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HomeAll The News2023 Legacy Missionaries: On the Cutting Room Floor (part 3)

2023 Legacy Missionaries: On the Cutting Room Floor (part 3)

Editor’s Note: The following is a story that will not make it into the Legacy Missionary video that will be played during the ceremony at the National Meeting in April. These are stories that have been left “on the cutting room floor.” Visit or see the Dec. 21 or Jan. 11 issues for other stories about the 2023 Legacy Missionaries.

Missionary Ruth Bowman went to the mission field in 1976 after two of her children were grown and gone and her youngest, Lisa had two more years of high school. Ruth’s husband, Bobby had retired from Naval service as a corpsman, where his assignments were all over the world, so his family could not accompany him. Their children had attended 10 different schools during that time, so after his retirement, she was grateful for the stability of being in one place.

But that only lasted seven years.

Bobby Bowman had been pastoring churches and working in ministry after his retirement when he felt God calling him to Central America, where he could use his medical skills and plant churches. But Ruth did not feel the same. She says, “I did not want to go to Honduras, and I cried all the way down there. But when I had to leave it years later, I cried all the way back.”

After their arrival, the Bowmans realized the medical needs in Honduras were many, and plans had begun for an orphanage that would eventually be turned into a hospital to better serve Hondurans. When another building was purchased to convert into a hospital, an orphanage was built and Ruth worked with the children there. The Bowmans’ apartment was attached to the orphanage, so they came to Ruth for help.

The orphanage became her passion and God burdened her heart for the abandoned children who lived there. Some of them had handicaps, so she helped them learn to walk. Some needed help with their schooling. Others just needed love.

Ruth said, “When I worked with the children in the orphanage, I began loving our work in Honduras and the children who needed me. I was their mama, and to this day, they still call and send cards and ask me how I’m doing.” God changed her heart so she could be the hands and feet of Jesus.

While in the process of opening a hospital in Honduras, pregnant women often asked Bobby Bowman to deliver their babies there even before it was ready. Compared to the conditions under which most women had to give birth, it was at least clean and sterile, so medical staff agreed to do so.

One of those mothers arrived at the hospital one day with labor pains and said to Bowman, “I have a story to tell you, doctor. The baby I had before this one died because I couldn’t take care of him and give him enough nutrition. I can’t provide for this baby either, so can you take it and raise it?”

Obviously, it was a shocking question for him since Bobby was 48 and Ruth was 50. He told her he would have to consult with his wife. The girl’s pains had stopped, so she left to stay with a friend nearby until labor began again.  

Four days later she returned, this time in active labor, and Bobby delivered the baby, a boy, on June 1, 1984. It was a date Ruth and Bobby would never forget. 

“It was love at first sight,” Ruth said. “Bobby knew my answer without having to ask. Tommy was a wonderful child to us, obedient and good.” Today Tommy Bowman owns a catering business in Arkansas. He and his wife and children live not far from Ruth and Bobby.

Bobby and Ruth left Honduras in 1995, where they had planted nine churches, built a medical clinic and started a Bible institute. Later, he established BMMI, Baptist Medical Missions International, which hosts medical clinics around the world. In April of 2023, Bobby and Ruth Bowman will be honored for their missionary legacy.

Holly Meriweather
Holly Meriweather
Holly Meriweather is the lead writer for the Baptist Missionary Association of America. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from or