Alumni Profile: Amanda Levi Ross '98
Covenant alumna Amanda Levi Ross ’98 lives in a city named the “City of Kings” by the Spaniards who built it in 1535; now 54% of its over 7,000,000 people live in poverty. Amanda’s ministry of mercy focuses on teenage girls who have been “robbed of their dignity, unloved, used and called trash as they are thrown back on the street corner.” She is the director of the Gloria de la Casa (House of Glory), a home for pregnant teenagers and the babies born to them. She co-labors with people from the congregation of the Luz de Vida (Light of Life) church plant in Lima, Peru. Amanda and her husband, Jeremy ’97, are missionaries serving with Mission to the World.
The mission of House of Glory is to bring the light of the Gospel to this generation and the next by caring for these girls in a safe environment where they can personally experience the reconciling and transformational power of Christ for his glory and his kingdom. Amanda and her co-laborers want the lives of teen girls to be transformed through the unconditional love of Christ by caring for their spiritual, physical, and emotional needs in a house filled with his grace and mercy.
Amanda grew up in Miami, Florida, with a pastor for a dad, a high-school biology teacher for a mom, and as the oldest of five children. She was the first of two other siblings to graduate from Covenant (Janna Levi Mawhinney ’00 and Dan Levi ’06.) Amanda majored in elementary education at Covenant and then earned a master’s degree in intercultural studies and a certificate in teaching English as a second language at Columbia International University. “I wrote my thesis on street children in Latin America and felt like God was calling me to work with these children at risk,” she says.
With Reformed theology being a distinguishing characteristic of Covenant’s curriculum, it wasn’t long after Amanda arrived on campus before she began to have the “life changing” understanding that everything in life is put through the grid of a worldview. "My foundation is Christ and he changes every aspect of my life: every decision that I make, every conversation that I have, every relationship that I am in.” Amanda says this was her greatest area of growth and through it she found her identity in Christ. Her hallmates, her professors, and studying covenant theology all contributed to the shaping of a coherent Reformed theological worldview for her.
My greatest joy is to walk alongside these girls through the pregnancy and birth of their babies, sharing with them the love of Jesus and seeing how that completely transforms their lives..."
Another distinctive of Covenant is training students to become interculturally competent: competent thinkers, workers, and servants in a global, multicultural society. Amanda was significantly influenced by this when she spent a semester abroad in the Czech Republic her sophomore year. “This was an incredible experience for me and confirmed my love for learning about other cultures,” says Amanda.
Psychology professor Dr. Michael Rulon and his wife, Judy, accompanied Amanda’s group of students to the Czech Republic. "This couple has an incredible way of encouraging students and bringing out the very best in each one of them," says Amanda. Dr. Rulon taught the developmental psychology class to the Covenant students while there. “I was fascinated by psychology and the way people think and learn. Dr. Rulon helped me understand people from a Christian perspective.” Caring for her as if they were caring for their own daughter, Amanda became especially close to the Rulons during her stay in a Czech hospital after an emergency appendectomy. The bond became even stronger when Amanda did her student teaching in Mrs. Rulon’s second-grade classroom at Chattanooga Christian School.
After graduation from Covenant, Amanda went on a mission trip to Mexico in the summer of ’98. “I worked with street children and lived with a Mexican family," she explains. "That trip opened my eyes to the world of street children and ignited a passion in me to share Jesus with them.” After graduate school, Amanda moved into a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood in Miami and became the children’s director at Pinelands Presbyterian Church. “I did kids clubs in two Habitat neighborhoods, and since I drove the church van around each Sunday to pick up kids and take them to church, I became known as the ‘church lady.’”
Amanda and Jeremy were married in 2002 while Jeremy was attending Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO, working on a master's in theology. Amanda continued her work with inner-city missions during her time in St. Louis, and the couple was very involved in their local church. “Jeremy and I were impacted by the vision of New City Fellowship (St. Louis) and sought counsel as to where on the mission field we could best serve." Amanda, Jeremy, and their three daughters, Kayla, Bella and Janna, have ministered in Lima since 2006.
The passion to share Jesus with street children that began years ago continues today as Amanda works with the teens and babies at the House of Glory. “My greatest joy is to walk alongside these girls through the pregnancy and birth of their babies, sharing with them the love of Jesus and seeing how that completely transforms their lives and changes the future of these new babies,” she says. Covenant College is passionately focused on the fact that Jesus is making all things new, and he's doing that right now, through us, as His people. Amanda’s life and work are defined by this notion.
During her last visit to Covenant, she recalled her days as a student: "It was a safe place for me to be able to ask questions and explore what God had for me in my future. It was a place to study and grow, and I was motivated and equipped to go into the world and share Jesus in the day-to-day stuff of life: in teaching a student about God’s creation, in discipling young girls who are abandoned and pregnant, in raising my own children to love Jesus with all their hearts."