The Carnival Barker
"Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen!"
Can you picture the typical carnival barker with his straw hat, striped coat and cane? From his mouth flows an endless stream of words designed to lure you into' 'the greatest show on earth." We have a friend who worked as just such a barker for many years. Bernard Joseph Patrick Murray took the stage name "Ray Murray" when he went on the road with his magic show as a young man.
Ray came from a humble background. He recounts that when he needed new pants, he got new patches for his knees instead. As a child he vowed that when he grew up, things would be different. He'd be somebody.
After starting a family, Ray left show business and tried various jobs, until one day he discovered what's known as "sales motivation" or "positive thinking." Ray felt he had discovered the big dark secret to happiness, love and joy. His natural ability to persuade people led him into a career in sales where he prospered. With a passion Ray preached the philosophy of positive thinking. "We are our own power source," he told his salespeople. "We have within ourselves the key to success; it's all in our attitude. "
By the world's standards Ray had it made ... Cadillac in the driveway, great family, home, big bank account. Of course, he had paid a price ... often working seven days a week, sixteen hours a day or more. Ray thought he was a pretty good Christian in those days too. He made his kids go to Catholic school and church, as long as somebody else took them.
Then one day a business associate told Ray about a Catholic charismatic prayer group where they prayed for healing. Ray was unimpressed. After all, he had found all life's answers in positive thinking. He could sell anything to anyone. Why should he search for more?
On April 22, 1983, his friend invited him to attend the opening session of the Southern Regional Catholic Charismatic Conference, and for some inexplicable reason, Ray agreed to go. There in 2,600 faces Ray saw the peace, joy and happiness he had been preaching for years.
Hands, hearts and voices raised, these people were proclaiming that their power source was not in their own minds, but in a person - Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior!
Fr. John Bertolucci was preaching on "Jesus, the Power and Wisdom of God." Ray says, "Even with earmuffs on, I could have heard his voice and it blew my mind. He was telling me things I didn't want to hear, things that made me uncomfortable. I didn't plan on coming back, but I did."
The next night Ray heard the testimony of businessman Charlie Osburn. "You gotta give it ALL to Jesus," Charlie proclaimed. Even though Ray was moved, he wouldn't commit to coming back Sunday morning. "I like golf," he told his friend, "but I don't even play golf at 9 a.m.!"
However, once he got home that night Ray couldn't shake a restless feeling. There he was, flipping the TV channels, pacing the floor, surrounded by his library full of self-help books. Ray says, "I knew something was happening to me but I couldn't figure it out. Moments later I knew that I could not make it in this world without Jesus Christ!" The same man who wasn't going back to the conference at 9 a.m. woke his wife up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning. "Honey, do you think we can go now? I can't wait."
Ray attended the Life in the Spirit Seminar at our prayer group, full of questions, yet eager to learn. I'll never forget the first time I met him. He's so outgoing and friendly, he's easy to like. Yet, he scared me a little because his mind had been so strongly influenced by a self-help philosophy.
Slowly but surely Ray's mind has been renewed by the truth of God's word. He began to identify the idols in his life, like his obsession with work and success. As he surrendered himself to Jesus, a new peace and security replaced old fears. His family life was restored. Ray now claims that God's word contains the best positive thinking in the world. "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4: 13). How's that for a victorious truth? "I was in a battle with Satan and didn't have a chance before," Ray says. Now, with the Lord, Ray's winning.
As I've watched Ray grow spiritually, I've been impressed by his humility. His gifts have been laid at the foot of the Cross and now Jesus is able to use him as a salesman for the gospel. His conversion gives me hope for the future. Jesus can and will transform lives!
Before Ray's conversion his sales force presented him with a birthday present. They hired Habeba, a belly dancer, who came to his office, danced, fed him grapes and he loved it. One year later they wanted to please him for his birthday. This time they bought him a Bible! From Habeba to a Bible ... now that's transformation!
If you could hear our barker friend today, Ray would say, "Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen - better known as brothers and sisters in Christ these past several years - it is no secret what God can do! What He's done for me and for others, He'll do for you!"
from More of God — by Patti Gallagher Mansfield pp.145-148