At the time, Andrew and I were working for Overland Missions, our former organization.
I would say that all of us were excited and starry-eyed about answering God’s call on our lives and truly saw beyond all of the political, ministry-related things. We all truly wanted to see a change in Congo and we all felt specifically that Goma was the place to start out.
|Andrew walking through Birere with Euclide and members|
of the church ministering to children and families in 2009.
This was a prayer meeting that I could never forget (and I’ve been to a lot of good prayer meetings). Children and adults were falling on the ground with words and prophecies; there was literally a WAVE that hit the church. Andrew and I just went along for the ride thinking that this was a normal prayer meeting that the church usually had.
The prayer meeting lasted for 5-6 hours! It was originally meant to last only two. We later found out that this was no ordinary prayer meeting for the church—although their prayer meetings are usually pretty intense. It just happened that the day we shared at the church, there was this massive outbreak of the Holy Spirit.
What a good way to start a relationship with this church and pastor!
Euclide and Lilian continued to be good friends to us throughout the years. We would go to conferences together, pray and worship together, preach at various locations together, even travel to surrounding countries in Africa.
I still remember in 2010, when all that Andrew and I could afford was a cheap SENKE motorbike. Euclide and Andrew went out on the motorbike together to do ministry in a pygmy village for the day. Andrew came back with the sickest stomach that I can ever remember him having. Apparently, he ate fish that had gone bad with Euclide at the pygmy village. Andrew prayed to the porcelain god (the toilet) for the entire night that night.
In the morning Andrew called Euclide on the phone:
“Hey, how did you sleep?”
“I slept very well, Andrew and how about you?”
“How did your stomach feel?”
“My stomach is just fine.”
Andrew got off the phone and shook his head.
“One day, I’ll have a stomach like his.” He said.
|Pygmies, like the ones that Euclide and Andrew went to see on that day live|
among these beautiful mountains in Masisi Territory. That day, they took
Andrew's new Indian-made motorcycle on a journey that Andrew's stomach
will never forget.
(For full story: http://the-roths.weebly.com/2/post/2010/07/ministering-to-the-pygmies.html)
Euclide and Lilian sympathized with us when we left Overland Missions. I can remember that Euclide was the only Congolese friend that we had who actually understood what we gave up in order to pursue our vision in the Congo. He thanked us. He was the only Congolese who thanked us for that decision.
Andrew and I were there the day after Euclide’s church burnt down in Birere. We watched him and the children from the kid’s ministry look around for any pieces that they could salvage. I’ll never forget that the children were picking up stones from the ground to try and build on what was once where their church stood.
They insisted that that they should all gather for their weekly kids meeting. Euclide, in extreme stress replied… “Where? Where can we gather? There’s nowhere to gather anymore.”
We raised a large chunk of money to rebuild the church out of metal sheets and wood. We later initiated a micro-finance initiative that helped get additional funding for the church, but that was back before we really understood micro-finance… I think we helped a bit, but maybe not as much as we hoped to.
(Full story 1 http://the-roths.weebly.com/2/post/2010/07/sowing-seeds-of-sustainability.html)
(Full story 2 http://the-roths.weebly.com/2/post/2010/10/cultivating-seeds-of-sustainability.html)
|Amethyst learning how to work with children in Euclides|
church. It was not something she was used to. At all.
Life got complicated for us when Euclide and Lilian felt led by the Holy Spirit to join us and work together as one ministry. Euclide sent us an email that he’ll probably never forget. He told us that he’s ready to be with us exclusively.
We (Andrew and I) never responded.
I can’t really give you a specific reason why we left Euclide hanging more than three years ago like that. Maybe it was because we didn’t even really understand what we were doing… maybe it was because it felt like every pastor we would meet was asking for a partnership… maybe it was because we had so many people grasping at any chance of a relationship because of our potential to bring money into their ministry… More than anything… I feel that we didn’t answer because we didn’t know that this was God. We were (and still are) young and didn’t know how to differentiate exactly who to put our trust in.
Euclide and Lilian went through some tough times of not being able to have a child, being kicked off of the land where his church was, his house burning down, random mzungus (foreigners) coming and making promises that were never kept and even a few death threats from other jealous Congolese pastors, because of his relationship with numerous foreign missionaries.
It was around the same time that Andrew and I had really acquired the full vision for our work in Congo that Euclide signed a contract with another organization.
