“And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
For close to 45 years brother Ruben Ruga has travelled all over the world, handing out packages of gospel literature. Unfortunately, his health no longer allows him to take these trips. He now solely concentrates on distributing literature in his home state of New Jersey. Only eternity will reveal the fruit of his labors. For this, He gives all the glory to God. This is his story.
Q. When did you begin doing this?
A. I made my first trip 45 years ago at the age of 40.
Q. Can you remember what led you to making that first trip?
A. I had a carpet cleaning business and the Lord gave me a desire to use the surplus profits for His glory and sharing the gospel with the lost.
Q. How did you normally go about choosing a country to visit?
A. The Lord would often place a country on my heart. Practically, there were two main considerations. First, would the country allow me to enter to openly distribute literature on the streets? Second, did I have the materials in their language?
Q. What materials went into each package?
A. The packages included tracts, wall hangings with a beautiful picture and verse, as well as bookmarks with an attractive picture and verse. We made sure that the pictures would not be offensive to that particular country. The most common tract we put in was a Chick tract called, “This Was Your Life.” There were volunteers that helped make the wall hangings and put the packages together before each trip.
Q. How many trips have you made?
A. I would estimate more than 100, averaging more than 2 trips per year. The length of each trip would vary but on average would be about two weeks. My goal was to distribute all the literature that I brought with me. I have been to over 100 countries on these short-term mission trips. I went to Greenland more than once because I felt led to cover the whole country.
Q. Did you always go alone, or did you have someone join you on some of your trips?
A. Sometimes my wife would join me, other times another Christian brother, still other times I went alone.
Q. Give a few examples of countries you have visited with the gospel?
A. I went to Mongolia, Russia, China, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Congo, Haiti, Denmark, Iceland.
Q. What kind of accommodations did you have?
A. Once I arrived at the airport I would see what was available in that country. In the more advanced countries I would stay at a hotel, other times a guesthouse or an apartment. I took what was available, preferably something with running water and air conditioning.
Q. Were there ever any problems with the authorities?
A. By God’s grace, I never did. When the Lord lays a place on your heart, He goes on ahead of you.
Q. Did you have any interesting conversations?
A. Yes. When people were willing to talk and we were able to understand one another I had the opportunity to share what I was doing and discuss the gospel with them. Besides handing out the packages myself, occasionally I would ask locals to help me.
Q. Describe your experience on your last trip?
A. In 2018, I went to Pemba an island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Tanzania. A Roman Catholic priest invited me into his church. When I offered him a few shillings and a supply of Swahili tracts to pass out to his parishioners, he gladly accepted and gave me a hug and kiss! I wasn’t expecting that, but it shows how the Lord works in the heart of others. As we drove on through remote villages, my chauffer, Shaub knew many friends who were happy to pass out the gospel to their neighbors. These people are so poor that they appreciate a few shillings for their labors (Gal. 2:6). We arrived at Chake-Chake, where for lunch we had hot soup with potato, cassava and meat in it. A number of “friends” were given tracts to pass out along with 2,000 shillings (not that much in value) for their labors.
Q. Any advice for the younger people who might want to do this or something similar?
A. I would advise: pray and seek the Lord’s mind; let your elders and other believers know your desire; find out if the country will allow you to openly do this and gather as much material as you can in their language.