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Amish: Out of Order: Mose Q&A

Q&A With Ex-Amish Community-Leader Mose Gingerich

Photo: Mose Gingerich

Photo: Mose Gingerich 
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Photograph by National Geographic Channel

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Who has inspired you in your life, and what do you admire about them?

Craziest thing in the world, there’s 2 different types of people that inspire me. There’s the kind of people like Michael Jackson for instance. By the time I left the Amish, Michael Jackson’s recognition had already been pretty tarnished. And it wasn’t til after he died and I started watching some of his footage and documentaries that I realized, Wow, back in this guy’s time he was a very gifted, talented artist and that’s why he had billions of followers looking up to him as an idol. Look at Anna Nicole Smith. At one point she was very famous, and her legacy was tarnished at the end. You know, Elvis Presley. You can just go down in history and look at some of the world’s greatest idols who were very talented at one point in their life and then it seems toward the end of their career they kinda tapered off. But the fact that they still withstood the test of time inspires me a lot.

The other kind of people [who inspire me] are the people who I have a lot in common with. People who I can look to and say I could probably do that. Garth Brooks - I think the guy’s an amazing artist. Probably the most complete artist I’ve ever seen perform live on stage. Brett Farve falls into the category of the very talented person who let his legacy get tarnished at the end. But he also falls into my same category of just a good old country boy who grew up, had nobody, and worked his way to the top. That’s what inspires me about someone like him. Because of pure grit and determination and overcoming serious criticism, as I am, they just kept falling on their head and now they’re at the top. It’s because of people like them that I keep moving ahead despite all the criticism I get from the Amish people.

How did you get involved in this project?

This project spinned from Amish in the City that we did in 2004. Then last summer we did a couple of documentaries that were quite popular. And based on those two documentaries we ended up doing 10 of them this summer.

What would you say has been the hardest part of Amish: Out of Order?

The hardest part of this project is just to be mentally prepared for every obstacle that comes along. It’s extremely hard to go out to people that you know and love, and try to get them on board to film out at their neighborhood. I take the criticism that they throw at me and just let it bounce off my head and keep moving forwarding. That’s hard to do.

If you could live at any time in human history for two days, when would you go back and why?

There’s two periods in history that I would like to go back to and live in. The one is the time when the Amish who were Roman Catholic started breaking away and had to live in the fields and hide so that they don’t get executed. They were and crawling through cornfields so that they could hide, just to get together on Monday morning and hold their prayer meetings. And they had to go through severe torture in order to stand up for their beliefs. I know this sounds crazy but I kinda wish that I lived in that era of time, because I think having that experience would make me a lot stronger person religiously.

The other time frame I’ve always been intrigued by was the American Indians when the Americans came to this wonderful country. I wish I had lived in that time frame when there was a culture change, when the Americans and Indians had to live among each other and communicate with each other. Like Daniel Boone. I wish I could’ve traveled with him for just like 10 years.

Growing up on an Amish farm, what was your favorite animal and why?

I’d have to say the dog, because I was able to have the patience to teach dogs more than most Amish farmers did. Most teach them to obey their command and run and get cows. I always took it to the next level. I had dogs that I taught how to do tricks. I remember I had a dog who I taught how to throw a basketball back to me.

What do you think is the greatest threat in the world today and why?

The biggest threat in the world, period, is money. Even when I was Amish I was taught money is the root of all evil. Money makes some people more powerful than others. If everybody had to share equal money, it would probably make the world a better place. I’m not exactly voting for that because I do want to be a millionaire someday, but I do think that money is probably the root of all evil.

What’s one of the most surprising things people find out about you when they meet you?

If someone had met me at a party and they had heard about my background the first thing they’re gonna think is humble, modest - somebody that likes to stay out of sight. On the flip side I am probably the most competitive person anybody’s ever met and I take an awful lot of pride in everything I do. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than putting my whole heart and soul into something like the documentaries we’re doing for the National Geographic and sitting there at the end after all the sweat and stress and tears and watch it come across the screen and seeing your name at the end of it. And you realize you had a part in making something that wonderful.

