How many people join the Amish as outsiders?


Herald Press has released a new book in its Plainspoken series by an Old Order Amish woman, Marlene C. Miller. It has a somewhat startling title, Called to Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order.

Marlene’s story goes the opposite route than that followed by many Amish—those who leave. She is one of fewer than one hundred outsiders who have joined the Old Order Amish—and stayed.

Since 1950, Marlene has had a unique life journey. She grew up in a non-Christian household with a somewhat troubled family and began dating Johnny Miller. Johnny was Amish but had not yet joined the church. Johnny and Marlene got married, had children, and lived a non-Amish life for several years.

Then everything changed. Standing at the kitchen sink, Marlene accepted Christ into her heart. Here’s what happened next, as told in her book Called to Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order:

I ran out of the trailer to the cheese factory to tell Johnny what had happened. Although my feet were pumping hard, I felt so light that it seemed like I was floating across the little bridge Johnny had made for us to cross the creek. I flew into the cheese house and searched around until I found Johnny in the warm cellar, where the big wheels of cheese were processing.


The words tumbled out of my mouth: “God has forgiven me.” “I’m going to heaven.” “I was standing at the kitchen sink and . . .” Johnny just stood there looking at me, stunned. He could hardly believe me.


Here I was bubbling over with happiness, peace, and joy, and it was unbelievable to him. Then I told him the words that would change our lives: “I think I want to be Amish.”


That was even more unbelievable to him. I was actually jumping up and down for joy I was so happy. I asked, “When can we go to your family home?”


Johnny was speechless. He just looked at me, trying to process what I was saying and doing. Finally he answered in his steady way, “Well, we’ll wait a couple of days and see if you still feel the same.”


We waited for those few days, and I knew I was different and Johnny knew it too. First, we noticed I wasn’t swearing anymore. My jealousy and anger had disappeared, too.


What a miracle a prayer can bring! My whole life was changed in an instant. Johnny never asked me to be Amish, but the conviction came to me with my conversion to Christ.


I’m not saying that when a person is converted to Christ he or she has to become Amish. Not at all. But for me, it was the natural choice. It gave me peace and contentment to adopt this lifestyle and to love my husband enough to make him happy, which made me happy in the Lord.


Over the years, as I have read the Bible and learned from others, I have grown in my Christian faith. As we know, we are supposed to grow in the faith. That is exactly what the Lord has done for Johnny and me all through these years.


Out of all the people we knew in our little community there, we told only two people we were going to turn Amish in the future. We didn’t want everyone to know, because we thought they would not understand why we didn’t just do it right away. But I knew, and Johnny did too, that this was going to be a life-changing move for us. I felt I had to learn to sew better and understand more of the Amish ways.

It’s easy to turn from Amish to English, as far as how to live. One thing that’s easy is that you can buy all your clothes instead of making them. It’s easier to jump into a vehicle and drive than to learn to harness a horse and get it into a buggy.

But to go from English to Amish? Now that’s a different story. . . .


Marlene C. Miller is pictured here as a senior in high school, not long before she became Amish.


Here are photos of her as a cheerleader and band majorette.

Find out how Marlene fared as she adjusted to Amish life in her new book, Called to Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order. She shares about her struggles, joys, and how she came close to walking away from it all.

Turning Amish proved to be anything but plain and simple. Nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God’s call for her as an Old Order Amish woman.


Called to Be Amish is on a Mother’s Day discount for only $9.74 until May 9, 2015.

Do you know someone with a similar story? Questions or comments?

Read the complete news story about the book, here.

For more information on differences between Amish and Mennonite, check the Third Way website.