Broadway Prohibition Days
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1. Broadway Prohibition Days

Church Army U.S.A

Captain Ray LewisCaptain Ray Lewis introduces his adventures and ministry in the Church Army in the United States and many parts of the world. The true story of Captain Ray Lewis of the Church Army of the U.S.A. whose life mission was to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ wherever he went. His ministry took him to many parts of the world and all kinds of people. Above all else, Ray's life and ministry were of hallelujah, praise to God, and GLORY. My friend Captain Ray Lewis was a curiously impetuous individual. I count it a privilege to have known such a gracious person. Silver-haired and enthusiastic, he never failed to encourage, to add a twinkle to your step. A wise, thoughtful, yet curiously impetuous individual, he was driven by a deep urge to share his love of Jesus Christ with everyone he met. His memory lives on in the countless individuals in many parts of the world whose lives he touched and changed during his lifetime. This eBook preserves the glory that was my friend Ray Lewis.

New York City

New York CityAfter many years, Captain Ray Lewis's return to see his old friends from the Broadway Prohibition Days in New York City was a flash from the past. It was a Siberian mammoth office experience! Outside, the temperature soared on a hot Summer day. Inside was mechanically cool. In the distance, the noisy grating hustle and bustle of New York City. Indoors, the hum of an elevator motor filled the air. Outwardly, I sported the clean-cut facade of a smart business person. Within me, my heart trembled. The elevator bell rang out the floors 31, 32, 33 as they went by. The wrought iron gate slid to a sudden heady stop and opened with a clang. All I could see was so familiar. A red and brown floral carpet led along a clean passageway to my former workplace. It was like looking back in time to a Siberian Mammoth office. Straightening, I stepped out toward it with the thought, "How good it will be to meet the office gang again after all these years!" Opening the office door a fraction, then further, I peered around in astonishment. It appeared frozen in time, like some Siberian Mammoth locked in an icy tomb. A shiver coursed down my spine! The same tired-faced staff sat at the same old desks. Nothing from these Broadway Prohibition Days from before 1933 seemed to have changed after all these years!

Brown Paper Bags

Broadway Prohibition DaysVivid memories of my apprenticeship on Broadway during my Broadway prohibition days in New York City, often called "The Big Apple," as a strapping eighteen-year-old came flooding back. At that time, New York was the most densely populated city in the United States and a global powerhouse. It boasted a fast pace in all aspects of commerce, media, fashion, and entertainment. My boss had sent me out with "small tokens of our appreciation," little alcoholic gifts distilled, bottled, and wrapped for our very best customers all in little brown paper bags. Some recipients were mayors and other prominent business people. My two suitcases of bourbon in brown paper bags seemed to weigh a ton as I hauled them into a cab outside our Whitehall Office Building. Hearing the clink of bottles, the driver suspected what I carried. He joked, "Got a precious load there, hey?" but I didn't respond, for the jingling cargo at my side occupied all my thoughts.

A Quarter Tip

BroadwayPulling up outside Grand Central Station, the cabby opened the door, and as he did, I started to tip him the usual quarter. With a skeptical look at the single coin in his palm, he spat, "How rotten can you get?" Reeling from the memory of that harsh criticism, I suddenly awoke to the present reality. Closing the office door quickly, I turned toward the elevator. Soon, I was hurrying from the memories of those Broadway prohibition days, caught up again in the teeming impersonal life of the noon rush hour.

Thank You, Jesus

Cathedral in New YorkAs I shouldered through the crowds, my mind recalled that final day when I resigned from my office job to start on a glorious new adventure. The traffic roared, horns honked, a subway train screeched, but in my heart, I sang out, "Thank you, thank you, Jesus!" Ray Lewis's spent his childhood in the Redeemer Church New Jersey, nicknamed the Morristown church angel. It all began for Captain Ray in New Jersey. "My mother, from the Church of Ireland, insisted that my six brothers and sisters and I went to the Redeemer Church every Sunday. We had only one set of clothes each, and no best ones for church! So, in our little dim kitchen, my mother washed and ironed all our outfits the night before. She was going to make sure that we would be neat and tidy for the following morning's service."