Somewhere around that time, I remember getting a word of advice from Shannon and Steve (board members of Global Outreach Foundation) saying that Euclide might be that partnership that sparks the wildfire (in a good way) that we have been praying for. After giving it a large amount of prayer, we felt certain that this was the partnership that God wanted us to make and were excited for the possibilities. When Andrew and I met with Euclide about a possible partnership—he told us that we left him hanging more than a year ago with no other choice than to move on to other opportunities that he was presented. He was disappointed in us, but suggested that we talk to his organization to see if they would release him to help us during times when he was not fulfilling other obligations.
We were met with heartbreak.
It was probably one of our more profound ‘balloon-popping’ moments in realizing that not all is, as it seems for ministries. We were told that it wasn't okay to work with Euclide. The fact that we even asked even caused undue tension for him and others.
Even more heartbreaking was the fact that we felt so strongly that this is what we were meant to do. Did we not hear from God? We thought that we did. But we figured since it was stirring up strife in the body of Christ… maybe we heard wrong. Still, it shook us, because we thought… if we are wrong about this, than what else could we be wrong about?
We intentionally avoided Euclide from that point (it was around 2012) onward… to be honest, seeing him was a bit painful. I can’t explain why, except to say that—in an awkward way, I felt a lot like one of those romance stories where two people are meant for each other, but life has arranged it in such a way that they could never be together… so they would just rather ignore each other, just to forget about the fact that they care too much. Oddly, Andrew also agrees… we really felt that way about Euclide and Lilian.
“This is not about money, this is not about position, it’s not even about what we want. This is about faithfulness,” Euclide told us when we expressed to him that we wished that we’d chosen to be together from the beginning. He told us that he and Lilian also wished this too. But it wasn’t so and he had to be faithful to his word to this other ministry that he chose to be with.
During that yearlong period of silence, Andrew and I kept our communication open, but tried so hard to not seem like we were trying to ‘steal’ someone from another ministry that Euclide felt kind of like we had reneged on our friendship.
It was during 2013-2014 when ministry started getting very taxing on us. Our understanding of our own limitations grew bigger and bigger—and so was this undeniable sense of deep loneliness. We believed that God would give us a local partnership, a covenant relationship so-to-speak. But it seemed like it never came. And here we were starting programs and projects based on the vision that God gave us… but feeling very isolated in the process.
Andrew and I agreed in early 2014 that it was unsustainable to continue working in Congo alone. We needed to find partners to share the responsibility with, otherwise we would start working on an exit plan from Congo. We talked about it during our time in the US earlier this year and kept it to ourselves for the most part. We had decided that we needed a co-laboring couple to be with and that we would put the olive branch out to Euclide one last time. If we got nowhere, we were near ready to give in and find a different way to work—maybe returning to the US more frequently or something along those lines.
When Andrew called Euclide this year, Euclide’s first words were: “Andrew, you’ve left me behind.”
“You’ve left me too.”
Andrew and Euclide started to meet again, and this time… Euclide decided he wanted to pray about whether or not he should forge a partnership with us. He expressed how we had disappointed him before and how he had experienced many broken promises from people that he trusted. He reiterated his heart for the Church and his calling to plant churches and preach the Gospel. He explained how he felt like he couldn’t wait any longer for other people. He had to go forward with what God told him to do lest he be disobedient and get stuck doing projects for other organizations and not do what God called him to Congo for: to build the Church.
We prayed weekly as two couples throughout the summer for Euclide’s decision. Some days we went to Euclide and Lilian’s house, while other days they came to ours. They made it clear that they weren’t sure about what direction to go. We told them that whether they chose to be with us or not, that we would support that decision.
At the end of last year, both of our families felt God leading us to form a Jonathan and David relationship with each other.
Andrew and I finally grew up enough to know what we really wanted. It was relationship: deep, transparent, vulnerable, sold-out, covenant relationship and fellowship with another couple that was going in the same direction as us.
|Lilian teaching Amethyst how Congolese cook|
on charcoal in 2009.
I think that I can speak for all (Euclide and Lilian as well as Andrew and me) of us when I say this.
We have been beaten around, bruised, disappointed, doubted by others, shipwrecked (vision-wise) and challenged in our family in many ways. I think that that was all necessary for this. It’s time to stop trying to walk with only one leg. Let’s put two legs together and learn to run… for the vision that God originally called us to do here.