"A 'Ray' of Hope."
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Editor's note: Below you will read the testimony of a dear brother in Stuart, VA, whose name is Ray Lawson. Ray had the blessing of receiving the holy Ghost in his later years some 8+ years ago, and his story is a wonderful testimony to the power of God. Ray is one of many of the Spirit-baptized children of God, who was seeking to please God, yet could never find a home in the denominations of "Christianity". When Ray heard the truth about the "New Birth", and the message on "coming out of Christianity" he obeyed God, even though it meant he did not have a "place" to go. Ray is like others who remain virtually alone because they know of no others obeying the truth. God has kept Ray, and blessed him, and the glory goes to Jesus, who is not only able to fill us, but to keep us in all obedience. Ray's story will encourage you to "have the faith of Abraham" and follow the Spirit out of the religions of men, into the truth of the holy Ghost, where you will find a city (a place in the Lord) whose builder and maker is God!
Ray Lawson (June 11, 1929 - November 14, 2012)
I remember as a young teenager, going once in a while with a neighbor living over the hill to a Pentecostal Holiness place of worship. The building was about 20 feet by 24 feet in size, and it was a log structure. I remember seeing people falling out in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, and seemingly just having the best time singing and praising God. I really didn't understand what was going on completely, but even then I knew in my heart that it was of God and it was right. I remember some people would be making fun of what these people were doing, but I had a bad feeling about that, and I never wanted to be a part of making fun.
Then I remember when I was about 18 or 19 when I went with my brother-in-law to see a movie one Sunday night but instead of going to the movie, I found myself going into a tent meeting that was going on across the street in the back. I don't know now what the man was preaching about, but I found myself running down that sawdust path and fell on my knees praying for God to forgive me of my sins. I think a seed was planted that night to obey God. Anyway, the tent and preacher moved on to another town, and left me to fend for myself.
At that point I really needed support and guidance, but I didn't find it in my home so I just drifted away. I started running around going to square dances every Saturday night where I started drinking and doing other things young men do when they have drifted away. At that tent meeting I thought I was "saved" according to the preacher and that's all I knew to believe at that time.
Then when I was about 21 or 22 years old I met my wife of 45 years now. We married in 1953 when I was 23 and she was 21. We started going to a Presbyterian place of worship. My wife, Cora Belle was already in the Church of the Brethren, so I went up one morning and became a member of that denomination and was sprinkled with water on my head. I knew nothing had happened to my heart, but that's the way they do things. God help them to see the truth.
We quit going there after a few years and then went to a Church of God place for a few years until the preacher got in trouble for writing bad checks. So that did it for us. We quit going anywhere for a number of years.
In November of 1985 I had pain in my back all night, and the next morning my wife didn't go to work so she could carry me to the doctor. He didn't detect anything, but put me in the hospital for some tests any way. I had been there for half an hour when I had a cardiac arrest. As I was brought back, I remember seeing this form standing over me looking down with outstretched arms not saying anything. It was just sorta like a form of smoke in the shape of a creature with a cloak and hood on it. I really can't describe it like I saw it, but I had a feeling everything was going to be allright. Thank God for that day, because God let me see that I was not ready to meet him should I have died then. Thank God for giving me a second chance. I really started to seek God after that ordeal.
I met a black man at work that was filled with the holy Ghost and he was in the Pentecostal Holiness denomination. I started going there to worship services. I suppose I went there about 5 years altogether. But one night during that time I was turning the dial on the radio and I heard a preacher teaching on "the New Birth". He was saying that we are not born again until we receive the baptism of the holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. The feeling that came with his words was just like I used to feel years earlier in that little cabin building. I didn't really understand what I was hearing, but I felt in my heart that it was right and true.
That night has really made a change in my life. I have never doubted that it wasn't the way God intended it to be. But I kept going to the Pentecostal place and would still listen to that man each Wednesday night on the radio. The more I listened to that man on the radio teach, the more God was drawing me away from the Pentecostal place. I was in a battle with myself wanting to stay at the Pentecostal place, but God kept showing me more and more as I listened to the man teach on the radio that everything he was saying was coming from an anointed man sent by God. That man, I found out later, was John Clark, and I became so hungry for the holy Ghost that it was on my mind all the time. I suppose it was about 3 years of seeking the holy Ghost before I ever received it. I went one night to Martinsville, VA (about 30 miles away) to a revival that was going on there. We had just finished singing the first song and the preacher called all that wanted to come up, to the alter to pray. Just then, I remember my knees begun to knock against one another. I remember standing up and began going round and round with my arms lifted over my head and I began to speak in a language coming from me that I had no control over. I felt so clean and I had a feeling of such love, that I had never had before. That was June 1, 1991, the night that I was found worthy by God to enter the kingdom of God. Thank God for letting my heart be clean enough to make it that night. Praise Him for being so merciful and good to me. I was so anxious for Cora Belle (my wife) to know I had received the holy Ghost that I called her from Martinsville to tell her the good news. She didn't seem to understand too much what receiving the holy Ghost meant, and still doesn't seem to take it too seriously. I'm still praying that God will open her eyes to see this truth and want it.
I finally got to the point that I had to come out of "Christianity". It is not telling people the truth, and God had something better for me. I want to say I'm happier now that I've been out for a number of years than I could have ever thought possible. I live a quiet, simple and peaceful life, trying to be obedient to God. The worst thing I have to endure is not having anyone here that loves the truth that I can have fellowship with on a day to day basis. If you want to make it with God He sees the heart and will surely make a way, as He has for me.