Raymond Bell was born in New York while his mother was, literally, moving to Florida. He grew up in West Palm Beach until the age of 10. That year his mother married Warren Bell. Ray was adopted and the remainder of his life he grew up in central Florida. Ray considers his hometown to be Tavares, Fla.
It was in this small town, on June 7th of 1978 on a Wednesday night at about 8:45 p.m., at the age of 19, that Ray accepted Jesus as his savior. This came at a time when Ray was serving as the youth pastor of an Assembly of God church. "The hardest thing I've ever done in my life was walk the aisle of that church and admit I needed Jesus" Ray says. "Ironically, the only surprised person in the room was me! The whole church had figured out I needed Jesus and they were praying for me!".
Ray next went to Palm Beach Atlantic Bible College, and then served in the U.S. Air Force. He was Honorably discharged in 1983.
Ray is a graduate of Logos Bible Institute with a degree in Bible Theology. Although first being ordained in 1987 by Logos, he was last ordained again a second time, also by Logos (August of 2005), after his first credentials were accidentally destroyed. He has served, or worked, with six protestant denominations in his 45 years in ministry.
Ray met his wife Linda in Roanoke in 1989 while on a business trip. Ray was a professional tractor trailer driver at the time. Being recently divorced, and desiring a fresh start, Ray moved to Roanoke. Two years later they were married. Linda then learned to drive a truck and joined Ray in his work. Linda drove with Ray for nine years. They closed their trucking company in 1999 when Ray sensed God leading him to consider a pastoral calling. Between them, Ray and Linda have four children, four grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. Linda has lived in Virginia her entire life and is a graduate of Radford University with a BS in elementary education.
In the 26 years he has lived in Roanoke Ray has been on the staff of:
(sometimes serving in one or more positions simultaneously))
•The Community Outreach Program of the Global Mission Board of the United Methodist Church.
•DePaul Family Services.
•Roanoke Catholic School.
•Church Court Christian Day School.
•Faith Christian School.
•The Truckstop Ministry in Daleville, Va.
•Park Oak Grove Retirement Center (volunteer speaker)
•Cowboy Church of Virginia (founder and Senior Pastor)
Ray is called upon more and more to serve as a mediator/counselor in church related matters. Many pastors and churches in the state watch what God is doing in CCofVa. and they desire to learn the principles upon which CC operates. Whenever possible Ray fulfills speaking requests both in, and out, of the state. These requests have taken Ray to North Carolina, Wisconsin,Tennessee, Mississippi, and a host of Virginia towns and cities. Other talents God has blessed Ray with is professional Christian clowning (retired); master puppeteer (retired); and currently horse whisperer/trainer.
Ray's involvement with horses first began at the age of 10. At a YMCA camp outside Jackson, Ms., Ray climbed aboard his first horse. In 1985, when he worked for "Sunnybrook Farms" in Florida, Ray transported Thoroughbreds around the country to and from the stables and various tracks. When not driving Ray worked as groom; stable mate; or farm hand. Ray has sought out any opportunity to work with, or ride, horses. Upon moving to Roanoke in 1989 Ray discovered the annual Roanoke Valley Horse Show. Beginning in 2003 Ray and his wife sponsored at least two classes of the show for four years. Ray was also called upon to give the invocational prayer at this event those four years on at least two nights of the week long event. In 2006 Ray was trained and operated a carriage hitch for a Bedford, Va. operation for two years. Such appearances included the New Year's Eve "Enchanted Nights" held in Vinton, Va. Ray currently is active on trail rides, wagon trains, and various equestrian events he is asked to appear at. For the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the Virginia Presedential Paso Fino Horse Association asked Ray to serve as Ringmaster for their Virginia shows. In 2011 Ray began training as a horse whisperer, a talent he has had his entire life but was not aware of how to practice it until learning of the curriculum by author Monty Roberts. Ray and Linda enjoy ownership, beginning in March 2011, of a herd of (currently) 15 horses. The horses are used at numerous events throughout the year and along with the Trailblazer Team appear at birthdays, rodeos, fairs, schools, colleges, churches, and anywhere they are asked to come. In March of 2012, while listening to a guest speaker, God called Ray to form a company to provide E.I.A. (a name coined by Ray) using the horses God had given him and his wife. After months of research and planning, the company O.A.T.S. was begun. In September of 2012 CCofVa. hosted Greg Kersten to come to Virginia and train the staff of O.A.T.S. to begin providing Equine Interactive Activity You can check out the O.A.T.S. company at www.oatsinva.com for the most current developments.
How did Cowboy Church of Virginia start?
In 2004 Ray and his wife traveled to Las Vegas to attend the PBR World Finals. It was there, through the PBR Outreach ministry that Ray was introduced to the concept of the "Cowboy Church". Upon returning to Roanoke, Ray presented this unique mission concept to several local churches. Typical of churches today, the people were unwilling to become involved with ministry outside their walls. Then an article appeared in the Roanoke Times that outlined what Cowboy Church ministry was doing in North Carolina. Inspired from that article, Ray and his wife set out making contacts around the area to start a Cowboy Church. The livestock arena in Wytheville quickly responded. Ray and his wife met with that staff and the first Cowboy Church in Virgnia was born. Since that simple start, God has exploded in Virginia and now there are 20 cowboy churches in Virginia with many more towns still waiting on their own cowboy church. There are also now requests pending for CCofVa. to bring Cowboy Church to other states and to 3 countries around the world.
Pastor Ray and Linda entered full time ministry in June of 2010. As unusual as it might seem, Pastor Ray & Linda are not paid by CCofVa. They serve God full time literally "by faith". God has rasied up, and provides, the support needed for them to serve in the ministry.
CCofVa. © 2014
Cowboy Church of Virginia does not mandate any financial requirements for appearances. We also do not solicit love offerings when making appearances.
As God makes the provision, we go.