The Miting by Dee Yoder (Kregel Publications) carries a profound spiritual message throughout the story of 17 year-old Leah and her Old Order Amish family. The family lives in rural upstate Ohio in an extremely authoritarian Old Order Amish community. Leah is being smothered by the endless rules she must live by to be a good example within her community. She longs for freedom or at least an understanding of why the Amish have so many rules that don’t make sense to her.
Leah’s parents are frustrated that she won’t stop questioning the Amish faith. They want her to get baptized and married, and quit raising questions on matters of faith around her younger siblings. Leah wants to please her parents, she loves her parents, but she feels suffocated. Her love for Jesus and unquenchable desire to read and understand the bible prevents her from obeying her parents. When Leah declares to the Amish bishop and preachers that she has been studying the Scriptures and that she has been born again, the bishop puts Leah under the Miting, in other words, shunned. The preachers determine that Leah is under the grip of Satan. She leaves her home and Amish community after secretly spending time at a bible study group run by the Schrocks, an ex-Amish couple who are known to help Amish youth restart their lives in the Englisher world.
Dee Yoder writes convincingly of the life Leah leads as she learns the Englisher way of life while sharing a small apartment in the Schrock’s basement. She loves being able to openly read her bible every morning and learn more about God; she also loves the comfort of air conditioning, comfortable clothes, the feelings of freedom to learn, and to drive. But Leah is desperately missing her family and a certain young Amish man, Jacob. Leah remains hopeful that someday she will be able to lead her family to true salvation and grace.
The Christmas season arrives and Leah’s homesickness increases. With a young person’s hopefulness, she impulsively decides to return home to her family for Christmas. Her family’s reaction to her return is not what she was hoping for. Her bible is forbidden again. The bishop once more is coming down hard on Leah. The only bright spot in her life is Jacob and he has a plan for them to eventually be together and to worship as they please. Readers may want to hold their breath as they finish this book. The ending is gut wrenching and troubling but ultimately delivers a satisfying conclusion.
This novel gives us a glimpse into the dark side of some Old Order Amish sects where reading the bible is prohibited, only the bishop and deacons are permitted to interpret the bible. It also touches upon disturbing themes of incest and holding young adults against their will to force them to stay Amish. The author delivers a clear comparison between born again Christian faith as contrasted to Old Order Amish beliefs and way of life. Dee Yoder gives a new perspective on the usual Amish romance novel, one that will be hard to put down and forget.
The Miting became available on January 1, 2014.