For Luke Stoltzfus, growing up Amish meant living in a closed society. Everything from one’s style of clothing and hair to the school they attended and the career they chose where all based on traditions within the community.
Luke’s family lived on a 10-acre farm in Kentucky. Their livelihood was secured partly by growing fruits and vegetables to sell in a market near the home of Jose and Jennifer Ramos, an Adventist military couple stationed at Ft. Campbell.
A close friendship developed between the Stoltzfus brothers and the couple, and Jose eventually gave them a copy of The Great Controversy, by Ellen White.
Through his reading, Luke’s brother, David, became convicted that Sabbath was the correct day of worship. Luke set out to prove him wrong. Thinking their parents could talk some sense into David, Luke went to them with his concerns. However, when Jose and Jennifer moved to Oklahoma, David went with them. There, he continued to study.
Luke remembers a time David came home to visit. It was nearly Easter, so they read the biblical account of Jesus’ death, resting in the tomb on Sabbath, and being resurrected on Sunday. David also shared a book with Luke called The Almost Forgotten Day, by Mark Finley. As Luke read it, he began questioning more of the Amish traditions. One day while reading Mark 7, he began to realize the importance of following God’s laws rather than the traditions of men. He resolved that he, too, would keep the seventh-day Sabbath.
When Amish children reach 16 or 17 years of age, they are given the opportunity to be baptized into their church. Neither Luke nor David had chosen to be baptized into the Amish faith but each, at separate times, chose for themselves to become Adventist.
“I rebelled my way into the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” confessed Luke. “I slowly accepted that death is a sleep, that hellfire is not a place and that my way out of the Amish traditions was to keep God’s laws. My father was very hurt by my decision, and there were poor family relations for a while. But the healing has started, and I share God’s word with my family whenever they have need.”
Since Luke’s baptism in March 2001, he has studied with the Amazing Facts College of Evangelism (AFCOE) and spent a year as a Bible worker in Washington state. He continues to witness as he uses his Amish training in carpentry whenever the opportunity arises. But most of all he enjoys teaching the adult Sabbath school lessons in the West County Church where he and his wife, Crystal, are members.