The Story of Ray Rising
April 1, 2002 - "God has something He wants me to do!" I told a friend when I was a teenager. I read my Bible and prayed, but I was still just "one of the boys" and did what my peers did and said. My mother taught me the Bible, but I didn’t understand that I needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
by Ray Rising
When I was 15, I read an article about the work of Bible translation in Peru. The article mentioned that Bible translators were using radios to communicate with missionaries located in remote jungle locations. This fascinated me.
During the summer of 1961, while I was attending a technical college in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I heard that Billy Graham would be holding a Crusade in St. Paul.
It was a hot and humid, blue-sky summer day when I attended the Crusade at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. When Mr. Graham said, "If there were one chance in five of there being a God, would you be willing to take that chance?" I wanted to take that chance, and I went forward to commit my life to Jesus Christ.
A godly man counseled me and kept in touch with me. He introduced me to other Christians who were memorizing Scripture and training to tell others about their faith.
Within a few months I wrote to Wycliffe Bible Translators about a position in their organization, and I soon received a response with a list of requirements—the first of which was Bible school. I enrolled in school, and shortly thereafter met Doris Stelling, the woman who would become my wife. She knew of my missionary calling and chose to be at my side wherever God would lead us. What a wonderful partner He gave me. We married in August, 1964.
In 1965 we were accepted as missionary candidates, and after training we were sent to Colombia, South America. I was assigned to work as a radio technologist. Eleven years later we transferred to Ecuador and worked in a remote jungle center serving the Indian tribes. In 1983 we returned to Colombia where I installed a UHF radio-telephone link from the plains of Colombia to the city of Bogota.
Then, in 1994 while I served in local public relations, Colombian guerrillas took me hostage and held me prisoner for 810 days. The experience was difficult, but I knew that I was in God's presence the entire time. I was held in a wooded area with about 10 guerrillas, but I was able to minister to a group of isolated people, more than half of whom were aged 14 to 20. Before I was released, two years later, in June, 1996, I talked with 50 individuals about Jesus Christ. The next three years Doris and I were in the United States, where we traveled to more than 100 locations, and I talked about my experiences. Then Doris and I returned to South America.
Yes, God had something special for me to do, which included reaching isolated people for Him during the 810 days of my captivity. And God still has something special for me to do. Currently I am working in radio broadcasting for 26 minority language groups of Bolivia. A large percentage of those people are illiterate and live in remote villages.
During all these years of serving God, I have had times of illness and lack of resources, discouragement and loneliness—but no regrets. God is good!