Charles Kelley interviews Dan on “all things” Eagle’s Wings Camp and sheep farm
Philomath, OREGON – During my recent ministry trip to Latvia, I had the opportunity to sit down with my longtime friend and ministry partner, Dan Roth. We discussed the camp and campers, sheep farming, pastoral ministry, and more. BBI is so grateful for the work of both Dan and his wife, Katie. It’s my joy to share the following dialogue with you today. We wish you could have been there!
– Charles Kelley, President
CK: We are now in the thick of winter here in Latvia. Tell me – how is the camp used during the non-summer times of the year?
DR: When the kids have school vacations, we always have camps. So, we have a fall camp and a spring camp. At the Christmas/New Year camp we host a big outreach that the kids participate in. Other than that, we have weekend retreats. The camp is also used for training purposes by the Latvian Sheep Breeders Association. They will bring groups through, see the barn and what we do, and then come down to the lodge for seminars and meals.
CK: What is the relationship between the sheep farm and the camp?
DR: The sheep farm grew out of BBI’s Hope for Farm Families program. It has been set up to be a support to the camp. We turned the farm into a viable business and so the foundation of the business is that we are able to support the camping program. Three years ago, there was a terrible fire; the business lost a lot of money and couldn’t support the camp. It has recovered well, but not to the extent that we had prior to the fire.
CK: Who works the farm, and what is the relationship between discipleship and mentoring, and the farmworkers? Would you say that one of the purposes of the farm is to be a mechanism of discipleship and mentoring for those who work there?
DR: Absolutely. We try to have a holistic approach. Those young men that we work with, we also try to mentor and disciple them and just live out our Christian lives together. Our mornings at the farm start at about 6 am with feeding the sheep. After the feeding, at about 10 am, we come together for a coffee break and to read the scriptures and pray for the day. Generally, the guys come from a harder background. One of them is an orphan who has come through the orphan camp program that we have. One of the guys came with us from Tilza, and another one came through Celebrate Recovery – which he now leads. One of our guys is not a Christian yet.
CK: Dan, how would you describe your role as a missionary? What do you do? What are the buckets of your responsibilities?
DR: My first responsibility is to my local church, so I am on the leadership team at the Madona Baptist church. That corresponds to what any leader would do back home. Secondly, I spend the bulk of my time out at the camp and farm. I try to lead by example and take others along with me. For example, in Riga, there is a 2-year school program for preachers – so I take two guys from the church and we are doing it together. Out of that, we were invited to go to the Russian border and pray for a man who is bedridden. That includes some of the pastors out there. So that is one form of missionary work – setting an example for others and involving others in ministry.
CK: Over the years you have taken others with you on short term mission trips to other countries. What are some of those countries?
DR: Russia, Mongolia, Jordan, Belarus, and the Georgia Republic. For three years now, we have sent leadership teams from our camp to do camps in Georgia, with the idea of training up the Georgians to do camps. It may sound like an easy thing to do… send a team one time and it will happen… but we may have to send teams for 10 years. In December I will go to Zambia with my son Jonathan and two other guys. And then in the spring, I will probably go with Peter Eisans to India with the “Star in the East” program.
CK: Dan, tell me what Katie is doing. How is she involved outside of the border of Latvia in music or play therapy?
DR: It would be easier to tell you what she isn’t doing! When Katie sees a problem, she tries very hard to address that problem. That led her to shift from being a school teacher to being a music therapist, and later, to more of a play therapist which is leading her to be more of a targeted problem-solver of difficult issues within the school system… both here in Ergli and throughout the country. She is the Latvian representative for the European Music Therapy Confederation, which means that she is the liaison between the Latvian and European professional bodies, attending conferences, inviting world-renowned music therapists to Latvia to provide continuing professional development, and participating in European-wide working groups. She is continuing her education, so she travels to London for one weekend each month. She organized the first Baltic Music Therapy Camp, for music therapists from Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Latvia. This project was then adopted by the Latvian Music Therapy Association, which organized the 2nd such camp, and plans to make it an annual event. She recently got Latvian citizenship and is happy to work at local, national, and European levels.
CK: Katie is a tremendous blessing to this country. Tell me about this construction project. What are the big categories of need? How much money is needed to complete the third cabin?
DR: This is the cabin that the Christmas Valley guys came to build this past October. There were 30 people on that team, including families and kids. The foundation had already been poured in the spring by a group from Idaho. It went up fast! They framed the walls, put up the roof, put in the electricity. Inside they put in the insulation, the sheetrock, and put in the windows. They mudded and textured the walls and they are ready to paint. The outside still needs to be done. The inside downstairs of this cabin will be exactly like the first two cabins but upstairs is different. It will be used for staff housing with 2 bedrooms, a shower, and a kitchen. It will also have a balcony like the other ones and a deck that comes out from the front. The total cost to complete the project will be 30,000 euros.
CK: Dan, do you have big goals – five or seven years?
DR: My dream is to see the Latvian church catch a vision for missions. I think we are making real progress through what we are doing with Peter. I’m interested in seeing the camp continue to develop. Latvia is a young nation and is always going through many changes and taking many steps; it seems like we are taking those steps with the nation, and that’s why we must continue to develop the camp.
Thank you, Dan and Katie (and the entire Roth family!), for your heart for Latvia! It’s an honor to serve the Lord by your side.
And, we thank you – Reader – for your partnership with BBI and Eagle’s Wings Camp and sheep farm. It’s our hope that you are deeply encouraged by the many ways your support is changing lives and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.