I have hesitated to mention anything about the killings of the five Amish girls in Pennsylvania simply because I am disgusted by the media frenzy involving these people who shun modern society's ills, but who are now barraged by the press, all for the sake of our curiosity. It makes me quite angry to see a photo of two Amish girls gracing the cover of People magazine, supposedly in the interest of keeping the public informed. But when I came across an article called Learning From the Amish by Warren Smith (thanks to Anybody Home for the link), I felt that the message in the article was too good to pass it by.
"I think a case could be made -- and this is one of the ironies here -- that the REASON we're losing our teens is because we have "outsourced" the discipleship of our children to ministries such as Teen Mania. It's much harder to talk with our children about Jesus than to send them to someone who does that for a living. And as long as their friends are there, and you keep the program moving along, the kids don't seem to notice that they're not getting the best of their parents."Showing our kids that our faith is real is not about dragging them to church every time the doors are open, exposing them to ministries such as TeenMania, or even homeschooling them. The key is being a parent who takes the time, on a daily basis, to know our kids, and living in such a way that shows them that God is real and active in our lives in all circumstances. This, I believe, is the key that opens the door wide for children to not only perceive Christ, but it also beckons them to follow Him. And that is one lesson from the Amish that I want to take to heart.
"Compare that approach to "youth ministry" to what we saw from the Amish this week. I learned more about Jesus from the Amish grandfather who forgave the killer of his grandchildren than I have learned from many a seminar or survey. The families of the victims embraced the family of the killer, even inviting them to the funeral and setting up a fund for the killer's wife and children.
This week I interviewed Dr. Donald Kraybill, one of the nation's leading experts on the Amish and Mennonite cultures, and he told me that many Anabaptist religious groups (including the Amish and Mennonites) don't have the problem that evangelicals are wringing their hands over, this problem of their kids leaving their faith. In fact, more than 90 percent of Old Order Mennonite children embrace their parents' religion when they reach adulthood. And it's not because these old-fashioned fathers and grandfathers are trying to be "relevant." Just the opposite. These kids embrace their parents' faith because they spend time with them, and know their hearts, and ultimately discover that the faith of their fathers is the real deal."