Mapleton Man Helps Amish Teen Adjust to New Life

25-year-old John Shrock picked up Jay Miller in the beginning of July after he left Wisconsin Amish community

MAPLETON, N.D. — We spend our entire lives forming relationships, but it was when John Shrock turned 17 that his came to a standstill.

“I lost everyone, all my friends, all my relationships just cut off in one day,” Shrock said.

That’s when Shrock left an Amish community in Wisconsin.

He says his mother even reached out to him saying she wished he were dead rather than having left.

But it was trying to live up to perfection that simply became too much.

“I would imagine there’s probably over 1,000 rules at least that they have to live by,” Shrock said.

He wasn’t alone with those feelings.

19–year–old Jay Miller also has to get out.

Now, he’s living with Shrock.

“The main thing I miss is my family. That’s the only thing I’d like to go back for,” Miller said.

The two grew up only six miles from each other in the same Amish community but never actually met.

Miller started thinking about leaving the Amish a year ago.

It wasn’t until this July that he decided to ask his milkman, who wasn’t Amish, for help.

The milkman then connected Miller to Shrock’s adoptive father.

“I stayed there for a couple days and then he came to pick me up,” Miller said.

While they’ve only been together for a month and have a six year age difference, there’s already a father–son like bond being formed.

“I mean just in the past couple weeks, I can connect with him; I can understand what he’s thinking, what he’s struggling with,” Shrock said.

Especially as Shrock teaches Miller everything from manners.

“He coughed and I said ‘bless you.’ he thought that was the funniest thing,” Shrock said.

To some more complicated life lessons.

“It’s really hard like the Internet, lots of things. It happens all the time where I’m just like man, how do you go about explaining this thing,” Shrock said.

As he tries to figure that out, other ones will just have to wait.

“So how are you going to explain dating to him? Um, he’s going to wait on that,” Shrock said.

In the meantime, Miller is just enjoying the chance to experience a world he never knew, even discovering a new favorite hobby of his.

“I like to go bowling that’s for sure,” Miller said.

And getting to experience the zoo for the first time ever.

“How many times do you feel like you’ve heard ‘wow’ in the past month? Oh, all the time. It’s like every day,” Shrock said.

Having been in the same position not too long ago, Shrock says he’s just glad he’s able to lend a hand to Miller throughout what will be a very long journey.

“It’s very rewarding to me just to be able to see him achieve things, things that were challenging to me. Every little step, every time I see him do something I’m like ‘Woo! Alright.’ It’s almost impossible to do it without someone helping you,” Shrock said.

Shrock says he’s now even thinking about trying to help out more kids who are trying to leave their Amish roots behind them.

“I would help anyone. I didn’t know his name, I didn’t know who he was when I went to pick him up, I just knew there was an Amish kid coming and I knew I was going to pick him up,” Shrock said.

Because as they leave their old relationships behind them, they’re going to need someone like Shrock to be their first new one.


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