Ann came to know the Lord when she was 31 years old. As she was seeking God’s counsel for the parenting of her children, she came upon a passage in the gospel of John that changed her life: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
Her salvation was the spark that lit a fire for the pursuit of God’s Word that has continued throughout her life.
Ann is a life-long learner with a gift and a love for languages that began in her middle school years with the study of Spanish and Latin. She graduated from the University of Texas (go Longhorns!) in 1963 with an undergraduate degree in Spanish. As she and her husband, Bill, entered their empty nest years, he encouraged her to attend DTS when he realized she had the desire and the time to seek a deeper understanding of God and His Word. This intrepid and courageous Texan received her MABS degree from DTS-Houston in 1997. She continued to pursue her love for languages, at the Houston campus, with post graduate studies in Greek and Hebrew.
When she reflects on her days at DTS-Houston, she sees them as a time when God bestowed an abundance of grace on her as she pursued her seminary studies. “It was a unique experience unlike anything else I have ever encountered,” she says. Some of Ann’s most memorable classes were taught by Dr. Charles Baylis. She attributes his methodology to her enhanced knowledge and understanding of the Word. Ann believes that all of her academic studies at DTS-Houston have had a major impact on her life and ministry. “I went to seminary for one reason—that is a love for God’s Word, and I got it! It is a love that continues to this day.”
Ann considers herself to be a Barnabas in regard to her spiritual gifts. She is an encourager whom God has also gifted in exhortation, giving and prayer. The Lord has used her gifts and her training to give her opportunities to travel extensively throughout the world in missions activity. Her travels include mission and vision trips to several Middle Eastern countries, Russia, China, Peru, Israel and many other places around the globe. One of her most memorable experiences was the opportunity God gave her in 2006 to teach English to a group of young Afghan women in Mazar-al-Sharif, Afghanistan (the headquarters of the Taliban during the time of the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001). “I fell in love with my Afghan women students, and I am still able to keep up with one of them.”
Throughout her life, Ann has served as a leader in many different areas of ministry, including missions, prayer, teaching, mentoring, combating sex trafficking, and ministry to refugees. Her influence and legacy can be seen in the funding and development of ministries all around the world.
In the present day, the DTS-Houston Alumni are blessed to have her as part of the leadership team. Her wisdom and insight are invaluable as they serve throughout their city and beyond. They applaud her determination to navigate the seminary experience in those early days. She has left a rich legacy that continues to impact the women students of DTS-Houston today. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)
Ann and her husband Bill were married for 56 years before he passed away in 2019. Their marriage was blessed with two children and seven grandchildren. She and her family live by the words of Deuteronomy 5:29, “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!”
Shirley Ralston (MACE, 2008) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. She is a founding member of the Missionary Care Team at Houston’s First Baptist Church, where she also serves on the Pastor’s Research Team and teaches Life Bible Study to single young adults. Shirley writes for several Christian publications. She and her husband Jeff now reside in Houston after several years living in the Middle East and the South Pacific. You can find her on Instagram @texpatfaith.