We in this generation have met sobering times as the world continues to spiral into ever deeper chaos and anarchy. Political solutions and human reasoning are becoming increasingly ineffectual in Gods end time purposes.
For generations, it has been our (Anabaptists) trademark to remain silent during economic and political tumult. Historically, as external socio-political pressures mounted, we have opted to go deeper into our collective shell of isolation and seclusion.
Could it be, that in this critical hour in history, we are discovering and encountering the greatest power available in both Heaven and earth? It seems that God in this moment is further unveiling His eternal principles of Divine love—a love that overshadows all of our generational sicknesses, separations and divisions. We are all acquainted with His judgments, and for the most part we harbor a healthy fear of His judgments. Unfortunately however, for many of us, this is the only facet we see of God. We have therefore more often than not chosen judgment as the solution to many of our problems, as we have so easily opted to judge one another.
There is however, another side to God’s character being unveiled to us, and which few of us have historically fully comprehended. To be embraced in the bosom of His agape love is a riveting experience—an experience which carries us beyond the sphere of our finite minds, and saturates our souls with peace and joy unspeakable. To reach this spiritual plateau unveils yet another dimension, that of not only experiencing God’s profound love, but extending such to those around us as well. Until we both experience this and extend this at a corporate level, there is little hope of our people to be reconciled and healed of our past wounds—wounds which can keep many in the shadows of grief, pain and despair for an entire lifetime, and that especially among the Amish.
Historically, we have identified ourselves with those of like minds and spirits. This has both positive and negative results. All of us are aware of God’s divine love, and at times we speak about it, often times rather glibly. But we rarely encounter its atoning and healing power on a corporate level.
Christ Himself, and of all men, could have said He is right, could have justified Himself, and could have gone back to the Father, to leave us in our sins. He rather chose to be identified with our sin and transgressions so that He might redeem us. This is thee mystery of the ages—to die that others can live (John 15:13).
Had Moses agreed with God and not identified with the transgression of Aaron and the people, the multitude would have perished in God’s anger at the beginning of their wilderness journey (Ex. 32:9-14, 31-32). Divine Love and charity often requires an identification of both the spiritual and physical needs of others, including their sins (John 8:7).
Micah Smith, a friend of mine, has a global ministry to the unreached people of Third World countries. Micah’s teams often go into hostile environments bringing food, clothing and medical supplies; deeply touching the hearts of many desolate wanderers. Through such efforts thousands of heathen are coming to know the Lord. This ministry is more than that of bringing a gospel message to them—it is more so that of displaying Jesus Himself, by identifying with the needs indigenous to their culture.
I know what it means to grope in darkness, and to wander in desolate places completely void of joy, peace and a tangible hope—a place of no vision, no victory, just dark forebodings. In this desperate posture I ultimately made religion my god. In later years, after encountering God, I met and conversed with many levels of Mennonites. Each of these graciously counseled me, and helped me along the way towards true enlightenment. I shall forever be indebted to these saints—many of whom may never read this letter.
I have often meditated on the reality that many Mennonites have known of our desperate (Amish) plight for years. You sat quietly in the shadows, obediently praying for our collective enlightenment. while remaining sheltered within the safety of your environments. We often recoil at the cost and muddy prospect of sharing the good news of the Gospel where there is a collective hostility against it. I would have experienced the greatest emotional jolt imaginable, had someone of these embraced me in the condition I was in, identifying with my ignorance and shame while I groped about in darkness. Agape love is Jesus in action, bringing the reality of His saving power home to the most desolate and sinful soul. For too long, we have sought to clean each other up before we would bless each other. It is here, where the promise, “love never fails,” takes its most beautiful course. It sheds grace and mercy on the darkest and most desperate situations imaginable. It lifts up the burdened soul, heals the brokenhearted, and restores hope where there is none (1 Cor. 13:8a).
As long as the Lord kept the doors open to my people, the Amish, I never ceased day and night in bringing this message of hope and God’s love to them. Over the years I have witnessed lost hope restored, and many delivered from the grips of tradition and sin. As they discovered freedom in Christ, their joy was unspeakable and contagious, which often spilled-over onto many others throughout many communities. As God continued to shed His marvelous light over this vast pervading darkness, it began shaking the very foundations of the religious system under which we had been bound for many generations.
As the younger generation began responding to the gospel message that sets men free, it brought a negative response around the nation, from the entire legalistic leadership. This resulted in extreme pain, as many were crushed under the severe penalty of “the ban.” I was often hunted down like a criminal, and was censured, banned, and displaced. Our family fled from community to community, desperately seeking an asylum somewhere, where we might find some measure of peace. This psychological pressure has brought me to the verge of mental collapse on many occasions. I have been told by brothers from persecuting countries that such trauma is worse than physical torture. Yet somehow, God in His mercy sustained me through it all.
On the basis of God’s unadulterated love and truth, will we find the means to be healed and reconciled. Man’s logic and intellectual abilities offer no hope for healing and restoration. God’s ways and means must be searched out—from a place deep within our hearts. They will not be experienced by influential thinkers, or by applying logic to our condition. We find God’s ways and means while down on our knees—not by parading ourselves upon mountain tops in a posture of superficial self-discovery. For too long we have leaned on the arm of flesh to find our answers. We must now turn to the Word, by revelation of the Spirit.
