On February 26, 2018, long-time VMC member, Ray Fink, turned 90 years old. Ray grew up in a Christian home in Washington D.C. He says, "My parents never ever forced me to go to church - it was just something that the family did. I never doubted the truth of the Sunday School lessons; I was just eager to learn more. Church was (and is) my life."
As he grew, Ray continued to enthusiastically learn about Jesus, his Messiah. He accepted a call to the ministry at age 23, completing seminary in 1960. He went on active duty in the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, and that was his "life's work". His service included a deployment in the Caribbean during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a deployment with the Marines in Vietnam, among others. He retired in 1978 as a Lieutenant Commander.
Life has not been without hardship, but God's presence and power in those hardships have actually strengthened Ray's faith. And the love and support of God's people in the midst of trials, have deeply touched Ray's heart. One of the more recent "troubles" he and his wife, Marilyn, experienced was a flood in their Casitas Springs home in 2005. He remembers, "Marilyn woke me up with the words, 'I think we may have to evacuate.' I dressed quickly and looked out the front door. The water was rising up the top step - now it's on the porch - now it's coming into the house! All this in less than a minute." Roger Nustad (current VMC Elder), unbeknownst to the Finks, had received his marching orders from God." Roger told Ray, "I was doing my devotions Monday morning, when I got this strong urging...call Ray Fink....call Ray Fink now!" Ray is so grateful to Roger for bringing a team of guys from the Friday morning prayer and Bible study to help with the time-sensitive work. Marilyn has a list of over 100 VMC helpers over the ten weeks of rebuilding their house. Ray noted Dave and Valerie Lagesse's contributions of a water heater and plumbing work, and a number of VMC families who provided temporary housing for them - for instance, living in Chris and Linda Selvey's motorhome parked on the Finks' property for weeks. He says the experience renewed his faith that God was, indeed, looking after them. It truly was an example of the church being a family.
The bestowing of good works has not been a one-sided effort over the years. Since they began attending Ventura Missionary in the early 90's, Ray and Marilyn have poured into this church. Ray has lived out his faith among us by singing in the Sunday morning choir, and serving as a Deacon and on the Waylighter's (senior adults) Committee. He has participated on eight missionary trips to the former Soviet Union with the International School Project. He also participated on six youth trips to Mexico.
Ray's 90 years of experience and close relationship to the Lord have brought a wealth of wisdom. He has identified five life lessons: "Jesus Christ is Lord of my life; kindness beats out hostility every time; the best way to help yourself is to help others; love changes everything; and humility is the greatest virtue of a leader."
Ray also says, "Success is NOT reaching a prestigious position in a job, in a community, or anywhere it is NOT to reach a sought-for financial plateau; and it is NOT reaching a certain level in education. Success IS a way of life, including, but not limited to, accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior, because it is the only way to accomplish success, which is everlasting life with God in heaven; and success IS living with livable traits, such as respect for others, respect for self, consideration of others, kindness toward others, taking responsibility, accepting responsibility for your own actions, having compassion for the needs of others, perseverance, etc."
Ray Fink recognizes that it is our imperfection and sin that cause the need for a Savior, but his resolve to follow his Messiah as a means to true success has resulted in 90 years of meaning. In his own words, Ray tells us, "The one word that best describes my life is 'Christian', because I like living Christian principles - they give direction and meaning to my life. Living for Jesus leads me in the right path, governing my behavior and giving me a life worth living. Best of all, is a future with the Lord for eternity."