When Steven Yoder died in a tragic sawmill accident, he left behind his pregnant wife, Mary, and 5 children under the age of 13. But the pregnant Amish widow wasn’t alone in her grief. The members of her community came together as the body of Christ and set a beautiful example for all of us.
Susan Hougelman lives in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, an area with an abundant Amish population. These traditional Christians have built a reputation for leading modest, hard-working lives free from many of today’s modern technologies. And while Susan is not Amish herself, twenty years of living beside and doing business with these “simple folk” cultivated a respect and appreciation for their ways.
Because the Amish lifestyle has become a tourist attraction all on its own, Susan started Simple Life Tours. She provides private tours taking travellers to visit Amish businesses and farms in the area.
But one day, a tragedy rocked her Amish neighbors. But the incredible response she witnessed from this old-fashioned community moved her. And so, Susan took to her company’s Facebook page to share the touching story with the world.
Amish Widow Reeling After Husband’s Death
37-year-old Steven Yoder held a job at a nearby sawmill. The president of the company described Steven as an employee who “worked his tail off with a joyful attitude before heading home to tend to the family farm.”
Sadly, though, on October 3, a terrible accident occurred. A piece of wood kicked back and hit Steven in the head. Even though he was wearing all of the proper safety gear, the injuries were too great and he died from head trauma.
News of the tragic accident traveled fast. Everyone knew Steven’s pregnant wife, Mary, was now an Amish widow five children under the age of thirteen.
“How will they financially make it, since the Amish do not carry insurance?” Susan asked one of her Amish friends, Teena.
And Teena’s response is an eye-opening reminder of Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor:
“The church will take care of them,” Teena explained, talking about the entire Amish community. “We are the church! We will all pitch in and help her until her sons are grown and can financially support her. If everybody gives a little, she will have a lot “
Obeying Christ’s Command To Love Thy Neighbor
It wasn’t just Teena’s words that hit Susan hard. It was the community’s actions.
In no time flat, men from the Amish community banded together one Saturday to plow her fields, winterize her home and barn, and stock her up with enough coal to heat her home and enough wood for her to cook with.
“It was mostly her neighborhood that helped,” said Andy Byler, a man from Mary’s church district. “There was a total of 57 men, and they done a lot of work in the barns and getting ready for winter.”
Were Steven still alive, the task would have taken him weeks to do what the group did in one day.
The women all gathered together to cook food to feed the workers. But they also spent the day cooking to stock Mary and her family up with enough meals for the winter. The Amish have a tradition of visiting those in mourning for months after the death occurs.
“That’ll continue for quite a while, even up to a year,” Andy said.
Support For Amish Widow Is An Inspiration For All
Witnessing such solidarity inspired Susan to share the account on social media:
“This is community. This is church,” Susan wrote. “When there is a need, it is taken care of. Not by a few, but by all. Lord help us to be a better community and a better church. Let our eyes see the needs, let our ears hear the cries. Let our hands pitch in to do the dirty work. Many hands make light work.”
After Susan shared the story on Facebook, the community support turned into global support. This Amish widow and her family started receiving cards, donations, and gifts from all over.
“You’re never alone in your grief,” Susan remarked. “It’s beautiful.”
And that’s why the response to this tragedy is such an important reminder for all of us. This is truly what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus!
“Father of orphans and defender of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalms 68:5
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