A Lesson in Staying Power

Linda, Liz, Jeanne and me

On Monday evening we sat at the table of Liz Renaud and Linda Hache in Bridlewood. We simply don’t have enough energy to tell you about the journey we have shared together. The details could fill a book or make for an amazing soap opera series. Most of it you wouldn’t believe anyway.

Liz was first to come our way. I can’t exactly remember the exact details and even if I thought I had them right Jeanne and the other two would straighten me out. I’d get it wrong.

If my memory serves me correctly, Liz was already a Christian when we met her. She had been attending another Free Methodist church in the area but heard about us and decided to give us a look. This is back in the days when we had no “permanent dwelling place not so much as even a place to put the sole of our feet.” We were wandering from skating rink to library to a double-wide community center in a trailer park, to a house on Leacock Drive and then finally to the present location, a church building on Flewellyn Road. We picked up her sister Linda when we finally settled in our church building four years after Liz came on board.

These ladies became a reason for the growth in the early days as they turned out to be inviters as well as authentic, reliable deaconesses. Whatever needed to be done they did it.

Liz and Linda are our friends. They are also nothing alike. Liz calls herself a “Realist” which actually means, “blunt.” No one needs to wonder what she is thinking. The truth is, Liz gets it. She has stuff figured out way ahead of time and calls a spade a spade. I have rarely disagreed with her observation and perspective. She reads situations like a hawk. This being said, she is gracious and forgiving. She gives a “sucker an even break” and knows what it is to have walked in his or her shoes. She would be first to tell you all of the ways she has screwed up, so while she calls things the way they are, she doesn’t judge and gives lots of room for others to learn their own lessons without her help.

There were many times when Liz didn’t have it easy but she never gave up. Today, she makes frequent trips to England where she helps her daughter and son-in-law in their ministry with OM’s outreach to Muslims.

Her sister, Linda, (Well, what can I say?) she’s quite different. Linda is rather dreamy and mystical (in the good way). She loves to worship, read books and meditate. Again, like Liz, Linda exudes love.

Linda has had no easy time of it. She raised four children on her own. Jason, her youngest, is now working as Registrar at Bethany College of Missions in Minneapolis.

Linda was as tenacious as Liz and when the two got hold of the gospel they meant business. They were “steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” They did not faint in doing good but committed themselves first to the Lord and then to His people.

I could say much more, and I suspect they are slightly nervous as they read this hoping that I keep a lot of things to myself. If I told you all of what they have faced you might wonder how they continued to go on. Others have faced nothing by comparison and yet they are off in a corner whining. What is the difference? The difference is simple and everyone needs to get this for themselves. They simply made up their minds where they would stand, come hell or high water.

I wish there were a thousand of these believers in Ottawa who would, after all, continue to “STAND.”

“As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?’”

Since 1512 people have lustily sung Martin Luther’s lyrics to “A Mighty Fortress” but perhaps only a remnant were sure of the truth of the words. Why don’t you read them again as a litmus test for yourself? Remember, the man who wrote them experienced betrayal on every hand.

  1.       A mighty fortress is our God,

            a bulwark never failing;

            our helper he amid the flood

            of mortal ills prevaling. 

            For still our ancient foe

            doth seek to work us woe;

            his craft and power are great,

            and armed with cruel hate,

            on earth is not his equal.

2.         Did we in our own strength confide,

            our striving would be losing,

            were not the right man on our side,

            the man of God’s own choosing.

            Dost ask who that may be? 

            Christ Jesus, it is he;

            Lord Sabaoth, his name,

            from age to age the same,

            and he must win the battle.

3.         And though this world, with devils filled,

            should threaten to undo us,

            we will not fear, for God hath willed

            his truth to triumph through us. 

            The Prince of Darkness grim,

            we tremble not for him;

            his rage we can endure,

            for lo, his doom is sure;

            one little word shall fell him.

4.         That word above all earthly powers,

            no thanks to them, abideth;

            the Spirit and the gifts are ours,

            thru him who with us sideth. 

            Let goods and kindred go,

            this mortal life also;

            the body they may kill;

            God’s truth abideth still;

            his kingdom is forever.

Entry 2 Italy and Slovenia Fall 2009

Pranza con Takako e Giovanni

Pranza con Takako e Giovanni

Takako Horaguchi and Giovanni di Italia

Parma, Italy

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Once in Parma and at the home of Aldo and Mariela Cerasino in the suburb of Corcangano I had to stop completely and catch up on my missing sleep. In a day or so I began to emerge again and started making calls of greeting.

A year ago I dropped into a Sushi Restaurant that had just opened on Piazza Garibaldi. A year later it is out of business. Mostly I was attracted by the sushi Chefette with her tall hat and her slender Japanese features. I thought that she might make a good drawing but as it turned out Maria was not so photogenic and useful as her friend Takako Horaguchi. Takako had first come to Italy to study opera at the Parma Conservatory and from what I can tell, fairly accomplished at hitting high C’s. She loves to sing Puccini and has been in several opera performances since her graduation two years ago.

