Skip to main content

Collection 603 Papers of Wayne W. and Ruth K. Courtney

Identifier: CN 603

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, oral history interviews, and photographs which document the Courtneys' courtship and marriage, Ruth Courtney's ministry in China as a single missionary with China Inland Mission, their brief work together in China after their marriage (1949-1951), and later work for the mission in the Philippines and in the United States.


  • Created: 1940-2006

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Wayne Wright Courtney

Full Name: Wayne Wright Courtney

Birth: October 15, 1919, Schomberg, Ontario, Canada

Death: August 18, 2019, Lancaster, PA


Parents: William Leach Courtney and Kathryn Lucy Johnstone

Siblings: Older half siblings: John Melvin “J.M.,” Elizabeth Olive, Ellen M., Charles A. (Anson?), Thomas Henry “Dick,” William Ralph

Older full siblings: Fredrick “Frank,” Beatrice

Marital Status: Married Ruth Kathleen Saunders, March 10, 1948, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Children: Two sons: Trivett Wayne (born 1950), Lea Allen (born 1953)

Conversion: At the age of 20, November 1939

Ordination: At Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


1940-circa 1942 - Graduated from Prairie Bible Institute, Alberta, Canada

1946-1947 - Toronto Baptist Seminary


circa 1943-1945 - Served overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England

circa 1947 - Worked in a cousins grocery store, Ontario

crica 1947-1949 - Pastor of two small churches, Canada

See Joint Career after Ruth Courtney’s biography

Other significant information:

1924-1929 - Lived with his older brother Henry and his wife Georgina during his father’s illness

1935-1938 - Lived in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with his brother Anson

circa 1938 - Worked in his brother’s (Ralph) store

Ruth Kathleen (Saunders) Courtney

Full Name: Ruth Kathleen (Saunders) Courtney

Birth: May 23, 1912, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

Death: January 14, 2008, Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Parents: Elbert Everett Saunders & Lulu Ethel Smith

Siblings: Ethel, two years younger

Marital Status: Married Wayne Wright Courtney, March 10, 1948, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Children: Two sons, Trivett Wayne (born 1950), Lea Allen (born 1953)

Conversion: At the age of 17


1930s - Graduated from the Prairie Bible Institute, 2 years


1940-1947 - Missionary with China Inland Mission in Honan Province, China

circa 1947 - Worked for six months at Chefoo School in Shanghai

1947-1949 - Furlough

Joint Career of Wayne and Ruth Courtney

1949-1951 - Missionaries in China, Wayne at CIM Mission language school in Chungking, China

1951-1955 - Lives with Ruth’s parents in Calgary

1955-1956 - Wayne was assistant pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton

1956-1961 - Worked in the English literature department of OMF in Manila, Philippines

1961-1962 - Furlough, on staff of Prairie Bible College, Wayne worked in the bookstore and Ruth taught voice

1962-1963 - Literature department of OMF in Manila

1964-1967 - Wayne was assistant treasurer, OMF, USA

1964-1969 - Ruth was mission home hostess at OMF in Philadelphia

1966 - Wayne was secretary, OMF, USA

1967-1984 - Wayne was secretary-treasure of OMF, USA

1969 - Ruth worked part-time in the financial department of OMF

1984 - Retired to OMF Retirement Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania


0.45 Cubic Feet (1 Box (DC); Audio Tapes, Photographs )

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

Series: Audio Tapes

Arrangement: Chronological by interview date

Date Range: 1912-1960s

Volume: 0.012 cubic feet

Geographic Coverage: Canada, China, Philippines

Type of Documents: Oral history interviews

Subjects: Life and missionary work of Wayne and Ruth Saunders Courtney in China and the Philippines and Wayne’s work as administrator with OMF’s home office in the USA.

Notes: Wayne Courtney was interviewed on August 2, 2004 and August 7, 2006 by Robert Shuster and Ruth Courtney was interviewed on August 2, 2004 by Robert Shuster, at the Courtney’s home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The time period covered by the interviews is 1912-1960s.


Series: Photographs

The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

COURTNEY, WAYNE WRIGHT. Photos of Wayne Courtney, Ruth Courtney, Mrs. Rosa G. Buenaluz. 2 color, 3 b&w, 1950s-1970s.

OMF (CIM) - CONFERENCES. Group shots of OMF conferences in the Philippines and the United States. 2 color, 3 b&w, 1950s-1970s.

OMF (CIM) - LITERATURE WORK. Photos of OMF Publishers staff and building in Manila, Philippines. Includes John Robinson, Pegasa Digan, Ricardo and Orpha Abesamis, Eddie, Ben Lanuza, Wayne Courtney. 1 color, 2 b&w, 1950s-1962.


Series: Paper Records (Box List)

Arrangement: Chronological

Date Range: 1940-1950

Volume: 0.4 cubic feet, 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: Canada, China, United States

Type of Documents: Booklets, correspondence, newspaper clippings

Correspondents: Evelyn Gibson (later Evelyn Charter), Wayne Courtney, Ruth Saunders, Elbert E. Saunders, R.E. Thompson

Subjects: Missionary work in China

Notes: Most of the letters are addressed to Wayne Courtney with a few to Ruth and others including Auntie Eva & Uncle Ernie, Mr. Griffon, Mr. Gowdy, Uncle Trivett, and Rev. L.E. Maxwell. A few letters were written before Ruth went to China (folder1-2) but most were during her time there (folders 1-2 to 1-10). Folder 1-11 contains join letters from both Wayne and Ruth. There are almost one hundred letters from Ruth, eighteen from Evelyn Gibson (who was a missionary with Ruth in China), eight from Wayne, and several joint letters from Ruth and Evelyn. Many of Ruth’s letters include references to her love for Wayne and the hope that they can one day be married.

