5 Tips to Help Ex-Amish Succeed

Having a place to go - is a home. Having someone to love - is a family. Having both - is a blessing. ~ Donna Hedges

When appropriate, I offer both to the ex-Amish who come across my path. Yet I'm the one who feels blessed! My expanding - ever changing - family has provided rich and rare experiences. Laughs. Merriment. Valued relationships.

Because I've assisted several ex-Amish in their transition, I now know more about their complex culture.

Receiving them demands that I ignore my internal question, “Why’d you leave?” or judgment. And I’ve learned practical – yet profound – ways I or anyone can be “Jesus with skin” to them.

Here are my top 5 tips to help:

 Recognize they’re ESL or EOSL (English as a Second Language or English for Speakers of Other Languages), Deutch is their first language.

When talking to those from the Amish, watch for subtle facial cues that they don't understand a particular word or idiom, then define or clarify it. Don’t "dumb down" your language but be alert and respect that they may need some comprehension help and typically won't ask for it.

 Love is kind.

2) Assist them in obtaining the minimum to survival – a birth certificate and/or a social security number. The ones I know left without either! Many Amish parents do home-births and often forgo filing a birth certificate.  To our government they’re nonexistent. Monroe and Josh had no record on file. Sarah had a birth on record but her mother told her there was none.

Some I’ve helped to obtain the birth certificate and social security number proved time-intensive. Glad I wasn't employed fulltime. A social security number is an employment prerequisite and they want to work.

Love suffers long.

3)  Offer clothing or housing. Most of the ones I know left with two immediate goals: cut their hair and buy English clothes. Since their clothing was prescribed and homemade, they had no freedom of choice, and don’t know the size to select. As you know, clothing is an on-going necessity. The ones just out need shoes, socks, underwear, hygiene products – anything helps. Even if they've been out of Amish for years, they might welcome some extra clothes.

Opening your home – or locating one – for the ex-Amish may take diligence and patience. It isn't always convenient.

Love endures all things.

4) Encourage them to earn a GED. In our world, formal education is valued plus a GED testifies to self-discipline toward goal achievement. I've repeatedly shared with Harvey, Mosie, Josh, Monroe, and more, "I love you for who you are! A GED will give you confidence and new opportunities.”

The uphill struggle to earn this certification can be discouraging due to their limited education in our world. Although they completed Amish school at 8th grade, they never had homework, and some Amish teachers have no credentials beyond their 8th grade education.

Love hopes all things.

5) Receive them with unconditional love. “A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge,” observed Thomas Carlyle. Unconditional love demands spiritual stamina. Maturity. Grit. Besides, it can drain you.

The former-Amish I know grew up with a distorted love dependent upon their behavior – or the settlement’s rules. Most were never hugged or verbally acknowledged by their parents. YOU can model our Heavenly Father’s nature of second chances and new beginnings.

Love never fails.

Question: What would you add to this list? Leave your comments below.

(c)Copyright, 2014. Brenda Nixon.


  1. I'd probably add, "teach them to explore". The Amish are conditioned to never explore the world around them or branch out. When someone leaves the Amish, in addition to everything else, show them the fun and amazing things the "English" world has to offer.

    1. Very good Babs. My husband taught Monroe to ride a bicycle, we got him involved in a volleyball game and softball. He learned about bowling. Yes, explore, travel, and learn.

    2. Hey, I cant find you on facebook anymore, what happened?

    3. Deactivated for a while :-) Thanks for reading my blog post.