By Dr. Ray S. Phipps
(A little background information and abbreviated testimony)
In the fall of the year, about October. 1946, when Ray was 11 years old, he attended a prayer meeting at the little country church near Venus, Nebraska, where his father was the pastor. He nearly always attended these prayer meetings although he was frequently the only child to do so.
As usual, there were a few minutes of Bible reading and comments followed by prayer requests before everyone knelt to pray. After kneeling to pray, it was only a few moments until Ray knew he was in the presence of Jesus. He felt transported out of the building and into the atmosphere above the earth. (These were the days before Sputnik and satellites. Television was something read about in school or perhaps seen as a snowy black and white picture in a store window on occasional trips to town.)
He saw the earth as a huge globe that appeared below him but it seemed to be real and alive. The Lord's presence surrounded him as he glided smoothly through the bright atmosphere of space. It was not long until this majestic view began to diminish as he descended toward the earth and a v-shaped landmass came into view with a large sized island just off to the right of it's southern tip. As he continued to descend, he began to see multitudes of people. Their faces were turned toward heaven and their hands were stretched upward. He moved just above the reach of their hands yet they did not seem to see him. They all had a look of hopelessness on their faces. Their eyes were longing and searching in desperation for something they did not have. Ray continued to move slowly for a period of time over masses of people all reaching and looking to the heavens for this "something." Suddenly, in the middle of this sea of faces, the face of one man came into clear focus. He appeared to be a man in his late thirties or early forties and stood taller than those around him. Ray continued to move toward this person and hovered just above him. This man was the only one of these millions of faces that for a moment seemed to see Ray. He looked Ray directly in the eyes and said "come and help us." As Ray moved on over the multitude, he asked the Lord "what is this country?" The Lord immediately replied. This is India."
Then he was back kneeling at the seat in this little country church prayer meeting where prayer was just then concluding. This experience with the Lord to India and back had taken about 35 to 45 minutes.
In April 2002, Ray felt led by the Lord to begin an extended fast. He made a list of 8 priorities to pray about daily as he fasted. One of the eight items was "Lord, what was the meaning and purpose of the experience I had when I was 11 years old?" On the 27th day of the fast, he went to a regular Wednesday afternoon interdenominational prayer meeting with area pastors. One of them had invited a guest that was visiting South Dakota for the first time. He was invited to give a brief testimony and description of the ministry he founded. Ray was able to visit with him for only a moment after the meeting but there was an unusual and distinct impression that Ray could not erase from his mind. He had seen this man before. It soon became absolutely clear to Ray that Saji Lukos from Kerela, India was the same man that he had seen 56 years before. He realized that the Lord had shown him a man in 1946 exactly as he would appear in 2002 even though it was years after 1946 that Saji was born. The meaning of God's words to Jeremiah took on new meaning to Ray. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..."" Jeremiah 1:5 NIV.
After that meeting, Ray and his wife, Wilma, worked as volunteers for approximately a year with Rev. Saji Lukos and his mission organization RIMI (Reaching Indians Ministries International). They traveled, taught in Bible Schools and seminaries, as well as ministered to various groups in different geographical areas from north to the south of India for about six weeks.
They represented Rev. Lukos and RIMI at numerous locations and events in the United States the remainder of that year.
Ray is currently working as the CEO of Bible Living Ministries, Inc with a focus on the needs in India. As of this writing Ray and Wilma are preparing to return to India. Their primary objective is to assist in the preparation of indigenous church planters for the unreached in northern India.