My sisters, Joyce, Annette, and I and our families have come to celebrate the life of RUTH EVELYN BAKER and to exalt and magnify her Savior and Lord. Mom was a wonderful, godly example not only to her family but to countless others both here in the States and in Sierra Leone, West Africa. We knew her as a consummate encourager and cheerleader. She had the gift of hospitality and was fun-loving and even played good-natured pranks on her family from time to time. To know Mom was to love her.
Because Mom and Dad’s years in Sierra Leone so defined and influenced their lives, I’d like to focus on those years of her life.
The year was 1949. Mom and Dad left for their first three-year term with 2 little boys, my brother, Norman, and me. The first big challenge was being asked to serve in 2 different locations. Dad was on the mainland serving as Education Secretary, and Mom was on the remote island of Bonthe as the Matron of a girl’s boarding school. Amazingly, they persevered for three long, challenging months before being reunited on the mainland where they served together at Kpangbaia. This also was a remote location requiring a 25-mile walk to the nearest road! Mom faithfully supported Dad’s work, lovingly cared for her family, and began to embrace the Mende people.
Now…we fast forward to 1955 (near the end of their 2ndterm). By then my sister, Joyce, had joined our family. Dad was heavily involved in the challenging project of building Centennial Secondary School (the first co-educational secondary school in Sierra Leone). On Dec. 1 Norman and I were excited to join the African primary school’s end-of-term picnic downriver. After an afternoon of fun, we all poured into a large, launch boat for the return trip up river. Tragically, the boat was poorly constructed and overloaded. When the boat hit the fast moving current, the heavy roof collapsed. Because of where Norman was sitting, the rafters landed on his neck, choking him and likely breaking his neck…Mom’s and Dad’s lives were forever changed that day. They could have chosen to leave. But they chose to stay among their African brothers and sisters. That very choice endeared them to the people there who well-understood loss and grief. Years later Dad would write in his autobiography, “The demonstration of love and concern from our African friends after Norman’s death could not have been greater. We thanked the Lord for them and their great kindness at that difficult time.” Dad further wrote, “Our grief remained, but we were able to accept Norman’s death because we believed our Lord would work out His plan through our lives. We continued to stand upon Romans 8:28. His will be done.”
Almost 2 years later God graciously filled Mom’s arms with little baby Annette. What a joy she was after all our family had been through.
In the years to come, Mom continued to support Dad and minister herself to the African women in Sierra Leone. But how she and Dad responded to the death of Norman gave ongoing testimony to their rock-solid trust in the sovereignty of the God they loved and served.
Today, Joyce, Annette, and I as well as our families honor and celebrate the life of RUTH EVELYN BAKER. And…she would want us to give all the glory to God.
And so…we proclaim these words from the book of Revelation:
Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!” (Rev. 7:12)
Ron Baker 1/28/2017