Derek Prince - Lydia and Ruth
I came to the point where I felt I had to make a decision. I could go on being a local pastor or I can help the people that needed help, but I couldn't combine the two. So I retired from my pastoring with a very good relationship between the church and myself. And I became a travelling bible teacher. At the same time, I became associated with the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship. I became one of their featured speakers and traveled quite widely across the nation in that connection. Then for a while, I was associated with the church in Chicago. But I was not on the pastoral staff. And I received an invitation in the middle of the winter to preach in Miami and in Fort Lauderdale.
And when Lydia and I got down to Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the middle of winter, I said to her: Listen, why are we living in Chicago when we could be living in Fort Lauderdale? Because my ministry was not tied to any particular location. So we said, Well, all right. Let’s see if we can find a house in Fort Lauderdale. And we looked around and a lawyer helped us. And we found a really nice house, for which the asking price, if you can believe it, was $25,000. So I put down a deposit of $5,000 and signed the contract. Then we went to one of the local big stores, where Lydia wanted to do some shopping, and while we were there I was paged over the intercom of the store, which was very unusual. They don’t page individuals.
When I got there my son-in-law, who had been looking after our house in Chicago, said, Do you have a chair handy that you can sit on? I said, Listen. I don’t need to sit down. Just tell me the worst. What is it? Well, he said, the house next door to yours is completely burned down and your house has suffered a lot of fire damage. So I thought, It’s quite remarkable. We just paid a deposit on a house in Fort Lauderdale. So we extricated ourselves from Chicago, settled in Fort Lauderdale and I traveled from there and then became associated with various different congregations in that area. I had started writing a number of books and published a few self-published. And I’d given myself the title Derek Prince Publications. And I was Derek Prince Publications. I did everything. I sent out the invoices, packed the books, took them to the post office, collected things from the post office.
I was Derek Prince Publications. But it was getting beyond me so Lydia and I invited our daughter, Anna, and her husband, David Selby, to come move down from Canada where they were living to Fort Lauderdale and accept responsibility for overseeing Derek Prince Publications, which was not a very grandiose occupation. And really I marvel at their faith but they detached themselves and moved down, because they didn’t have any big offer. So we did get some kind of office, and we developed Derek Prince Publications and we had a few workers. I think most of them were family members at one time or another. The family used to refer to this as “the Pub,” because it was Derek Prince Publications. Who knows what would have happened, but gradually things began to expand and more and more people began to buy my books. But then in 1975 God called Lydia home, quite suddenly without a lot of sickness.
About three o’clock in the morning she had a heart attack, and with the help of one of the girls I got her to the hospital. She was there until about three o’clock in the afternoon and then passed on to be with the Lord. By that time I think four of the girls and I were with her. She was very a down- to-earth person up to the last moment. She was carefully telling us what to do about various practical things, including how to get her endorsement on her book, which was Appointment in Jerusalem, which was just coming out. We all told her how much we loved her. And then she began to speak Danish. I’ve learned by experience when a person is really at the end of life they commonly go back to their childhood language. It’s always impressed me that on the cross one of the last things that Jesus said was in Aramaic, which was His childhood language. And then she, as I said, she lapsed into Danish and of course I understand Danish and she would say, Tak for blodet. Tak for blodet which means Thank you for the blood. And with those words she passed into the presence of the Lord.
She’d served Him faithfully for fifty years in the midst of all sorts of pressures, at times very lonely, often with no one to care or share with except her girls. She’d pioneered a work which few people would have been able to to see through. She was, I think in some… She said when we were applying for citizenship If you’ve not become an American citizen, you have to be interviewed by a representative of the Justice Department and he has certain questions he has to ask you. One of them is, Would you be willing to take up arms for the United States? Well, for Lydia at that age of her life it was purely an academic question, but she thought it over for a moment and she said, Well, if it was for my girls I’d fight like a lion. The examining officer said to me, That is a remarkable lady.
In 1977 I began to feel that it was time for me to return to Israel, because I knew Israel was part of my destiny. So I took a trip with a few younger men. During our time there I felt that I should visit a ministry which had been translating some of my books into Hebrew and Arabic. So I went to see them and I’d received letter, an official letter from them, but at the bottom written handwriting which said, Your ministry has meant a lot to me, Ruth Baker. So I said to them, Is there a lady named Ruth Baker who is working here? They said, Yes, she’s working here but she’s injured her back, and she’s not at work. Well, God has given me a special ministry for praying for people with back injuries, and I’ve seen literally hundreds of people healed over the years, so I thought it would really be ungrateful if I didn’t offer to pray for her. So I said, Would she like me to pray for her? And they phoned her and she said yes, she would.
So I was being driven in a Volkswagen van by a young friend of mine, and we set out for this address which had been given to us, and we wandered around Jerusalem for about half an hour and couldn’t find the address. So eventually I said to my friend David, I said, Listen, we’ve done our best. We can’t find it. Obviously it isn’t God’s will for us to find her, so let’s just stop and go back where we belong. Well, we stopped and we looked out and we’d stopped in front of the address! So then I went in and there was this lady on a couch in some kind of long robe, and so I introduced myself and I said, I have a rather unusual way for praying for people with back problems. I check their legs and if they’re not equal the short leg grows out and that usually means the person’s been touched by God. So I said, Would you mind my checking your legs? She said, No, all right.
