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Moments with Ruby and Laurie

How a faithful Sunday School teacher touched one hurting life

By Scott Harrup

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.

“Ruby-Doo, as 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 says.

The traffic-related 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 cried.”

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.

“I can’t 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 class.

“We don’t 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.”

Laurie’s headstone 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, NIV).

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.”

Scott Harrup is associate editor of Today's Pentecostal Evangel.

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