In rural churches across America, the old-timers used to say, “Walk in the light.”
What they meant was, when God gives you illumination on the truth, you must take that truth and apply it to your daily life. Often, those words would be followed with a gentle admonition.
“God won’t give you new light until you walk in the light He’s already given you.”
My friend Roger Fraley had light and life.
Roger was born in Sandy Hook, Kentucky on Feb. 6, 1939 and lived in Ohio with his family nearly all of his life.
At the age of 27, he surrendered to the call of the gospel after praying under Holy Spirit conviction for three days.
“I was sitting on the back seat in church and had been deceived by false religion,” Roger testified many times over the years. “God gave me a direct experience from heaven, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I’ve been a new creature in Christ ever since.”
About a decade later, he surrendered to another call which not only changed his life, but the lives of his wife and children – working on the mission field.
“The missions call to jungle people,” Roger scribbled on a crinkled piece of paper, found years later tucked inside an old Adam Clark Commentary he gave me, concerning his missionary call to South America.
For certain, there were doubts, and Roger wrestled with the mission call.
“The devil says I’m not saved,” his handwritten note continued, “Says I won’t work at home nor abroad.”
But the devil was wrong. God had picked a laborer, a hard worker, someone who had a burden for lost souls and was willing to dedicate his life to that cause.
So Roger, his wife and three children (and later a fourth) headed to Brazil, a country steeped in superstition and darkness and filled with all sorts of hidden dangers deep in the jungles. With God’s help, they overcame the language barrier by learning Portugese.
The Fraley’s worked for about 14 years under the auspices of the Flying Missionaries, Inc., out of Terre Haute, Indiana. For more than twenty-five years, the Flying Missionaries planted three mission stations along the Negro River.
The Fraley’s zeal for the Lord was often emphasized by the Flying Missionaries leadership, particularly during the construction of their house and church at the third mission station on the Apuau River.
Roger built a boat for transportation and to live on until their house, located in an area infested with poisonous snakes, was completed and screened in.
“I was greatly encouraged with our work in Brazil,” Flying Missionaries’ Arthur Ferryman said in an undated newsletter. “Bro. Fraley is doing a good work there – as a matter of fact, he is working too hard. He has done most of the labor on building a new boat starting with the shell of the steel hull that sits in the water to a boat complete with a super structure. It includes three bunk beds, one private bedroom, a bath with shower, a kitchen, and pilot’s compartment. The boat is approximately forty feet long and ten feet wide. The Fraley family brings pride and joy to one’s heart as we watch their lives and labors on the mission field.”
On the Flying Missionaries “Silver Anniversary”, Roger, ever mindful of the work needing done, wrote of his hope for the future while home in the States on leave from the mission field.
“The Gospel is so plentiful here while others have no one who cares,” Roger said in a 1985 “Brazil Mission Call” newsletter. “As we begin a new term, may God give us all a greater burden for the lost and help us to do what we’ll wish we had done when we stand before Him on that day.
“Over twenty years ago we gave our lives to Him to do with as He saw fit,” he continued. “Through those years it has been heaven to walk with Him. Our hope is that He will give us a long life to spend for Him.”
Roger, who had been home from the mission field for over twenty years, took his final journey home on Feb. 16, 2012 at the age of 73, surrounded by his children and in the loving care of God’s angels.
The last time I saw him was a couple weeks ago at the local hospital where he was suffering physically but still had a sense of humor.
“If I was you I’d drink a gallon of water,” he said to me after the hospital staff had put him on an IV diet.
He told me he knew what the righteous man Job meant when he prayed for death but couldn’t find it.
“Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter [in] soul; Which long for death, but it [cometh] not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; Which rejoice exceedingly, [and] are glad, when they can find the grave?” – Job 3:20-22 (AV-KJ1611)
Through his suffering, Roger still had his light. And even though he was losing his earthly life, he had made preparations years ago to enter into eternal life and receive his heavenly reward.
Roger spoke one last time today to his family and friends gathered at the funeral home.
About five years ago, he made a short audio recording to be played on the day he took his last journey home. On the cassette tape, he played the guitar – another passion of his – and sang a simple gospel hymn followed by his brief Christian testimony.
“I hope this message can help someone out there today,” Roger said — ever the caring the father, ever the faithful friend, ever the missionary.
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