Rantoul Press columnist

It’s easily the most horrific tale of child abuse I’ve read.

Ruth was part of a large family raised on a dairy farm in a strict religious community in Pennsylvania; big house, big oaks, fields of corn and hay — an idyllic setting where things like what happened are not supposed to happen.

At about age 8, she became aware something wasn’t quite right. Her father would take her apart from the rest of the family and spend far too long rubbing her backside . . . and other parts of her body. These times would leave her stomach in knots; she would cry and beg her father to stop, but he never did. Severe physiological symptoms developed — stomach pains, bed-wetting — but no one ever seemed to notice.

Because the family rose early to milk the cows, the kids often didn’t have time to clean up before school. There, Ruth was called "Germs" and was told she smelled bad, which she did.

At age 13, the worst began when her dad, one night, came to her bed, held his hand over her mouth and raped her. For the next three years, this nightmare was regularly repeated, and Ruth was emotionally isolated — having no one to turn to, no heart on which to lay her head.

Everyone (including her mother, who was frequently beaten by her husband) turned a blind eye and deaf ear. Before she made her escape from the family as an older teenager, she would be kidnapped by her father and held prisoner for nearly two years in an isolated farmhouse, where the monster perpetuated the molestation.

I have no words to describe the hell this poor soul endured.

But the thing in her book that touched me most and brought tears to my eyes was this: "I did not have many friends and kept my distance from people. I had one girlfriend who gave me gum one day and I thought I died and went to heaven. I felt so loved by one stick of gum."

Somewhere I remember reading that "love is kind," which means it’s friendly, considerate, thoughtful, giving.

A man who has never done a blessed thing to bless those around him may be thought decent and upright in a community, but he cannot be thought kind. For to be kind, one must do kindnesses; one must impart goodness to others.

You can no more have love without kindness than you can have spring without flowers. One of the greatest things we can do for the God in heaven is to be kind to His children.

A word of comfort or encouragement, the clasp of the hand, a visit, a gift of money, etc. — in such is kindness found.

"Then shall the King say to those on His right hand, ‘My soul was  being crushed, and you gave me a stick of gum.’"

(Ruth’s story is told in "The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer," WestBow Press.)

Kenny Chumbley, a lifelong resident of Rantoul, is a minister, author and  publisher.