Billy Graham Center

Papers of Wayne Wright and Ruth Kathleen (Saunders) Courtney - Collection 603

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan.]

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Table of Contents

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection

Biography of Wayne Wright Courtney

Biography of Ruth Kathleen (Saunders) Courtney

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Audio Tapes and Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Box List)

Collection 603
[May 4, 2011]
Courtney, Wayne Wright; 1919-
Courtney, Ruth Kathleen (Saunders); 1912-2008
Papers; 1940-1970s, 2004-2006, n.d.
1 Box (DC); Audio Tapes, Photographs (0.45 cubic feet)

Brief Description: Correspondence, oral history interviews, photographs. Collection documents the Courtney’s courtship and marriage, her 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.

Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biography of Wayne Wright Courtney

Full name

Wayne Wright Courtney


October 15, 1919, Schomberg, Ontario, Canada




William Leach Courtney and Kathryn Lucy Johnstone



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



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


At the age of 20, November 1939


At Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada



1940-ca. 1942

Graduated from Prairie Bible Institute, Alberta, Canada



Toronto Baptist Seminary



ca. 1943-1945

Served overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England


ca. 1947

Worked in a cousins grocery store, Ontario


ca. 1947-1949

Pastor of two small churches, Canada

See Joint Career after Ruth Courtney’s biography

Other significant information



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



Lived in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with his brother Anson


ca 1938

Worked in his brother’s (Ralph) store

Biography of Ruth Kathleen (Saunders) Courtney

Full name

Ruth Kathleen (Saunders) Courtney


May 23, 1912, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada


January 14, 2008, Lancaster, Pennsylvania




Elbert Everett Saunders & Lulu Ethel Smith



Ethel, two years younger


Marital Status

Married Wayne Wright Courtney, March 10, 1948, Calgary, Alberta, Canada



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


At the age of 17




Graduated from the Prairie Bible Institute, 2 years




Missionary with China Inland Mission in Honan Province, China


ca. 1947

Worked for six months at Chefoo School in Shanghai




See Joint Career below

Joint Career



Missionaries in China, Wayne at CIM Mission language school in Chungking, China



Lives with Ruth’s parents in Calgary



Wayne was assistant pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton



Worked in the English literature department of OMF in Manila, Philippines



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



Literature department of OMF in Manila



Wayne was assistant treasurer, OMF, USA



Ruth was mission home hostess at OMF in Philadelphia



Wayne was secretary, OMF, USA



Wayne was secretary-treasure of OMF, USA



Ruth worked part-time in the financial department of OMF



Retired to OMF Retirement Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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

Scope and Content

Series: I. Paper records

Arrangement: Chronological

Date Range: 1940-1950

Volume: 0.4 cubic feet

Boxes: 1

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 Courtney’s 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.

Series: II. 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 events described in the interviews cover the time period 1912-1960s.

T1 (90 minutes). Family background and earliest memories, description of his father, lives with older brother Henry on a farm in Ontario for five years, later lives with his parents in southeastern Alberta with brother J.M., describes working in a store and on a ranch, mother teaches him the Bible and helps him memorize scripture, social life interferes with his education, lives with half brother Anson in northern Saskatchewan, conversion of father, works in his brother Ralph’s store in Alberta, attends church with mother in Etzikom and first hears the Gospel, story of his conversion, led to the Lord by two CIM candidate missionaries waiting to go to China, Evelyn Gibson and Ruth Saunders (later his wife), tells family and others of his conversion, the love of God motivated him to be saved, Ruth’s decision to go to China and Wayne’s to get theological training, meets Ruth’s parents, leading of the Lord in his life, sees Christian life lived out in the lives of Ruth’s parents, example of Mr. Saunder’s constraint in a difficult situation (when Wayne damaged Saunder’s car), the Saunders accept him into their family, education at Prairie Bible Institute, reason for applying to the West Indies Mission, receives drafted notice for the Canadian Army, learns to pray and puts God first (decision to let Ruth go to China), receives a “Dear John” letter from Ruth, description of life at Prairie Bible Institute, remembrance of PBI staff member Miss Miller, describes L. E. Maxwell (founder and president of PBI), works on the Saunders farm and store during the summer, principle of living for Christ - the crucified life of a Christian, the rights of a Christian, joins the Royal Canadian Air Force as an instrumental technician, meets other Christian airmen overseas, returns to Canada and lives with the Saunders, attends Toronto Baptist Seminary (TBS), comparison between PBI and TBS, remembrance of Dr. T. T. Shields (president of TBS), comparison between Shields and Maxwell, Bob Jones, return of Ruth from China, relationship with God (God used a life in spite of the life itself), marriage to Ruth, applies to CIM.

