Interview with Graydon Colville
I had the great pleasure of meeting Graydon earlier in the year, and have been in touch since. This coming Sunday, we look forward to Graydon sharing with us from God's word through our weekly talk upload, but for now, here is the text of an interview with Graydon.
Q. Graydon, can you remind us about your history and association with Eastwood Baptist Church?
A. I came to Eastwood Baptist in 1960 (or 61) as a two year old with my parents who had just moved to Eastwood from Brisbane. (60 years ago!) I grew up through the Sunday School. Received some early training in leadership through Christian Endeavour, was encouraged, taught, blessed and ‘tolerated’ by many through my growing up years. I was baptised in the church in 1976, was involve with the youth group and served as a deacon before going into Morling college.
I was ordained in the church and Wendy and I were sent out from the church when we left for Pakistan in 1987. The church has prayed for us and supported us over many years for which we are very thankful. Of more recent years I have got back about once a year to keep in touch and update folk on the family and the work of GRN. Some from the church are on our mailing list but the many of the older folks with whom we were closely connected have gone to their eternal reward.
Q. What is Global Recordings Network (GRN), and what do they do?
A. GRN is an interdenominational mission agency which focuses on providing audio and audio-visual Gospel messages and Bible story material for primary evangelism and teaching. Our primary focus is unreached people groups, oral communicators and those who have little or nothing of God’s word in a language that speaks to their heart.
It began in USA in 1939 and in Australia in 1953. The first Australian Director was Stuart Mill (brother of Doug Mill a former pastor of EBC). Dick McLellan was the second Australian Director.
We have produced content in more that 6,455 languages and dialects which are made available through the internet and on hard media. Our material is used by many missionaries, mission agencies, churches and individuals throughout the world
Q. What is your role in particular at GRN, and what does that entail?
A. From 2000 until 2012-13 I was the Australian Director (following Dick McLellan). I was then appointed International Director (ID) which is my current role. I also have responsibilities for Pastoral Care and for Script ministries.
As ID I have a networking role both inside and outside the organisation. In this regard I am involved with Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia (Chair of the Board), I’m on the global executive of the International Orality Network (ION), part of Bible Agencies Australia and also serve on the Board of a private Company set up by North West Community Baptist Church (Now Rouse Hill Baptist – my current membership is there) to run out of school hours child care in the North West Region of Sydney.
Q. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work?
A. My role usually involves a fair amount of International travel. This of course has ceased.
My International Leadership Team was planning to meet in Australia in March. This was cancelled so we are in the middle of weekly ‘Zoom’ meetings to replace the face to face meeting.
Much of my work involves communicating with our ‘Centre Leaders’ in about 21 Centres around the world and the heads of various ministry departments. This frequently happens by email so I’m doing a lot of my normal work from home. I work from home 4 days/week and go to my office in the GRN Aust building at Prospect on Wednesdays.
Like many others I’m doing many meetings and having many conversations by Zoom and other electronic means.
In this time of crisis, I am also trying to ‘step up’ communications to the network to encourage and guide leaders – many of whom are in more difficult situations than I am. This is a challenge.
Q. Can you share a story of what you’ve seen God do through GRN?
A. There are hundreds of stories! We try to include some in our publication “Every Language every two months (contact me if you would like to go on the mailing list.) Here are a few short selections.
i. Cambodia: We received feedback from a church planter in Cambodia who finds the GRN recordings and picture books invaluable in his ministry. He succeeded in planting one church using the recordings before he was even able to preach in the local language. He now sends out young people to evangelise and teach using our resources. GRN audio and pictures remain a vital part of his church planting ministry even though he is now fluent in the language.
ii. The Pacific: We were contacted by missionaries who are church planting in a potentially dangerous tribal area. They have been using GRN materials extensively in their Bible teaching to tribal people and they found them very useful to help oral learners understand.
iii. Togo: The team has worked with missionaries and church planters in the north for the past three years. This has seen recordings made and distributed. The recordings are also played on the local radio station and in a local hospital. We know of three churches planted through this project.
iv. Mexico: Our leader was delighted to tell us about a large team of volunteers that run outreaches to tribal people who travel the country harvesting crops. They have developed teams who lead outreach programs that evangelise the migrant workers and distribute recordings in well over 100 different languages. They have diagnostic tools to work out what language people speak and then they copy the relevant recordings onto media the people can use. Over the years the teams have heard of many coming to faith and churches being planted in remote villages.
v. Cameroon: The Boko Haram is moving into this nation bringing terror and death with it. Our team here is part of a project to evangelise the north and to meet darkness with light. They are recording messages in appropriate languages and resourcing the evangelists.
vi. Philippines: Our team has recorded tribal groups who proved very difficult to reach with the Gospel over the past couple of years. Two groups decided they wanted to start a church during the translation and recording process. Since then the team has been invited to meet with other tribal groups, who generally prefer no outside contact, and recording has started.
Q. What are some ways we could be praying for the work that you and GRN do in the coming weeks?
1. For protection and support for our staff in countries severely impacted by covid-19 but where the medical system is not good and government support non-existent. In many places the cost of living is rising rapidly.
2. That many will come across our recordings in their language on the internet during this time and be drawn to Jesus.
3. That we will be able to recruit key people with skills in linguistics, instructional design, IT skills and field recordists and that God will provide for their support.
4. For wisdom in planning post covid-19 recording and ministry activities.
5. That I might have wisdom and provide godly leadership for GRN.
Q. How’s the rest of the family holding up with all the social distancing?
A. Overall quite well.
Wendy has less work than usual but is fine and doing well. Sadly she has had to cancel her planned visit to Lorien (elder daughter) and family in West Asia.
Lorien and family (3 young kids) are under severe lockdown conditions, home schooling and with most ministry activities on hold. They work with Middle Eastern Refugees.
Murray (son, Associate Minister at Toongabbie Anglican) and family (4 children) are doing very well and thriving in the conditions!
Merryn (younger daughter) and family (1 child) are doing well, involved in ministry at Riverstone Anglican where Andrew is on staff. Merryn is teaching music 2 days per week at Arndell College. Pray for her long term health condition (MS).
Q. You’ve heard of the plan for the revitalisation and rebirth of Eastwood Baptist. Do you have any comments or encouragements for us as we moving into this season of change?
A. I am excited by it. Eastwood is a very different community to what it was when I grew up there and the challenges and ministry opportunities and needs are vastly different (sometimes the need might be the same or similar but a very different response or strategy is required). While there may be different ways to respond to this situation, the plan to revitalise and rebirth is a bold and courageous move. The folk of EBC have always had a heart for God’s work in the world, they have been faithful prayers and supporters of God’s work. It is my prayer that this initiative will indeed see the beginning of a new season of life and ministry in EBC. It will be different to the past but it seems to be the time for God to do a new thing in that community.