Methodist Name Wesley

Retail StoreCaptain Ray was named Wesley, "after my father, who had strong Methodist Chapel links. He seldom went to church himself but instilled in us a great love of music. Gathering around our little reed organ after supper, he played his slide-trombone, and we sang. My voice got me into the church choir, where the other boys called me "The Saint" because my birthday fell on St. Patrick's Day on the 17th of March. But I was no angel! I once worked at a store owned by a Jewish family called the Greenburgers. I had returned to work overtime in the shop at dusk with another young fellow. We discovered to our dismay that someone had locked the door. "Open the door; you ******* ***** Jew!" I shouted and rattled the handle impatiently. "Come on, get a ******** move on!" The words still lingered on Captain Ray's lips when the door swung open. "A red-faced Mr. Greenburger had heard every word through an upper window, and his piercing glance told me so. "Ray," he quietly said, beckoning me toward him with a long wizened finger, "Von day you vil be ashamed of vot you said here." Later, I felt the weight of his words. I was no angel!"

Jesus Heart Love

Jesus IconCaptain Ray finds Jesus' heart love in New York's Big Apple as rainbows of glimmering sunlight streamed through stained glass unto the altar table. Despite my failings, I still had a very happy boyhood. The Redeemer people cared for youngsters like me, and on my Confirmation day, I would have willingly fought and died for this my church. On that memorable Sunday, God spoke from his Word, and my whole world lit up. Jesus was challenging me personally! The solemn clerical drones of the Rector reverberated around the church, but I couldn't hear them for the strange and wonderful whisper of Jesus' heart love had touched my soul. The reading challenged me, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

Live a Holy Life

Stained Glass WindowWham! There it was! Love others and live a holy life! Care for those in need, and turn this concern into action. Above all, God wanted me to live a dedicated life of Jesus' heart love for Him. "Yes, Lord," I replied from the depths of my heart. Jesus' still small voice echoed back, "You are my child; I love you." Rainbows of glimmering sunlight streamed through stained glass unto the altar table. A fresh assurance lit up my newly discovered sight. The minister said, "The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life." My heart leaped with joy with Jesus' love! It seemed almost too fantastic to be true that Jesus loved me! I wanted to love and serve Him all my days in return.

Publish Glad Tidings

ProcessionThe hymn "Publish Glad Tidings" inspired Captain Ray Lewis to a Christian adventure to bring back pure religion to New York's Big Apple. As a boy, I had often marched down the same aisle in a black cassock and crisp white surplice loving the church with all my heart, but this time it was different. From now on, I would fight for Jesus alone. As we processed along, my eyes focused on the polished brass cross high above my head. The hymn we were singing added, "Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace, tidings of Jesus, redemption, and release." This famous hymn written by Mary A. Thompson (1834-1923) to the tune "Tidings" by James Walch was an encouragement for Captain Ray's later work in the United States and elsewhere around the World. Years before, I had sung this great missionary hymn at rallies held at our church. I sensed that this Christian adventure would carry me in my lifetime to far away and strange places as I, too, published glad tidings. I would discover a fascinating variety of peoples. This vision seemed almost too remote to be possible. God had called me to become his traveler to bring glory into other people's lives.

The Church at Work

Church at WorkI was gripped by one overriding and naive obsession, which was to pay God back for what he had done for me! "How could I follow Him?" I asked myself. "Who would help me enter this service for Christ to speak out glad tidings?" For weeks these all-absorbing questions remained unanswered. Then, one day while browsing through "The Church at Work," I noticed a headline that stirred me.


Church Army MotifCaptain Ray faces the great question that perhaps the Worldwide Church was waiting for him. Later I saw the movie, "The Three Passions," portraying three people and their chosen different life paths. David was a tall, serious young man going into business. In her mid-twenties, Sandra, a bright and cheerful lady, settled on getting married and looking after a home. Charles, after much heart-searching, tried his vocation with a religious order. These were the various options also open to me. Doggedly, I went up to New York to test my call to the Church Army and my belief that the Worldwide Church was waiting for me.

"Broadway Prohibition Days"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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