So I checked her legs and they were absolutely equal. So I said, That’s very remarkable. I very seldom meet people with absolutely equal legs. Did anybody ever pray for you? She said, Yes, you did. So then she reminded me of a situation when I’d prayed for a whole number of people. Well, I said, There’s nothing more I can do about your legs, so I will just pray for you. And I got a little prophecy for her that she was a tree of the Lord’s planting that He had planted her and no one would be able to uproot her. So then I said good-bye in a nice way went home and we went on. To the last night that I was to be in Israel. I still hadn’t resolved the problem about coming back. I went to bed that night but I could not sleep. I was wide awake. And in the middle of the night I had a vision which is very rare for me. In this vision I saw a woman at the bottom of a hill which had a winding, zigzag path leading up the hill, and I felt the path was the way back to my place in Jerusalem, but that somehow I had got to deal with this woman at the bottom of the path. As I looked I recognized the woman that I’d prayed for.
So I thought and then I felt the Lord was saying, It’s My will for you to marry her. And I became really quite indignant. I said, Lord, are you asking me to marry a woman that I don’t know and don’t love? And the Lord didn’t answer that question at all. Well, I thought it all over and I thought, This is where Pentecostal preachers get into trouble, so I’m going to be very discreet. I’ll pray it over. So I went back to the States, prayed for a month, still felt the same that God wanted me to marry this woman. So I thought well, let’s take a little step. So I wrote her a nice very formal letter and said if she should ever be coming to the United States there’s a fellowship in Kansas City that would welcome you. I got a letter back, I’m planning to come next week to bring my daughter to a college. So she gave me the address where I could reach her by phone. I’m not a person that likes making phone calls, but I thought, I’ll have to go through with this.
So I phoned the address where she was staying, and I didn’t intend to give my name. But the people that she was staying with had listened to a lot of my tapes and the girls who answered the phone recognized my voice. So it became known that Derek Prince had phoned. So we made an appointment to meet in Kansas City, which we duly carried out, and the pastor there invited us all to stay in his home. And I had a personal conversation with Ruth, which didn’t go into anything very deep or profound. And then I said, Now, I’m going to South Africa for ministry, but I plan to be back in Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. She said, I’ll be there too. So we left it at that. I ministered in South Africa, received some generous honorariums, and then I sent a telegram to Ruth Baker and I said, Meet me in the King David Hotel for breakfast on such and such a day at 9 A.M. And I thought either she will or she won’t.
So the night before I checked in at the King David Hotel, and next morning at 8:30 A.M. I was down in the lobby waiting to see what would happen, because I only had a post box address. If she didn’t respond I had no way of contacting her. Punctually at 9 A.M. she walked in through the door, which I learned was characteristic of Ruth. So we had breakfast together and I knew she'd been married and divorced. And I had very strong feelings about divorce. But I felt that if the party was truly innocent and the other party was guilty, the innocent party had the right to remarry. So, I mean, I spent two hours quizzing her at breakfast on the whole story and how she got married and divorced. Then we went out and sat by the swimming pool for a while. Then I said, We might as well have lunch together too. So we had lunch together and I continued with my questions. Eventually she said, I’m sorry but I’m too tired. I can’t answer any more of your questions.
So I thought well, Now is the time, so I said, I need to tell you why I invited you to breakfast. So I told her about the dream — well, that wasn’t a dream, but about the vision. And she told me later, Now I understand why he’s been pursuing me. She couldn’t understand it. So in her own words, she looked down and looked up and fell in love with me. So that’s how we arranged to get married. Well, Shakespeare said, The path of true love never does run smooth. And we had quite a number of relational obstacles to overcome before we got married, but we did the 17th of October 1978. We were married in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale. We’d said, well, let’s keep it a quiet marriage. If we get married on a Tuesday, nobody ever comes to a marriage on a Tuesday. But God simply out-planned us. We ended up with a wedding party about the number of people we expected to get to the marriage, and there were at least six hundred people at the marriage. It was a celebration, a real wonderful occasion.
The year after Ruth and I married, I felt the Lord speaking to me to start a radio Bible teaching program. I had never really been interested in radio. It was just outside my thinking. So eventually I prepared some messages and started. And we were only asked on a few stations in the United States to begin with. I would prepare my messages in Fort Lauderdale in a little rigged-up studio. And I had only one audience, that was Ruth. She sat and listened patiently and with great attention to every message that I preached. And I focused on her. One day she pulled out a nail file and started to file her nails. And I stopped in my middle of my message and said, Sweetheart, what are you doing?
I had to go back and start the whole message over again, so she learned that never to be in any way distracted, because for me she was the audience and her interest was the interest of the people. Meanwhile, Derek Prince Publications had gradually become Derek Prince Ministries, a non-profit organization. And was expanding, but slowly and rather erratically. And in 1984, David Selby, who was then the Director, reported that we were going into the red at about $10,000 a month. At this point Ruth and I took a brief holiday, really to seek the Lord. And during this time we felt the Lord spoke to us very clearly. And He said, The people who need your material the most, can’t afford to pay for it.
So we came up with what we called our Global Leaders Outreach Program, by which we selected certain key leaders in many different nations and made our material available to them free of charge. Of course we didn’t cease to charge for people who could easily afford to pay. And that was a strategic move really, because when the leaders became excited about the material, they passed their excitement on to the people they were leading. And I would say that was a very significant development and has projected my material into many, many different nations in the most effective way. I see as a principle: If you can reach the leaders, you can reach the people. Sometimes I, myself, have been rather prone just to go for the people and bypass the leaders, but that in a way is a mistake.