two smiling women; Ruth Finley on the left and Leta Van Meter on the right

A Well Lived Life—Ruth Finley

Ruth Finley
July 30, 1930 – June 9, 2024

Last week, we shared the sad and joyful news that Ruth Finley, Paraclete associate and former Board of Directors member, graduated from Earth to Heaven (Obituary). Below are tributes from two Paraclete associates who knew this remarkable woman.

Leta Van Meter says:>


What a legacy of passion and faithfulness has been left to me through the life and testimony of beloved Ruth Finley! We first met in the Bay Area in the 70s when I was a young missionary candidate, not yet “dry behind the years.” Our lives crisscrossed globally many times in multiple arenas in the decades that followed, including Paraclete, as she and Allen were intimately involved in the beginning days of this agency.

In the most recent years, our primary connection has been virtual—email, telephone, and Facebook. No matter the venue, it served as an altar of prayer for Ruth, a place of encouragement and even challenge, usually with some deep hearty laughter included. I am humbled with deep gratitude, that God gave me such a precious role model in the person of Ruth. He blessed me to experience her in every role referenced in her obituary.

She was a woman with a deep heart after God’s word, committed to prayer (over any and all matter of things), lover of dear Allen and her biological family as well as God’s global family, fun-loving, given to hospitality, beautiful and classy, and oh yes, a delightful twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes. I will miss her initiating phone calls and emails, shared hearts in prayer, and gutsy laughter. I would like to be like her when I grow up. May those who come behind her (us!) be found faithful.

Carey Childrey says:



Jesus promised, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time mothers . . .” (Mark 10:29-30) Opening my refrigerator after I first moved more than half-way across the country to the West Coast before we started Paraclete, I found it supplied with foodstuffs to easily get me started for the first week or so as I settled into my new apartment. Driving a Ryder truck and pulling my car behind me, I wondered if and how I would be welcomed into my new missionary ministry. This first recollection of Ruth Finley and my everlasting gratitude for her role as a “mother” of our then missionary “family” has never left me. “God sets the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68:6 NKJV) Her husband Allen recruited me to be his Assistant as he was leading the premier U.S. ministry at that time for the support of Christian nationals running their own ministries in their own countries around the world.

In 1988, Ruth took this same caring attitude with her to all the members of our first Board and staff. Allen, Ruth, and I had been called upon to help kick-start our new 501c3 Paraclete Mission Group into full operational mode. She especially exercised this role with our first younger lady administrative assistants.

Till her death, she faithfully prayed for all my missionary and personal requests and endeavors. What a “mother” in the LORD she was not only to me personally but to countless others in Paraclete and around the world! “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:28-31)


The doors of the country of Albania had been shut tight for years to the Gospel. This land had earned the reputation of being the most resistant to the Good News of Christ on the face of the earth. The U.S. Center for World Mission (USCWM) was then publishing a monthly Global Prayer Digest highlighting the unreached peoples of the earth. Ruth did not let this daunting impossibility stop her from “casting this mountain into the sea.” In spite of what looked like an impenetrable situation, she was particularly and consistently claiming in daily prayer that this land would open for the Lord. In the momentous year of 1989, the Iron Curtain fell, and Albania opened to the Gospel. I will always remember the exuberant and joyful confidence Ruth exuded in my office when word reached us that this had happened.


Any time one of our Paraclete associates or staff members would have a birthday, Ruth delighted in the occasion and would plan a party, secret or otherwise, for them. Therefore, there was great rejoicing on our team anytime this occurred, with plenty of ice cream and cake! I will never forget the surprise 40th birthday party Ruth, along with Allen, threw for me. Inviting me to their Pasadena, CA apartment on a Friday night, along with all my friends on campus there. We enjoyed fun, games, and great desserts, all chaired, organized, and executed by Ruth Finley. And no one had more fun in the games than Ruth! She loved celebrating others, and this made everything so much more fun for all the rest of us.


Paraclete tasked Ruth and me with surveying all the 40 or so new and old mission agencies focused on “reaching the unreached peoples of the world” based at the U.S. Center’s old Nazarene College campus. We were to ascertain their mission, their needs, and ways in which Paraclete might “come alongside and help” their leaders and staff better reach their Great Commission goals. As one of the two full-time Paraclete associates in residence at the time, I took Ruth around the campus as we interviewed each one we could. What a tremendously positive, professional, and dignified demeanor of women’s leadership on our behalf she displayed to everyone with whom she came into contact and whom we interviewed.

As I collated, tabulated, assessed, and documented the results of our survey for each agency, she was a model team player, contributor, and collaborator. When we presented our report to the Board, we received special praise from our Senior associate, Thomas Graham, who had a Ph.D. in organizational development. By God’s grace and with Ruth’s dedicated involvement, we had successfully completed our mission!


Wherever Ruth went, she increasingly expanded her role as a godly leader of women. Up until the time of her death, she built ongoing, lasting, and impactful relationships with the women in Paraclete as well as in other ministries. In the early days of Paraclete, Jill Harris of Frontiers used a Vacation Bible School Curriculum on China that Ruth had written and published. Allen, I, and others sold [them] even before coming to Paraclete. Jill incorporated this into her influential Mission Conferences for Children in church Mission Conferences all across the nation in the 1990s in large part, I am sure Jill would say, due to Ruth Finley’s role in her life. Paul exhorted “the older women that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5 NKJV) Ruth Finley modeled these scriptures in her own life and testimony as well as in discipling younger women.


Without fanfare or seeking personal adulation, Ruth Finley would make the keys of the piano sing as we sang hymns and songs at Paraclete. I will never forget the Spirit of God I sensed playing through Ruth as she did this and sought to do “all to the glory of God.”

Ruth Finley, like Phoebe in the New Testament, truly was “a servant of the church” (Romans 16:1) in the highest and best sense of the word. Ruth Finley’s influence lives on today!


Knowing that she was a sinner like all the rest of us, she knew she needed a Savior and reveled in His Word. When occasions permitted, she would reminisce about hearing a great Bible teacher like J. Vernon McGee.


Ruth wanted all to know the Savior and come to a personal conversion. That is why she dedicated her life to equipping missionaries, sending missionaries, and seeing people come to know Christ. May her example encourage all the rest of us in the same!

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