Inspiring Story of Faith, Forgiveness Might Make a Fantastic Movie
By Jessilyn Lancaster, Managing Editor
Rape. Abuse. Loss of a child. Startling success. Anne Beiler’s testimony is one marked by significant pain, but joy, grace and forgiveness triumph over devastation. At 70 years old, the founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels says one of her ultimate dreams is to see her life turned into a movie.
“If Auntie Anne’s wouldn’t have been what it would be, I wouldn’t be able to share my story,” Beiler told Movieguide®. “I’m grateful for the pretzel first and then the platform, and to transition from all of the grief and pain which did happen before I was 18 is a modern-day business miracle.”
Much of her testimony is chronicled in her book, The Secret Lies Within.
Beiler was raised in the Amish Mennonite tradition. After marrying her husband, Jonas, she slowly began to seek a life in the Mennonite church, and the couple eventually planted a congregation that grew out of a small group.
The couple welcomed not one, but two daughters, and their joy overflowed.
Then, in 1975, tragedy struck.
One of Anne’s sisters accidentally backed over their 21-month-old daughter, Angie, with a tractor.
Devastation clawed through the couple, and Beiler sought solace in the counsel of her pastor. Instead of offering godly counsel, the pastor raped Beiler and coerced her into an abusive relationship that would last for the next few years.
To add to the unspeakable confusion and hurt, the pastor conducted similar manipulation tactics with other members of Beiler’s family.
“I found myself in a place of isolation. Since it was too deep for words, I really didn’t know what to say or how to say what I felt,” Beiler said.
“I never ever mentioned that for the next almost nearly seven years I stayed in an abusive relationship. In every way, this pastor was a master manipulator.”
Beiler said it was godly confession that ultimately set her free.
“My new view of confession is it’s really created so that we can set ourselves free, that we can be authentic, that we can live in light rather than darkness and secrets, and as we come into that place of confession, our world becomes larger. That’s what the book is really about, how to overcome trauma, secrets, lies…. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve experienced, there’s hope for anyone, when they begin understand that they do have a voice,” Beiler said.
Beiler now uses her platform as the founder of Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop to share her story around the world.
One of her ultimate goals is to see her story on the big screen.
“[My story] has the Amish factor. It has the it has the abuse factor. It has the death of a child factor. It has the great success [of my business and] service,” she said.
“It’s the ultimate happy-ending story, but it’s not like from rags to riches. It’s really not that kind of story. At the end of the day, it’s from fatigue to redemption,” Bieler said.
She drew a comparison to Old Testament hero Job.
“There [are] chapters where the story talks about Job’s starting his life in success, then chapters that are like real life, hard disappointments, and then one chapter at the very end that talks about how God gave it back to him many times, over 100-fold. That’s more like our story.
“Everybody likes to see a happy-ending story, and I feel like Auntie Anne’s is one of those.
“I don’t know how [a feature-length movie is] going to happen. I know it’s a big step, but I would not be afraid or ashamed or fearful in any way. I wouldn’t even be surprised if God would allow that to happen at some point in our near future.”