Meet, Sam Gray!
Hometown: Clemmons, NC (right now!)
Home Church: Come & Worship
BWM Position: Director of Intercultural Ministries and New Work
I am the “connection” for the BWM with our Mission Areas and Mission Provinces and try to raise awareness of and involvement in that work within our congregations. I also help people to see the needs and opportunities for being in mission right where they are.
Years in this position: 13 years (began August 1, 2004) but had also served with the BWM as a missionary in Honduras from 1976 – 1977 and from 1980 – 1992.
Fun Work Fact: I have worked along with 8 BWM Executive Directors (Ted Hartmann, Graham Rights, Ted Wilde, Hampton Morgan, Gordon Sommers, Will Sibert, Bob Sawyer and Judy Ganz).
Camp Involvement: Laurel Ridge, Tar Hollow, Mt. Morris, Hope Center, Van Es
Favorite Moravian Eats: Egg sandwich made with toasted Lovefeast bun
Dogs or Cats: Dogs
Why mission work? Simple answer: because Jesus made it pretty clear that this is what we are called to be and do. So, for me, the only question was, “Do I do mission work along with my vocation or as my vocation?”
Places Sam has been to for missions: Albania, Barbados, Belize, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Israel (and Palestine), Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Tortola, U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John)
Favorite mission memory:
A defining moment for me in mission was November 9, 1983 (in Central America that is 9/11 – the 9th day of the 11th month). We had moved to Ahuas, Honduras, where I was teaching at the Moravian Bible Institute and serving as Director of Christian Education for the Honduras Province. We had built a house and filled it with all of the things that we needed in order to serve and minister to the local people.
But on 9/11/1983 our house burned to the ground (interestingly, because of a miscommunication in Spanish and English – long story!) and we lost everything that was inside. Or, I should say, we lost almost everything. In the days before social media and digital cameras, we had made it a point to send wedding photos, pictures of our children and other memories to family and friends in other places. About a month after the fire, we began receiving these photos in the mail. Folks had realized that they would be meaningful to us and were sending them back. And we discovered an important principle for life and ministry: the only things we had were the things that we had given away!
The other defining moment in that event was the morning after the fire when we realized that we had nothing and we were totally dependent on the local people. The youth group took up an offering and brought it to us. People invited us for meals and gave us a place to stay. We were no longer the ones with everything who were there to serve the ones who had nothing. The tables had turned and this left an important “guiding image” in my mind and on my heart.
A story from Judy about her colleague, Sam
It is always wonderful to do mission with Bishop Sam Gray! He has been so many places and knows so many people. And he always finds a way to help with the music. One time we were together at a worship service in Nicaragua at the Miskitu church in Puerto Cabezas (Bilwi). Sam was helping with the piano accompaniment. In Nicaragua they use their Lawana (hymnal) and people would call out a Lawana number and Sam would play it from memory! In Peru Sam joined up with the Rhemanente band to help with keyboard. In Cuba, he was able to get a shy teenager to share her beautiful voice for the congregation as they did a duet together. And sometimes he’ll bring along his plastic trombone in order to accompany songs. While Bishop Sam is proficient in several languages, he shows us that music is a language that crosses all boundaries in sharing the Gospel!