‘It had never been done before. But that wasn’t the hard part’
Ray’s story | Grace under fire
“I was a Chief Petty Officer on the HMAS Perth in 1982. We were patrolling in the Indian Ocean, during the Iran/Iraq war. But a few years before that, I’d become a Christian at a Billy Graham crusade. So I knew it was going to be really hard, being back at sea, as a Christian. There were 300 people on the ship and they could shred me. But just before I went, I was memorising verses… and one of them was 1 Corinthians 10:13, ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.'”
“I prayed to God. And then I took a whole bunch of Christian books on the ship. When we were out at sea, I asked the captain if I could hold a regular Bible study. He said yes. So, every week, I would make an announcement on the ship’s PA system from the bridge, to the whole ship, at 6.45pm.
“It had never been done before. But that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was picking up my Bible and walking through the ship, past everyone eating, and every one looking up and staring at me, the Christian. Every night, I said I can’t do it. Then I prayed to God and asked him to help me and give me courage.
“The first week, I went up to the room and waited. One other guy came. It was just him and me for the first few weeks. Then someone else came, to have a look. By the end of six months, there were 12 to 15 guys coming every week – officers and sailors. It was standing room only. They all wanted to know more about Jesus. They were reading the Bible and praying together.
“One guy gave his life to the Lord. It was so exciting. I had thought I was going to be crushed and isolated, and yet I found they respected me. And I found the truth in that verse. God helped me and he gave me courage … and he brought people into his kingdom.”