Okay, I can see that I never did really tell you what Ray said when he called (after suggesting that I would describe that, at least a bit). This will be brief.
Ray encouraged me about the steps of faith I (we) are taking in launching our community-based ministry network. He said he wishes he and his wife could be out here with us to help kick things off. Ray believes in what we are doing and, along with me, is still reflecting on how the things we have shared in the past will roll out into the things we will share in the future. Ray wanted me to know he believes in the vision, concepts, principles and plans I am promoting.
He went on to talk about their role in their new church home in Illinois. There are some great things happening with this church and Ray has already been asked to teach a series on evangelism, etc. But before taking too much of a public role, he wants the new young pastor to find his voice in this new congregation first. Ray is very wise.
He also pointed out some of the classic potential problems (burnout, etc) that could be brewing around this exciting new work. Ray and his wife are looking for ways to be a blessing without feeding some of the things that could ultimately undermine long term health and soundness. And, oh yeah -- Ray's wife is already enrolling people from their new church to go to China! Now, there's a surprise (not).
Ray loves the church -- from the Chinese Underground Church to the American church (large and small). But he also knows the pitfalls, hazards and inbred weaknesses of church life and tries to be honest about those things without letting them rob him and others of the blessings of church life. When I think of the Ephesians 4 gift of "Evangelist", I think of Ray (and only a few others). That he believes in what we are endeavoring to accomplish lifts my heart -- and that he called to tell me so refreshes my commitment.