15 comments
Steve Nyhof
Steve Nyhof

https://cac.org/ - this fellow will help guide you to a God of love and kindness, to in turn help those in need. I found him several months ago and was very refreshing to know I was not alone in my thinking.

Steve Nyhof
Steve Nyhof

After watching your story and the road of trying to find something within religion or outside that made sense to you, I was on the edge of my seat because the Amish background is not far from mine as a baptist and all of it's rules. I am 52 now, but was 48 years old when my wife wanted to leave me. I was a "good" man and thought I was doing my best to follow God. However, after connecting with a fellow by the name of Roger Perkins of Higher Ground Foundation http://highergroundfoundation.org/ (just before I was separated from my wife and three children for 7 months) I found a place where we could share our hearts and hurts and victories with no worry of shame or being judged by the others.


I was stuck on my belief that to listen to what things were being shared it was hard for me not to defend my faith and remain quiet as others shared their beliefs.


The one thing that kept coming back into my mind for many years is that I was born and raised in the right faith and belief system. Baptists also believe in hell, and I grew up defending this belief because it was the one of my father who was very strong in his faith.


But then I also learned that there are over 30 thousand different “Christian” doctrines. Different belief systems which broke away from this and that church to form their own interpretation. My problem was that I was stuck in a mode of having to choose a belief. Those without belief were going to hell. The list went on and on of how I justified who I was by my belief system. The thing I failed to know and come to awareness of, is that every single one of those who are strong in their faith, Pentecostal, baptist, Amish, catholic, etc, all are thinking the very same thing - that they grew up in the right faith. How can all be right? I knew one thing, God was bigger, and knows something I and others do not know.


Our leader of the group basically teaches us to meditate, pray, spend time with God. I was so stuck on the Bible and that it was the inspired word of God, that I could not see God past the words on the page. Without knowing it, the Bible was my God. In fact even Jesus who said he was also God has become an entity of worship. Now I know I am stepping on some peoples feet, and their belief systems and programming kicking into full gear to resist. Because that is what we have been taught to do. I also grew up with a father who hated counselors and psychiatrists. Of course like we all do, we select those who have fallen short, who have failed in some way over those with really good hearts that only want to help. Is that not what Jesus is asking us to do? To help?


There were several things mentioned in the documentary that caught my attention. One was of shunning.


There was a story of some fellow who killed 5 little girls, and the Amish community came out to mourn with the families, even to forgive the fellow who killed the girls. So here is where I have come to know of a facade that exists within “Christians” who will do things for others to see. To show they are good and holy people. And yet, they shun their own flesh and blood. I could talk about my own family and the shunning that took place on a different scale.


I have done a great deal of study into the origin of the idea of hell. My journey past the Bible and back to the garden took me face to face with God Himself (itself). I was at a point of several bouts of wanting to kill myself. The grief of being away from my wife and kids was very painful. I could not think of anything I could do to bring things back together again. Only darkness was present. There was no floor or some type of rope to grab a hold of. Only darkness and emptiness like nothing I have ever known.


It was in this place that I stepped into the arms of God by faith. I knew I was going to die someday and the truth I came to understand was that my faith, my belief system, my father and siblings or any other person or thing on earth could do anything to prevent that. So I started there, I told myself that there is one thing I know, I will die someday and so I have no choice but to trust that God being good or bad has my fate at hand.


The next step I took was to go back to the place it all began. What was God’s intentions of creating the world and man? I write all about this in my blog. http://phasade.com/ - please note, like Mose, I too am still trying to find my way. I connected with Mose because I want to help but do not really know how to reach those who believe in hell and how that pagan idea has changed the Bible teaching from one of love, to one making God out to be worse than Hitler. Love or else idea. This is not the God I found both in research and in meditation and prayer. continued...

