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I’m so excited to speak with Jonas on the show this week. We’ll be discussing his book, “Think No Evil”, his wife Anne and their business Auntie Ann’s Pretzels and so much more. Don’t miss it.
More about the book: THE TRUE STORY OF OCTOBER 2, 2006, WHEN CHARLES ROBERTS ENTERED AN AMISH SCHOOLHOUSE, bound and shot ten schoolgirls, and then committed suicide, stunned all who read the headlines or watched the drama unfold on television screens.
Somehow, the senseless violence seemed all the more horrific against the backdrop of horse-and-buggy funeral processions and scenes of wide-eyed innocent children clad in bonnets and suspenders.
But perhaps even more startling than the violence was the quiet yet powerful response of the Amish community offering unconditional forgiveness to the murderer and reaching out to his family with baskets of food and warm welcomes into their homes. Could such forgiveness be genuine, truly heartfelt? Surely there must be simmering rage behind those peaceful words.
Jonas Beiler wondered. He had grown up in that very Amish community. His own pain of losing his daughter in a tragic accident years before resurfaced, and the lingering shadows of other life tragedies loomed darker. As he met with the grieving families, he could see how devastated and broken they felt, and yet he was drawn to the strength he saw in them.
Outsiders, too, had difficulty understanding the rock-solid faith of the people in this Amish community. How could they forgive someone who killed their innocent daughters? How could they reach out and embrace his family, expressing unconditional love for them in these circumstances? Letters from around the world poured in, asking these universal questions in the face of suffering.
And so began Jonas Beiler’s journey into this story — the story behind the headlines, behind the farmhouse doors, around the lantern-lit kitchen tables, at the local market, and alongside the tiny coffins. His quest is now yours to read. His discoveries yours to consider.
Walk with those closest to the scene: an Amish grandfather, an ambulance driver, a surviving Amish schoolgirl, and volunteer firefighters. Even look on as the community demolishes the school where the murders took place and builds the New Hope School that holds no memories of bloodstained walls.
Think No Evil is the first insider account of the tragic events, the personal victories and the daily Amish life in Nickel Mines, written by a native of the Amish community who still lives and works where most of his relatives are Old Order Amish. Against the rich and fascinating backdrop of Amish culture, Beiler reveals the best of the human spirit in the midst of the worst, and leaves us all drawn heavenward, the richer for it.
More about Jonas: Born and raised in the Amish-Mennonite community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jonas and Anne Beiler grew up surrounded by faith and family. During these early years, important life lessons were permanently woven into the fabric of their lives.
Jonas and Anne both attended traditional Amish schools until the 8th grade. They met as teens and were married by the age of 21 and 19, respectively.
Jonas and Anne’s peaceful life as newlyweds and young parents went into a tailspin after the death of their 19-month-old daughter, Angela Joy, who died tragically in a farming accident in 1975. Anne, in her mid-20s at the time, found herself depressed and eventually on the brink of suicide. Despite being a faithful churchgoer, she didn’t feel she could share her pain with friends or family members.
Jonas and Anne drifted apart. They remained silent partners who simply lived together and went through the motions of family life. They stayed together for the sake of their other two surviving daughters. Anne sought counsel from her pastor, who used the vulnerability of her grief to manipulate and control her for more than six years.
After confessing the manipulation to her husband, the Beilers sought counseling. The Beilers reconciled as God restored their marriage. Through the repair of their own marriage, God revealed that many others were suffering from the same despair and hopelessness. After studying at Dr. Richard Dobbins’ EMERGE Ministries in Akron, Ohio, Jonas began providing lay counseling as a way to give back and help others.
To support Jonas’ vision to help others, Anne bought a concession stand at a local farmers’ market in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. She sold everything from pizza to ice cream, but it was the hand-rolled soft pretzels that customers couldn’t get enough of. Because of the demand, Anne dropped the rest of the products and concentrated on perfecting the pretzel. Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels was born.
Under the leadership of Jonas and Anne, Auntie Anne’s grew from a single outlet to more than 950 locations worldwide, with a workforce of more than 10,000. Auntie Anne’s, with its international headquarters in Lancaster, PA., is the world’s largest hand-rolled soft pretzel chain offering snack and meal options to shoppers and travelers. Today, Auntie Anne’s has over 300 franchisees in 20 countries and continues to be recognized for its superior product and service standards. In order to pursue their passion to strengthen families and build community, Auntie Anne’s was sold to a private owner in April of 2005. Visit the website for more information, www.thebeilers.com
From their modest beginnings to the notable success of Auntie Anne’s, Inc., the Beiler’s have become one of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs. In 1992, the Beilers founded the Family Resource and Counseling Center, a Christian, non-profit counseling facility which currently employees 24 people. In 2008 the Beilers founded The Family Center of Gap, a 55,000 square foot building created to meet the ever growing needs of the community. Through their time and resources, the Beilers continue to give back to the community they love so much.
The Family Center of Gap also houses numerous partner organizations. Some of those partners include the Salisbury Township Branch Library, Angela’s Café, Cornerstone Pregnancy Care Services, Tree of Life Health Ministries, Hildebrandt Learning Centers, Gap Community Church, House on the Rock Family Ministries and Family Resource and Counseling Centers.
The Beilers have always believed in leading by example, doing business with integrity, and giving back to the community. While at Auntie Anne’s, they demonstrated their business principles with the acronym, LIGHT: Lead by example; Invest in employees; Give freely; Honor God; and Treat all business contacts with integrity. These principles continue to LIGHT their way as they follow their passion to serve people, strengthen families, and build community.