This letter from, and regarding, Pastor Ralph Wiley was shared with us by Dr. Randy Smith, pastor of the Sebring, FL, Grace Brethren Church. Pastor Ralph, who is in south Florida and growing increasingly weaker with cancer, sent this letter dated December 27 to the Sebring church, where he has been ministering. Ralph Wiley served many years as a Grace Brethren pastor, prison chaplain, in pulpit supply, and in other ministries.
Pastor Randy Smith comments, “Ralph’s story continues to amaze us all. What a blessing! I was SO encouraged watching this great warrior finish well.”
December 27, 2007
I would love to talk to each and every one of you. To keep in touch, to let you know how everything is going, and to tell you how much I miss you. But I just don’t have the strength, so have asked Ruth to write for me.
I am getting weaker every day and can’t take a step without a walker. I have had two hard falls – you would never believe it. The outer man is wasting away but the inner man is being renewed. God is so good!
Dear Family at Grace
You will never know how much Dad (Pastor Ralph) has enjoyed the cards and notes that you have sent. Each day is brightened when I bring him his stack of mail. And each letter brings him a smile as he remembers the years of friendship that you have all shared. Thank you so much.
The days here in Ft. Lauderdale have been busy as Dad continues to be surrounded by children and grandchildren who are visiting from around the country. Each day he is a little more tired, and his once robust physique is a little more worn out.
His eyes and his taste buds still call him to the dinner table, but his stomach just can’t seem to keep up any more. He still marvels at how healthy he has always been, and he chuckles at the memory of his daily bike rides (10 miles per day) that he was still enjoying just two months ago. Although each day brings more weakness, it is also one day closer to “home”.
Yesterday Dad (Pastor Ralph) had what he calls an “extra bonus”. A dear friend brought her elderly, ill, mother and two other older women to meet him. (Two were believers, but two were not). They had heard, but could not believe, the reports of someone facing death, not just with peace, but also with joy. What was this? How could it be? And could he explain it to them?
Well now, this was something worth missing a nap for! So once again he began to tell the story of his great Savior and the hope that friendship with Jesus brings. This is a job that has always been a joy to dad. However, there were a few more challenges this time.
First of all, it is very difficult for him to talk much, as he gets too short of breath. Second, there was a house full of grandkids here. But the biggest challenge was the fact that three of the four ladies only spoke Spanish. So he did his first ever sharing of the Great News of salvation, thru a translator.
Dad knew right away that God was drawing them by His Spirit and before he was finished a wealthy, 80 year old woman named Cata had found her Savior. From the outside looking in she was a woman who had “everything”. But from the inside looking out she was a woman who had “nothing”. She walked in hollow and empty, but with Dad’s help, she walked out more full-of-life than she could have ever imagined.
So there he was sitting in that recliner with a body that was falling apart and yet with a spirit that was more ready to touch Heaven than ever before. We just never know what surprises God has in store for us. Do we?