Derrell and Ruth Hyde


Missionaries to the American Indian Field
“God Wants Your Availability”
By Kristi Schweitzer, Writing Intern
February 2014

“When I first went to the field, there was a plaque with the saying, ‘God doesn’t ask about your ability, but your availability,’” Derrell said. “So I made myself available to God, and whatever came my way, I gave it my best.”

Derrell and Ruth Hyde served as missionaries on the American Indian Field for over three decades, teaching and leading children to follow Jesus. Throughout Southwest Indian School’s changes and transitions, the Hyde’s did everything they could to serve well.

Derrell was born into a Christian family on September 1, 1935, in Whittier, California. He was saved at a young age and chose to make his faith public at a summer camp when he was 11. During a Sunday School class when he was a young adult, he surrendered his life completely to the Lord. He became interested in missions while listening to missionary speakers in his teen years and later in serving on missions projects.

After high school, he worked for a few years until Uncle Sam said, “We want you.…” He was now in the army! His overseas deployment was in Iceland. He served for two years in the military and also traveled in Europe. When he returned home, Derrell worked for the U.S. Post Office. He served on the missions board for his church and went on missions trips to Mexico.

Ruth Newton was born on February 11, 1943, in Lexington, Kentucky. Raised in a missionary family, she has known about WGM since birth. Her parents, Earl and Margaret Newton, served in China as WGM missionaries until the political situation forced them to leave. They helped start WGM’s work on the Texas/Mexico border. Several years later, they went to Southwest Indian School, a boarding school for Native American children, where Ruth would later serve. Ruth was saved during a revival while attending Mt. Carmel High School (Kentucky) and later dedicated her life completely to Christ.

She studied Bible at Kentucky Mountain Bible College, and during her time there, she felt God’s call to the American Indians. She completed her BA degree in education at Azusa Pacific University and then taught two years in a public school in California.

She was appointed by WGM to the American Indian Field on April 25, 1969. That fall, she began teaching seventh grade at Southwest Indian School. At that time, education options were limited on Native American reservations. SIS provided a quality Christian education and a safe, caring living environment for Native children.

Meanwhile, Derrell had been praying for a wife. In January 1974, he attended a missions convention at his church, where he told the Lord, “I’m willing to do whatever you have for me.” One month later, Derrell and Ruth met when she visited his church as a missionary speaker. They were married July 5, 1975.

Derrell joined Ruth on the American Indian Field, volunteering for two years before becoming a full-time missionary. Derrell and Ruth raised their two children, Joanna and David, along with their nephew, Charles (Chip) Main. Living on the SIS campus, their children enjoyed interaction with the students and other missionary children.

Derrell served in a wide range of roles, including art and journalism teacher, assistant dorm parent, purchasing agent, public relations director, dean of students, assistant field director, and student counselor. His last role was as superintendent of Southwest Indian School, which closed in 1998.

Ruth’s main focus was teaching. Primarily, she taught junior high, but also taught in the high school and Sunday School as the need arose. She also served as assistant dorm parent and elementary school principal.

The Hydes enjoyed their work and the special community that formed around it. “It was one big family,” Ruth said. “All the missionary children called the staff members aunt and uncle, and the older volunteer staff grandma and grandpa.”

After Southwest Indian School transitioned from a boarding school to day schools in the 1998-1999 school year, Ruth became the superintendent of two schools—one on the Navajo Reservation and the other on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. She attended their teacher meetings and offered support and encouragement. The Navajo church eventually took over the running of their school, but the Tohono O’odham school remains with WGM.

Derrell retired on October 1, 2000, after 25 years of service. Even though he officially retired, Derrell continued to volunteer wherever he was needed. He worked in Business Services for a year, and then he worked in public relations until their first grandchild, Kyle, was born. He made an easy transition to grandpa and babysitter.

Ruth retired on September 1, 2005, after 36 years of service. They still live near the campus, which is now Southwest Indian Ministries Center. “We still like to check in with SIMC and keep in touch,” Ruth said.

SIMC’s campus offers retreats and summer Bible camps, which Derrell and Ruth like to be involved in. Their grandchildren enjoy attending summer Bible camp. Derrell and Ruth are blessed to care for their grandchildren when their daughter, Joanna, and her husband, Steven, are working. “We feel the Lord has led us into a ministry with them,” Derrell said. “The children look forward to our prayer and devotional times. What joy we had when they asked Jesus into their heart!”

As Derrell and Ruth reflect on their lives, they treasure the privilege they have had of serving God on the American Indian Field and all the blessings that came with it. Derrell said, “I like the verse Matthew 6:33, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’ I have found when you put God first, He works everything out for our good and His glory.”