Cherrydale Baptist Church
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
To love God and people above all else
Pastoral Trip - Croatia, London, Macedonia
During Easter week Pastor Grudier and his wife are visiting Noelle who is serving in Macedonia. Then Ed will travel to Croatia to visit Garret Prestwood, while Kathy continues on to Southall, England to visit Lindsay Hall. The Grudiers are making these visits to show our overseas workers that Cherrydale is a church that truly cares for them, yes through financial and prayer support, but also by sending a pastor to them. Our hopes are that these missionaries will receive heartfelt encouragement, and our church will receive a fresh vision for what the Lord is doing through our field workers.
Please take the opportunity to pray for this trip and follow the Grudier's journey as they send updates throughout their trip.
Saturday, March 23, 2013 (Day 1)
Saturday we arrived safely in Skopje , Macedonia to a bright sunny day. Noelle met us at the airport and kept us moving all day to help us overcome jet lag. The city of about 750,000 people is the capital city and rests down in a valley. The snow capped mountains surrounding the city are beautiful and there are a few trees starting to bud as spring approaches. Noelle’s neighborhood is just the right mix of quiet and activity. The high rise college dormitories in the picture signal to us that we are near Noelle’s apartment. These dormitories are centralized even though the Universities are spread throughout the city. Gathering to drink coffee at outdoor cafes and coffee houses is a favorite way to pass the time for Macedonians. Every culture has its way of expressing the need for relationship.
As you pray for the people of Macedonia today, pray for their hearts to long for a restored relationship with our heavenly Father through our Savior Jesus Christ.
Sunday, March 24 (Day 2)
We had a wonderful Palm Sunday worshiping with Macedonians and a number of foreigners who gathered in the one room rented basement space to sing praises to the Lord, hear a message from the book of Matthew, and build one another up in their faith in the Lord Jesus. In the evening we joined Noelle for the gathering of about six new young followers of Christ at the home of her co-workers. This new church plant is seeking to reach a new area of the city. We joined in a time of sharing what the Lord has been doing in each life and then we prayed together for all the people in our lives that we would love to see come to know the Lord. We remember that Jesus is the Light and He calls each of us to shine our light in the darkness. Pray for the witness of each person who knows the Lord here to be powerful and effective in the lives of their relatives, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances.
Monday, March 25 (Day 3)
At the highest point in the city, there is this enormous cross that Kathy and Noelle are standing in front of in the picture. Why such a giant cross for all to see no matter where you are in the capital? Well, about 2/3 of the population of Skopje are ethnically Macedonian and consider themselves part of the Orthodox Church. The other 1/3 of the population are Albanian Muslims. The Orthodox Church wanted there to be a clear symbol that the city is Orthodox. We walked through some of the historical parts of the city where both Mosques and Churches are around every corner. There have been periods of civil war but now the city enjoys relative peace as the two groups learn to co-exist. As with every country, Macedonia is very proud of its rich history as evidenced by the statues and fountains in the city center. The great warrior statue of Alexander the Great is a terrific masterpiece showcasing the strength of Macedonians. Pray for this city to learn the true meaning of the cross and to realize that enduring peace, forgiveness and strength is only found through a living relationship with the risen Lord.
March 27, 2013 (Day 5)
“What do you think of Macedonia?” is a common question we are asked as we meet people. One impression that we have after being here a few days is that this country is ‘small’. In this capital city we can basically get to anywhere in 15-20 minutes by taxi. Macedonia is one of 6 republics that made up the former Yugoslavia. We have learned that you can hop in a car and drive for less than 1 hour to reach Kosovo, or about 2 hours in another direction to reach Serbia, or Bulgaria, or Greece. That is what we mean by Macedonia is ‘small’. This gives the people both a sense of insignificance and a sense that their Macedonian identity is important. What a great parallel to the truths of scripture which remind us that as human beings we are both a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, and at the same time so precious to our Heavenly Father that He sent His son to redeem us and make us His sons and daughters.
