OK... I found a reference to it here: http://www.mennoweekly.org/OCTOBER/10-17-05/PLAIN10-17.html
Some churches see a mission field among nonconformist Amish, Mennonites
By Rich Preheim
For Mennonite Weekly Review
Old Order Mennonite buggies line up at an auction in Lancaster County, Pa. — Photo by Dale D. Gehman
The United Pentecostal Church International has mission programs to reach many ethnic groups — Chinese, Ethiopians, French, Native Americans, even Gypsies.
The list looks typical, with one exception — Old Order Amish and conservative Mennonites.
UPCI’s Multicultural Ministries program targets them so they may know “the only true God” and “become part of the family of God,” according to its Web site.
The UPCI isn’t alone in thinking these Anabaptists need saving.
Because of their distinctive lifestyles and religious practices, Amish and Mennonite “plain people” look like a mission field ripe for harvest in the eyes of groups such as Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.
“We’re not trying to come out and break up the Amish and Mennonite churches,” said Stephen Yoder, coordinator of the UPCI’s Amish/Mennonite Evangelism Ministry. “We just want to say there is much more.”
Amish and similar groups are believed to need more in part because they speak a different religious language, said Donald Kraybill, an Elizabethtown (Pa.) College professor who has researched and written extensively about Old Order churches.
“Evangelical assumptions are based on individualism” such as personal salvation and emotional experiences, he said, compared with plain people’s “more collective, more communal understanding of salvation.
“The Old Order groups are very loathe to say they are saved because they feel that is arrogant and haughty and cocky. . . . Who knows more than God?” Kraybill said.
Instead, they speak of a “living hope” of salvation if they are faithful.
While the UPCI has targeted U.S. Amish and Mennonites, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been focusing on Old Colony Mennonites in Bolivia. The Jehovah’s Witnesses magazine The Watchtower last month published a story about that work, decrying the Mennonites’ lack of “progressive Bible study and public preaching” and beliefs in “unbiblical teachings, such as the Trinity, immortality of the human soul and hellfire.”
The story also suggested that restrictions on automobiles, radio and TV are signs of a lack of spiritual vitality. But Kraybill says those measures, deeply rooted in community and history, help church members maintain faithfulness.
Nevertheless, there is no denying that the Old Order Amish and Old Colony Mennonites have problems. Both groups in recent years have experienced increased public scrutiny of issues such as sexual abuse, drug use and drug trafficking. But that doesn’t mean the church is spiritually bereft.
“I’ve encountered enough people who beat me easily [in biblical understanding],” said Kennert Giesbrecht, editor of Die Mennonitische Post, a Canadian-based German-language newspaper serving colony groups in North and Latin America. “But I’ve also found people with a very limited biblical knowledge.”
The Amish also have that “spectrum of faithfulness,” Kraybill said. “There are fervent Old Order people, and there are lapsed Old Order people. We need to remember there is a lot of diversity out there.”
That is also the case with any religious body. Nevertheless, more than with any mainstream group, Amish and Mennonite troubles seem to draw the attention of churches with a heavy evangelism emphasis.
“Some of these groups really prey,” Kraybill said. “If they smell dysfunctionality, they go in and exploit the weakness of the moment.”
That has been the case in Bolivia, Giesbrecht said, where shortcomings in the colony educational system have produced members not adept at articulating their beliefs and countering the arguments of other beliefs. That has provided an opening for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“I think they know these people aren’t terribly capable of defending themselves,” he said.
Giesbrecht said Mennonite Central Committee workers in Bolivia have developed a brochure for Old Colony Mennonites to use to shore up defenses against proselytization.
While the Jehovah’s Witnesses are well-known for their evangelism in general, Old Colony Mennonites seem to receive special emphasis. According to a 2004 story in The Watchtower, in 2000 a call was issued for German-speaking Witnesses in Europe to go to Bolivia. About 140 responded and made “repeated efforts” to win over colony members, reported the story. (Church officials did not return phone calls and e-mail for this story.)
While the Jehovah’s Witnesses seek converts, Yoder said the UPCI’s Amish/Mennonite Evangelism Network seeks a “middle road” where Old Order lifestyles can be maintained while adopting Pentecostal beliefs.
“It doesn’t matter if people stay in the [Amish or Mennonite] church,” Yoder said. “What I’m saying is, you don’t have to be Pentecostal to be saved.”
But what is needed to be saved, according to the UPCI and based on Acts 2:38-39, is the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” which is evident by the believer speaking in tongues at the time of his or her water baptism.
“It is much more than belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved,” Yoder said.
Yoder grew up in Delaware as the son of a conservative Mennonite pastor. But he became a Pentecostal as a bored and rebellious teenager. “I was just hungry for more and wanted to find out more,” he said.
Yoder today pastors a UPCI congregation in New Jersey in addition to leading the Amish/ Mennonite Evangelism Network.
While the network has two staff members in Indiana and one each in Tennessee and Virginia, most of the work is based on lay volunteers developing relationships with their Old Order neighbors. The network was started about three years ago, Yoder said, by former Amish and Mennonites “who are totally thrilled by their experience” as Pentecostals.
Kraybill said it is not unusual for ex-Amish and Mennonites, dissatisfied with their church backgrounds, to take leadership in converting their former co-religionists.
“They can in some ways overreact and jump overboard into that and become fairly critical of their Old Order past,” he said.
It is unclear what sort of success the UPCI and Jehovah’s Witnesses have had. Kraybill does not consider them much of a threat and is aware of only “isolated cases here and there” of conversions among the Amish.
Yoder said his network is “flying under the radar” so as not to jeopardize interested people’s positions in their community. But he said, “We are finding people extremely receptive.”
In Bolivia, last month’s Watchtower reported that 11 Mennonites were rebaptized as Witnesses in 2001 and “more have taken this step” since then. But Giesbrecht said he knows of only one family of converts.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals and Mormons have in the past tried to attract members of Mennonite colony groups in Mexico. “But people didn’t react,” said Abram Siemens, who has a Low German-language radio program among the colonies near Cuauhtemoc.
In fact, he said, a Pentecostal who tried to start a church is now part of Blumenau Mennonite Church, a German-speaking congregation in Mexico formerly affiliated with the General Conference Mennonite Church.
“I don’t think he knew there were churches here,” Siemens said.
Just a little more digging and I hope to find it. If you have access to the magazines - try the September 2005 issues - I think the French ones are still published the same dates as the English ones.