While most people thought the goals and vision of Bill and Karen Rudge could never be achieved, Bill and Karen believed God would fulfill what He led them to do. In August of 1977, while in their mid twenties, God led them to start a unique ministry that was destined to become an international outreach. With no money or facilities, they began an incredible journey of faith.
Many of you are witnesses of the miraculous ways the Lord has worked in and through their lives and ministry. You know about the “giants”– the impossible circumstances and obstacles the Lord has enabled them to overcome.
Some of you were there when God literally stopped the rain and thunderstorms from preventing ministry events and outreaches. Others of you observed God’s mighty hand of protection as you traveled with Bill to mission fields or on other dangerous ventures.
Most of you are aware of the numerous times, over the years, Bill and Karen were in need of a financial miracle or when they stepped out in faith to begin building projects. Some of you were eyewitnesses to the astonishing ways the Lord provided the land and enabled the building of two ministry centers primarily with the help of volunteers and without paying any interest. Most of you have read about; some of you can verify and attest to, miraculous interventions the Lord did in seemingly impossible situations (see Bill’s book, Overcoming Giants).
Many of you remember that in spite of the previous ministry building being unsold, Bill and Karen stepped out in faith and constructed a new facility. Then, on the very day they began moving items into the completed new facility, the former ministry center was sold.
As a crucial part in God’s provision for the needs of this ministry during its 42 years of existence, you have enabled this dream of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth to become a reality. But it is one thing to dream, and quite another to live by faith day after day and year after year – often confronting overwhelming obstacles. Yet, Bill and Karen have dared to trust the Lord, walk in obedience to His Word, be led by His Spirit, and persevere in faith and determination until His purposes were fulfilled.
Throughout their lives, Bill and Karen have witnessed the Lord’s protection in some incredible ways:
• Bill nearly froze to death in New Mexico less than a week before his conversion – but God dramatically rescued him.
• As a brand new Christian, a car battery exploded in his face – a miracle he was not blinded. (Years later, Bill’s youngest brother was told by a woman who witnessed the explosion, “Your brother should be blind!”)
• Shortly after start of Bill Rudge Ministries, Karen’s life-threatening liver disease suddenly disappeared.
• A shattered left ankle in the early days could have wiped out various aspects of the ministry such as Bill’s fitness and defense classes, school demos, soccer training and the obstacle course.
• Bill and Karen’s then two young children and three of their friends became separated from a group and wandered the streets of New York City by themselves for hours.
• An attempted abduction of their preteen daughter was thwarted by a friend who pulled her free from a man trying to drag her into a van.
• Armed guards in Jordan threatened to abduct their 13-year-old daughter from a bus.
• Bill has been in several near-tragic accidents, including a violent four-vehicle collision with his family while traveling through Oregon following a speaking engagement in British Columbia.
• Bill clearly heard a voice say “Stop!” as he began to pull into an intersection in Jackson Center seconds before a semi-truck whizzed by within a few feet of his vehicle.
• Placing his hand on the door handle of his vehicle in the middle of the night, leaving to meet with a former prisoner who called for help, Bill distinctly heard the word “Ambush.” He fell on his knees and prayed, then continued alone to what proved to be a set up from which only God could have delivered him.
• In Nigeria, Bill and his assistant were surrounded by 15 agitated and aggressive street people.
• In Haiti, Bill, his son, and two other team members were surrounded by approximately 40 hostile Haitians leaving a voodoo ceremony late at night.
• Over the years, Bill has traveled in several Middle East countries during threatened attacks against U.S. citizens.
• The first female suicide bomber detonated herself at the exact site Bill and his associates had stood just 23 hours earlier after speaking to a Messianic congregation in Jerusalem.
• Bill and his 13-year-old son were nearly struck by a speeding bus in the mountains of northern India: It slid to a stop just two feet in front of them.
• Bill was nearly shot during a conflict at a cult complex in West Virginia where later remains of murdered bodies were found.
• While leading a feared voodoo witch doctor to the Lord, Bill, the interpreter, and the witch doctor were supernaturally protected from being attacked by three angry men armed with machetes and a lead pipe.
• The vehicle in which Bill, his son-in-law, nephew, and Indian host were traveling came within inches of going over the edge of the Himalayan mountains.
• Bill and two others were smuggled in and out of a country where it was forbidden to share the Gospel under penalty of prison or death.
• Karen and Bill faced great peril when trapped in the California wildfires.
• Karen was diagnosed with cancer fifteen years ago and told she only had five years to live.
• Bill was bitten by a brown recluse spider – one of the most poisonous in the United States. Trapper John said, “Everyone I know who has been bitten by a brown recluse spider lost all or part of a limb or has a hole in their leg or arm. Bill does not have even a mark on his finger. It is truly a miracle.”
• Greg Callahan sent Bill a letter concerning an incident that happened when they were youths at B Street Playground in Sharon. He wrote:
Tonight as I was reading your book it came back to me about when you had a card game where you would flip cards and bet you knew which card was mine. Well, you got me. But what truly puts a tear in my eye is that we used to stack those picnic tables three high and play cards on top of the third one. They were large and heavy picnic tables which took several guys to move. One day you and I were sitting on one side of the picnic table stacked three high and somehow it went tumbling over. Those tables had to weigh at least a couple hundred pounds and we fell quite a ways. We were both sitting with our feet under the table so that when it fell there was no way out! When we hit the cement floor the seat hit first so that we didn’t get crushed. It just amazes me that we could have been killed or crippled all those years ago, but by the grace of God nothing happened and here we are today.
The Lord’s Assurance
Early in his ministry the Lord assured Bill that his life would not be taken until God’s purpose was fulfilled. Bill has faced life threatening situations throughout his ministry and during many of his adventurous mission trips to dangerous countries throughout the world. He has often been in potentially explosive situations: Threatened, surrounded, attacked; had spells put on him – even “prophecies” for his destruction. But the God of the Bible has either given him the wisdom for how to deal with them, or has intervened to protect him.
He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones. Proverbs 2:7, 8
This does not mean we will never be injured, attacked, or even lose our lives, but the Lord will be with us and bring ultimate victory out of every adverse circumstance.
What More Shall We Say?
Time and space does not permit us to tell of all the miraculous events initiating our radio ministry and military outreaches; or the amazing way God used Gabriel (General Secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Churches of India) to open doors to begin our international outreach (precisely 10 years from the start of the ministry) fulfilling exactly Bill’s initial goals and vision for the ministry.
Nor does it permit us to tell (in this issue) of how the Lord enabled Bill – at no financial cost to the ministry – to fulfill the goal of blitzing the world with the Gospel in 2000. Or of many other astonishing feats and exploits the Lord has done through this ministry.
Those who honor Me I will honor. 1 Samuel 2:30
From the very beginning of this ministry, Bill and Karen’s desire has been to honor the Lord. As a result, God’s blessings (along with the difficulties) have far surpassed anything they might have imagined.
This journey is testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness. The Lord has protected, provided and fulfilled everything He has led them to do. These, and other miraculous events are recorded in a history of the ministry notebook entitled The Impossible. A future book will share in more detail these amazing accounts of what the Lord has accomplished in making the impossible possible.
In sharing these highlights we want to encourage you, to build your faith and to testify of the faithfulness of our God. As the apostle Paul said in Romans 15:17, 18:
Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me….
Don’t compare yourself to others or attempt to imitate them. Just follow the path the Lord has for you.