Here at the FiG we are going to help you get to know some of the men from around the denomination. Azriel Gray is a Minister at Grace Church Dunedin.
Azriel & Melissa (43yrs); Connor (13yrs), Bailey (11yrs), Logan (9yrs)
Where have you lived in your life?
I was brought up on a sheep farm in the Catlins, South Otago, where I attended Catlins area school and went to the Owaka Presbyterian church with my parents and 4 brothers. I did a joinery pre-trade course in Invercargill followed by an apprenticeship in Dunedin. I moved to Auckland to study at GTC, then to Gore for about 7 years. We then moved back to Dunedin, where we’ve been for the last 10.5 years.
When did you become a Christian and what did God use to make you a Christian?
I can’t really remember; and I’m not really concerned by it, as the “now” is more important to me than the “then”. God continues to bring moments into my life that reveal both my great need & Jesus’ great sufficiency. So it honestly feels like an ever-developing testimony of God’s saving grace. I love having many stories of God’s grace throughout my life to speak of. I think I recall praying a salvation prayer around 9 years old, but I was brought up in a Christian family and I never knew a time where I didn’t know and follow God.
If you were trapped on a desert island which three books would you bring outside the Bible?
Well, the first book would have to be one on “How to escape a desert Island!” Aside from that, probably R.G. Letourneau “Mover of Men & Mountains” for inspiration, Gary Larson’s “The far side” for humour; & a book on property.
How long have you been a Minister?
I was ordained as a pastor in GPCNZ in 2003
What is your favourite passage in the Bible?
That’s a hard one. Ps 27 would have to be up there.
What do you do to “wind down” on your day off?
Something outside, preferably on a big hill- running, mountain biking or motorcycling. I also love tinkering on a project car, bike or joinery project.
Three preachers, that have impacted you and your development?
Sinclair Ferguson, Brian Chapell & Zac Eswine. I love Sinclair’s fatherly tone, clear explanation of the text, & how I seem to be left looking at God alone. Brian leaves me nourished by the generosity of God in spite of our short-comings. Zac’s seems to speak to our deepest human fears, questions & objections, showing Jesus’ eagerness to meet with us & find our hope in him.
What is the ideal holiday for you?
Being with my wife & kids, catching up with some old friends; good scenery, a hill to climb, & a campfire with Damper (sweet scone mix) & marshmallows
Three theologians, that have impacted you and your development?
Ed Weltch & others from the CCEF were formative in opening my eyes to idols of the heart. John Frame helped me think freshly about the reformed faith; holding to it while not being afraid to question it at the same time. John Piper & Wayne Grudem- particularly in their book on biblical manhood & womanhood.
What is the most hilarious thing that has happened to you?
I was doing a jump on my BMX as a kid & the handlebars detached from the bike, mid-flight. I’ve had plenty of crashes since- equally as sore, but not quite as funny!