This article is a part of a series about ordinary Christians and their walks with God. Every Christian has a different story about his or her walk with the Lord. God uses each person differently in his sovereign plan.
Today, I have the privilege of presenting the story of Ruth O’Neil, a Christian writer who lives in Virginia with her husband, and works with children in her local church. Ruth was born and raised in Upstate New York, but moved to Virginia 20 years ago.
Ruth tells me about her walk with the Lord, and how the Holy Spirit called her to a life of using her writing to glorify Christ, and has blessed her with ministry and involvement in her local church.
“I was fortunate enough to be born into a Christian home. My parents were the first to tell me of God and His love for me,” says Ruth. “I was five years old. It was the Monday after Easter. I think Easter services probably prompted some questions. When I started asking, my mother was right there ready and willing to lead me to the Lord.”
Ruth also told me about how the death of her mother affected her relationship with God, and by God’s grace, he brought her through this hard time and used it to teach her to submit to God’s will. “I don’t think I found it hard to trust God, but I did try to tell God what to do.” Ruth says, “I am a bit of a control freak, even when it comes to God. I wanted God to heal my mother as she was still fairly young. When my husband asked me pointedly one evening after prayer time together, ‘What if God doesn’t heal your mother?’ That was what changed my prayer life. I didn’t need to tell God what to do; I just needed to trust that He would give me the strength to handle whatever happened. To be completely honest, I was upset when I first received the news that my mom had passed because I didn’t cry as much as I thought I should have. Later I realized that God had prepared me. I know my mom was in a much better place and was no longer sick.”
Ruth has now been a Christian for thirty-seven years, and is still learning about God’s love and plan for her. She says that Bible reading has been a huge factor in her closeness to the Lord. “He has taught me so many things through the years. Every time I read the Bible through, I see something new that I hadn’t seen before. I guess it’s because I’m at a different part in life and God is speaking to me through my circumstances at the time.”
I asked Ruth many questions about her walk with God and experiences in her local Church in Virginia. Ruth’s gives much encouragement to new Christians who may not know how to strengthen their relationships with the Lord.
“Stay close to God,” She advises, “Stay in the Word. Don’t stop praying, even if you don’t really feel like it. One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:26-27 ‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.’ I can’t tell you how many times I have used that verse over the years.” Ruth also encourages young Christians to find Christian friends.
The Lord has called Ruth to service in many ways. He has gifted her with the ability to write, and so she knows that part of her calling is to use her writing talents to bring glory to God. “While I could make much more money working in the secular publishing world, I don’t …won’t. God gave me the talents I have and I want to serve Him and hopefully reach more for Christ through my writing.”
Ruth writes devotions for Christians, articles, handouts, and stories. “I am in the process of writing a Christmas devotional for next year so that has me studying Christmas passages. Writing for the Christian market helps me dig deeper in the Word and I’m surprised at what I learn sometimes!”
“I write a lot of magazine and Sunday School take home paper articles and stories,” Ruth adds. “While the message that I write varies with each publication, I want all of my writing to point to God in some way, whether it helps point someone in the direction of salvation or just helps one to understand God a little better and build their relationship with Him.”
God has also called Ruth to service in her local church, Temple Baptist Church, in Madison Heights. She finds great joy in serving in the children’s and women’s ministries. “My husband and I have worked with children since before we even got married.” She recalls, “I am a part of our ladies group. I love speaking – which is something I kind of ran away from at first.”
Ruth has joyfully answered the Bible’s call for Christians to be involved in their local churches. Hebrews 10:24-25 commands Christians to encourage one another in the local Church: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”(ESV).
“Years ago, when we were searching for a new church to attend, we were invited to visit, but I DID NOT want to make this our church home. I had my heart set on another church …Then we visited the church I was dead set against and fell in love the first time! I love the people. I love the pastor. We are able to serve in ways that I never thought possible before.”
Ruth recounts her involvement with her local youth group. “Involvement in the church is very important. It’s kind of like giving back, but it also blesses you in ways you never thought possible. For example, I usually do all the cooking when our youth pastor plans camp-outs and big events. To have those kids hug me and thank me for cooking for them (after they have eaten every scrap of food!) is such a blessing to me…It helps some of the teens know that someone loves and cares about them. Many of them need that.”
I’m so grateful that God has lead Ruth to share her story with us. Christians, let us pray continually for this sister in Christ, that she will continue to reach people for Christ with her writing and ministry in her church. You can find Ruth O’Neil’s Facebook Author page by searching “Ruth O’Neil – Author,” or clicking here.
If you feel that God is calling you to share your testimony in this series of articles, please contact me via the email address in my Contributor Profile.
Other Articles in this Series:
The Christian’s Walk: Financial Minister Taz Bright Shares How He Came to Live for God