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Mysterious Ways: Mother Knew Best

He didn’t want to upset his mom, but he had to tell her he thought she’d fallen for a scam.

Mysterious Ways: Mother Knew Best
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

My mother wasn’t impulsive, especially regarding her finances. That’s why I was shocked when she said she’d donated most of her life savings to two missionaries who had knocked on her door in Texas.

“You did what?!” I sputtered. “When?”

“A few months back,” she said. “These nice young people needed money to build a chapel in Mexico.”

No, they hadn’t given her any documentation. No, she hadn’t heard from them since.

I didn’t want to upset her, but I had to tell her I thought she’d fallen for a scam.

“I don’t think the Lord would have moved me to help if it wasn’t for real,” she said.

At the time, I was a young professor at Asbury University in Kentucky, teaching music theory, and my wife and I weren’t on the best financial footing. We could have used that money.

For years–even after I got tenure and we raised three sons–I imagined finding the drifters who had swindled Mom, though I wasn’t sure what I’d do if I did. Only when Mom died and my sons became missionaries–real ones–did I let the matter go.

I retired in 1993. My wife and I took a cross-country trip to California, staying at campgrounds along the way.

One evening, somewhere in Missouri, I’d just set up our tent when a man wandered over from his RV.

“I see by your license plate you’re from Kentucky,” he said. “What do you do?”

“Retired now,” I said. “But I used to teach music theory.”

“Music,” the man said. “Hmm. You know anyone by the name of Roller?”

How’d he know that? “Yes, actually, my name is Roller,” I said.

The man smiled.

“Many years ago, my wife and I met a woman in Texas named Roller. She had a son in Kentucky who taught music. She gave us quite a lot of money. Viola Roller.”

My mom. My blood ran cold. Here I was, finally face-to-face with one of those so-called missionaries!

“Hang on,” the man said, ducking into his RV before I could react. He came out and handed me a photo. A simple adobe building with a cross on the roof, and a sign out in front: Roller Capilla.

“Roller Chapel,” the man said. “Named for the woman who made it possible.”


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