It has been almost twelve years since I joined Overland Missions. I was 17-years-old when I started to work for OM. I worked there for three formative years in my missions career. I did a lot of small things like taking out the trash to coordinating trips to Indonesia or fetching food for the staff. I lived in my car for a couple of weeks. I sold cell phones and stood up all night studying for my university degree. When I was in Zambia I spent days and days just carrying rocks to make paths around the Rapid 14 Base. I peeled garlic, arranged laundry-washing schedules for missionaries on the base, washed tables and sat in the back of AMT classes to try and listen in as much as I could.
My old boss, I may not have left you with the best taste in your mouth about me. I was really unpolished… I didn’t know how to be quiet. I had so much more to learn. Still do actually.
But maybe I should have left you with this report instead. OM inspired me more than you know. From age 13-19, OM was my only connection to the hope that I could possibly become what I wanted to be: a missionary.
I’m not sure if OM's missionary recruiters will ever know how much hope it gave me when they called me just to follow up or to invite me to the mission conferences. I’m not sure if Dave P------ or Dan H---- will ever know that if it weren’t for them, I’m not sure that I would be who I am today. There was point in life where almost every girl I knew wanted to marry Dave Philips. I never wanted to marry him. I wanted to be him.
I went to the 2004 OM Conference at age 14. Pastor Vaughn Jarrold was speaking about marriage… and it was there that the Lord spoke to me that I would meet my husband through OM and that I would be launched from there into our destiny. Little did I know that only 4 years later, I would have my wedding in the same church where God spoke that word to me… and I would have one just the same way Pastor Vaughn described.
I don’t know if I ever told you that.
I didn’t know than how much it means to a founder to hear what kind of impact their work has made on someone else’s life. I didn’t know that these stories of how the Gospel became real through the work they are doing can be like a petrol in the engine of a visionary.
I didn’t understand.
I now understand how hard it is to start something from nothing; to gain people and to lose them; to see a vehicle break and it feel like its your insides that broke down with it. I now understand what it feels like to have so many people tell you how they think you should do things; and to see young, passionate people come fresh into the ministry and feel like they can run everything having not walked on the road that you walked on and not having one ounce of understanding of some the realities that can only be understood through life experience.
I didn't fight in the Angolan Bush Wars like you did. But eastern Congo (DRC) shows me more about life and death than most. And honestly, I don't like to talk about the things we've seen either.
There are so many ways I saw you behave: so many things you said. I never understood it, really. But today …I do. I now have an appreciation for it.
You have been through so much. I know that you lean on God and you are a person of Hope, so you’ll always have more stories of God’s goodness than the pain. But it was your decision to work through the tough stuff that made you what you are today.
I remember when you got the news about Maverick flipping over.
When Peter H----n lost the tools in the sand.
I even remember when you and Sharon weren’t ready to have kids. I remember you talking about it. You are way passed that stage in your life. But I understand how you felt now. I feel that way now.
And I remember when your spiritual son left you… I wasn’t in the details. I don’t know the details. Maybe its not even my right to say who left who. All I know, is that the separation had to have hurt so much.
My hindsight is clearer to me. And seeing your pain has made you a hero to me.
Andrew and I have been working in Congo for almost nine years now. I have been in ministry for 11 years. You used to say that I should talk to you when I get to twenty years into ministry, because hardly anyone makes it to twenty years in ministry. But I wish I could talk to you before than. I want to make the right decisions, but as the ministry grows I see that I sometimes lack the life experience to answer some of the questions I'm facing. Degrees are one thing, but when I look around and try to find someone else who has done what we we are trying to do (or at least some version of it), the crowd is pretty thin. I don't have many people in my life who've founded great ministries or built big bases. So, when I have questions about the practical mechanics of it, I struggle to find someone who can speak from a place of authority on some issues.
Andrew has been my most trusted advisor—and I him too.
I have a partner and a father here in Congo who is an invaluable relationship in my life. He’s mentored us in life, marriage and ministry.
I’ve got some great pastors (back in U.S.) who have been in my corner since my beginning. Their advice is so right on.
But there are some organizational things that I really wish I could to talk to someone about. Someone that has done it before.
I once read that poverty is ultimately a result of broken relationships. People often have ceilings because their relational capital is limited to the circles they grew up with and it is difficult to break out of those circles and enter into new circles.
I would not like for the people who work with me to be victims of my own relationship poverty. I have to seek God, seek out good counsel for how to make decisions that won’t just benefit us for today, but for a better tomorrow for this nation and this house that God has given us the grace to build…
But it means anything to you. I'm sorry that I didn't understand and may God forgive me for any judgements that I may have passed on you in my heart.
All the best,
Amethyst A. Roth
My first trip to Zambia in 2006. Overland Missions
uses ex-military vehicles to reach some of the most
neglected places on the earth.