Rosie Roth remembers teaching a class called “Religious Knowledge” at the Nigerian secondary school she worked at during the 1980’s. Roth thought she was doing the best she could to plant seeds of God’s truth in her high school students. She didn’t see much fruit at the time, but God allowed her to do so 30 years later. On a return visit to Nigeria recently, a woman approached Roth.
“You probably don’t know who I am,” Roth remembers the woman saying, “but I know who you are. I believed in Jesus after I heard you speak at my school.”
This statement floored Roth, who couldn’t believe Christ had worked through her message to bring this woman to Him.
Another past student of hers now works as the president of the SIM church, ECWA, in Nigeria. Although there were undoubtedly many other examples of the successful results of Roth’s work, she rarely hears about them, but when she does, she regards it as a blessing from God and a highlight of her ministry.
Roth has been a missionary for 45 years. Working with the nonprofit organization Serving in Mission, Roth has taught and trained different people groups to serve in cross-cultural missions. As a single woman, she has served in Nigeria, South Korea, South Africa, and Ethiopia throughout the years.
“I teach, train, equip and motivate national believers to be mission-minded so that, be they pastors, evangelists, missionaries, or whomever, they willingly share the Gospel message to the many unreached people among their own people group, or other tribes and other Countries, so God’s Church can and will be built among all people groups,” she explained. Her mission is consistent with the Bible and with her organization: to equip and train believers for the building of the Church.
The hardest challenge she faced was not the loneliness one faces on the mission field. She says that she probably couldn’t have performed the work she did with a family, since she moved around so much. “You’re alone, but not alone,” she explained. “People are always popping in and out. This is so even if they were never invited – that doesn’t matter, people just come.” Roth misses this aspect of community; Americans do not exercise as much freedom of hospitality as the people that Roth worked among.
Roth’s biggest challenge as a missionary on the mission field was having the ability to live and work with other missionaries. “I think it’s because we’re all quite independent; you don’t go if you’re dependent,” she says. “And with a group of independent people, you are bound to have some difficulties.” Because missionaries have various opinions about priorities and methods, disagreements often arose. This was so regardless of their unifying motive and goal of expanding God’s church.
Although hard at times, working as a missionary came with great rewards. When students grasped Roth’s teaching and began applying it to their own churches or ministries, Roth would know that her work was worth it, and that she was making a difference. Roth currently resides in Pratum, Oregon, because health complications require her to have CAT scans every six months. Although it is hard for her to be at home and away from what she has done since she was 27, she knows that God has her here for a reason. This incredible woman of God continues to follow God’s will in her life, as she has done for the many years on the mission field.