He didn’t want to upset his mother, but he had to tell her that she'd fallen for a scam.
- Posted on Jan 8, 2014
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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