Russ and Ruth Keanalley
Missionaries to Thailand
Russ was born in Gordonvale, North Queensland, into a fine, but non-Christian, family. The family moved to Cairns just after the war, when Russ was 7 years old. Some years later, as a result of visitation by the Cairns assembly, Russ went to a brethren Sunday school, and at a camp held in 1951, he gave his life to the Lord.
Still very young, Russ joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1956, as an apprentice Aero Engine Fitter at the RAAF School of Technical Training, Wagga, NSW. With no other Christian fellowship, and little leave to visit the city, Russ started reading his Bible on a daily basis, in spite of the ridicule of his colleagues. In his third year, another fellow apprentice accepted the Lord which was a real encouragement. Others joined them and by the end of that year, they had a thriving little fellowship group.
Russ was posted to Melbourne in 1959 for further studies in Aeronautical Engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and during that year, was involved in the Billy Graham Crusade. A lecturer at the RMIT introduced Russ to the Wattle Park Gospel Chapel where he was baptised and brought into fellowship. He became involved with the young people of the Melbourne assemblies at their weekly Open Air meetings at Normanís Corner, where he gained valuable speaking experience. The lecturer mentioned earlier, who was like a spiritual father to Russ, also took him on speaking engagements.
After graduation, Russ was posted to Woomera where he was involved in the local church as Sunday school superintendent, choir leader, and also started another afternoon Sunday school at Woocalla, a remote railway siding some 50 miles south of Woomera.
In 1964 Russ was posted to Canberra where he served out his time with the RAAF. He was involved with the Canberra assembly, again in the Sunday school and youth work. In 1970, he moved to Cairns to commence with a small airline as a pilot. After only a few months, he was temporarily attached to the Mount Isa base and there he became involved with a GLO Crusade.
Ruth was born in Ganmain, NSW, of Christian parents. It was on a camp in 1950 that Ruth gave her life to the Lord. In 1951, Ruthís family moved to Emerald, Queensland where Ruthís father had bought a property. Ruth went to boarding school in Rockhampton in 1955, and after two years at grammar school, commenced four years of nursing training at the Rockhampton General Hospital. During this time Ruth fellowshipped at the Rockhampton assembly and was also involved in the Nurses Christian Fellowship.
After gaining her general certificate at Rockhampton and her midwifery training at Ipswich, Ruth continued nursing until she felt the Lord calling her to go to Bible school. Ruth went to Emmaus Bible School for two years and graduated in 1965. Ruth then gained her child welfare
certificate in Sydney, and continued nursing for several more years. While in Sydney, Ruth was also involved with the 1965 Billy Graham Crusade.
While nursing in Brisbane, Ruth decided to be involved with a team going to Mount Isa for a GLO Crusade in 1970 where she met Russ. They were married in 1971. At Ruthís suggestion, and after prayer, Russ asked for a transfer to the Mount Isa base so they could help in the new assembly there. Russ subsequently served as an elder in the Mount Isa assembly. Following transfers to Longreach and to Cairns, Russ served as an elder in those assemblies also. It was during the five years at Longreach that their two daughters, Melody and Joy, were born.
As a result of a takeover by the Australian airline then known as TAA, Russ was transferred to Brisbane in 1986 to become involved with the introduction of a new aircraft type from France. He was appointed to a technical management position which involved travelling overseas, but was still able to share in ministry. In 1989, as a result of an industrial dispute, Russ was displaced from his pilot job along with nearly all other Australian airline pilots, and had to take up flying positions overseas. After flying in Europe for a time, he was offered a one year renewable contract with Thai Airways International in 1992.
When he went to Thailand, both Russ and Ruth felt that the Lord had plans for them beyond Russís flying contract, and so he determined to learn to speak, read and write Thai in his spare time. Russ flew as an airline captain with Thai Airways International for over five years. During that time, Russ and Ruth bought a condominium believing that the Lord would call them back to Thailand as missionaries. They attended the Mahaphon church, an independent Thai church with a branch near the airport. They also had the privilege of visiting the Phuket assemblies in the south of Thailand, and getting to know Arnold Clarke, an Australian commended missionary who had worked in Thailand for over 40 years.
As a result of the Asian currency crisis, the expatriate pilots finished up with Thai in 1998, and Russ went to Taiwan for a brief period of flying with China Airlines, before retiring towards the end of that year. It was also during 1998 that both their daughters were married, and both Ruthís parents were called home to be with the Lord. In February 1999, they sold their Brisbane home and in August of that year, Russ and Ruth moved to Thailand where they are now serving the Lord. Besides Russís teaching and preaching in the local church, the Lord opens opportunities to share in ministry in other spheres, both in the metropolitan and in country areas.