T2 (45 minutes). Continuation of interview from tape T1. Mr. Griffin of PBI encourages him to join CIM, attends CIM candidate school in Pennsylvania, Mrs. A.T.W. Andrews, Nina Gemmell, appears before council and is accepted, experiences as pastor of two small churches, reaction of his mother about his going to China, trip to China, Paul Contento on boat with them, under house arrest for two years a few weeks after arriving, experiences in China, impressions of seeing China for the first time, description of Chungking, language school in China, life in China, being interrogated by the Communists, reflects upon the value of CIM/OMF

T3 (90 minutes). Family background, her parents, childhood memories, raised in a nominal Christian home, conversion, baptism, effect of conversion on her life, development of her personal faith, takes music lessons (vocal, piano, theory lessons), sings in competitions, attends Prairie Bible Institute, first time singing in China, memories of PBI, Evelyn Gibson, subjects studied, describes Rev. Maxwell, works at Olivet Church and Emanuel Church with Evelyn Gibson while waiting to go China, description of church services held, meets Wayne for the first time, Wayne and Ruth agree to be a pair but not engaged because she feels the Lord wants her in China, reasons why she applied to CIM, questions asked by CIM application board, travels to China, Mr. Bosshart, memories of trip to China (sick most of the time), wearing Chinese clothes, singing at services in China, describes CIM headquarters in Shanghai, meets CIM leaders Frank Houghton, Dixon Hoste, and George Gibb, language study, works at CIM headquarters, mentions Otto and Katie Schoerner and Henry and Mary Guinness, was with Mary when her son Os Guinness was born, prays for a demon possessed young woman, uses flannel graph to teach Sunday school lessons, uses her autoharp, teaching rural Chinese women, experience of playing the piano at a wedding, description of a Chinese church and its services, foot binding, importance of Bible women in the church and their duties, strengths and weakness of the Chinese churches, speaking in tongues, description of Pastor Lou She Ping (?) and his help in her evacuation from China, Japanese occupation of China, attitude of Chinese about Chinese Christians, returns to Canada, engagement, adjustment to normal Canadian life, learns to drive a car, describes her marriage, Bible women.

T4 (118 minutes). Returns to Calgary, tension between responsibility for family and missionary service, decides to respond to need of family (Ruth’s father was ill, further operation for son), lives in home of Ruth’s parents, adjustments, differences between OMF and CIM, works as assistant pastor in Edmonton, OMF invites the Courtney’s to work in the Philippines, status of Christian literature in Philippines when they went out to the field, begins OMF’s Christian literature work there, encourages Filipinos to write in their own language out of their own experiences, runs the publication office, types of materials published, qualities needed for literature work, characteristics of Philippine church, relationship between the Philippine church leaders and OMF, impute from Philippine Christians, describes Greg (Gregorio) Tingson, relationship between Catholics and evangelical Christians, adjustments to life in the Philippines, identifies his strengths and weaknesses and how to relate to others, learns to trust when he doesn’t understand, decision to return to Canada, appreciation and description of PBI, memories of L. E. Maxwell & Miss Miller of PBI, begins work at OMF office in Philadelphia, differences between the American and Canadian cultural, describes facilities of OMF headquarters in Philadelphia, describes Arthur Glasser and his effect on the mission, J. Oswald Sanders, Arthur Matthews, Ernest Heimbach, describes Daniel Bacon, issue of faith support for the mission, decisions made through discussion, changes in the missionary enterprise and missionary candidates over the past thirty years, retires from OMF, ministry at a local church.


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


Accession: 04-37, 04-38, 06-28

Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file.

Item# - Reel or cassette, speed, length, number of sides, contents (title of session, participants) according to the program, date.













Interview of Wayne Wright Courtney by Robert Shuster continues on T2







Continuation of interview of Wayne Wright Courtney by Robert Shuster







Interview of Ruth Kathryn Courtney by Robert Shuster







Interview of Wayne Wright Courtney by Robert Shuster



Accession: 06-28

Type of material: 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.









1949, n.d.











































1950, n.d.





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