KANSAS CITY – Now roughly eight years into his retirement, Ray Beeson wonders how he ever had a spare moment for a full-time job. The 73-year-old deacon and Sunday school teacher at Redbridge Baptist Church spends his days studying Scripture with other men, taking the gospel from door-to-door, studying Arabic with the help of a Christian Egyptian and ministering to members of Kansas City’s large refugee population.
In 1975, at the age of 29, Beeson came to grips with the gospel and had “a radical life change.” Ever since that time, he’s loved sharing his faith with people, and he’s seen many come to know the Lord. But during the past few years, he’s thought differently about his role as a Christian witness. Taking a fresh look at the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20, he realized that he wasn’t truly following Christ’s orders if he stopped short with evangelism. The Great Commission involves much more: making disciples, baptizing them into the church, teaching them afterward to follow and obey Christ on a daily basis.
“It takes on a new meaning, in that you really have to give your life to that service,” Beeson told The Pathway. “My life rotates around me being a disciple and a disciple-maker. That’s such a time-consuming and wonderful way of life.”
This realization led Beeson to invest much more time in those he shares the gospel with. Take, for example, a young Jewish man living in a neighborhood near Redbridge Baptist Church. After a year of knocking on doors in the neighborhood, Beeson came to Daniel’s home. As soon as Beeson rang the doorbell, it signaled Daniel’s cellphone, and Beeson heard the young man’s voice: “What can I do for you?” Beeson responded that he was out praying for the community and just wanted to know if Daniel needed prayer.
“His voice quivered,” Beeson recalls, “and he answered, ‘Yes. I need prayer.’”
Ten minutes later, Daniel pulled into his driveway and shared his prayer needs. Soon, he surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.
But Beeson’s Great Commission efforts weren’t finished after this evangelistic encounter. “Now, Daniel is my faithful disciple,” Beeson said, sharing how he meets regularly with the young man to mentor him and encourage him in the faith and in his own efforts to win friends to the Lord. “He is on fire for the Lord,” Beeson added.
Over the past few years, Beeson has also gained a new perspective on the global mission of the church when he learned about ministry efforts among refugees in Kansas City.
“I’ve always felt called to the mission field,” Beeson told The Pathway, “but that never worked out in my life, where I actually got to leave the country to go to the mission field. And, what was amazing to me about three years ago was to find out that God had brought the mission field – the world – to me.”
On a weekly basis, Beeson now shares the love of Christ with families from Iraq, Myanmar and other countries around the globe. Early in his work with refugees, he met a Nepali family facing difficulties brought about by alcoholism. Many of the family members received Beeson’s message and joined him in studying Scripture, but not all of them did.
“One of the young men would never even talk to me, and he didn’t want me to pray for him,” Beeson recalls. But one day, as Beeson led the family in a study of the third chapter of John’s Gospel, they came to Christ’s words: “You must be born again.” Unbeknownst to Beeson, this young man overheard their discussion.
“And to my surprise,” Beeson recalls, “he came to me and said, ‘I want that.’” After hearing the gospel in more detail, the young man broke down and surrendered his life to Christ. “We had prayer and hugged,” Beeson said. “His countenance immediately changed.”
And, as with Daniel, Beeson makes a point to meet with this Nepali man regularly to challenge and encourage him in Christ.
Though disciple-making requires much time and energy, Beeson said the effort is well worth it. Not only is there joy and peace in obedience to Christ, he said, but there’s also a special joy in studying God’s word with new believers and seeing them “grasp the instructions, the encouragement from the Word of God.”
“It opens their eyes,” Beeson said, “and they decide, ‘That’s what I need in my life.’ It just brings great joy.”