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Monday, April 27, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

“Have some beans—fresh from my garden,” Ray offers upon entering worship.

On other occasions, he brings cukes and fresh eggs. Still other times he walks in with tomatoes and corn.

An offering? No doubt Ray looks at it that way—his giving to God, his sharing with believers. It is a part of his joyous summer ritual. And of course the recipients are particularly grateful for his generosity.

Ray Alley, long-time Windham resident and garden-grower, spends many hours weeding and caring. At 78, he can look back over years of plenty.

On Wednesdays he can be found at the Senior Center assisting with noon meals. Not a pushy fellow, he finds his most comfort in being a background doer. Doing he does best when it comes to Christian witness.

Of course, when needed, Ray can speak up for his Lord; but just as ably he acts out his service before God. Naturally his friends are especially thankful for his sensitivities to others' needs.

Ray’s particular unique worship style is sharing garden produce with others—at the outset of a gathering. The veggies are laid out for willing takers. Following the service, those who came in empty-handed leave with hands full. Delicious morsels are enjoyed at their next mealtime.

A tithe of Ray’s income is also a “bottomline” to his obedient Christian faith. A tenth of his income—and sacrificial offerings besides—has been his style since first beginning on The Way. Others may balk at the tithe; Ray quietly explains to new believers that he has found it an undeniable blessing.

Giving garden gifts to friends and offering tithes to God is part and parcel of Ray’s reason for believing.

Maine’s Lakes Region is replete with others who quietly go about their daily Christian testimony. This is the way Jesus commissioned His followers to give forth. He cautioned disciples not to blow their trumpets on street corners; instead He accented performing their good deeds for the Father alone to see.


Because giving can turn in on itself so as to become a selfish gesture for attention and applause. That’s when religion turns sour. Such doing cancels itself out. But when giving for heaven’s glory alone, God notes it for eternity.

I recall a fellow elsewhere who landscaped a striking summit acreage with statuary and religious plaques positioned among flowering gardens. At first glance, the view impressed others with awe. But over time, the outdoor architect revealed motives of self-pride. It became apparent that what he labored on was not really a gift to God but a showcase for his own ego. Sad. His yield bloated his conceit but it did nothing to please heaven’s smile.

That could never be said of Ray and his ilk. They do what they do simply to do for Jesus. That is reward enough. In that, they got hold of why believers are here. Also, they understand that our egos will flash off history’s pages soon enough; it is only what is done in Jesus’ name and for His sake that will outlast us.