As we continue to dig deep into God’s resources, we will find the answers we are looking for (Luke 6:46-49). It seems that presently God is slowly exposing all of our hiding places, leaving us with few options in finding His full purposes for us. The apostle Peter expressed it this way: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” For him, there was nowhere else to go (John 6:68b). Exposure is painful, but once we have nowhere else to go, it breaks the bonds of deceit within, and sets us free! (Num 32:23).
Heaven is gearing into action and working to effect our healing and restoration. Angels are being dispatched to restore Divine purposes among us. The greatest purpose is that to be restored to our first love, which we have lost generations ago. There is a heavy penalty to lose one’s first love. It is for this reason that our lamp stand has been removed (Rev 2:4-5). To have one’s lamp stand removed is to lose our sense of direction, leaving us groping in darkness, and searching for answers that continually evade us. It renders us powerless, and voids our testimony. Nevertheless, we are given this opportunity to be restored and reconciled, thus avoiding judgment, which we actually deserve. Can we drop our guards and our differences, and allow God’s Love to consume us and form us into one mind and spirit, that we may embrace one another in brotherly love and unity? In the goodness and righteousness of Christ alone, is this found!
May the Father’s love find us wherever we are, and embrace us to His bosom. This is our destiny!
By David Davenport
Graced with the liberty to minister within many streams within the Body of Christ far and wide, and that over a 29 year period; I have learned to recognize distinct and redeeming trademarks inherent within each stream.
It was 20 years ago that I experienced my first personal encounter with the Amish, and that within Adams County Ohio. I recall that on that day, after some business dealings with a large Amish family, I sat in my truck on their property for an extended time. I recall feeling the heavy presence of the Lord in the cab of my truck. I sat in silence for nearly 2 hours, and ultimately wept as wave-upon-wave of emotion enveloped me. It was on that day in 1990 that the Lord began to weave within my heart, a mysterious bond between me and the Amish nation.
Twenty years have passed since that day in Adams County Ohio. And following priceless fellowship with Amish families in Indiana, Ohio, Idaho and Montana, I have come to conclude the recognition of a profound purpose forthcoming through the Amish nation.
Of the most beatiful distinctions within the Amish, is that of the prevailing presence of the Fruit of the Spirit I see emanating from them, defined as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Gal. 5:22-23). This fruit is born of a deeply ingrained respect for authority, as well as a universal disdain for pride and vanity. In this context, I happen to see profound merit and symbolism within dressing plainly. As I say this, I realize that those who have dressed plainly will often see the legalistic side of this equation. However, as one who did not dress plainly for the first half of my adult life, I see the inward effects of the outward actions. In addition, I see many profound merits to Old Order tradition and practice. For these practices in part effect an inherent fabrication of the fruit of the Spirit.
As Ben has spoken to Amish destiny, allow me to in turn speak to what I feel to be an explosive impact that the Amish will have upon the mainstream Body of Christ—very soon.
It is my belief that the Spirit of God is wooing the Amish nation, a calling-out if you will, to boldly infuse the Body of Christ at large, and that most pointedly mainstream America, with the love of God, as demonstrated in and through gentleness, humility, kindness, and the very Fruit of the Spirit.
By contrast, and for the 29 years that I have been honored to move among many streams within the Body of Christ; I have witnessed within Mainstream Christianity a grave lack of the Fruit of The Spirit. I have rather witnessed collective arrogance, wanton pride, self-absorption, vanity and outright spiritual-narcissism.
Within the Charismatic, Pentecostal and more recent “Prophetic Movement,” I have witnessed a major focus upon discovering, activating and actuating the Gifts of the Spirit. And though I believe a discovery and walking-out of the Gifts of the Spirit is a critical part of the maturation of the Believer, I yet believe that if the Fruit of the Spirit is not divinely wed with the Gifts of the Spirit as a foundation, we arrive at the repelling behavior I have described above.
Throughout 3 decades of various facets of ministry, I have met dozens of men and woman (Christian celebrities) who have graced television screens, book covers, CD and DVD jackets and magazine covers. Many of these men and women have become household names within Christendom. But sadly enough, and despite obvious and powerful gifts in action within each of these figures, I have met very few who exude the Fruit of the Spirit. I have therefore been unable to receive from these, as I cannot appreciate their gifts, ministries and callings, without the foundation of the Fruit of the Spirit. As well, for many of these Christian celebrities, I have often been led to believe they have tapped into a contemporary version of the Bible which suggests that arrogance is one of the Fruit of the Spirit.
I believe it no accident that there are 9 Gifts of the Spirit, and 9 Fruits of the Spirit. I believe this equation to represent a divine tapestry of spiritual maturation and discovery available to every Believer in Christ. This brings me to my point: I have long believed when the Amish fully impact the mainstream Body of Christ, it will be that through the divine infusion of the Fruit of the Spirit. In turn, the Amish nation will ultimately become infused with an impartation of the Gifts of the Spirit. When this occurs, we will see the culmination of a force which will tread powerfully upon the works of darkness in ways never before imagined.
The mainstream Body of Christ desperately needs the “joint” which the Amish supplies. For “the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body…” (Eph. 4:16).
I honor our Anabaptist forefathers as they imparted the many spiritual pillars of truth upon which the Amish came to be. One such pillar is that rooted in 2 Cor. 6:17, which reads, “Come out from their midst and be separate…” However, the Body of Christ universal in this age cannot advance, without the Amish nation taking its place on the frontlines of battle as we march steadily into the End-Times. Seclusion, reclusion and isolation among the Amish have for hundreds of years served the profound purposes of shaping and honing the Anabaptists into a precious “joint” which cannot fully supply, unless it is fitted and joined together with the Body of Christ universal.