Steve Nyhof
Steve Nyhof

The hardest thing “Christians” have to overcome is the programming of a teaching that judges anything outside the belief system. The Roman Catholics were the ones to allow the idea of hell into the King James Bible. My father would live and then die believing the KJV Bible was the inspired word of God. Which by the way was coined by men, and for the purpose of controlling and bringing order to the people.


Jesus came to abolish such things, as the pharisees were of the same mind. Jesus came to dine with sinners (people that needed direction to God, not saving from hell). All of this what I say if very scary for the common Christian, and great resistance is in place. I know this because like Paul I am chief of all sinners.


Hell is an idea that you stand on and then make all decisions from this point of view. All the old testament of the Bible does not speak of hell in the original Hebrew. Not does the new testament greek speak of hell. The words of the KJV and other translations have adopted this idea and it’s use to control people and it has worked with splendid results for those wanting to control.


Yet control is made of fear, and where there is fear there is no love. God is love. Figure it out. My journey of 7 months took me to a God of love and only love. In fact, I now call it a flow like gravity because like gravity, God’s love is always pulling, lifting and light and where people find peace with themselves. Sin is the absence of love and peace. Sin is like traveling again the flow of a river. It is often not bad, just not good. It does not condemn, but is that force that tells us something is wrong and we need to take a turn, and get back in the flow.


We talk about the Holy Spirit as though it comes to us through repentance. Did any of Jesus’ disciples repent? Drop to their knees and cry out in shame? No. Even though Acts talks of how the Holy Spirit comes, I think the people were so stuck in their programming and belief systems, that Jesus needed to tell them that the Holy Spirit will come when he leaves. People want a human connection. Yet God is with us always. He is that voice within Mose that drove Mose to leave the Amish. He is the voice calling more and more young people out of what is disguised as a “holy place” (facade) and into the real flow of love already flowing. It’s always flowing and has been flowing since eternity past.


I watched as Mose help the Bible study where he introduced the idea of a counseling group to help those seeking to find “life”. Yet the Amish will read the Bible according to their programming and belief system. When the Pentecostal preacher wanted to help (and I have nothing against any faith if used for the benefit of leading people to “God”, not necessary to Jesus, but like Jesus, leading people to “God” - to all there is), the young people, I loved how Mose was not settled in his spirit. Of course not! That is the same as jumping from one small box of ideas to another of thousands of the same but different box of ideas.


What I am talking about you can learn best by reading my blog, but as someone said, “what are most people doing? Worshiping the teapot instead of drinking the tea.” http://phasade.com/


It wasn't until I set it all down. ALL! This means your fathers and mothers, as Jesus said, you must hate your father and mother. Strange, and yet it makes perfect sense now. Let go of all the superstition, the programming, the upbringing good and bad, let go of the shame, the guilt and judgmental spirit you have. Let go the pain, the anger and bitterness you have. Come to God all alone. Spend time there as I talk about in my blog. It was only by spending time with God alone that I began to see through all the smoke and mirrors of life. Jesus speaks of one day seeing Him face to face. You don’t need to wait for death and Heaven for that.


I would like to help. My ideas are far out, but then so was Jesus’ ideas and was persecuted for them. Jesus life and death on the cross does not save us from hell. It does not save us into heaven. He was someone who saves those willing to lay down their life for others. God’s ways are higher than ours, but does not mean they are not obtainable. When some slaps us on one cheek, we turn to them the other. This is contrary to all behavior and reaction. If I am slapped on the cheek, my brain will immediately kick in to “defend” itself. Can we truly live in a way that is not of defending or proving right or wrong, but only of mercy and kindness? It’s not easy, but I believe (if I believe in anything) is that there is a way to live that changes the hearts of sinners.


We do not need to convert into any faith. God never created a religion. He created a beautiful world to enjoy with one another. Can we live at peace with those who believe differently? Of course we can. Be in the world but not of the world. Yes, like Jesus, sit down with those you drink and who take our money, and love them. This is how we love our enemies isn't it? We do not need to partake, but love at every turn.

