50-Year-old Wish Blesses a New Generation
Rev. Paul Hader was a devoted minister of the Church of God movement. He and his wife Ruth, were married 57 years and pastored churches in Roswell, New Mexico; Ashland, Kansas; Kansas City, Kansas, as well as south Oklahoma City at the Shartel Church of God.
Orphaned as a child, Rev. Hader was raised by his aunt and uncle, Henry and Hannah Schierloh. In 1963, one of the final wishes of his Uncle Henry was for his family to give a gift of $1,000 each to five Church of God endorsed agencies, including a school known as Gulf Coast Bible College, now Mid-America Christian University.
But there was a dilemma.
"My husband wished he could honor Uncle Henry's request for all those years," Ruth Hader explains, "but because Aunt Hannah lived many more years, there was simply no money left for the gifts when she died. We never had the $5,000 to send out.
We were living paycheck to paycheck. But as my husband came closer to death, he grew more concerned about fulfilling his uncle's request. He felt like his uncle would be disappointed that he hadn't followed through. So I promised him I would pay those bequests if there was enough life insurance money. That gave him peace of mind."
After Paul's death, Ruth decided to give the donation to the James Curtis Scholarship Fund. This allowed her to help MACU students while honoring her dear friends James and Helen Curtis.
Mid-America is the first university to receive a gift from her husband’s estate. She knew how much Paul loved the university. Back in the early 1980s, Paul had even scouted out the land where the university now stands in south Oklahoma City.
"The farmer who owned the land was a Christian man, and he said he would really love to have a Christian university on that property," Ruth said. "We felt it was a good location because it was so close to the airport, and Shartel Church of God was nearby."
After 17 years in Oklahoma City as the pastor of the Shartel Church of God, Paul began having health problems. He retired from the ministry and lived with Parkinson's disease for 18 more years before he died in 2012. Ruth cared for him during this time and considered it part of her ministry.
"My whole life was trying to fulfill the life of a servant to the churches we pastored," Ruth said." I really enjoyed working in the background and being his helper. I had a shock at first about what was facing me. But if I committed to God when I was in my teens that I would go where He wanted me to go and I would do what He wanted me to do. It wasn't my choice. This was my new task, to take care of Paul and see him through to the end.
One thing that made it easier for me was knowing that if the roles were reversed, and I was the invalid, he would have been a much better caregiver than I was."
Ruth is now packing up the couple's home and is moving to the farm once owned by Paul’s Uncle Henry and Aunt Hannah Schierloh in Higginsville, Missouri. She and Paul had planned to retire there, and now she hopes to spend time and enjoy ministry with the many friends they've made through the years.
Morgan Alsip, director of Church Relations at Mid-America says that this kind of story reminds him of the faithfulness of God's people within the Church of God. "These stories just bless my heart again and again. Each of us would completely understand how important it was for Uncle Henry's wife to be taken care after his death. But for their adopted son, Rev. Hader, to carry the desire to fulfill that promise, and for his wife Ruth to fulfill the gift after her husband's passing, says so much about the kind of people leading and serving within the Church of God. Ruth and Paul Hader have “run the good race,” and now their faithfulness and the generosity of Uncle Henry will bless a new generation at Mid-America."
If you are interested in leaving a legacy gift to Mid-America Christian University as part of an overall estate plan, please contact the Office of University Advancement at 405.692.3191.