with Ruby and Laurie
a faithful Sunday School teacher touched one hurting life
They were very different
people. Ruby, in her late 70s, could look back some 65 years to
the day she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior at a traditional
brush arbor revival in Harrison, Ark. Laurie, 41, was a new Christian
with only a few months of history in her relationship with Christ.
Ruby remembered the
day — May 4, 1939 — when she was baptized in the Holy
Spirit and spoke in tongues for the first time. For Laurie, that
experience on June 8, 2003, was as close as yesterday.
Ruby grew up in a preacher’s
home, attending church so faithfully that she once went for a
31-year stretch without missing a Sunday. Laurie struggled through
her youth, battling the torment of alcohol and drug addiction.
Very different people,
but strongly drawn together.
Laurie called her, became like her grandmother,” says Eva
Jo Eiken, Laurie’s mother. “Laurie was always close
to my mother and she said Ruby made her think of her grandmother.”
It was the last Sunday
in March 2003 when Laurie Andrus first visited Ruby Platter’s
Sunday School class at Northland Cathedral (Assemblies of God;
Lowell Harrup, senior pastor) in Kansas City, Mo.
“She had just
completed a jail sentence. She got saved while she was in jail,
and her family convinced her to come to Kansas City,” Ruby
sentence meant Laurie still couldn’t drive for several months,
so Eva Jo became her driver. “I took her everywhere, so
you can imagine how close we were,” she says. “She
was having a little problem with money and we went to her mailbox
one day and there was a lovely card in there, and, would you believe,
a member of her Sunday School class had sent her $50. We both
Then there was the
day the class paid a visit to Laurie at the Bob Evans restaurant
where she worked. Harold Eiken, Laurie’s dad, treated everyone
to lunch. Then the whole class took their lunch money and gave
it to Laurie. It was the biggest tip she’d ever received.
emphasize enough how important it is for people to get into a
Sunday School class,” Eva Jo says. “That’s the
heart of the church, a small group getting together. I just can’t
say enough good about Sunday School.”
Eva Jo had started
attending Northland Cathedral in 1993. Over the years the rest
of her family joined her. The Eikens all faithfully attended Ruby’s
dare miss Sunday School or she’ll call us,” Eva Jo
says with a laugh. “She’ll stop what she’s doing
and call you right there in class on her cell phone. ‘Where
are you?!’ ”
Ruby was the 2003 Sunday
School Teacher of the Year for the Northern Missouri District
of the A/G. It’s a high point in a ministry that has spanned
the decades. It’s the high point in a year that included
one of the lowest points in her life.
“I was gone the
night Laurie got killed,” she says. “I always go to
a camp meeting where my family goes in Stillwell, Okla. We were
coming back that Sunday night when she was killed. We didn’t
hear about it until Tuesday. The family couldn’t get hold
of her and they thought she was with some friends. Her dad went
to check on her on Tuesday. She was dead in her apartment. Jo
called me. ‘Ruby … Ruby … Ruby … they
found Laurie dead.’ I called the church.”
A 19-year-old semi-pro
football player would eventually confess to slaying Laurie. The
waitress was no match for the enraged 230-pound intruder who claimed
to suffer from “intermittent explosive disorder.”
The man is serving a 25-year sentence.
“I just had her
four months,” Ruby says, “but when she got killed
her mother wanted the class to speak at her funeral.”
“The last four
months were the best four months that we ever had with her,”
Eva Jo says. “I thank God for that. When she died, I wanted
to focus on the part of her life that had changed and I wanted
it to have an effect on the other members of the far-flung family.
They wouldn’t have known about the change in her as much
as we did. But just letting the Sunday School class get up and
say that had a big impact.”
is a silent witness of her faith to anyone passing by. A single
verse graces its surface.
“You are my refuge
and my shield; I have put my hope in your word” (Psalm 119:114,
It seems only natural
that it’s a verse Eva Jo read in her Sunday School lesson
in the days following Laurie’s death.
“That verse gave
me courage to go on,” she says. “I never would have
picked it, but it was just there and God said, ‘Here it
is.’ So that’s what I put on her headstone. It just
seemed appropriate for someone who was such a new Christian.”
Harrup is associate editor of Today's Pentecostal Evangel.
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