Exceptional Items: Folder 1-1 contains two booklets: What Constitutes A Missionary Call by J. Oswald Sanders, general director of the CIM and On People’s Democratic Dictatorship and Speech at the Preparatory Meeting of the New PCC (Political Consultative Conference) by Mao Tze-Tung.

Some of the items in folder 1-2 include a newspaper clipping entitled “Calgary Young Women to Leave For China Soon” about a farewell service for Saunders and Gibson before they leave for China; a typewritten two-page note titled “Ruth’s story for young China” in which she encourages young people to pray for her while in China; a clipping with a picture and description of the “Language Training Home for Young Women” in China; an eleven page letter dated December 9 & 13, 1940 in which Ruth and Evelyn describe the trip to their mission station, encounters with Japanese solders, meeting CIM missionaries Otto and Katie Schoerner, and a church service at which Mr. Schoerner spoke.

Ruth’s letters in folders 1-3, 1-4 describe her first attempt to teach “old Grannies a scripture verse and prayer chorus in Chinese” (April 24, 1941), what she has been doing during her first year in China (December 4, 1941), and a Chinese wedding (January 14, 1942). Evelyn’s letter (September 20, 1941) in folder 1-3 tells being shelled by the Japanese airplanes while traveling by train.

A letter (January 29, 1943) to Wayne in folder 1-5 from Ruth’s father Elbert contains family news and mentions that there are two letter from Ruth enclosed. These letters could possibly by the ones in folder 1-4 dated December 18 and 29, 1942. Also in folder 1-5 is a letter to Ruth written on October 16, 1943 from R. [Robert] E. Thompson, assistant international China director. Thompson asks her about her relationship with Wayne because Courtney has not applied to CIM and because of the differences of their ages. On the back of this letter Ruth wrote to Wayne on December 20, 1943 encouraging him to keep in contact with the CIM about his desire to go to China.

In Ruth’s “Dear John” letter (May 29, 1944) to Wayne in folder 1-6 she mentions that the mission asked her if she would be willing to stop writing to him because of their age difference and little prospect of him going to China. She decided to follow the missions advice. The letter also contain an account of her evacuation from Honan. The first letter in collection from Wayne to Ruth was written June 1944 from England while he was serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He mentioned receiving her February 27 letter in which she wondered if they are being sensible in waiting indefinitely on marriage since he might be sent overseas and also asks if he could love another and be happily married. In his letter he replies that she is the only one he would be happy with married. On December 13, 1944 Ruth wrote to Wayne regretting writing her “Dear John” letter and asks for his forgiveness, states that she still loves him, and asks him to send his letters for her to her parents to be forward with theirs. She also mentions that because of the unstable conditions in China, “it looks like our days in this land are numbered,” she is preparing to leave for India at a moments notice. Also in folder 1-6 is an eight-page report entitled The Evacuation From Honan 1944 written by Arthur R. Kennedy which includes an almost day-by-day detail description of the thirty day, 550 mile journey from Loho, Honan Province to Sian, Shensi Province, for Kennedy, his family and Ruth Saunders. Experiences on the trip include the bombing and machine gunning of villages and people, fleeing from town to town, meeting various CIM missionaries including Otto and Katharine Schoerner, Ian and Helen Anderson, and Olive Joyce.

An interesting mimeographed circular July 8, 2009letter dated August 16 & 22, 1945 in folder 1-7 contains glimpses of Ruth’s missionary work including visiting Chinese in isolated mountain homes and conducting a Bible school. Also in the same folder is a menu for a Chinese American Dinner held in Hanchung, China on November 1, 1945 and a one Yuan bank note with several signatures, including Ruths, of about two dozen individuals who possibly attended the dinner.

Political conditions in China are mentioned in Ruth’s letter of July 15, 1946 (folder 1-8) in which she says, “The way the reds are acting up in China one wonders if our days are not numbered in this land.” Ruth’s International Certificates of Inoculation and Vaccination booklet in folder 1-9 contain a photo of her an a certificate indicated she had been inoculated against cholera, typhoid, and smallpox.

Folder 1-10 contain a letter (January 25, 1948) from Wayne to Ruth in which he mentions he attended the funeral of his half brother, Anson. Also in the folder is a wedding invitation for Ruth Saunders and Wayne Courtney and an undated newspaper clipping which described the wedding.

Two letters from Wayne and Ruth in folder 1-11 include information about their newborn son, Trivett, registering with the new Communist government, and description of their living conditions. Also in the folder is a copy of a medical examination record for Wayne, quotes, poems, and two devotionals entitled Stability or Balance and The Unwanted Blessing dated June 14 and 15, 1950 respectively.

Items in folder 1-12 included two poems entitled History of Chungking Language School and The Students Committee, C.I.M. Language School, Chungking (December 10, 1949) and the Valedictory Service, China Inland Mission Candidate School program (August 5, 1949) in which the Courtneys are listed. Also in the folder are two letters on CIM letterhead one from Nina Gemmell (May 18, 1949) inviting the Courtneys to attend the CIM school for candidates and the other from Herbert M. Griffin (August 11, 1949) containing information on missionaries, news from China, and a list of those who completed the school of candidates and were approved for sailing to China (the Courtneys are on this list). A Chinese 1000 Yuan banknote with the portrait of Sun Yat-sen is attached to the Gemmell letter.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Wayne and Ruth Courtney in August 2004, February 2005, August 2006, and July 2008.

Accession 04-37, 04-38. 04-47, 05-10, 06-28. 08-42.

September 2, 2009

Wayne D. Weber

Collection 603 Papers of Wayne W. and Ruth K. Courtney
Wayne D. Weber
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US