On March 1st, Mike Martin’s online publication, The Columbia Heart Beat, published a story about a mysterious document dump from an anonymous tipster calling himself/herself “Barney Miller.” The email claimed that a City Council candidate was tied to anti-gay “pray away the gay” groups. The Columbia Heartbeat declined to name names, instead sending many Columbians digging for the truth. As it turns out, the man who spends his days (and nights) praying away the gay is none other than Pastor Clyde L. Ruffin, leader of Columbia’s Second Missionary Baptist Church and candidate for the vacant First Ward City Council seat.
The Second Missionary Baptist Church website lists Ruffin’s wife and First Lady of the church, Sheila Ruffin, as “a certified coordinator for the national ministry, Desert Stream, which provides Christ-centered help for those struggling with sexual and relational problems. She was instrumental in bringing this ministry to the city of Columbia.”
Desert Stream Ministries is a group centered around the Dark Age notion that people need to be cleansed of sinful and unhealthy practices like homosexuality, fantasy, gender identity issues, and masturbation. Desert Stream was founded and is still led by ex-gay, Christian Fundamentalist Andrew Comiskey.
In the Spring of 2008, First Lady Ruffin wrote about her introduction to Desert Stream:
More than fifteen years ago, I went on an extended time of prayer and fasting for a Christian friend of mine who had been struggling with homosexuality. I had picked up a copy of Andrew Comiskey’s book, “Pursuing Sexual Wholeness-How Jesus Heals the Homosexual,” at a conference. I began to read about the nature of sexual brokenness, and I realized that my reason for reading this book had nothing to do with my friend. I was the one who was in need of healing.
For those of you pooh-poohing our choice to write about Mrs. Ruffin, please note that she is a public figure with a bio included on the website of the church her husband shepherds. That same website celebrates her leadership role within Desert Stream Ministries.
One of the Desert Streams offshoots in Columbia, MO meets at Eternal Refuge on Vandiver. The contact numbers for the ministry and its “CrossCurrent” classes are the 2nd Missionary Baptist Church the same phone as Mrs. Ruffin’s home business, Pound Cake by Sheila.
It remains to be seen how Ruffin’s affiliation with Desert Stream will affect his candidacy in the First Ward. It is rumored that there are several documents further cementing the Ruffins’ anti-gay sentiments and ties with Desert Stream in the packet sent to the Columbia Heart Beat. If a copy of the documents makes its way to Keep Columbia Free, it will be published.