The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 9, 2011

Answering a call

Mother and daughter team to provide marketplace ministry in Oakwood Mall

By Kasey Fowler, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Ruth’s Christian Bookstore started 23 years ago on a wing — sort of — and a prayer.

“I asked the Lord for a call on my life,” said Ruth James, owner of the store. “It wasn’t a lightning bolt or anything but I kept thinking about a Christian bookstore.”

She decided to keep the store close to home, just south of Pond Creek, and while it was not a true wing of her house it was close.

“I had a brown metal building behind my house that had been empty for a while.”

James admits she was afraid and unsure of herself when she started the store.

“I was not confident because I’d never been in business or anything. I gained confidence from the book of Ruth. Ruth 3:11, ‘And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.’ It gave me the courage to do what we do,” James said.

Shortly after opening the store in the metal building on the family farm, it moved to Oakwood Mall.

“We started with card tables in the mall,” James said. “We had the desire to minister.”

James’ daughter, Natalie Church, who was in high school when the first store opened, now co-owns the chain ... yes, chain.

These days Ruth’s has four locations: Enid, Oklahoma City, Muskogee and, most recently, Stillwater. The first three of Ruth’s stores are in malls, with the Stillwater location free-standing.

“We’ve been called to the malls because that is where the people are,” Church said. “We are called to marketplace ministry. We try to encourage our customers with the store. We pray for people to feel God through our store and know God is alive and well.”

Ruth’s sells a large variety of items, but its No. 1 seller is the Bible.

“We are doing a Bible for Everyone campaign,” Church said, adding they are pushing Bible sales by the case: 10 Bibles for $20.

Ruth’s employees add something special to each Bible sale, James said.

“We pray over every Bible we sell. We’ve never had anyone say no.”

Other best-sellers are Christian-focus books, T-shirts, jewelry, art, gifts and even vegetables.

One of the big sellers for youths are Veggie Tales movies, books and other promotions. The brand focuses on Bible stories and lessons as shared by vegetable characters.

“We’ve been doing the showing since 1992. We do them about every quarter,” Church said.

Ruth’s also hosts live musical performances and book signings. Also, their Veggie Tales showings are very popular.

Ruth’s stores are in Oakwood Mall in Enid, Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City and Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee and at 520 E. Hall of Fame, near the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater.