Meet Ray Stedman

The cows must have been bewildered when the 10-year-old boy began to use them as his first congregation. That young preacher was newly converted Ray Stedman, whose enthusiasm for the gospel would eventually lead him to become the pastor for 40 years of the Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, and the author of more than 30 books.

Ray was born in 1927 in North Dakota, where his father worked for the railroads. After a number of moves—from Montana, to Washington, to Colorado—his father abandoned the family. Since his mother’s health was poor, 6-year-old Ray went to live with his aunt. His dream was to become a surgeon, so, following high school in Montana, he enrolled at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington. Financial difficulties forced him to drop out. He was working for Libby Pineapple in Hawaii when World War II began, and he enlisted in the Navy in 1943.

While in the service, Ray led Bible studies for both civilian and enlisted personnel, preached on the radio—and realized that the Lord wanted him in full-time ministry. He and his wife, Elaine, were married at the close of the war, and he began a course of study at Dallas Theological Seminary. He spent summer months working with and learning from both J. Vernon McGee and Dr. Harry Ironside. After graduating in 1950, Ray was called to be the pastor at PBC where he served until his retirement in 1990.

Two of his innumerable books made a major impact on the church in the 1970s and 1980s—and continue to add influence in the new millennium. His classic, Body Life, served as a blueprint for a spiritual revolution in the 1970s and began the small-group movement in churches across America! Examining Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans, the book explores the design, purposes, and goals of the early church for today’s church, inspiring a new generation to a passion for the gospel. Authentic Christianity, his study of 2 Corinthians, advocates that the reason individual Christians are so tired—tired of struggling, failing, hanging in, hanging on, working overtime—is that they are carrying a load never meant for their shoulders. The solution? A rediscovery of fresh power and fresh purpose for living—“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Among Ray’s other books are biblical and practical expositions of John (God’s Loving Word), Revelation (God’s Final Word), and 1 and 2 Thessalonians (Waiting for the Second Coming).

Ray Stedman died in October 1992. Elaine, an accomplished author and editor, continues to live in the Pacific Northwest near their four daughters—Sheila, Susan, Linda, and Laurie—and their families, including eleven grandchildren.

Posted 3/2001

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