him in his GED studies, included him in our family vacation – his first time to see the ocean – paid for his dental care, eye exam, and other childhood necessities. I prayed for and with him, explained Bible verses, and gave him lots of “mom” hugs and verbal affirmation. The year he lived with us wasn’t easy; it was an emotional roller-coaster for everyone in our family.
After getting a job, car, and a place to permanently live, he moved out and onward. Today Mosie lives in North Carolina, is active in an Evangelical church, and has a job, home, and girlfriend. He’s happy. We recently visited him and he proudly introduced us to his new friends as “my English mom and dad.”
My husband smiles. “Now we’re seeing the end result.”
Mosie was my first. Since then God has entrusted me with Harvey, Josh, Levi, Noah, Sarah, Monroe, and more. Although mentoring each is different as is my level of involvement, God is showing me that I can “Mother” and mentor anywhere, anytime . . . I just need to be available, sensitive to His purpose, and ready to respond. Sometimes it’s as simple as including them for holiday dinners so they’d have a home away from home; others need physical basics like a birth certificate, Social Security number, job, housing, toiletries and English clothing. Many just need a “mom” hug.
Because my experiences being a “Mom” to the ex-Amish – as Marvin first called me – I’ve begun blogging about my learning curve at www.BrendaNixonOnAmish.blogspot.com . I’ve learned there are many different Amish Orders; not all are the same, and they avoid mingling the Orders. Not all offer Rumspringa, which is a stereotype. I’ve learned the Orders are referred to as “higher” or “lower” depending upon their rules and behavior. So far my experiences are with Swartzentrubers – the most insular, punitive, and legalistic sect – the lowest Order and Old Order Amish. And they’re nothing like those in romance fiction books.
For years I’ve earned my living as a parenting speaker and author. I’ve traveled around the country speaking at family and childcare conferences and have penned books but, never did I imagine God would morph me parenting adolescents from an American sub-culture which is highly misunderstood and often idealized. It keeps me on my knees, satisfies my soul, and makes me jump for joy.
Are you in a club, school, church, employed environment or a volunteer position? God has placed you there for a purpose. I encourage you to receive the priceless experiences of “mothering” and mentoring where you are. He may pick you to be a prayer partner for someone, to “mother” a homesick college student, teach a Sunday school class, start a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, visit and encourage new moms, lead a Bible study, or mentor a new believer in God’s word.
Brenda’s story can be found in Moments of Miracles and Grace (Leafwood Publishers) http://www.amazon.com/Miracles-Moments-Grace-Inspiring-Stories/dp/0891124047. Visit me at www.BrendaNixonOnAmish.blogspot.com, learn a bit, break stereotypes, and leave your comments. Perhaps you might even want to wrap your heart and arms around an ex-Amish.