Visually, the mix of very old structures from the Ottoman era and old, plain communist buildings and newly constructed beautiful modern buildings leaves an impression. Graffiti is also a visual marker of Skopje. It is on every street from the heart of the city where government buildings and shopping areas abound, all the way out through residential areas. It is such a common sight that we had lots of photo opportunities. The graffiti draws attention to the need to reach the youth of this country. Noelle and her team run a girls club and a boys club each Saturday seeking to reach the youth. This past January they were able to distribute Operation Christmas Child boxes to the kids in the clubs. Pray for the young people of Macedonia to come to understand that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Pray that they will find purpose and joy in life through knowing Christ and serving others.
March 28, 2013 (Day 6)
We thought you might like to hear how Noelle is doing from a more personal perspective. So here we go…
We are so encouraged by the progress that Noelle has made in her acquisition of the Macedonian language and her adjustment in her first 1 ½ years in the country. She has worked hard at gaining the language, she is very happy with the team she is a part of, and she has a fun companion in Millie, her dog. Noelle has also moved into a new phase of ministry, teaching English at Global Connections. We sat in on her class …she is really a great English teacher. We do not remember our language learning experience in Turkey being that fun. Noelle got her students into the active mode of learning and had us all laughing very hard. We could see why her students are eager to come to class. Pray for Noelle to continue in the enculturation process and that she will have many students learn English well and come to know the Lord Jesus in a personal way.
March 29, 2013 (Day 7)
Croatia - Ed
Today Kathy and I parted ways with Kathy going to London to visit Lindsay Hall and with me going a short distance north to Croatia to visit Garret Prestwood. Whereas Macedonia has the Orthodox Church as the majority religion, Croatia has Catholicism. Visiting these two countries back-to-back has left me wondering how the country of Yugoslavia ever existed – so many different ethnic groups, 3 major religions (Orthodox, Catholic and Islam), Roman and Cyrillic scripts, different languages – it is little wonder that it divided up into 6 different countries starting in the early 1990s. One thing that these 6 countries which make up a large portion of the Balkans have in common is the need for the gospel to be proclaimed. The church in all of these countries is still very small and thus the work for all of those serving in the Balkans is greatly needed.
One joy I had today was delivering a care package of 4 bags of coffee and 3 bags of Beef Jerky to Garret from the Cherrydale Small Group that has adopted him (though the Beef Jerky gave it away, yes it is a Men’s SG!). It is great to see a SG that looks for creative ways to care for the missionaries that they have adopted.
My arrival in England brought familiar sights and sounds. Making my way to Lindsay in Southall (Little India) from the airport via bus, then train,then bus was made easy because of Lindsay’s clear instructions and my ability to ask questions in English to anyone I met. Lindsay and her team were in the midst of a Good Friday service when I arrived. The service and picnic/fellowship time that followed gave clear opportunities to the South Asians of their neighborhood to learn about the meaning of the cross. Lindsay’s outgoing personality, compassion for people, and willingness to step out of her comfort zone have uniquely prepared her for both her ministry responsibilities and the learning objectives of her apprenticeship experience. Pray for Lindsay to continually turn her eyes to Jesus in the midst of culture, relationship, and spiritual challenges. Pray for the Light and Life of Jesus to be the lasting impression that she leaves with each person.
March 30, 2013 (Day 8)
Garret is actively sowing the seeds of the gospel into the lives of believers and non-believers. Here is one of my day’s activities here with Garret:
The church here in Slavinski Brod is small, but the believers here are doing their part of sowing the seed of God’s word. Let’s join with them in watering these seeds with prayer and trusting that God will bring the harvest.
