Mama Changed the World Without Leaving Home

Except for the first 4 years after she and Daddy married, Mama, Ruth Waddell, has lived her entire life on the same farm in a dot-on-a-road-map rural community in southcentral Kentucky. She’s never been employed off the farm, but as worked as many long, hard hours as any man on that farm; milking, tending tobacco, gardening, cleaning house, and providing for her family.

Mama and Daddy were married at age 16 and 18 respectively. Five children were born to the union. Mama gave birth to four of us within 5 years and 1 month, before she turned 24 years old, and a fifth sibling was born 10 years later.

Mama has traveled very little throughout her life, rarely going beyond a 70-mile radius of her small farming community.

Considering all these factors, one might think Mama’s circle of christian influence would be small; seen and felt mostly around Three Springs, Kentucky.

But one would be wrong.

To date, her direct influence through her family’s travels and evangelistic efforts stretches throughout Kentucky into Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. It has been experienced in Scotland, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, the Bahamas, the former USSR, Germany, and more.

Scores of kids have spent the night in her home, played volleyball or basketball in her backyard, “swam” in her cow tank pool, and worked on 4-H projects in her driveway. Through these kids, now adults, a part of her has traveled throughout the world.

For over 50 years, an untold number of children walked through the Old and New Testaments in her Bible classes. Missionaries and visiting preachers have been nourished by delicious down home cooking and have told of their travels to wide-eyed kids around her table.

Do you have to be a world traveler to make a difference all over the globe?


Just ask someone who slept last night in the same room she was born in 77 years ago. She’s done it without much more than leaving home.

“The sayings of King Lemuel – An oracle that his mother taught him . . .An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels . . .She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong . . .She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy . . .Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her . . .Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:1-31) ESV

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