Pastor Ralph Wiley has had a long and fruitful ministry as a Grace Brethren pastor, prison chaplain, and interim pastor, and has both a son and grandson who are Grace Brethren pastors. He has been alternating between Ohio and Florida, making the Grace Brethren Church of Sebring, Florida (Randy Smith, pastor) his home church and place of ministry during the winters.
Recently Ralph has experienced the return of cancer from which God cured him some 40 years ago. The following e-mail from Pastor Randy Smith tells the remarkable way in which Pastor Ralph plans to spend the next several months:
This past Sunday Ralph Wiley stood before Grace Church in Sebring and told us his news. The doctors say he has two months at the outside before he gets his long-awaited meeting with Jesus. All indications are that he will be home soon.
He said, “If my doctors are correct, January 8th, 2008 at 10:40 AM, I’m outta here!” The doctor was not sure that Ralph grasped the situation when he saw Ralph’s unmistakable smile. He asked, and got a Gospel presentation as the answer by Ralph’s very able daughter, Ruth. Ralph said, “I am so at peace with this, it’s ridiculous!”
Here’s the plan. Ralph has planned his memorial service at Sebring, and HE IS THE SPEAKER! I have every confidence the Lord will absolutely shower the place with blessing. The service will be held at the second service at Grace (10:45 AM) on Sunday, November 25th, 2007.
People will be coming in from several states, and the place is going to be packed, I am sure. After that, Ralph will wrap things up in Sebring, and take off to Ohio, leaving the Elders here with his parting words as Paul did at Miletus to the Ephesians.
Just a personal word here: As you pray for the flock here, I am very aware that God has called two other pastors home in two years (Denny Brown and Vince Lohnes). Pray that as we continue to grow in both numbers and faith, our leaders will continue to be able to adjust to each home going.
When Denny left us, I felt heavy. Some of the joy and a lot of the humor left quickly, and it took time to bring it back. When Vince left I felt a hurt I can’t describe, it was like a loneliness. Since then, the team has grown and I have excellent and fun partners in this growing work again.
Yet, Ralph is a father in the faith, a friend, and in many ways a mentor. He has been by my side for many years in two different churches. What an honor to serve with these dear men! What a blessing to have been sharpened and loved by them! Keep us in prayer in these days of change, as God graduates one of our best.
Pastor Randy Smith