Back from a Traumatic Experience
ORLANDO, Florida — Amy Farley developed a heart for compassion for overseas ministry as a child, attending the missions-focused Seminary South Assemblies of God (now Harvest Assembly of God) in Fort Worth, Texas.
After graduating from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Farley spent two years as children’s pastor at Bethel Temple in Cleburne. A short-term missions trip to South Africa with other children’s pastors confirmed Farley’s calling.
She spent two years as a missionary associate in South Africa before receiving appointment as a full-time Assemblies of God world missionary in 2008, working with children in Senegal.
But at 2 a.m. on May 19, 2014, Farley sat up in bed, startled to hear her bedroom door open.
“Within seconds I obviously knew this was a bad situation,” Farley says.
Two men quickly flanked Farley, blindfolded her, bound her hands with rope, stuffed a gag in her mouth, and put a knife to her throat.
For two hours they raped and tortured her. All the while they alternately threatened to abduct her or kill her. In the dark and with her eyes covered, Farley didn’t see the men’s faces, nor did she recognize their voices.
Following the ordeal, the men left her home. Once freed, Farley discovered her apartment had been ransacked, with many of her possessions stolen. Terrified, Farley drove half a mile to the home of fellow AG missionaries Bryan and Laura Davis. They helped her to make arrangements to fly back to the U.S. immediately.
Initially, Farley recuperated at the Texas home of her parents, Kenneth and Cindy Farley. Then she moved to Seattle, where the AG operates Ministry Resources International, a counseling center for ministers. Farley underwent daily counseling for nearly eight months. In the healing process, Farley grappled with why God allowed such a horrific event to happen after she had responded to a missionary calling. Many nights she piled as much furniture as possible in front of her bedroom door, concerned about another attack. She processed her doubts and anger, spending much time with AG ordained minister Jodi Detrick.
“In the long journey I realized God didn’t abandon me, He didn’t forsake me,” Farley tells AG News. “I never thought of walking away from my faith.”
AG missionaries Joel and Marie Watson invited Farley to spend time with them in Vietnam, no strings attached. Nine months after the attack, Farley went for a three-week stay. During that time, interacting with orphans, the Lord began to rejuvenate Farley, whose once-buoyant personality had been so long suppressed.
Farley made a commitment to help the Watsons, whose efforts included pastoring an international church, leading a consulting business, supervising a school for disadvantaged children, and overseeing an orphanage. After a year’s stay, Farley went home to itinerate. Two days after Farley returned to Vietnam, Joel Watson collapsed and subsequently died at 64.
In the interim, Farley agreed to step in to lead the church, orphanage, and educational consultancy until a permanent replacement could be hired. But that more qualified person turned out to be Farley. Members of The River Church in Ho Chi Minh City voted Farley in as pastor last December. In March, U.S. AG General Treasurer Rick DuBose and his wife, Rita, attended Farley’s installation service. DuBose earlier served as North Texas District superintendent for a decade. In September, The River Church will add a second service.
Farley credits her parents; the DuBoses; AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis and his wife, Sandie; and AGWM Director of Personnel and Member Care Rick Johnson and his wife, Ruth (who both also attended the installation service), with patiently answering challenging theological questions and helping prepare her for the return to the mission field. But beyond that, Farley knows that hundreds of Christians, even strangers, aided in her recovery.
“So many people prayed for me through such a dark and hopeless time,” says the vivacious Farley, now 41. “Through this I’ve definitely learned the value of the family of God.”
Farley shared her story Aug. 1 at the Influence conference in Orlando, Florida, where she received the Young Influencer Award for her extraordinary impact. The crowd, after viewing a video of her testimony, responded with sustained applause and a lengthy standing ovation.
“Day by day, she gathered the courage to keep going,” DuBose said.
Mundis thanked Farley for her tenacity and perseverance in returning to the mission field.
“Amy is an example for so many,” Mundis said.
“I’m not the person I was before the attack, even through all the grief and pain,” Farley tells AG News. “I like much better who I am now. My love for the Father is so much deeper, my love for people is so much greater, and my faith is so much stronger.”