Patty Iberg
Patty Iberg

The first time i saw you on tv was a show you did with some Amish kids who rented a house in California with some English kids.  You built very nice gifts for the other kids.  It was my first time to see Amish.  I moved to Ohio, i live about fifteen minutes from Amish country.  Holmes county.  I love going and visiting.  I had my first buggy ride last year.  I love the Amish, though i could not live that way.  I like electric and cars too much.  :)  I do appreciate how obedient the kids are in the stores though.  It is amazing compared to English kids how much better they act.  Just wanted to say hi and appreciate all you do for the kids that want to leave the Amish.  God bless

rebecca weatherly
rebecca weatherly

when are you coming back?soon I hope.thank you for the help of the runaways.

Briana Ratcliff
Briana Ratcliff

Are the Amish accepting of children born to the Amish with disabilities? Do they have a chance at marrying and going on Rumspringa like other Amish children?

Melody Spurlin
Melody Spurlin

I just want to say that I am enjoying your program so much  for a little peak into a tiny bit of the world of what it is like to have been Amish and left that life.  I don't mean to say that I like what you are all going through, but that you are sharing the difficulties of what leaving your former life has been like for all of you.  I would like to just say, that everyone out here in The World doesn't smoke or drink or drink or behave lewdly with members of the opposite sex any more than in your family's home life.  Some of us out here live really boring lives and grew up herding cattle and chicken plucking and deer hunting and gardening and picking potatoes and home canning and freezing just like you only most of the time with tractors but sometimes with horse or mule also.  And we also had a car always, but always old. Only got a phone in 1970's when I was dating my husband.  My family got electricity about 1955, when I was born. That's when the dam was built on Lake Ouachita near my Dad's farm in Arkansas.  So anyway, my life was very primitive, and I did attend church every time the church doors opened near my home as a child but did attend public schools and college and nursing school and never wanted for a good job my entire life if I wanted a job. I do think the Amish fail their children greatly by not giving their children every opportunity to excel at Math and Science education all the way to college level to get better paying jobs for their women and young men who do want to leave the farms and bring in more income, but I would hate to see the Amish way of life go away completely.  They need to be made to see that the country loves them and wants to provide a place for them to always be appreciated but  to let some of their young people that want to leaarn go if they want and the others stay to provide like a living history museum for people who want to learn their kind of skills which are being forgotten and going to be lost.  I think that is a good way to help both worlds.  I  really appreciate you guys and just love all you young people and hope you figure out your lives and Mose,  God Bless You.  You have a good heart I know.  I don't know if anything I said helps anyone but I do wish I could help any of you if there is anything that I could do for any of you.

Jeff Little
Jeff Little

Hello Moses,

My husband and I have watched your show several times and each time we are struck with the sense of longing that you seem to have to find peace with God. We hope that you have experienced that peace that comes from being born again. If you haven't experienced that peace yet, don't let anyone deceive you into believing that you are a Christian until you do have that "born again" experience. God will lead you and help you when you have a sincere heart.

Ramona Matteson-Bishir
Ramona Matteson-Bishir

I worked at a prison for 22+ years and served on the diversity committee for about 10 of those years. The diversity committee is designed to blend different cultures with each other. We embraced other cultures with open arms. I am a strong Christian and believe all people were created in the eyes of God, by God. I wish I would have been like I am now when I was a child. As a family we were not allowed to mix with Amish Minonites, because they were "different". We were taught that anyone different than us (white middle class), were below us. I realized many years ago how wrong that was.

Ramona Matteson-Bishir
Ramona Matteson-Bishir

I would like Mose Gingerich to know I watch the series every time I see it on the TV guide. In the episode I am watching now Mr. Gingerich questioned if being on Natgeo actually harmed the Amish. I strongly believe he has opened my eyes. I admit being English, I have no clue as to how an Amish woman feels, but I don't think anything Mr. Ginderich has done could ever be viewed as harmful. If any series has been harmful to the Amish people it would be "Amish Mafia".

