May 11, 2023

Amish Adventists Launch Bible Correspondence School

New series of studies covers Bible teachings in ways that Anabaptists can relate to.

Ohio Conference, Columbia Union Visitor, and Adventist Review
New series of Bible studies that specifically caters to Amish and Mennonite Anabaptists. [Image: West Salem Mission]

Are you looking for a way to witness to Amish or Mennonite neighbors? Andy Weaver, lay pastor of the Ohio Conference’s West Salem Anabaptist Seventh-day Adventist Church, recently wrote a new series of Bible studies designed to share with Anabaptist neighbors.

The studies use graphics and colors Amish are more comfortable with, as the often intense and scary graphics would be offensive to many Amish, designer Jeremy Westcott said. The content covers biblical truths similar to other studies but also focuses on topics of greater interest to Amish people, such as “How to Know Right from Wrong.”

“This Bible lesson set created by Weaver will help to reach searching hearts that desire to know the truth about God, the Bible, prophecy, and other timely topics in an easy-to-understand way,” leaders behind the initiative said. “Designed to be appropriate for individuals with an Anabaptist background, such as Amish and Mennonite, these lessons are presented in a simple style that will appeal to people of all backgrounds.”

The set of studies includes 24 lessons in a large trifold format and printed in attractive color. Students complete each lesson’s study section by looking up key Scriptures and filling in the missing words.

About the Lessons’ Author

Several years ago, Andy Weaver felt the desire to bring revival and change to his Amish church, which he felt had room for improvement. As part of his quest, he launched a mission to read as many Christian books from other denominations as he could.

A providential encounter with a Seventh-day Adventist member at an Amish barn-raising led to his first encounter with Adventist literature. Like many other Amish, the book of Revelation fascinated and troubled Weaver, especially when trying to read it in his German Bible. But upon reading an Adventist commentary of Daniel and Revelation, he was ecstatic to discover that all the answers he was looking for were in the Bible. Before this, he had no idea that the Bible explained itself. However, it was Ellen White’s classic, The Desire of Ages, that truly converted him. “Within those pages, I first grasped the concept of righteousness by faith,” he shared a few years ago.

Weaver knew that while the Amish could look “pure” on the outside, they have their share of moral issues and dysfunction. “When I discovered that Christ had both lived the perfect life and died the perfect sacrifice in my place, and that through a relationship of faith in Him I could be both justified and sanctified, it was an unbelievably liberating experience,” he shared.

He went on to read the fundamental beliefs of the Adventist Church and was convinced that it all aligned with the Bible. “It was as plain as the broadside of my barn,” he said. “Everything in there was true.”

Subsequent conversations with his Amish leaders led to the inevitable Bann of his family from their Amish church, family, and community. With no access to their usual Amish bulk food stores and eight children to feed, there were some hungry days, but Weaver and his wife were determined to follow their newfound truth despite the consequences.

Weaver’s first visit to an Adventist church, however, threatened his resolve. The culture shock in going from an Amish worship experience to an Adventist one was severe enough to tempt him to return. Discouraged, he prayed, “Lord, I believe this church has the truth. If it is Your will, help me to start an Amish Adventist church where we can reach out to the Amish people. We can keep our lifestyle and dress and sing our German songs, but we will teach the Word of God.” Weaver knew that his newfound faith should pose no threat to the simple Amish lifestyle, and that once shown the truth, the Amish would be as committed to it as they were to other aspects of their lives.

It wasn’t long before God made Weaver’s vision a reality. With the help of some Adventist friends, he obtained nearby property, and the Ohio Conference’s West Salem Mission (now West Salem Anabaptist Seventh-day Adventist Church) was formally opened. Currently, dozens of former Amish and Mennonite believers congregate there every Sabbath to worship and fellowship together.

Now they want to reach even more of their people for God’s kingdom.

With information from West Salem Mission and Columbia Union Visitor.