People with a heart for God have a heart for People. —Amish proverb
Contrary to some misperceptions, the Amish do extend the hand of friendship and care beyond their church community borders. They spring into action, but they do it quietly.
Some of the men are members of local volunteer fire companies and emergency medical units. Women gather together to sew comfort quilts for the needy. They have provided foster care to babies and children of incarcerated women. After a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood or fire, Amish crews will travel by van and bus to disaster sites to help rebuild. They work closely with Mennonite-based Christian Aid Mnistries (CAM), a national agency that responds to disasters.
I met two Old Order Amish brothers in Pennsylvania, both in their early twenties, who had donated weeks of time one summer to help rebuild Ward 9 in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They came home, helped on the farm, then hopped on another bus and went west to help fight forest fires. “We like to help,” one brother said. With a grin, the other chimed in, “And we love to travel.”
As they serve others, the Amish continue to build and reinforce their sense of community. Volunteerism among the Amish is a group activity–it would be rare to find a lone volunteer who lends a hand or writes a check. With each event, Amish people attach more deeply as a community, belonging to each other in a way beyond measure.
Seems like there’s a lesson in that for all of us–churches, neighborhoods, families. As the saying goes, “Compassion puts love into action.” Together.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of Anna’s Crossing, The Letters, The Calling, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is the host of the Amish Wisdom blog, as well as a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She also offers readers a free downloadable app, Amish Wisdom, that delivers a daily Penn Dutch proverb. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her newest release, The Heart of the Amish, is now available. Be on the lookout for Suzanne’s upcoming book, The Imposter (September 2015).
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