Amy Bruce
Amy Bruce

Mose, I just want to tell you what an inspiration you are to me.  I love how you are moving between cultures as a cultural ambassador, or to my eyes a natural social worker.  You have so much heart and courage.  Bless you for being a bridge for so many others who are caught between the hellfire and damnation preaching of their youth and their future of freedom.  Thank you for being involved in "Out of Order" and bringing the issues to the attention of a wider world.  Wishing for the love you send out into the world to come back to you threefold.

Julie Ceselsky
Julie Ceselsky

What's the episode where Mose becomes a Christian at a Bible Study in the home of a family/friend?  It aired on the National Geographic channel around September of 2012.  I don't know if it was a new episode or a re-run.  Being a pastor's wife I couldn't believe someone captured on video someone becoming  a Christian & aired it on TV -- Praise God!!!  I would love to see it again & share it with others if you could let me know where it is online, or if it's going to be aired on TV again.

Tyler Rueter
Tyler Rueter

I really hope that Mose reads this. I was recently watching an episode and seen that you have been burned on religion. I would just like to share some truth with you and any other readers. This will be in no apparent order just spilling out of what comes to my mind. First Jesus hates religion. Religion is all about rules and regulations and having a relationship with Jesus Christ is all about what you can do rather than what you can not do. We are saved by Grace and Grace alone through FAITH in Jesus Christ. Once a person is born again, everything that the person does is permissible. I still sin on a daily basis but try not to. This is why Jesus went to the cross as a perfect and final sacrifice. HE told the people trying to live by the law that if your eye lust after women then pluck it out or if your left hand gets you into trouble then cut it off. He was talking to the people who were trying to follow the law. In this sermon Jesus was preaching he was trying to tell them that it is impossible to follow the law as a human. By excepting HIM alone we are not held under the law and Gods wrath anymore. If the Amish believe that you have to do certain things or not do certain things to avoid hell then they are practicing legalism or "religion". That means that even if you lust after a female for even a half of second then you have committed adultery. If you get angry at your brother for even a half of second then your have committed murder! I do not know about you but I am guilty, just like everyone else. Does the Amish chop of their hands and pluck their eyes out? I sure hope so if they are basing their salvation off of works rather than faith through Jesus. There are a lot of cults and organizations that have perverted the real meaning of Christ and while doing this are not spreading the Truth but lies. 

Money is not the root of all evil! The bible is clear about this and does not say that. The LOVE of money is the root of all evil. That is what the bible says.

Do not get me wrong. I read my bible on a daily basis, I have stopped drinking for almost four years, go to church every sunday...etc. By all means all of these things and more that I do surely is not what saves me. Being in Christ I simply do not enjoy sin anymore. Sin seperates me from God and I love the feeling of being close to God. Plus I understand that following biblical principles in which God has laid out for me then I will have a better life.

F. Sethman
F. Sethman

@Briana Ratcliff I know accept children with disabilities, hearing that even born with CP got a highest possible wheelchair. They pull money together to enable the childs' life to be as fulfilling as possible. Also, not every community has Rumspringa though, which is different than what 'English' have heard. 

Melody Spurlin
Melody Spurlin

I missed that episode; I would like to see that one as well. As it seems that The Jeff Littles are in need of seeing it for themselves as they are concerned for Mose's becoming a Christian as if he could not be a Christian while being Amish. In my estimation, Amish are some of the most Christian people in the world, though they never got the Evangelist part of "I will make you Fishers of Men" that our LORD preached on Earth.  Maybe the ones who are leaving have sensed that and are seeking that portion for themselves among the World's Christians,  if we would be good enough to share that along with beer and cigarettes and cars and rent houses and  jobs and financial aid.  I just feel blessed to have shared these stories and tender boys lost hopes and feelings for their lost families and way of life and  hope they can find the correct answer for each of their own lives in the right manner for each one of them,  and  there are other people in this world with big hearts willing to help those in need.