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puppeteer

A narrative appearing in ON WORD, a quarterly magazine published
by
MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE
This was featured in the Fall 2008 issue, pgs 28-29


At my age of 64 many memories have long faded; not only with my ineptness causing me to see through a
glass darkly, but the glass itself seems to be getting darker. Fortunately I wrote down a number of my Moody
experiences years ago, and as I refer to them the memories come flooding back. Sharing in the Moody life
more briefly than some of the other students, which means I didn't graduate, doesn’t seem to detract from the
sense of belonging, of family, of love in its undefiled form. Thank you Lord for that.

In my head all these years later I can still hear Ray Williams bellowing out “I never shall forget the day when
Jesus washed my sins away” as he entered the freshman dorm. No need to seek him out because he could
always be heard. Karen Waggoner, a preacher’s daughter from Texas, became practically attached to my hip
during those days, and with Karen the antics kept on coming. I mention her because this leads to her
roommate Ruthie Wagner. She was a puppeteer and amateur ventriloquist, and more often than not she had
one of her imaginary friends on her arm. Her effect on children was far reaching, because of her skilled
puppet performances and because of that distinctive smile of hers.

Summer school is underrated. My friend Ruthie was there that one Summer, although not out of scholastic
necessity, and I was glad to have someone familiar to occasionally pal around with. Ruthie and I got to know
each other nicely during the hot Summer session. God’s favor upon me for sure. Ruthie's pudgy face which
still retained some of its adolescent acne was framed by curly brown locks, accompanied by that signature
smile. She was one of the happiest people I have ever known, absolutely delighted to be serving Jesus. I
never had thought much about her influence, even though she was known on campus for her passion for
children's' ministry, but I did notice that one particular puppet seemed to go with her just about everywhere.

One night I found myself down by the lake, Bible in hand, with Ruthie and the favored puppet. I'm not sure
why we were there except that students often wound up by Lake Michigan's shores on Summer evenings to
cool down, and most probably she and I were doing just that. Typical of Ruthie, seemingly right out of the
blue she started doing a one woman puppet show for a few teenagers who were sitting on the rocks. Ruthie
was captivating and I could instantly see why she was so effective in her ministry. The teenagers were
spellbound and I noticed one of them in particular who looked to me as if he was ready for something more,
as if the Holy Spirit were drawing him in. I opened my Bible and asked the one young man if he would like to
know Christ as his Savior. Yes. I showed him some basic Scriptures and it wasn't but a few minutes after that
that he gave his heart to Jesus right there on the rock wall. Moments later there were several more
teenagers who had been born into the kingdom. What a team this turned out to be – Jesus, Ruthie, and me.

It was a milestone moment for me and I have never forgotten it. God didn't need me for the miracle to take
place, but God used me because I was ready and willing. And it set the pace for the rest of my life. Not every
student who ventures through that hallowed archway becomes a renowned preacher or outstanding soloist.
No matter, because Moody prepares every student for a solid and effective witness, either traditionally or on
a road less traveled. The far reaching influence of MBI will never be recorded by any earthly measurement.

Because He lives, I do also.








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