Lydia and Ruth
Derek is firmly convinced that ‘God is a matchmaker,’ as he teaches in his book of the same name. He says, ‘God never trusted me to choose my own wife.’
In 1945, when Derek was on patrol at his army post, he began to pray for Lydia and the children in her home. He says,
‘The Holy Spirit gave me a clear, forceful utterance in an unknown tongue. After a brief pause, an interpretation followed in English. It was God speaking to me through my own lips, saying, ‘I have joined you together under the same yoke, and in the same harness.’
He understood this to mean that he was to work together in some way with Lydia. Only months later, as their relationship deepened, did he realise that the ‘yoke’ was marriage, and the ‘harness’ their service together for God.
Considering the disparity in their ages, their differing cultural and experiential backgrounds, he wondered how such a marriage could succeed. Derek was an only child - and here was a home full of girls ranging from two to eighteen years of age! He says,
I was torn between excitement and fear, but I knew God had spoken. His word to me was confirmed by another Christian who knew nothing about my inner turmoil.
Derek and Lydia were married early in 1946, about a month before he received his discharge from the army in Jerusalem.
Their strength and unity lay in their shared prayer life and endured for thirty years through life on three continents under many different pressures, and in many different situations. Derek remembers:
Toward the end of her life, Lydia suffered from a weak heart, yet she was an amazingly strong and active woman and continued so almost to her last week on earth. At times she would feel her physical heart failing, but she would always say: ‘My flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (see Ps. 73:26)
From her I learned the lesson that we must not let the external dictate to the internal. Within the life committed to God, there is an inner source of strength not subject to the weaknesses and fluctuations of our physical body. Upon her death, I felt as though part of my insides had been wrenched from me, leaving a naked wound. Mercifully, God gave me grace to release her to Him, and He was able to begin the healing process.
Single again, Derek rededicated his life to the Lord and told Him that he was willing to be celibate for the rest of his life, if that was God’s will. But God had other plans. In 1977 He moved in again as a matchmaker. On a visit to Jerusalem, Derek heard about an American lady who had injured her back and was unable to work. Derek has a special gift of faith for the healing of back problems. He went to her home and prayed for her as an act of mercy, but there was no immediate evidence that any miracle had taken place.
A few nights later as he sought the Lord concerning his possible move back to Jerusalem, he had a vision of the way back: steep, uphill and zigzag, not a straight path.
He understood this represented the path back to Jerusalem Ð but he noted with astonishment that there was a woman seated on the ground just where the path started up the hill. He recognised her as the woman he had prayed for a few days before. He understood God was saying that the way of access to that path was through marriage to the woman. Again he was torn between fear and excitement. He says, 'I was even tempted to be angry with God. Was He really asking me to marry a woman I had met only once, knew nothing about and did not love?’
A little over a year later, in October 1978, Ruth Baker and Derek Prince were married. Ruth’s story, including the account of her miraculous healing, is contained in their book, God Is a Matchmaker. Born and reared in America’s Midwest, Ruth’s cultural and experiential background were also very different from Derek’s. When she married her first husband in 1952, Ruth converted to Judaism. In 1970, after a supernatural encounter with Jesus, she had committed her life to Him. Like Lydia, she was committed to a life of faith and, together with her youngest daughter, had immigrated to Israel in 1975.
When they married, Derek was sixty-three years old, and they anticipated settling in Jerusalem and making themselves available to God for intercession, for writing and for occasional ministry. Although they have lived in Jerusalem since 1981, developments in their ministry have taken a very different course.
Read about how Derek began Reaching the Unreached