Anyone old enough to remember the Christian music scene back in the 1980s will be familiar with the band Heartbeat. Initially birthed out of the British Youth for Christ band led by Ray and Nancy Goudie, the controversial band released two singles, into the UK charts. 'Tears from heaven' reached no.32 and the band made several television appearances, including on Top of the Pops.
In 1987, newly saved and full of passion for Jesus, I attended a Heartbeat gig.
Listening not so much to the music, which wasn’t necessarily my taste, but to this wee Scottish man speak, stirred a greater desire to use my giftings for his glory. I had trained for four years in contemporary dance and having laid my gift before the altar God had called me to use it for his glory. The brief conversation I had with Ray after the event turned into an invitation to audition, being asked to choreograph a dance to the new single the band had just recorded: 'Tears from Heaven'. God had clearly orchestrated everything and I became the Heartbeat dancer.
Ray and Nancy became my spiritual parents. Their hunger and desire for God was as insatiable as it was infectious. We took three tours on the road that are prophetic for today: 'Voice to the Nation', 'Heal Our Nation' and 'I Will Speak Out'. The team were constantly encouraged to step out in faith, trusting in the Holy Spirit and giving prophetic words. We toured most weekends, performing and ministering mostly to young people throughout the UK and Europe. We spent hours in prayer, fasting, and interceding and we saw literally hundreds of lives saved and transformed. Healings were commonplace though we always hankered for more.
God would intervene to remind us, it was not by our might or power. On one weekend event, in the middle of the set, the entire audience of young people fell to the floor weeping and crying out to God, as they came under the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues. Ironically, the youth leaders who’d brought them didn’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit and wanted to take them home!
Another night the generator wouldn’t work so we couldn’t perform. Ray led us in prayer and we watched in awe as the entire audience suddenly began to repent; there were tears and wailing all around the venue. Typical Ray just kept praising God and giving him all the glory.
Ray was always stepping out in ways that would shake most of us out of our comfort zone. I remember him once asking a man if he could punch him, as Ray remembered that it worked for Smith Wigglesworth! He often told us about these situations he’d found himself in, telling us, ”It was so embarrassing!” Yet if Ray believed God was leading, he walked in total obedience.
Anyone who spent time with Ray would know there are so many stories because he was a man that took radical faith to the next level.
Once he came running into the dressing rooms asking if leprosy still existed, as he believed God has told him someone in the audience had it. Still unsure as to whether he was being totally off the wall he told the audience that God wanted to heal someone of leprosy. Sure enough someone did respond, although they didn't come up until after the end because they were too embarrassed to do it publicly. They had just returned from time abroad with a skin disease akin to leprosy.
As we traveled, even across language barriers, lives were touched as God moved in miraculous ways. In Belgium people started handing us items, such as cigarettes and drugs to dispose of, as they turned their lives towards the Lord. One man handed me a knife wrapped in brown paper. I can only thank God that he was in the midst of the seeming chaos that sometimes ensued, and am thankful that Ray and Nancy gave him the space to move. Anyone who spent time with Ray would know there are so many stories because he was a man that took radical faith to the next level.
We experienced amazing opportunities to share our faith, such as when our lead singer, Sue Rinaldi had to give answers to the Christian faith in Janet Street Porter’s hard-hitting Def-II A-Z of Beliefs programme. Yet there was never any compromise. For example, Ray refused to allow a well-known Radio One DJ take 'The winner' chorus as his jingle, as the song was to lift up the name of Jesus alone. We lived by faith, trusting for finance every month. Never did Ray and Nancy take a penny more that the rest of us in the team, even though some like myself, didn’t have a mortgage or children.
Most of the time we had very little to live on, despite our public profile. Yet Ray continually looked to God for direction. In 1991 God spoke clearly that the band was to be a seed. It was time to be buried that something bigger and better would grow. Out of it New Generation Ministries was birthed where hundreds of young people have developed their faith as well as their skills. But if that was not enough, Ray ventured into the world of musicals, producing Luv Esther, and The Prodigal to share God’s heart once more.
Last year Ray developed cancer, but he always said, it wouldn’t be cancer that took him, but God, and he wouldn’t leave this earth a day before or after his time.
On 25th July this year, God called him home, not a day to soon. His work here was complete. But his legacy goes on. I was privileged and honoured to be a part of his and Nancy’s lives and am eternally grateful for their servant attitude, as they walked in tune with his heartbeat.
All who knew him can thank God and agree it was a life well lived!
Sarah Holloway was Heartbeat's professionally trained dancer. She now works behind the camera as a film producer and media teacher