The West Salem Mission in Ohio has a ministry to the large Amish community in Ohio, seeking to share with them the Adventist truth, and principles of health. Andy & Naomi Weaver left the Amish church and joined the Seventh-day Adventist church in 2014. In early 2016, Daniel & Lydia Swartzendruber joined the Adventist church too. Fulcrum7's Gerry Wagoner interviewed Andy Weaver to get an update on this truly exciting ministry in Ohio.
Hi Andy, thanks for participating in this interview.
AW: You're welcome!
When did you join the Adventist Movement?
August 2014. It was the culmination of many months of study and God's gracious leading.
What are some of the high points of being an Adventist so far?
Knowing that we found the truth. And meeting like-minded believers and making new friends. Meeting someone from another country and finding that we believe the same thing is just glorious to me.
It's a joy to have you in the Advent Movement. I know you like listening to sermons on your phone occasionally. Who are some of your favorite speakers?
Joe crews, Doug Batchelor, Steve Wohlberg, Randy Skeet, and of course Gerry Waggoner [laughs]. I seek to follow speakers that call sin by its right name, then point to the soap and water (Jesus). God has raised up some tremendous speakers for our time.
How does your family feel about your new faith?
They were devastated at first, and still are, though our relationship has improved dramatically in the last year. They are observing us closely, one of my brothers actually told me so. We pray for them day and night. Literally. Also thousands of others are praying for them too.
I know that people who leave the Amish faith are shunned. Are the barriers coming down between you and the Amish at all?
There are always individuals who lose their conviction to participate in shunning, and oppose the idea. But as a church, the idea of shunning seems to gets stronger as more people leave. The Amish believe they are dealing with the great falling away.
If someone refuses to shun the excommunicated, he or she is to be excommunicated too. Our relationship between us and our family has greatly improved in a social respect. However, certain barriers between us and them will remain until we die according to the church ordnung. For instance we can't eat with them or conduct any business transactions. If we want to give anything to our parents, the product has to be sold to an outsider before they can accept it.
We visited Naomi's mother last week. She had to leave her home here, after we were excommunicated. She lives in a small temporary living quarter and says she feels like she has been away from home for two years now. We are considering splitting the farm and building a new home for ourselves so she can move back in with us. Miracles must take place in order for that to happen.
How many children do you and Naomi have?
I understand you have done some traveling and speaking. Where all have you been?
We traveled to Barrien Springs last fall, where I spoke at a number of places, including Andrews University. I also spoke at a number of local SDA churches.
I understand you went to 3ABN last year. What was that like?
We had such a good time with Danny. They treated us very well and even gave us a tour of the place! They interviewed Naomi and I on camera.
Are there a lot of invites for you to speak?
As many as I wish for. Though I expect the number of invitations to dwindle around here as I have spoken at most of the local churches.
Tell us about the West Salem Mission.
We are committed to sharing the Three Angels messages of Rev. 14 to the plain people. We are also working with other existing ministries to use mass mailings, such as Amazing Facts.
How does the Adventist Church relate to your plain lifestyle?
Our Adventist brothers and sisters here in Ohio and beyond are very supportive of our decision to remain plain. No one ever discouraged us, but hundreds encouraged us to maintain our lifestyle.
How do you like living in Ohio?
We love Ohio. The church obviously fell on some hard times in the past. But I believe we are coming out of it. I see the spirit of outreach and revival in every church we go to. That's encouraging.
I understand the West Salem Mission has a homeschool group meeting there. How is the group doing?
The homeschool group is doing great, though we lack room. And are working our poor teacher nearly to death. She needs help. She is a World Champion!
How do the kids like it there?
The kids enjoy school, although it has its challenges like any school does. I'm glad for the opportunity to educate our children in the truth!
What are your goals for the West Salem Mission?
Our goal for the mission is to be the hub for--and hopefully--a nationwide revival of primitive Godliness amongst the plain people and Adventists too. Our real goal is to do His will. If the Lord ever says we must decrease and someone else must increase, we are quite happy with that.
In what ways have your children grown in this new faith?
Our children love our new faith. And are always excited when they meet someone that is of our faith. They also enjoy learning the English Bible.
The Amish live quite differently from the world. In what ways should we Adventists live different from the world?
Well, we should live like we expect Jesus to come again soon. That makes us different in many ways. The way we dress and eat, everything we do should bring glory to God. The world wants us to conform to its culture, and I'm so glad we have the Bible to set us apart.
Do you like to travel? What states have you been to?
New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Most of these were traveling through on the way to a destination. I do like traveling--looking forward to more of it someday.
Where are some places you would like to visit, Lord willing?
Any of the Southern and Western States. There is a lot we haven't seen yet.
I understand you are going to ASI.
Yes! West Salem Mission will be at ASI to hopefully gather more support from like-minded believers. We will have a booth there. Thanks Gerry, for interviewing us again.