Riggs Ministry Minute: When there’s only a minute for ministry
Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D Min. www.docriggs.com 11 September 2012
It is fitting and proper that this be written today, 9-11; the eleventh anniversary of the tragic and as President Bush labeled it, “evil” attack upon our citizens, our homeland, and our American heroes. From the moment the clarion call was sounded, Rev. Ray Payne, “the cops’ pastor” was on his way to Ground Zero where he would live, night and day for the coming weeks. Ironically, it was probably his time spent ministering to everyone who was working at Ground Zero that eventually the Lord used to bring Ray to glory. I did not say ‘caused him to lose his life’ because in the model or our Savior, Ray willingly gave up his life years before to follow the calling to minister to grieving police families through sharing the grief he carried for his only son who was a police officer, murdered in the line of duty in 1988.
Ray and his lovely wife, Barb, who was his confidante, his best friend, and his partner in ministry, traveled literally hundreds of thousands of miles on a shoestring budget, in an old used car(s), doing whatever it took to get to a police agency that had suffered a line of duty death, to walk through that valley once again with those officers, the spouses, the children, the families of the fallen officer. I believe I can say, without fear of exaggeration, that Rev. Ray Payne ministered to more police officers than any person in history and probably more than we will ever be aware, because of his website and the thousands of pamphlets “Only One Son” that have been translated and sent around the world.
There is no doubt in my mind that when Ray Payne was ushered into His Savior’s presence just a few days ago, he was met by the largest assembly of police officers that heaven itself has ever seen. The angels themselves, I am certain, were in awe of the ministering heart of this mere mortal with super-divine love.
Ray first came my way as our own community said farewell to a police officer killed in the line of duty. But he did not leave after the service, his job complete to move on to the next. Certainly, there were hundreds more to come but he never forgot us. He came back again and again. He spoke to our small church. He rode with the local police. He sat in our backyard and just allowed himself to rest. He grew tired in the last years. The ministry miles and the loads of grief he had born had taken a toll. He never sought recognition for his work; it was his calling, his service to his son. Even at ground zero he didn’t put “Chaplain” on his helmet. He stayed anonymous, just there, if someone wanted to talk. That was the Ray Payne I knew. Unheralded on earth but I am certain rewarded handsomely in heaven. No doubt the second he finished being held by his Savior, he turned and grabbed his son David and I don’t doubt they are still side-by-side enjoying all that heaven has to offer. When the crowns are received, Ray will happily lay his at the feet of Christ and hear the words of our Savior, “Very, well done, my good and faithful servant.” Ray is model of what the Apostle Paul wrote at the end of his own life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Rest in peace, my friend. Your watch is over, all secure.