Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Posted on 01 February 2008
December 22nd was a dark day for Ferndale Baptist Church as the deaths of both Daniel Diji and Ray Wall occurred within a few hours of one another. Whereas Daniel was only two weeks old, Ray was the longest-standing member of Ferndale, having been associated with the fellowship for 68 years and, at his death, was still a deacon and Church Treasurer.

His Thanksgiving Service took place on the 23rd January when the Chapel was full of members, friends and old BB members in a service that ended with a rousing rendition of ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life’.

Stephen commented of Ray,

‘With the death of Ray, Ferndale has lost the last member of the Church whose involvement went back to the ‘pioneer’ days of pre-War years. Ray was almost born into the Church and the fellowship here were his extended family. From the age of four, he attended the Sunday School and as the years passed, he was often to be found doing his homework in the company of Alan, in the home of those Ferndale stalwarts, David and Dorothy Prior.

‘Later he became a plumber and then a TV engineer. However, on redundancy from the latter, he re-trained as a book-keeper and faithfully worked at Waymade, the pharmaceutical company, until his retirement. Meanwhile, he lived with and supported his parents until their deaths in that quiet and uncomplaining way that was so characteristic of him.

‘This was typical of Ray. Quietly, sometime stubbornly, always frugally, he lived simply, devotedly, almost ascetically with both family and Church. This was to be seen in his life-long commitment to the Boys Brigade (see in the piles of old gazettes to be found in his home) where, ultimately, he became captain. He was also ever ready to be involved in other aspects of the youth work of the church and there are some legendary stories of his withdrawing to his sleeping bag, putting out his false teeth and sleeping soundly while pandemonium went on around him. And though a quiet and self-contained man, there was that humorous side of him that appeared at times; not least when he became Benny Hill or one of the ‘Two Ronnies’ at Church socials!

‘More latterly, he put his book-keeping skills to good effect as Church Treasurer and Treasurer of the Ferndale St. Luke’s Community Association Ltd. His particular skills were the ability to save the pennies to the extent they built up to a substantial saving, his aptitude in ‘making ends meet’ and, above all, his willingness to act and spend ‘in faith’ and with confidence that the LORD would supply, when every treasurer’s instinct must have cried out against such prodigality! His confidence proved well-placed.

‘Ray’s faith was simple but deep. He tended to need to borrow the words of others when seeking to express his own deep-seated feelings: he admitted that one of his best sermons had been lifted from the internet! Among other things, I will remember him for his oft-repeated prayer before a service that we might learn more of ‘Jesus and his love’.

‘That was key for Ray. He knew that love and hated everything that worked against what he knew was the fundamental virtue of the Christian life. All agree that he hated controversy and feared every irruption of loveless behaviour. Divisions brought him severe pain.

‘Which leads us to the passage that we earlier read together, John 3:1-16. Ray knew the rebirth of whom Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, born of the Spirit he demonstrated the reality of his claims and, fundamental to all that he was and did was the recognition that God did love the world and had demonstrated that in Jesus’ sin-bearing death.

‘So we say farewell to a dear friend and colleague; a man whose quiet stability remains a witness to the God whom he loved. We have every reason to believe his welcome into the heavenly realms will have been warm and his place more exalted than anything he would have hoped or imagined.‘

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