Trading a pilot’s license for a buggy: an Amish convert’s story

Kudos to Matthew for the link to a story about a Geauga County, Ohio man who joined the Amish in 2000.

David Rapinz adopted the lifestyle around a decade ago.  He met an Amish woman, Martha, who ‘took a chance on him before his baptism’, and later married her.  Rapinz found beards, horses, and the Pennsylvania Dutch language all a bit unwieldy at first, but looks to be getting on alright with all three these days.  Read more about him in this News-Herald article (no longer online).


Geauga Buggies

One of the most intriguing parts of the article is a comment from Donald Kraybill, who claims that conversions tend to happen more in Ohio than in other places.  “Here in eastern Pennsylvania, in the large Lancaster settlement, I only know of two cases in the 20th century.”

Kraybill does not know why.  Anyone have any insights or just plain guesses?


Rapinz’s story got me thinking about some of the joiners I’ve bumped into over the years.  Of all the Amish converts I’ve met or heard of, only two come to mind that came from a foreign country (not counting those from Canada or children adopted from Latin America).

There is a fellow living in Indiana who joined the Amish after coming to America from Germany twenty-odd years ago.  Another, in Ohio, once called Great Britain home.

The Indiana fellow still speaks English with a strong German accent.  I imagine Pennsylvania Dutch wasn’t as difficult for him to pick up, though.  Any readers know of any other modern-day converts from abroad?

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Anna Olson

      Yes, I do know of a couple that converted to Amish back in the early 70’s. Today that man is an Amish Minister who lives in WI.

      I grew up in the community this couple joined back then. Contact me through my website as I would like to talk with you some more.

      With gratitude,
      Author, Inspirational Speaker, & coach

    2. Thanks Anna, that is interesting.

      I do hope you’ll come back and contribute some more comments. It would be great to have an insider’s perspective on this blog…I think a lot of readers would appreciate hearing from you as I would.

    3. E

      I know of converts to the Beachy Amish and Mennonites in the EU and South America.

    4. paizer

      Why are the Amish adoping children from Latin America? Why not Germany? And why is British allowed to join the Amish? How are the Amish going to keep their culture intact when they are allowing outsiders into their religion?

      I hope the Amish at least are adopting German latin Americans from Brazil. And I hope their adoption of none Germans is limited in size so as not to destroy the culture, language, and not to create some dark race which would destroy the German identity.

      1. ABHart

        I have some Amish friends in my community, they have explained to me that the reason there are not many non Amish joining is because they have to dedicate themselves to the life. Some join for a while then crave the real world. They miss things they once had. In one case an Amish woman fell in love with a man that had been allowed to join the community they got married had 4 kids. He fell in love with another Amish woman from another sect. He got divorced from the 1st Amish wife married the second took there 4 kids and left the Amish community. For this Mother and community it was horrifying. The Amish from all different sects know of stories like this and for that reason most generally do not allow outsiders to join them. And caution those that do act Amish, that they are watching them. There is a man in Ohio near where I live that chose to act as an Amish. It turned out that he is a pedifile, and has a past messing with young kids. The Amish trusted him and when he said you can put your school on my property, he had his own reasons for allowing them to place a school. When they found out they moved the school, and will not allow him contact, he deceived them. They are very caution of why we want to join them.

    5. michelle


      Being a person of color myself, I would have to say with your comment about creating ” some dark race” you must not understand the amish at all. Even I know, if they did adopted darker skinned children, it had to be because God lead them too and the community was in agreement. Thankfully, they don’t share your racists views.

    6. mallarie klooster

      i have wanted to become amish since i actually understood what being amish meant.

      dear readers,

    7. Tracy L Stout Powers

      David Rapinz

      Just read where David Rapinz passed away after a brief illness in 2018.