Apart from my pastors growing up, Rev. Roland Gray was my first real mentor and my first “senior” mentor in his 70s. I first heard him speak in a series of evangelistic meetings at our church when I was in my late teens. With my call to ministry, I looked up to him, had many questions for him and we struck up a friendship. He lived just 3 miles from my Grandfather King, so I went to visit him several times, and “sat at his feet” (actually in a chair in his office).
Even though I visited him just a few times, he became like grandfather to me. As we talked and I perused his library, he instilled in me a love for books, and especially a love for A.B. Simpson and A.W. Tozer. He had great depth and richness of wisdom. When I look back, I realize now that as a 20-year-old, I failed to fully appreciate and mine his riches.
Rev. Gray was a man of great faith and imparted to me a passion for healing. He himself was miraculously healed from tuberculosis in the early 1920s at Mercer St. Alliance Church, Butler, PA, and did not use medicine and doctors until he broke his arm in his late 70s. In the 1920s he ministered with former Assemblies of God evangelist Alonzo Horn, who had joined the Alliance. People were saved and baptized in the Spirit, and great miracles of healing and manifestations of the Spirit such as holy laughter took place in their meetings.
He also imparted to me a heart for discernment, for discerning the true and false. He told me about encountering spurious tongues and other manifestations along with the real. With sadness, he told me the Alliance no longer taught the baptism in the Spirit like it once did. He and Dr. Keith Bailey, another mentor, imparted to me a passion for Holy Spirit renewal in the Alliance, which continues today as the Lord led me to form the Higher Life Alliance Heritage Renewal Network.
His mentoring was informal and we just met a few times for a few hours, but his impact was significant and lasting. Now that I am nearing 70, I hope to impart to others as he did. His message to me back then, I carry on today: Be passionate for the Word, the Spirit, souls for Christ, and pursuing God. Be strong in faith; believe for healing; preach the baptism in the Spirit; be discerning and watch for the spurious. Seek to glorify Christ in all you do.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find a resting place for your souls (Jeremiah 6:16).’”