Pastor Ray Dash believes it is important to get out of the church and meet community members. The Rock Christian Fellowship reaches out weekly.
In 2008, while Rajaan Dixon was sitting outside his apartment with a 40 oz. bottle of beer in his hand and two armed teenagers at his side, Pastor Ray Dash of The Rock Christian Fellowship (TRCF) in Newark, NJ, approached him. Ray had been walking through the projects with hotdogs and Gospels of John, meeting the residents and inviting them to a new Bible study.
“First I got offended,” admitted Rajaan, “because in Newark we’re very territorial. I was like, ‘Who are you? A cop or something?’” Yet Rajaan enjoyed Ray’s company that day and kept in touch. “I had never seen a young black male walking the streets, talking about Jesus, and I was 33 years old,” Rajaan shared. “When Pastor Ray used to look at me, it was like he was looking at my soul, trying to find a little bead of light.”
Love is patient, love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4a (NIV)
Though for many months Ray could see no outward change in Rajaan’s life, he continued to befriend him and talk about Jesus. With tears in his eyes, the pastor confessed, “I had to pray for God’s love to replace mine.” For a while, Rajaan wondered if Ray was genuine or not. “I used to try to get him mad to test him, but he never got mad,” Rajaan laughed. “And I even got him into trouble!” Rajaan lives in gang territory, with the Crips and Bloods gangs regularly fighting each other. Though he never belonged to a gang, he frequently fought with them both and had just been in a fight when Ray stopped by to visit. The gang assumed he was Rajaan’s backup. Ray and Rajaan climbed into the pastor’s car just as a gang member approached them to finish the fight. “This guy was walking to the car about to shoot us,” reflected Rajaan. The gunman held his weapon, ready to pull the trigger, but never did. “God’s grace was falling upon me,” Rajaan concluded.
Saved by Grace
Rajaan followed Ray to church in 2008, trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and has been serving God since. Rajaan declared: “I felt God’s grace in my life. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. So I ran to God because of His grace. God brought me out of the fire to pull others out of that darkness.” Ray added, “He is what I call ‘the church’s Andrew’ because he’s probably brought in more people through the church throughout the years than anybody else. He is a voice for the Gospel.”
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