The Heart of the Amish
By Suzanne Woods Fisher
Everyone has been hurt. Everyone experiences conflict, great and small. Everyone has someone to forgive. But sometimes we just can’t bring ourselves to forgive someone who has wronged us or we don’t take the need to forgive seriously—not like the Amish do. Forgiving others in order to live at peace is woven into the very fabric of their faith. To the Amish way of thinking, “You can’t love the stream without knowing the source. ” We must forgive others, they believe, because God forgave us.
The Heart of the Amish invites readers into the world of a people renowned for their ability to forgive. Through true stories gathered from a variety of Amish communities, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher illustrates how they are able to release their pain and desire for revenge, and live at peace with others. Her in-depth, personal research uncovers the astounding yet fundamental way the Amish can forgive anyone from the angry customer at the grocery store to the shooter at Nickel Mines. Readers will learn how to invite God into their stories, apply lessons from the Amish to their own circumstances, and find the freedom that comes with true forgiveness.
Wow, where do I even begin? I'll just go ahead and say it right up front . . . This is a book that convicts. Well written, moving, thought provoking, relevant, important - and convicting. Most of us are familiar with Christ's words . . .
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive
others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
We may know this intellectually, realize it's a command with both promise & warning, and even think we're pretty good at following through, but these stories and testimonies from the Amish take it to a much deeper level. Even those not familiar with the Amish are probably aware of their emphasis on forgiveness - and the unprecedented speed with which they seem to grant it. These stories, along with Suzanne's thoughtful application, give us a glimpse into the Amish heart - their strong belief contrasted with the same doubt and struggles that we face. I've always felt that there is a lot we can learn from this peaceful group of people, things that shouldn't be unique to the Amish, and forgiveness is one of the most important.
Suzanne writes in the Introduction that this book's goal is "to help you make a habit of forgiving," and that will certainly be the effect for all who immerse themselves in these stories with humble hearts. The Heart of the Amish could be read straight through, but I recommend using it as a devotional resource . . . the only problem being that you might find yourself needing to spend more than one day on each chapter! There are approximately 25 fairly short chapters, borrowing examples from the Amish and other Anabaptist groups. Section 1 contains stories of forgiveness in day-to-day life, while section 2 features profound stories that will definitely stick with you long after reading the book. Each chapter ends with some very thought-provoking questions posed by Suzanne, "Reflections on Peacemaking."
The importance of instilling forgiveness at a young age . . . the idea of community, being inside a ring of protection . . . knowing how to get healing from the inside . . . how difficult it is for us to give up our right for justification or revenge . . . These are just a few thoughts that gave me much upon which to reflect. Suzanne ends with a quote from John Stott - "Our calling is not to conformity to the world around us but to a radical nonconformity" - and then asks, What, truly, could be a more radical nonconformity than displaying authentic forgiveness in our daily life?
The Heart of the Amish is a book with much insight, personal application, and takeaway value. Highly recommended.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of 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. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. 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 also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.
Connect with Suzanne online at suzannewoodsfisher.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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