When I wrote the Amish-American novel The Face of Heaven, which takes place during the Civil War, I had my heroine nurse wounded soldiers on the battlefield despite the discomfort her Amish family and community felt about it. In The Wings of Morning, my Amish heroine received permission from her bishop to nurse the sick and dying during the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919. When I wrote the holiday novella An Amish Family Christmas, I had a young Amish man return to his community to face rejection after serving as a medic in Afghanistan. Healthcare and the Amish, especially healthcare practiced under stressful conditions, has always been a topic that fascinated me.
Some readers think the Amish shun modern healthcare for poultices of mustard and horseradish but this isn’t the case. Amish communities have all sorts of natural remedies they resort to, no doubt about that, and there are people within their churches who tend to the sick and dying. But most Amish have good healthcare plans and they go to their physicians, take prescribed medications, have checkups, and undergo cancer treatments and surgeries just like the rest of us. And few of them were affected by the tug of war over Obamacare waged in Washington simply because they had those good healthcare plans in place. That’s not an issue. What is an issue is healthcare in the ER, in particular the war zone ER.
It was a little over a year ago that Suzanne had me on Amish Wisdom with two Canadian Hutterites and this very topic came up. The Hutterites are named after Jacob Hutter, a contemporary of Menno Simons, who was burned at the stake in 1536. Jacob Amman, who founded the Amish movement, lived and died two hundred years after Hutter, but since the two Jacobs are both Anabaptists they share many of the same beliefs, one of the foremost of which is no enlistment in the military, no participation in law enforcement.
I argued for Hutterite men and women saving lives on the battlefield by serving as doctors, RNs, and medics or corpsmen. The Hutterites would not budge, particularly the woman. Even saving lives on the battlefield contributed to the war effort. I had the same discussion-debate with some Amish I know and got the same response. I totally respect the non-violent approach to life of the Amish, it is a blessed ingredient in the mix of American and Canadian life. But to save lives by medical means without bearing a gun, the same way medicine is practiced in America to save the lives of Amish and others, still seems to me a sacred and holy thing that the Amish and their bishops ought to be able to embrace.
So I took this debate with the Amish into my books where I am still arguing for Amish involvement in the healing arts of healthcare, on or off the battlefield. Perhaps one day a bishop somewhere will be persuaded and allow some of his people to go into a war zone, in Christ’s name, and bring as many soldiers as possible out of it alive.
Murray Andrew Pura was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and has traveled extensively throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Ordained as a Baptist minister in 1986, Pura has served five churches in Canada and headlined numerous speaking engagements in Canada and the United States. He has published over a dozen books, was a contributor to the Life With God Bible, has been a finalist for The Paraclete Fiction Award, The Dartmouth Book Award, and The John Spencer Hill Literary Award, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2010 Kobzar Literary Award of Canada.
His latest project is the Rose of Saratoga County ebook series. The third of six installments releases this month.
Purchase Murray’s books here.
Sign up here to be the first to get exclusive news delivered to our inbox monthly. New books, cover reveals, coupon codes, first-look excerpts and much more.