Ray Bentley, an author, radio broadcaster and pastor who helped to found the influential Evangelical megachurch, Maranatha Chapel of California, died from COVID-19 complications.
In an announcement posted on Facebook Tuesday, Maranatha Chapel said Bentley died at age 64 that afternoon following complications from the coronavirus.
“We are all in shock and heartbroken,” stated the church. “We find comfort in knowing that he is rejoicing in heaven with his beloved Jesus.”
“Please pray for [his wife] Vicki and their family and for our church. More information will follow, but for now we needed to let you know and ask for prayer.”
Greg Laurie, author and senior pastor of the California-based megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship, took to Twitter to offer his condolences.
“So sad to hear that my friend, Pastor Ray Bentley died due to complications from COVID,” tweeted Laurie on Wednesday morning. “Death does not have the final word, Christ does! Ray is alive and well in Heaven! He will be deeply missed.”
Monica Dean, a news anchor with NBC 7 San Diego, whose family was baptized by Bentley, gave her condolences on Facebook, calling him “a spiritual leader, a profound biblical teacher, an inspired author, a mentor.”
“He was a shepherd to a global congregation. He loved others with the heart of Jesus and reminded us regularly ‘God is good all the time,’” said Dean.
“I am praying for the comfort and peace of the Bentley family — may the Lord bless and keep you, make His face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you peace.”
Joel C. Rosenberg, a bestselling Evangelical author who serves as president and CEO of Near East Media who lives in Israel, took to Twitter to pay his respects to Bentley.
“I’m so grateful for his love for the Lord Jesus Christ, his passion for the Bible and the gospel & his deep love for Israel. Praying for Vicki and family,” tweeted Rosenberg.
According to his ministry website, Bentley founded Maranatha Chapel in 1984, with the congregation eventually growing to serve approximately 7,000 people a week.
Bentley also had a daily radio program on Maranatha’s Radio Show, wrote six books, and frequently discussed issues of biblical prophecy and history.
Bentley was married to his wife for more than 40 years, and the couple had two grown, married children, as well as six grandchildren, according to his ministry website.