Ruth Potter, a Maranatha music undergraduate, has been a missionary in the Philippines for four years as a music teacher at Bob Jones Memorial Bible College (BJMBC). The school’s main purpose is to educate pastors who are starting churches. However, the school also has a music department, and many Philippine churches provide financial support for their main church musicians to attend BJMBC for musical training. The college music program is traditional in that the music students take courses such as harmony, aural skills, conducting, arranging, and pedagogy in addition to participating in a collegiate choir and/or orchestra. In the music courses, the music professors frequently teach practical tips that the musicians can use right away in their churches. To help prepare the music students’ hearts for church music leadership, the students also take a core of Bible courses.
As a music missionary, Ruth loves teaching in the college, but she also loves being involved in her local church. Over the years, she has participated in preparing special music, teaching Sunday School to ladies and teen girls, assisting with junior church and children’s Bible club, and cleaning the church. She is also very involved in relationship discipleship, and music has been a valuable asset for developing these relationships.
When asked about using music as a missionary, Ruth said, “I have been surprised and thrilled to meet missionary after missionary from all sorts of countries who have mentioned that they would LOVE a music school in their country. The possibilities are as limitless as God’s grace!”
Below are six qualities Ruth believes are essential for a music missionary:
- A thriving walk with God–in particular, a rich devotional life
- An alertness for opportunities to develop relationships and share the gospel
- A growing confidence in God’s grace which can enable one to do far more than one ever expected!!
- An ability to think outside the box!
- Graduate music degrees to be qualified to teach in a college
- Courage combined with a sense of humor for the coping with the unexpected
Listen to the testimony Ruth gave at Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown, WI
Read about one of Ruth’s “EMT” experiences:
“When a frog jumped past our restaurant table, it occurred to me that I had no idea my music major would lead me to a suburb of Manila!! I was on an EMT trip (ok, an Emergency Music Technician trip) to Bulacan where one of our Bob Jones Memorial Bible College music students was directing the choir of a small church. His choir had been asked to perform in the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Meeting for Manila Churches. The problem was that their only pianist was also the conductor. After a long wait standing next to a busy freeway that billowed with dark exhaust, we had hailed the bus in time to make it to his choir rehearsal. Thankfully, they did have a REAL piano. Good thing it had only two keys that didn’t work (if I recall correctly middle C was one of them) and one key that played two notes for the price of one! By now, this was a “normal” experience for my typical EMT escapades, so I compensated by being as encouraging to the director as possible. He was truly doing a phenomenal job of utilizing what he learned in conducting as he directed his church choir. Of course they would never want me to return home without feeding me a generous meal, which took place at a restaurant down the road. I was looking around to see if I could find some sign of refrigeration for the meat they were serving, when I saw the frog jump by our table. I had enough experience by then to expect the result of that tiring Saturday investment: real joy!”