There and Back Again
By Ruth McDonald
Many years ago, my husband and I—a couple of kids with a calling—started out
on an adventure that became a lifetime of ministry in Japan.
Throughout that 38-year adventure, we have been the recipients of countless gifts and acts of kindness from Free Will Baptist women. WNAC has blessed us with baby showers, provision closet items, offering plates, Bibles, hymnbooks, Sunday School curriculum, monetary gifts to remodel church buildings, gift cards, pajama showers, and much more.
In the early days of our work, women often provided us with hard-to-find items. I know for certain that if you look far enough back in one Florida district’s minutes you will find an item of business that reads: “We discussed Donnie and Ruth’s need of deodorant!”
J.R. Tolkien’s famous book The Hobbit was subtitled There and Back Again. Like Bilbo Baggins, we have completed our adventure to Japan and are heading “home.” But as Bilbo also said, “The road goes ever on and on.”
I am excited to begin the next adventure of giving back to the denomination that has so faithfully given to me. As I consider the legacy of WNAC, my heart swells with pride and gratefulness for all that has been accomplished for God’s Kingdom. WNAC history is an incredible memoir of selflessness, generosity, and behind-the-scenes sacrifice. Missionaries have literally been able to remain on their fields of service because of Free Will Baptist women. Hundreds of women around the world have come to know Christ as a result, and I am personally acquainted with many of them—your Japanese sisters in Christ. Your gifts, prayers, and projects have made an eternal difference.
No one could possibly have more appreciation for WNAC history than I do. Even before my Japan adventure, I was the child of “home missionaries” John and Leah Postlewaite in the Pacific Northwest. I literally have slept on Provision Closet sheets my entire life. Having said that, I am excited about the direction God is leading WNAC in the future. We want to continue to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission while also focusing on discipling women of all ages in the U.S. and beyond. We want to come alongside women as they serve Christ as lights in the world around them.
After officially beginning the role of director November 1 of this year, I plan to spend the next several months simply listening. After all these decades in Japan, I need to hear your concerns, dreams, ideas, and hopes. And I do mean all of you. From age 12 to 112, I want to listen to you. Whether you are part of an “official” WNAC group or not, if you are a Christ-follower whose desire is to actively pursue and serve Him, WNAC is for you.
Please join me in praying about the future of WNAC and the transition in leadership. As the light of the gospel dims in the culture around us, our light becomes more conspicuous and effective. Never has our mission been more vital than in these days. I am looking forward to all God has prepared for us to do for and with Him.
About the Author: After serving as a missionary in Japan for almost four decades, Ruth McDonald will begin her new role as director of WNAC November 1. Learn more: wnac.org.
The Inside Scoop on Ruth | An Interview With the ONE Magazine Staff
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I’ve never done it, but I’ve always wanted to try ziplining.
(Besides your parents) Who has had the most influence on your life?
After 41 years of marriage, I’d have to say my husband.
Can you share your conversion experience?
I gave my heart to Jesus and was baptized at six years old after becoming aware of my sinfulness. That first, simple faith has grown into a love for God that has lasted a lifetime.
How did you meet Donnie? And how would you describe him?
At Welch College, of course! I always say I “swept him off his feet,” as my campus job was to sweep the floors and empty the trash cans in the basement printshop where he worked. My first impression of him was that he was so thoughtful...and I still think that is true. He is also patient and consistent, a man of integrity and a servant leader.
As you look back over your life, how did God prepare you to serve
as director of WNAC?
I grew up in a church planting home and served 38 years with IM. This has given me experience with all kinds of women around the country and the world, and it has been my joy to be involved in women’s ministries all along. I also enjoy communicating with women through public speaking and writing.
For what one thing are you most grateful?
The faithfulness of God
Can you share one (or more) humorous stories from your time in Japan?
Many, many language mistakes:
Ordering “two airplanes” at McDonald’s
Saying I sang by refrigerator light
(instead of candlelight)
Serving coffee with salt instead of sugar because I couldn’t read the label
What was your greatest challenge as a missionary?
Definitely the language! I’ve wanted to wear a placard that read: “I’m really not as stupid as I sound.”
Can you name a few of your greatest encouragers while on the mission field?
Many Free Will Baptist women sent care packages and notes of encouragement over the years. Our home church, Cross Timbers in Nashville, has been so faithful, as have many individuals who have loved and supported us since the beginning.
We’re especially thankful to those who have loved on our four children. Wendell Leckbee of North Little Rock, Arkansas, received an impromptu offering for them one time, just to let them know they were loved.
Dale and Sandra Bishop became family to us as they consistently encouraged and listened.
What one thing would you like to say to Free Will Baptist women as you anticipate your new role?
I look forward to getting to know you, and I want to listen and learn how God is leading and using you.
Briefly, what do you see as the future for WNAC?
I am praying God will help us encourage and engage women of all ages as we focus on growing disciples of Christ in a rapidly degenerating culture. I want WNAC to be seen as relevant and vital for every Free Will Baptist woman.