Dec
02

Obituary for an ‘Onward Christian Soldier’ Ray Smyth.

Obituary for an ‘Onward Christian Soldier’ Ray Smyth.

“Old soldiers never die, They simply fade away”,
(British Army’s parody of the gospel song ‘Kind Thoughts Can Never Die’)

On the 21st November 2017, sadly an old soldier faded away. Ray Smyth as well as being a Veteran Soldier, not just a pen pusher in the office but a signaller, a forward air controller in the battle zones of Kenya, Suez and Kuwait. As a retired member of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers he could have collected his meagre pension and worn his medals and Veterans badge with great pride, but Ray had bigger battles to fight. Ray had the Christian Warrior spirit, not that he was in any way violent or even fierce, he was in everyway a gentleman, a gentle and kind man. His warrior spirit was more like the code of the Arthurian knight of old, he would fight for damsels in distress, or evil dragons. Ray believed that Right was Might, Not Might was Right, he believed that with total perseverance truth would win out over evil. He was inspirational, a real life Don Quixote, or Sir Galahad.

Ray was completely different from the normal every day ‘anything goes’ Christians. There was no half measure, no blue rinse with no salt, who buckle under the slightest pressure. Raymond Smyth was more than full on. Ray read his Bible literally and believed passionately, that once you took on Christianity, a duty came with it, an obligation to promote change for the benefit of humanity. So believing the pen was mightier than the sword he began a Christian newspaper to engage in politics. Ray found that the socialist/ communist philosophy abhorrent and supported the freedoms of the individual against all forms of modern despotic governments.

He was inspired by the words in his Bible and as he battled on, he depended on them as he had to face regular disappointments. For light relief he enjoyed debates on morals and actively attempted to christianise his friend the skeptic “Doubting Ron” and anyone else for that matter, that he came in contact with.

Ray would quote,

1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

Matthew 12:29 “Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.”

Luke 22:35-37 “Then Jesus asked them, “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveller’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!”

He used powerful words, but they were not as compelling as his example and his determination to be a soldier for ‘Right’. He saw natural Fathers, ‘the strong men’ had been bound by the our political system. Ray ardently believed that it was his duty or more like his privilege to be a strong man, to provide for his own family, his own church, his own clan, his own tribe and his own nation, that was partly why he felt a strong tie to his own Celtic ancestors who originally travelled from the middle east to populate Ireland and Scotland, because they were his own house.

Persistence Personified.

Ray for many years printed on behalf of Christians Speaking Out, a newspaper, “Its Time”. He did not just write the stories, he went out and fought the battles, he created the action, he made the time. He edited, found the pictures or drew the pictures, he typeset the paper, he worked tirelessly to find the cash to get it printed and then he distributed the paper. Yes, he had some inspired helpers, but for over ten years he was the heart and hammer. I can remember during those times discussing with him if he could see that other people, especially his family, would compare him to Miguel de Cervantes depiction of the middle aged Don Qxiote who decides to take up his lance and sword to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked. Tilting at windmills, believing that those windmills are giants, with a shaving bowl for a helmet, being knocked of his old nag of a horse, refusing to believe that it was impossible to turn back the demise of chivalry. Don Qxiote inspired millions for the last 300 years, but Chivalry still died and our western civilisation our western culture is still in a steep nose dive.
Ray, of course would never accept that it was beyond repair, he had the impossible dream. The kindest man I have ever known was always still ‘fighting fit and dangerous’. To make up for my cruelty, I tried to be kind and did relate to him the words from Cyrano de Bergerac where he is discussing Don Qxiote principles

Antoine Comte de Guiche: “Windmills, remember, if you fight with them..(they). may swing round their huge arms and cast you down into the mire!”

Cyrano de Bergerac: “Or up, among the stars!”

Ray dreamed the impossible dream, To fight the unbeatable foe, He strove where the brave dare not go, to right the un-rightable wrongs. To try, when his arms were too weary, To reach the unreachable star!
It was his Quest to follow that star, No matter how hopeless, no matter how far, To fight for the right, Without question or pause, and to win he was willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause!
And the world will be better for this, Showing, that one man, scorned and covered with scars, Still strove, with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable stars.
And I know, that Ray will be peaceful and calm, when he is laid to rest, knowing that he did his bit, for this glorious Quest.

Well done, good and faithful Christian Soldier, fade away, sleep calm, your number has been called. Using your example, we who are left will take our turn and man the barricades.

By Ron Owen with some help from quotes from Miguel de Cervantes, Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand and Man of La Mancha by Joe Darion.