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Ruthie Bassett

Retired Support Staff
"Motorcycle Missionary"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, February 2016

“Ruthie” Bassett knew at an early age that she wanted to be a missionary. When each child in her grade school Sunday School class was asked what they wanted to be someday, she said she wanted to be a missionary.

Ruthie was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a pastor, and her family moved several times throughout the Northeast during her childhood; she primarily she grew up in Clinton, Massachusetts, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. Her parents truly lived out the Christian message in their lives, and many missionaries spoke in her father’s churches, all of whom had an impact on her continued desire to be a missionary.

As a senior in high school, Ruthie attended a revival service at her church and dedicated her life to the Lord anew for whatever He had for her. The next year she began studying at Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute (now College), where she went to the altar one night seeking the Holy Spirit. “There was a wonderful feeling within me, and I knew the Holy Spirit had come to abide and would lead me,” Ruthie shared in her application to WGM. It was while at KMBC that she felt the call of God to serve as a missionary in Haiti.

After graduating from KMBC, Ruthie spent the summer of 1968 in Haiti with the WGM Summer Career Corps (now Volunteers In Action). She held children’s Bible classes at the orphanage, helped with women’s meetings, and assisted the missionaries in any way she could. She received her BA from Central Wesleyan College (now Southern Wesleyan University) and then taught one year at an elementary school in the Philadelphia area before becoming a career missionary with WGM in 1970.

After a year of language training in Port-au-Prince, Ruthie moved to the interior of Haiti where the mission work was located and became the secretary to the field director. Her work involved caring for paperwork, typing letters, and keeping things organized for him and the field. She also sent reports to headquarters, helped missionaries with their needs and supplies, helped with details for annual conferences, and did what she could to assist the field director in keeping the field running smoothly. This role was essential to the success of ministry in Haiti, but it was only part of many roles Ruthie fulfilled in her time there.

After her first term, she also began helping the national pastors of the numerous village and mountain churches of the mission, as they would bring in their church and school funds to the main missions office where she worked so she could safely keep their funds and financial books for them. She especially enjoyed having the chance to visit with those pastors while they were at her office. She listened as they often shared the burdens on their heart and of the ministries they were involved in, and she assured them of her prayers. She usually visited one of their churches nearly every Sunday along with other missionaries, getting there by Jeep or her motorcycle or sometimes horse.

One year Ruthie taught four of the young missionary children, grades one through four, until an elementary teacher came the following year. She also served as the field treasurer for a year, filling in for someone on furlough. During many of her years in Haiti, Ruthie helped operate the daily short-wave radio communications to keep in touch with the missionaries on other stations. She also held a children’s Bible class in a small village in a remote area where the gospel had never been shared, and she arrived there by motorcycle. She planned and put together the materials for the VBS programs that were held yearly in the churches and helped train the local church people to do the leading and teaching.

“It was a simple life; I loved it, and it became home to me,” Ruthie said. “God had called me there, and I was content to serve Him there! A piece of my heart was left in that country as the work was turned over to the nationals and my ministry changed to working  in the U.S. at our WGM international headquarters office.”

Although the life was simple, it wasn’t always easy. Ruthie narrowly escaped serious injury when her Jeep drove off the edge of a cliff when the brakes gave out in a steep mountainous area. Her kerosene refrigerator caught fire one time and nearly destroyed her home. But she stayed strong and her faith never wavered.

“Of course, there were many challenges and difficult times along the way,” Ruthie said. “The enemy fights us when we’re doing God’s will, but I always had God to lean on and stood on His faithful promises, especially the one that His callings are His enablings. I can tell you that I have proven that to be so true!”

In 1984, Ruthie joined the WGM support staff after coming home from the field. She served in three departments during her time there: Church Ministries, Field Ministries, and World Connection. She enjoyed her various roles: working with missionaries on homeland ministry assignment; serving as secretary to the vice president of Field Ministries; assisting the director of World Connection as his secretary, working with the details of the many short-term work teams and youth teams that were sent to the fields and helping him with the processing of candidates to become missionaries, making their calling become a reality. She retired in 2006 and continues to live in Marion, Indiana.

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