I had no desire to be in ministry at all...
While Kensington Temple’s Ruthann Cannings had her reservations, she listened to the Holy Spirit and allowed God to steer her life.
For more than 40 years, Ruthann Cannings has aimed to be in the right position to hear and obey God. It’s not always been instant obedience, she admits, but during this time, God has steered her through a varied and fruitful ministry at Kensington Temple and in her own organisation, Arise Ministries.
Ruthann was nursing when she first heard God call her to this work. “I had no desire to be in ministry at all,” she says.
"But a week later, I heard the Holy Spirit say, ‘I won’t call you again’. I knew I could say no, but I chose to say yes”.
Ruthann joined the staff at Kensington Temple and it was not long before God laid another decision before her. “They told me they were looking for someone to pioneer a pastoral division, and my name had been put forward”.
“I shot out of my chair and said, ‘you’re nuts!’”
But again, she heard the voice of the Holy Spirit.
“He said, ‘service or not?’ ... so I said yes”.
Soon afterwards, God reminded Ruthann of some teaching she’d heard: ‘the church is a hospital for sick people.’
“As a nurse, this gave me confidence to set up the new pastoral division and run it as I would a ward; making sure sick people went home well.”
Understanding that her pastoral team needed to offer specialist counselling for different needs, including rape, abuse, marriage and divorce, Ruthann brought in experts to teach staff how to counsel in these areas. “The idea was to get people whole so they could be a blessing to others”.
Out of this work KT’s Community Link Programme was born, which included caring for people with Aids, and fostering abandoned children from countries such as Ethiopia.
As these two programmes flourished, Ruthann realised God had yet another call for her.
“People were volunteering themselves and as I signed them up, the Lord was removing everything from my desk; I realised he was calling me to something new.
“I resigned from KT and waited to see what God had in store. “I was leaving my income, my pension plan, my health plan, but I knew I had to say yes.”
The Lord revealed his plan soon afterwards during a prayer meeting. “I heard this word ‘arise’ and my spirit rose. I knew God was calling me to empower people’s lives and help them transform into the destiny he had for them – to rise to their best and be released from the past”.
So, in 1998, Arise Ministries was born, and since then Ruthann has spoken, taught and mentored at a wide variety of events. “I’ve spoken at women’s conferences where it’s about releasing people who are crippled by their past, explaining forgiveness, and often forgiving someone who has abused or hurt you”.
God has also called her to minister to men and women around sexuality and relationships. “I was speaking at a conference in Ireland and I sensed God saying, ‘I want you to pray for people who’ve been divorced. “I had no idea what to say, but within half an hour the Holy Spirit gave me an entire list of things that can happen.
“I read out the list of things God had shown me and said, ‘Write down anything on this list that affects you and let’s get rid of it. God has forgiven you and now you need to forgive yourself”.
Ruthann has ministered globally too, in places such as Brazil, Africa and India.
“I was at a meeting in India and asked the worship team to sing a song in Hindi. I sensed God wanted to heal people, not by prayer but through worship.
“Women were being healed just by dancing. Afterwards, I was told those women had never danced before”.
Ultimately, says Ruthann, her "diary is God’s to direct and she is careful to ensure she is positioned to follow his lead.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if this wasn’t God’s call,” she says. “Nursing was much easier, but God has been so faithful, and I’ve never had any regrets about following him.”
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