Discovering the “feel” of Southall was one of our goals today. What does it mean when a people, a culture, a religion is transplanted into another country and they seek to both maintain their native identity and adjust to their new environment? What does this transition mean for individuals and their families? How can followers of the risen Christ (like Lindsay and her team) make an eternal impact by living in the midst of this South Asian community that is now a part of England? I hope many of you read Lindsay’s updates and blog because she does a great job of communicating the answer to these very questions. Walking the streets, riding the buses, going into shops, and homes brings so much to life. One woman I spoke with who moved here about 10 years ago from Pakistan is so thankful for her life and job here yet seemed to miss “home” and really enjoyed describing to me all the spices and techniques used to prepare the food we were eating. Another woman who has lived in England her whole life and is raising her family here spoke of having no desire to go to India – her land of origin. Pray for the Lord to show those ministering for Christ here to know how to love each individual as Christ would so that the barriers and deception will be broken down and so that lives will be transformed.
March 31 (Sunday) Happy Easter (Day 9)
Preparations for the Easter Celebration at church here in Southall involved hours of set up in the rented facility, practicing the music which included songs in English, Hindi, and Urdu (see Lindsay in the picture as part of the worship team), and planning the service celebrating the Lord’s resurrection being sure that the gospel was clearly communicated. After the service, the celebration continued with a dinner together for all who came and a music/dancefest which transported us to India with flavors and sound. Reaching the hear . . . that is the business the Lord is in and His provision of redemption is meant for all people, everywhere. The magnificence of the Lord, the sufficiency of His sacrifice, and the wonder of the multicultural expression of His greatness was very evident here in Southall this Easter. Praise our risen Lord today that there is a group of His followers rejoicing in His salvation and reaching out to the South Asian community of Southall.
The evangelical church in Croatia is small, about 0.4%. The individual churches are also small, the two I attended today were both about 40 people, and that was including special guests for Easter. The smallness of the church can lead to feelings of irrelevance, discouragement and defeat among the believers and even the leaders of the churches.
It takes a special person, with a true pastoral heart, to lead a small congregation. Pastor Darko (pictured below with his family) is one such man. I have observed him sweeping and mopping the church floor after a prayer meeting, preaching in the morning and then driving to a smaller town in the afternoon to preach again to a church who is currently without a pastor, picking up a blind parishioner to bring to church, energetically teaching the Bible to a group of Junior and Senior High School students, and in general being very concerned about the spiritual welfare of each of his church members as well as those who have attended the church seeking to know more about the truth. Pray for Pastor Darko to find his strength in the Lord, to not grow weary in well doing, and for Garret to continue to be a blessing and an encouragement to him.
April 1, 2013 (Day 10)
On this final day of our trip I would like to focus on the faithfulness of God. By traveling to “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) as representatives of Christ and the local body of believers at Cherrydale to encourage our overseas workers, we are so blessed with a fresh realization of the greatness of God and His faithfulness in accomplishing His purposes. We have been able to spend hours listening to our friends as they share how the Lord is dealing with them individually. He is faithful to His children! He is shaping them into the image of Christ through some very challenging situations. We can not understate how grateful they all are for our prayers and support as a church. They sense their need for the filling of the Holy Spirit so that they can pour out blessing on those around them. The second aspect of God’s faithfulness that we rejoice in is to the nations. Jeremiah 4:1-2 reminds us, “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’ then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.” We have met people blinded by Atheism, Secularism, Jainism, Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism….but the light of Christ is shining through His children and His church. Please continue to pray for a turning of the nations to the truth and love of Christ, and for these workers, who are an extension of Cherrydale, to thrive and bring blessing so that they may glory in Him.
I have been in Croatia for four days and Garret and I have met with Kreshimir five times to study the book of Romans. Kreshimir is a senior in high school, who shows not only great spiritual interest, but also keen spiritual insights. He asks some of the deepest theological questions I have ever encountered in a one-on-one (in this case two-on-one) Bible study. Today he shared with us how his mother is showing interest in reading the Bible (I am sure due to his witness) and asked us where the best place in the Bible would be for him to recommend to his mother to start. It has been so refreshing and encouraging to me to be with a young believer who is so hungry to know God and also burdened to see his family come to know God. When departing today Kreshimir gave me a big hug and told me to come back soon to Croatia. Please pray for Kreshimir to continue to grow in his faith and to know God’s will for his future. Pray also for his mother specifically and also for all of his family to have their spiritual eyes opened to the good news of the gospel.