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Stillwater residents have a new place to shop for their Christian worship items.

A Ruth’s Christian Bookstore opened at the former Blockbuster Video on Perkins and Hall of Fame on Saturday Oct. 23.

            “Stillwater lost its only Christian bookstore four years ago,” said Natalie Church, manager of Ruth’s Christian Bookstore. “We are very excited to be a part of the community and to help the community in any way we can.”

The Ruth’s in Stillwater is one of four stores. The others stores are at Oakwood Mall in Enid, Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City and Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.

Church said that Stillwater residents constantly thank her for opening the store.

“The people of Stillwater have been praying for us to open a store here,” Church said.

Paige Evans moved to Stillwater from Kentucky last year and said she was thankful for the bookstore.

“I was very excited when I saw Ruth’s open,” Evans said. “I used to spend a lot of time in the Christian bookstore back in Kentucky. I have been homesick a lot lately, so this helps me get over the sickness.”

Church’s mother, Ruth James, opened the first Ruth’s Christian Bookstore in Pond Creek, Okla., in 1989. James converted a metal barn in her backyard into the first Ruth’s Christian Bookstore.

James said she grew up a farm girl in Pond Creek and married a farmer. When she got pregnant with her third child, she couldn’t do the farm work.

“I wanted to use the building to serve God, but I didn’t know what to do with it,” James said. “Finally, after months of praying, God told me to open a Christian bookstore.

“I resisted at first because I didn’t know anything about running a bookstore and I wasn’t confident in myself.”

James said she got the courage and inspiration to open the Christian bookstore after she read passage 3:11 in the Book of Ruth from the Old Testament.

Ruth 3:11 reads, “And now, my daughter, do not be afraid, I will do for you all that you ask, for all the assembly of my people know that you are a worthy woman.”

“After I read the passage, I knew that I needed to listen to the Lord,” James said. “I called the owner the Stillwater Christian Bookstore, which was still open at the time, and asked for advice.

“He gave me an 800 number that sells Christian supplies and that’s how things started.”

Church said the first professional bookstore opened in 1990 in Enid.

“God called us to the mall,” Church said. “We moved to Enid 20 years ago. We also have stores in Oklahoma City and Muskogee and our most recent store in Stillwater.”

The store in Oklahoma City opened in 2000, and the store in Muskogee opened in 2007.

Church said Ruth’s is different from other Christian bookstores because it is a ministry first and a business second.

“We are a store of encouragement,” Church said. “We pray over all the bibles we sell. We want to spread the word of God and the love of Jesus to everyone.”

Church said business is good.

James said since the previous Stillwater Christian bookstore closed, Stillwater residents have come to the Ruth’s Christian Bookstores in Oklahoma City and Muskogee.

“After the Christian bookstore shut down four years ago, because of the owner’s death,” James said. “People from Stillwater began shopping at our stores and asking us to come to Stillwater. Stillwater has always had a special place in my heart. It just seemed natural to open a store here.”

Ruth’s Christian Bookstore takes up only half of the former Blockbuster Video. The other half is a corporate AT&T store. AT&T leases the other half to Church and James.

James said she got lucky with AT&T.

“AT&T is giving us a generous lease,” James said. “There was no way I could afford to lease the whole building alone. I think God helped me by helping AT&T.”

Ruth’s Christian Bookstore welcomes all faiths, denominations and nondenominations.

“Ruth’s Christian Bookstores are open to all people,” James said. “People come in for encouragement and to be uplifted.”

Church said the resident’s strong reactions have surprised her.

“The people of Stillwater have welcomed us with open arms.” Church said. “They are thankful for us coming here and tell us have that we have answered their prayers. One woman saw me walking into the store; she got out of her and car and hugged me for opening the store.”

Evans said she will move back to Kentucky on Nov. 14, but hopes to have a Ruth’s Christian Bookstore in Kentucky soon.

“The Christian Bookstore in Kentucky is great,” Evans said. “But Ruth’s is much more than just a bookstore. Ruth’s is like a minichurch, whenever I have a bad day or have a problem that I can’t work out, I know I can go to Ruth’s and talk to someone about it. The people who work there always know what to say.”

Ruth’s Christian Bookstore sells a wide range of products. It has Christian music, books and movies. Ruth’s features a “kid’s corner” where children can read children’s Christian books and watch movies while their parents shop.

Ruth’s also sells greeting cards and home décor items. Ruth’s offers free imprinting for all bibles sold and special order any items it does not have free of charge.

Ruth’s Christian Bookstore will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday.

“We will be serving refreshments,” Church said. “So come on in, get yourself a drink and have a look around.”

Evans said she is glad she will still be in town for the grand opening.

“I can’t wait to for the grand opening,” Evans said. “I just know that Ruth’s will make a difference in the community if given the chance. These are the kinds of people we need leading the way in the 21st Century; honest, trustworthy, god-fearing people.”

James had to turn the management of Ruth’s over to Church after a hip replacement, but she helps with the ministry in the stores.

Ruth’s Christian Bookstores is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are excited about the doors God has opened for us in Stillwater,” Church said.

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