Ruth Deeth was nine years old when she decided to become a missionary. She left school with a ‘not outstanding’ report and went off to complete her nursing training, before flying to Nairobi. ‘No miracle took place mid-air to change me into the super-spiritual being that missionaries are often made out to be… What I did know was that God, who had called me, was in control, and I could trust Him with my life.’ (1)
Ruth worked in Karamoja, Uganda for ten years with the nomadic Pokot tribe (who had drifted over the hills and plains from west Kenya) as well as with the local Karamojong tribes. Ruth worked as a nurse in the hospital and served alongside Timothy and Mary Slessor Oluoch, missionaries from the Luo tribe in Kenya, at the small church they had planted in Amudat.
Mary was a great influence on Ruth: ‘She helped me to be humble and learn lessons … of a daily walk with God, of confessing sins immediately, of being open before my local Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. It helped me understand them better.’ Having had this example set by Mary, Ruth found slotting into the Christian fellowship with local brothers and sisters much easier.
Then, in early May 1975, Idi Amin’s regime sent armed guards to arrest Ruth. They drove her 350 miles to Kampala’s central police station and locked her in a dark, stale cell. Ruth was terrified, but the Lord encouraged her with Peter’s imprisonment in Acts 12: ‘The way God spoke to me through his word was miraculous.’ She was deported to England a few weeks later, but then returned to Africa in 1976 − this time to Tanzania.
Ruth headed to Murgwanza Hospital in Tanzania, and then on to Mwanza (near Dodoma) where she helped pioneer a cassette ministry. Ruth would write the material and then record it by hand on cassettes. Bishop Mathayo Kasagara recalls Ruth ‘arriving at the Bible school five kilometres from Mwanza on her “pikipiki” – as motorbikes were called in Tanzania – a small blue Honda 90.’ (2)
Over twenty years after Trevor and Robyn Lucas came to Tanzania, BCMS maintained a strong mission presence, building on the work of past generations of mission partners.
Ruth spent the next 10 years teaching the Bible school students how to operate and use the cassette ministry in their village churches. Unusable roads and a very limited number of faithful church leaders made Bible teaching hard for remote and illiterate communities to access.
Ruth returned home to England in 1990 after serving in Uganda and Tanzania for 25 years with the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:24 tried and true: ‘the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.’
Today, Crosslinks continues to support and partner with the North Karamoja and Karamoja Dioceses, building on Ruth’s 10 years of service to the Karamojong people.
(1) Ruth Deeth, Where Love Leads You (Onwards and Upwards Publishers, 2012), p. 26
(2) Where Love Leads You, p. 5
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