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Batavia woman writes book on mission work, travels

BATAVIA – After her longtime husband, Don Johnsen, passed away last year, Ruth Johnsen was at a loss.

“I prayed, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ ” Johnsen said. “He said, ‘Write.’ ”

Johnsen took that as a sign that she should write a book about the mission work that she and her husband had seen around the world. “Missions Possible” is for sale at, and

The couple’s journey began in 1972, when the Johnsens started a mission committee at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva.

“Four families from the church decided to go into mission work,” Johnsen said. “That’s how we got involved in visiting missions.”

Fortunately that same year, her son began a career as an airline employee and one of his perks was free, space-available flights for his parents.

“So my husband and I took off, eventually visiting 28 countries,” Johnsen writes in the book.

In one chapter, she described how a church in China was secretly making cassette tapes containing Bible lessons and sermons.

“They would be carried to many similar ‘hidden’ churches throughout the southern part of this huge, Communist country and eagerly absorbed by the Chinese Christians,” she states in the book.

Her husband’s memory is kept alive in the book, which also features pictures that Don Johnsen took while the couple visited the different missions.

In addition to describing missions being done halfway around the world, Ruth Johnsen writes in “Missions Possible” about work at home by the members of the Sanctuary Church in Batavia, who go to a local laundromat once a month and insert money into the machines for anyone using them that night.

“A mission can be almost down to your doorstep,” she said. “It’s about helping each other, reaching out to those who need help.”

She hopes her book will get people to think outside of themselves.

“I hope it encourages them to think outside the box,” Johnsen said.

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