Latter Rain Leader, Rhema International Founder Patricia Beall Gruits Dies at 96

Patricia Beall Gruits with her sons
Patricia Beall Gruits with her sons (Joy Gruits/Facebook)

Patricia Beall Gruits, a key leader in the Latter Rain Movement of 1948 and the founder of Rhema International died on June 15. She was 96.

"Early this morning, my mother-in-law, Patricia Beall Gruits, passed away peacefully in her sleep," Gruits' daughter-in-law Joy Gruits posted to Facebook. "I was blessed not only to have her as a mother-in-law, but also as a mentor. For over 20 years, we taught together at the Rhema Seminars. She was prophetically called to preach with a pen. And she did that! She preached with a pen but also with her words and by her life. She was a fully devoted follower of Jesus who inspired others to do the same. Will miss her."

The Latter Rain Movement of '48 blog chronicled the details of Gruits' life:

  • Patricia was born Feb. 22, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan to Harry Lee Beall and Myrtle Dorthea Beall. Mrs. Beall would later write in her memoir, A Hand on My Shoulder, "I never had a little sister, and if Patricia had been a little boy, I would have been terribly disappointed for that reason. I always thank God that he gave me a little girl baby to make up for never having had a little sister. Patricia and I have always been more like sisters than mother and daughter."
  • On June 17, 1934, her mother opened a Sunday school on Detroit's east side. That Sunday school grew to be a church with a membership in the thousands (Bethesda Missionary Temple).
  • She married J. Peter Gruits on June 15, 1946. Her parents had married on that same date 26 years earlier.
  • She gave birth to a son, Peter Harry, in April 1947.
  • She gave birth to a son, Harry Lee, in October 1950.
  • When Bethesda launched its monthly publication, Latter Rain Evangel, in July 1951, she was the editor.
  • She gave birth to a son, Patrick Joseph, in October 1951.
  • She became Bethesda's minister of education in 1952.
  • In 1955, she taught her first youth catechism class. The material she prepared for this class would later be developed into the book Understanding God. Her brother, the late pastor James Lee Beall, wrote in his book, Your Pastor, Your Shepherd: "When my sister Pat first proposed to instruct our church children in basic Bible truths by means of a catechism, I was sure we would be taking a turn for the worse. The word 'catechism' had a strange feel. I had always associated it with Catholics, Lutherans and other liturgical groups. But as we looked into the meaning of the word, we discovered that it described an old and reliable method of teaching—as old as the church itself. It uses a series of questions and answers to instill doctrine in an orderly and sensible fashion. And its use among us has brought great blessing to our church and given us a heightened sense of unity."
  • Sister Pat, as she is known affectionately by many, was ordained to the ministry in 1956.
  • She gave birth to a son, William Stanton, in May 1956.
  • She was the founding dean of Bethesda's Minister Candidate School in 1958.
  • In 1959, she taught her first adult catechism class.
  • The first edition of Understanding God was published in 1962. Eventually, over 1,000,000 copies of Understanding God were distributed. In later years, she also wrote two other books, Understanding the Master's Voice and Understanding Yourself. One of her daughters-in-law, Joy Hughes Gruits, has written both a study guide and a leader's guide for Understanding God. [Update: Sister Pat's fourth book in the "Understanding" series, Understanding the Winds of God, is now in print.]
  • Her father, Harry Lee Beall, died on April 26, 1973.
  • In 1973, she spent time teaching foundational truths to the large congregation at Church on the Hill in Toronto, Ontario. The church was pastored by Jim and Mae McAlister and had experienced tremendous growth (a couple thousand people) because of the Jesus Movement.
  • In 1975, she and her husband, J. Peter Gruits, were called to found a mission project in Haiti. RHEMA International's efforts in Haiti continue to this day.
  • Her mother, Myrtle Beall, died on Sept. 18, 1979. In the eulogy she delivered at her mother's memorial service, Sister Pat told about how she had asked her mother to bless her three years prior. She sought this blessing because she wanted to be equipped for the ministries the Lord was bringing her into. She said, "as we prayed, all heaven came down, and I remember she laid her hand on me ... 'God make of thee a strong prophetess as he has made me. May he give you power over the power of the enemy; power to comfort, and power to know the will of the Lord.'"
  • Her husband, J. Peter Gruits, died on May 27, 1989.
  • She received an honorary doctorate of divinity from Southern California Bible College (currently known as Southern California Seminary) in 1990.
  • As she had with several churches in the course of her ministry, Sister Pat spent time in 1990 and 1991 at the large Christ Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Christ Church was founded by L. H. Hardwick and his late wife, Montelle. The current pastor, Dan Scott, wrote in his book, Let the River Run: How God Used Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things, of Sister Pat's efforts, "Pastor Hardwick and Montelle loved the Bealls, especially loved Patricia Gruits, Ma Beall's daughter. They invited her to Nashville to catechize the hundreds of new people who had come to Christ Church because we too needed a firm foundation for our congregation."

Gruits left a significant impression on many leading charismatic pastors.

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Dr. Charles Green, another prominent Latter Rain Movement pastor, was friends with Gruits for more than a half-century.

Rhema International's Facebook page posted several tributes and funeral updates for Gruits after her death.

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