Cowboy Missionary

Rex Ray 1885-1958

“I looked my guard over. He wore two belts of cartridges, a dirk knife and carried a rifle with a bayonet . . . I prayed, ‘Lord, you can handle him better than I can. You just put the fear of God in him and make him leave me here alone.’ Then I began staring at the guard as though I might eat him if he got too close. He began to get nervous; he twisted his hands and walked to and fro. In a few minutes, he started off. When he was about fifty yards away, he raised his rifle and cocked the hammer. I was looking at the shooting end. I could only pray, ‘Lord, if you don’t want him to kill me, just don’t let him pull that trigger.’ The Lord answered, for the bandit started off down the trail.”1

Born in north central Texas in 1885, the eldest son of a ranching family, Rex Ray learned early to work hard, to persevere regardless of his circumstances, and to hold to his responsibilities “come wind, come weather.” His father unexpectedly died at a young age, and Rex, at only fifteen years old, took over the responsibility of caring for his mother and younger siblings. Rex resisted the Gospel message as a teenager and entered college at the age of twenty intending to be a successful businessman. God had other ideas. Rex was saved during a revival meeting in a Baptist church. Later, after spending a week going to the cornfields every night to pray, he answered God’s call to the mission field.

Rex and his wife, Janet, served the Lord in China through the waves of turbulent attacks by the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and takeover of communism in 1949. During that time, not only was Rex kidnapped by bandits, but he also ran blockades to provide supplies to the mission hospital and survived air raids and bombings. He buried his five-year-old daughter on the field. Through it all, he preached. Up and down the rivers and through the villages, thousands of precious souls heard the Gospel of Christ as he desperately gave the message of Christ while the doors were still open to do so.

When the doors to China slammed closed, Rex and Janet (their children now grown) answered the call to take the Gospel to war-torn Korea.

This only scratches the surface of what happened during Rex Ray’s forty-eight years on the mission field. His passion for the Gospel and his love for the Chinese and Korean people speak from every page of his autobiography.

In a letter to the Foreign Mission Board, published in the September 1928 Home and Foreign Fields, Rex Ray said, “Oh, that our voices could be multiplied into thousands to help rescue these millions who are lost, lost, lost! The Spirit of God is moving the hearts of the heathen. Oh, that He would awaken His children in Christian lands to the crying needs of this great harvest field! If Christian America fails to deliver God’s message to the lost of earth, what shall we answer the Master as these poor souls turn away from the gates of Glory into outer darkness?”

1Cowboy Missionary in Kwangsi, Rex Ray