Wayland alum finds new calling in China with students

Release Date: April 3, 2009    

CHINA – When Jerry Ruth came to Wayland Baptist University’s Fairbanks, Alaska, campus as a member of the Air Force, he thought he had just found a convenient place to receive his degree at an accelerated pace, what he calls “an opportunity I couldn’t get elsewhere.” Graduating in 1991, Ruth wasn’t aware at the time that the future held something very different for him and wife Heidi.

After leaving the Air Force, Jerry continued his education with a master’s degree from the University of Southern California and went into engineering. He felt a desire to teach, working on his teaching credentials and eventually teaching algebra at night at a community college. Their family was growing up and life was good.

Then their lives took a completely different turn. Just as their last child graduated high school, the Ruths felt a “completely unexpected calling” to go teach in China.

“In 2004, we sold everything and moved to China, where we’ve been serving almost three years with the English Language Institute in China,” Ruth said. “We taught English at Chongqing University of Post and Telecommunications for two years, and now we’re studying Chinese full-time. When we finish this language program, we’ll go back to teaching.”

The Ruths love their new homeland and their work in China and hope to be there “as long as we’re allowed to,” expressing amazement that they waited so long to make the journey.

Though as a nontraditional student Ruth said his Wayland experience is different from younger students, he still appreciated the opportunity his Wayland education afforded him. And he’s returning the favor by making a difference in the lives of Chinese students he meets daily.

“My education at Wayland opened the doors I needed to have opened and allowed me to move onward and upward in my life,” he said. “Now I have the opportunity to help change the lives of others. In our short time here in China, we've become like parents to dozens of kids who are away from home attending college. We share love with them that they never had, and when the opportunity allows we share with them the Love that changed our lives also.”