Pastor’s Perspective 09-10-19

I knew the call was coming. It just came sooner than I expected. We were out of town with family for Labor Day. When the name showed up on my phone with an incoming call, I had to step away from the crowd to take it. It was Barbara Helton calling to let me know Ray had gone home to be with the Lord early that morning. He was enjoying quality time with his family in the Outer Banks. She described his passing as very peaceful.

Ray and I had been in contact about weekly in recent months. He knew his days on this earth were numbered and he was as prepared for his death as much as anyone I have ever known. And he had a clear sense of urgency to help everyone he knew to be prepared as well. His personal relationship with Jesus was real. He wanted others to know Jesus, too. He was laser-focused to that end. He engaged people. Openly shared his faith with them. Showed genuine concern for them. He spoke into their lives and mentored many in the faith.

Ray invested a tremendous amount of his time at FAOIAM. It was the focus of his ministry in recent years. It was both fitting and timely that the FAOIAM family held a special ceremony on the 27th of August to dedicate The Lodge to Ray’s work and legacy there. Person after person spoke of Ray’s leadership and the genuine concern he showed every day for people. God had prepared Ray for this specific ministry during his career as an officer in the United States Army. A distinguished leader in the Special Forces community in which he attained the rank of Colonel. One officer who served under Ray’s command summed Ray up with these words:  “But what impressed me the most, and has stuck with me, is that Ray let you know by his actions that he genuinely cared about his people the most. Ray made clear in no uncertain terms that we will accomplish the mission together, without compromising our values or integrity. Respected and beloved by his troops. A true servant leader.” Servant leader describes Jesus. He is the one Ray sought to serve and emulate in his life.

Ray used a familiar military term to describe his impending death:  PCS. It stands for Permanent Change of Station. He knew he was leaving this earth and that his permanent home is heaven. His final PCS where he would receive his final OER (Officer Efficiency Report) written by his ultimate Senior Rater, the Lord Jesus. I have a good idea what it says:  “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

See you Sunday! ~ John