The world has experienced a lot in the last 78 years: multiple wars across the world, the civil and women’s rights movements, the space race, the development of computer technology, the September 11th attacks, and so much more. Many learn about these events in history books, but Ruby lived through all of them. Her long life gives her a unique perspective, and she has given over 50 years of her life to leading others to the Lord.
Born on August 22, 1944, early in life Ruby was told by two doctors that she would never be able to speak correctly. This caused her to be extremely bashful growing up.
Her embarrassment did not extend to animals though. Despite not being able to speak clearly, Ruby would drag an old wooden apple box into the living room, lay a blanket on their divan in the living room, turn on the radio to the gospel station, bring in their two dogs and cat, and preach. “I don’t remember what I told them, but I’m sure it was good,” she laughs as she recalls how she felt led to preach at the early age of 5, and the dogs and cat were her congregation.
In 1958, Ruby’s family moved from Arkansas to Shawnee, Oklahoma, which was a shock to her as a “country girl.” They moved across the street of an older Nazarene couple, and because she had always liked “old folks,” Ruby accepted their invitation to attend church. It had been their prayer to help a “young person,” and this was Ruby’s first interaction with the church because her parents were not believers.
Then, at the age of 16, Ruby Nell was sitting on her front porch when a boy about her age invited her to a revival happening just down the street. He had asked other people, but they had all turned him away telling him to “get lost.” Ruby accepted his invitation, and just four days later, on March 16, 1961, Ruby went to the altar to seek the Holy Ghost, and God filled her with joy as well as speaking in tongues.
The next morning, His glory was revealed again when she was asked to present a scripture in front of her classmates, and she was able to speak clearly; the Holy Ghost had touched her speech too! Ruby was thrilled!
Throughout her life, Ruby has worked many jobs: she was a carhop, managed Bob’s Dairy Boy, substitute taught, ran a service station, was a junior accountant, and even opened a lawn company. Of course, Ruby has been a pastor most of her life after receiving her Assemblies of God ordination in October of 1969. While in the Assemblies of God, she pastored several smaller churches in Oklahoma that would have otherwise closed due to lack of funding and leadership.
In 2014, Ruby made the choice to enter Pentecostal Holiness after being asked to join. Ruby already had a connection with IPHC too: her husband’s uncle, Dan York, and his wife were pioneers for PH churches in Oklahoma many years before. She had another interesting connection as well: Mr. Orville Drake, father to Bishop Randall Drake of the New Horizons Conference, gave Ruby a $75 loan to buy a typewriter she needed to learn typing so she could pass her high school English class. Bishop Drake shared, “Reverend Ruby Nell York is an amazing and resilient minister of the Gospel. Since meeting Pastor Ruby a few years ago, I have been impressed by her endless energy, her consistent ministry, her constant service to people, her determined efforts in missions, and her desire to reach the community through her activities and involvement. She has served as our Director of Senior Adult Ministries and People-to-People Coordinator. Pastor Ruby is the epitome of a pastor: so much so that she pastors 2 congregations. She is the mayor of Cromwell, Oklahoma, a substitute teacher in 3 school systems and an active participant in New Horizons Ministries Conference events. Anyone who has met Pastor Ruby Nell York loves her and is encouraged by her vitality, energy, and excitement. I am proud to be her Conference Superintendent and to partner with her in ministry.”
Joining Pentecostal Holiness was a new opportunity for her, and Ruby accepted it willingly because she knew it was the will of God, and she loves being a part of IPHC. It was then that she began leading the Cromwell Church which was in a “terrible mess,” and just a year later, the Bethel Church in Wewoka became available after the pastor and his wife left. Bishop Drake shared that no one was interested in the small country church. Her love of small churches continued as she took on both churches because “small churches deserve someone to love them just as much as big churches”
Along with small churches, Ruby has had a heart for missions like Matthew 28:19 states, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” She shared, “[it] keeps you humbled knowing, if it hadn’t been for the grace of God, I’d be in those shoes.” She is also a “cheerleader” of People to People through encouragement towards women, the elderly, men, and teachers specifically with projects whose earnings are sent to People to People and then overseas. For example, women help young girls learn skills, like sewing, and they create items that are sold at craft fairs whose earnings are sent to help young women overseas. In turn, older people are asked to give $100 a year to help purchase sewing machines that are sent to young ladies who to take a course, learn the skills, and then take the machine with them so they can help provide for themselves and their families. Men help boys in FFA buy and raise livestock, and when that livestock is sold, through People to People, the funds are sent overseas so that communities there can buy and raise livestock of their own. Teachers are also asked to give $100 each year to be sent to foreign PH schools in order to help there as well.
Her current project has been researching the locations of IPHC churches in Oklahoma. She has discovered that there are 37 Oklahoma counties without an IPHC church, and Ruby is passionate about resolving this problem. She would like to see Southwestern Christian University (SCU) give students and young pastors an incentive to take a course leading to more church plants throughout the state.
At the end of our conversation, Ruby shared some wise words to live by:
Life is what you make of it.
If anything bad happens, instead of mourning, go to church and rejoice.
God is good.
God will always supply; his bank account doesn’t go dry.
Go where the burden is; if there’s no burden, it’s a waste of time.