Friday, January 25, 2008

Amber Mathenia: The Passing No One Told You About

Also see: Tim Ellsworth on Amber Mathenia

In this week that has claimed the lives of one popular celebrity and one distinguished Baptist scholar, the death of one young woman has gone unnoticed by most of the world. Ironic, since those are often the sort of people who deserve the most admiration. In this particular passing, that adage is true in spades.

Amber Mathenia, a 2001 graduate of Union University, was neither a pop-culture star nor an acclaimed seminary professor. Yet, in her 28 years on this earth she accomplished more for God than most people will achieve in a lifetime. She and her husband, Anthony, had been serving as full-times missionaries to Ethiopia for the last few years. The life of a missionary, of course, is always filled with danger and uncertainty. Yet, Amber was not called home to glory as a martyr. She finished her earthly pilgrimage when she and her two children were involved in a car crash while visiting family and friends in west Tennessee. The children were unharmed.

Amber was a woman whose life was characterized by a joyful submission to the will of God in all circumstances. She followed the will of God when she married a godly husband. She followed the will of God in standing by his side while serving the cause of Christ in Ethiopia. And she followed the will of God in the adoption of two Ethiopian children: Ellie, 4, and Isaac, 6 months.

As the world mourns the loss of an actor whose movies will surely preserve his legacy, and Baptists mourn the loss of a great statesmen whose publications will surely preserve his legacy, I ask that we all pause and mourn the loss of a godly woman whose legacy will surely live on in the hearts of those whom she blessed in life. Let us pray for her family, her father does not yet know the Lord. Let us pray for her children, Ellie and Isaac, now without their mother. Let us pray for Anthony, now left to persevere in the service of God as a single father and missionary. And let us pray that God might grant us the grace to conform our lives to the gospel with the same joyfulness as Amber Mathenia. In this way, we may honor her legacy in a way she would have wanted.

To live is Christ. To die is gain.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that monetary donations be sent to Christ Community Church in New Albany, Miss., where the Mathenias receive their support. Gift cards from Target, Wal-Mart or Babies R’ Us are also needed to provide for their children. The church’s address is P.O. Box 795, New Albany, Miss., 38652.


  1. What a lovely tribute. I've been praying for the Mathenias and other who knew Amber. I knew here several years ago when she and Anthony worked at the church I attended, and she just longed to see glorified in everything, and I know even in her death that He is receiving glory. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Thanks, Erin. I only got to meet her a few times when Anthony came to visit my church in Louisville. I'll bet you and Steve knew her pretty well.

  3. Anonymous11:31 AM

    I didn't know this lady but I loved what you had to say.
    My husband is a youth pastor here in Louisville. I was just teaching our kids in the group about how valuable they are and how it's the negative things that get the press these days.
    You did a great job expressing what I was trying to teach them.


  4. RYC:

    I'll see if I can find a link a little later today, but I read that ESPN has told their radio personalities and talking heads not to make mention of it.

  5. I know this happened over a year ago, but I just happened to somehow come across this post. I knew Amber really well, she came to my church and was one of my best friends! For those who never met her, I'm sorry! You have no clue in what you missed in knowing her! Thanks for posting this! I miss Amber very much!


  6. Thanks for you words, Hannah. I only knew Amber from a couple of times when she and Anthony visited my church in Louisville. I have a lot of friends who loved her and her family very much. It is encouraging to know her legacy is one that continues to edify the people who knew her.

  7. Amber was my 6th grade science teacher @ Woodstock middle school. I loved her so much even through high school I always said their is noone lil MRS.MATHENIA!!!. I still have my class binder with all my notes and assignments from her class,and a letter she had written to my mom about me:-). For some reason she has been on my mind heavy and I said I have to find her to see how she is doing and if she ever had the baby she alwyas talked to me about. I lloked for her on facebook, twitter, and myspace but i could not find her:-(. I talk to an old friend this week and asked "have you seen MRS.MATHENIA"? He said Kandice she heart dropped I was speechless. Later that night I googled Amber and came across this site. I never got a chance to see her after my 7th grade year to tell her one more time that she was and still is my favorite teacher and I love her so much...She was a blessling in my life and a wonderful woman!!! I believe its her sprite around my and the love that she has always had for me that keeps Amber on my mind. My prayers go out to her children, Anthony, and her beautiful mom who would bring luch to her favorite students! I LOVE YOU AMBER YOU ARE TRUELY AND ANGEL!!

  8. Kandice, it sure has been a while since this tragedy struck, but I'm encouraged to hear from someone Amber's life touched. Anthony has since remarried another godly woman and they are continuing serving the Lord and raising the two children. I only really knew Amber on the basis of her reputation, and I'm happy that my post is able to provide a respectful tribute to her legacy. Many blessings to you and thanks for your comment.

  9. Anonymous9:16 PM

    One of my friends came across this post and told me to read it. I knew Amber really well. she taught me so much and was such a godly example to me! Although this was near 5 years ago, she is still missed by all who's lives were touched by hers! She will always be remembered! thank you for posting this years ago!
    Since then, Anthony married a godly woman and they have recently adopted a baby girl :)

  10. Anonymous9:17 PM

    ^ that comment was posted by Elizabeth

  11. Elizabeth, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about Amber and Anthony.

    I'm glad to know that this old internet tribute I made to Amber years ago can still resonate with people who knew her. I think it's important that great people like her are remembered (even if they aren't considered "famous").