Longtime Navigator and beloved author Ruth Myers passed into Glory on Monday, November 8, 2010, at the age of 82. She devoted several decades to Navigator ministries in Asia, and in recent years impacted thousands through her books, many co-authored with her husband, Warren, who passed away in 2001.
Ruth Myers, nee Barnett, was born in May 1928 and grew up in rural Minnesota, the daughter of a Baptist pastor. In a 2002 interview with Sandy Fairservice for the book The Asia Legacy, Ruth said her mother led her to the Lord when she was around 10. After going forward in a church service, she told her mother she wanted to be sure she was going to heaven. “As Mother simply quoted John 3:16, I believed and knew.”1
After high school, Ruth attended Northwestern Schools in Minneapolis, enrolling in Missionary Training. Ruth’s sister, Mary, was also at Northwestern and the two sisters met twin brothers Gene and Dean Denler who were preparing for the ministry. In 1952, the Denler twins went to Asia with The Navigators, intending to marry the Barnett sisters on a return trip to the States. However, the ministry in Asia took off quickly and the return to the States kept getting postponed. “Finally Dawson [Trotman, the founder of The Navigators] decided that he would send us girls out there,” Ruth recalled. “So we sailed to Taiwan and got married, twins to sisters.”2 The December 1952 wedding was a double ceremony in the private chapel of Formosa’s (Taiwan’s) President Chiang Kai-shek before an audience of about 100 people, many of them missionaries.
Ruth and Dean were assigned to work in southern Taiwan, following up on people who had responded to Christ at evangelistic meetings. They led Bible studies for new believers and anyone else who wanted help growing in their relationship with Christ.
The ministry was difficult and at times lonely. Ruth recalled, “I remember going outside and saying, ‘Lord, you are enough.’ But it was a lonely time in many ways, and a time of plowing in my life—plowing which has brought forth fruit.”3
Ruth’s two children were born during these early years in Asia, just 18 months apart: a son, Brian, and a daughter, Doreen.
After a few years, Dean and Ruth moved to the Philippines to join Gene and Mary Denler in Manila, “since the brothers worked better together than apart.”4
The two families’ next assignment was to Hong Kong in 1958. The next year, Dean discovered he had seminoma, a serious cancer, and within nine months he passed away. He was 32.
Ruth returned to the States with her two children and became involved with The Navigators ministry at Glen Eyrie where she helped prepare women for missionary service. Her family lived on the Glen for eight years.
During that time she became reacquainted with another Navigator missionary to Asia, Warren Myers, who had also relocated to a ministry at the Glen. He approached her a year after Dean died asking her if she’d like to develop a more serious relationship with him. She declined, saying, “I just felt that Warren was such a man of God, and so much like the apostle Paul, that he should not be burdened by a woman with two children.”5
He asked her again over the course of several years, but each time she declined. Finally she told Warren that if the Lord ever changed her heart she would let him know. Finally—seven years after he first expressed an interest in her—she let him know she was interested in him, too.
He later wrote, “Many of those years and months were tough ones, since Ruth was just the kind of wife I would love to have—deep, godly, and a fun person.”6
They wed December 1968 in the Glen Eyrie castle. They were married 33 years.
In 1970, Warren and Ruth were asked to direct the Navigator work in South and East Asia and the family moved to Singapore. Ruth taught a women’s Bible study and advanced her education with self-study in counseling, psychology, and human relations. She wanted to help women identify their spiritual and emotional needs and learn how to meet them through a relationship with God and His Word.
In the years that followed, Warren and Ruth would help launch ministries in India and in East Asian countries closed to traditional missionary outreach. After Brian and Doreen graduated high school and returned to the States, Warren and Ruth toured Asia, being away from home for two or three months at a time, encouraging those who were laboring for the Gospel.
The Myers’ launch into publishing came as a natural by-product of their study and ministry. Warren wrote “Studies in Christian Living” when he was based at Glen Eyrie in the 1960s. Many Bible studies by both Warren and Ruth followed, as did the 2002 release of 31 Days of Praise, an extremely popular devotional book. Several 31 Days devotionals followed, along with other books designed to help people know God better. Many of Ruth and Warren’s books are available from NavPress.
In April 1995, Warren was diagnosed with mantle-cell lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system. The cancer was kept under control for six years, something he credited to spending time in the Word, prayer, God’s grace, and Ruth’s dedication to nutrition and alternative medicines based on the extensive research she began with Warren’s diagnosis. He died the morning of April 16, 2001.
After Warren’s passing, Ruth continued a busy teaching and writing ministry, traveling often to Asia. She said, “Whatever happens in our lives it comes back to our relationship to the Lord who is our basic need-meeter. A nearer, closer relationship than any could be, because he is not only with us all the time, but he is within us, as our life and our constant inner companion—closer than any human. It is hard not having [Warren] here, but it’s great for me when the loneliness hits to quickly turn to the Lord and say, ‘Lord, You are the best. You are the best person for me to relate to.’ That’s even better than being with Warren.”7
In the week preceding her death, Ruth’s personal assistant, Connie Trautman, read to her from Ruth’s last book, 31 Days of Encouragement As We Grow Older (NavPress), which will release in July 2011. The book closes with a passage from Isaiah 43.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….
You are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43:1 4)
Ruth is survived by her two children, Brian and Doreen, and their families. A memorial service for Ruth was held Monday, November 15, 2010, in Glen Eyrie’s Great Hall.
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Read tribute from Singapore Navigators
1. Fairservice, Sandy. The Asia Legacy, Stories of Navigator Pioneers
, NavMedia Singapore, 2007, page 12
2. Ibid., page 14
3. Ibid., page 15
4. Ibid., page 15
5. Ibid., page 17
6. Ibid., page 17
7. Ibid., pages 32, 33