Title: The Heart of the Amish: Life Lessons on Peacemaking and the Power of Forgiveness
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Publishing House/Publication Date: Revell/2015
Genres: Christian Living; Amish Non-Fiction; Inspirational Non-Fiction; Devotional
Number of Pages: 192
You should read this book if… You enjoy learning about the lifestyles and value systems of the Amish and Mennonite communities – what they believe and how they portray their faith in everyday situations. In addition, this book may also greatly benefit those of us who are not familiar with the Plain way of life, but who are seeking examples of forgiveness so extraordinary that they could only come from God.
Theme and Message: Obviously not much needs to be said about the theme and underlying message of The Heart of the Amish… Each chapter spotlights a different story of forgiveness – some are quiet and personal, others are shocking and far-reaching, but each one points straight to the Author of mercy and grace – and forgiveness
Writing Style and Voice: Fittingly, the words that reveal each story in this book very much reflect the people at its heart – basic and unpretentious. Numerous quotations from various, pastoral publications are woven into the chapters as well, providing deeper insight into the nature of forgiveness and how it affects each person involved.
Structure and Organization: The book is divided into two parts: Everyday Friction and Turning Points. As the author explains, “ The first section includes stories of forgiveness in day-to-day life, where most of our people problems lie. The stories in the second section might be the ones that stick with you long after reading this book. They are profound. You will see how only God could provide the ability to forgive in such circumstances. These stories flip the telescope.” Each section is divided into 13 stand-alone chapters, complete with corresponding reflection questions and an interesting, perhaps little-known fact about the Amish way of life.
Questionable Content: As can be expected from a book about forgiveness, some of the actions requiring forgiveness from the victims are extremely difficult to read. Stories of deceit, various forms of abuse, and even murder make for powerful but difficult reading. Of course the capacity of God-provided forgiveness is best showcased in situations like these, but it does not make the stories any easier to get through. Accordingly, mature readers should step into this book well prepared.
Conclusion: Whether or not you enjoy reading Amish fiction, this little non-fiction book is certain to illuminate the life-altering strength of forgiveness. Though we may not decide to adopt the Amish lifestyle as our own, we can undoubtedly learn invaluable lessons from the choices these people make. As Ms. Fisher explains, “Their entire world perspective rests on the sovereignty of God. They can leave justice in God’s hands because they have a quiet confidence that in the end God will be a merciful and just judge. They believe God will, indeed, ultimately ‘take care of it’.” Though many of the chapters contain material that is uncomfortable to read, it does serve the purpose of showcasing the mighty power of a forgiving heart. In the end, it is up to each individual reader to decide his or her readiness to encounter the horrendous circumstances portrayed in the book, keeping in mind that in the end, God’s love and forgiveness of the world cannot help but radiate through.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.