Working my way through the Primo.

Working my way through the Primo.

I took her photo (you can see the drawing at www.tonyhedrickart. com). Anyhow, as promised, I mailed it to her and she seemed to be thrilled with the outcome so she found my email and wrote thanking me for going to all of the trouble and asked when I would return to Parma next. I thought, at first, that I would be here in the spring of 2009 but this was not to be the case as Jeanne (my wife) discovered cancer and of course I am not the kind of guy who would drop her off at the door of the chemo center and then catch a plane to Italy. I spent another six months being with Jeanne at home so this delayed my return.

When I told Takako that I would be delayed and the reason she was sympathetic and said that when did finally show up, I should call and she would have me for pranza (lunch). Did I tell you that she is also a chef of some accomplishment? I did reach her and after about ten text messages later I managed to get to her apartment today.

I was met by her Sardenian husband Giovanni on the street, in front of the Black and White Discotec just across the street from their apartment on Via Zambiotti. We walked across to their place and, though a little awkward at first, I was relieved to discover that Giovanni spoke English fairly well having studied pediatric dentistry in New York City for three years some twenty years earlier. He was happy to use it again but this left poor Takako a little out of the conversation so every so often he would stop to explain the missing parts of the various stories. We alternated between English and Italian. They were impressed. I was impressed that they were impressed.

When I say “dentist” in American it conjures the idea of a certain lifestyle. People might expect a big home and a professional air about this. However, this was not the case. In Europe Doctors and Dentists are not treated with the same sense of demagoguery as they are in America and Canada. In fact, most doctors employed by the state may make even less than a typical small business man. Giovanni di Italia was not dripping in wealth. The apartment was very modest as were the accompanying surroundings. Even still, they went all out to serve me the nicest meal possible. She started me off with RISOTTO (the real thing) unlike the one I make and call risotto, each individual rice kernel had not been turned to porridge but stood on its own two feet, as it should. After lazily plodding through every bite, out came the Prima, roasted potatoes, green beans and this fantastic chicken with a wonderful mushroom sauce. I exhausted my gastronomic vocabulary in Italian (this may be my best Italian) and finally ran out of complimentary things to say.

The conversation did turn toward spiritual things as they wanted know what it is that I teach. Once they were convinced that I actually did know what I was talking about they gave me full run of the table. Of course, Giovanni did not wish to look uninformed so he did challenge my perspective on several occasions but at the end gave in to the idea that religion is only about one thing, control, power and dominance but authentic Christianity is the opposite. Jesus was not top down, He was bottom up so from this I clearly communicated the real Jesus and Giovanni seemed to like what he heard. I told my story of how I came to Christ, how he is interested in both our hearts and our heads. I explained how being sacramentalized and catechized is not the same as being evangelized. One must be converted (born-again for lack of a better term). I managed to get all of this done in two hours “Gloria di Dio!!!”

Giovanni continued to insist that Takako could not understand what we were talking about but I noticed on two occasions she mentioned her contact with evangelical Christians in Japan. She knew the word Evangelical and more than once interrupted to ask what we were talking about. I can tell you that Takako is more interested than Giovanni thought. I promise that when I send her New Testaments in Italian and Japanese, she will devour every word. Let me explain this to the reader. Takako introduced me to her friends as her Uncle (Zio) Tony. Both she and Giovanni are far from family and have no friends (or so they say) in this entire city of 120,000 people. Through the kindness of a portrait and emailing I have earned the right to be their friend. I am certain of one thing if I am certain of anything. Evangelism in Italy and Europe, in general will only happen through carefully built and cultivated, one on one relationships. People must trust you before they will trust what you say.

The door to their hearts has been cracked open and when they have their little girl in two weeks time, I will be on their doorstep with the cutest present you have ever seen. Next, I introduce Aldo and Mariela who will take them another step.

Mission Commission at Chapel Ridge

Six Short-Term Missionaries are Commissioned

072 Regrettably, many churches have lost interest in fulfilling Jesus’ last command to, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.”  The good news is –  there are still a number of “Great Commission” congregations and Chapel Ridge is one of them. On this particular October Sunday six were sent out on assignments ranging from the Arab world to street people and local prison inmates.

Here in this picture Pastor Ken Roth hands the microphone to ACCI intercessor, Ray Borg who prays for Tony Hedrick , J and A who will be serving in Italy and Slovenia. Following, he commissioned Lauren Carrion and Leslie Brune (her mother, Debbie Narraway stood in for Leslie in her absence) who will be serving workers in Uganda, Zambia, Dubai, Turkey, Italy and England. Finally, he prayed for ACCI’s leadership, John and Amy Haley along with Eliane Guite an ACCI missionary who serves both locally and abroad. IMG_8108In the background we see the Chapel Ridge SAS  (Serving as Senders) Team laying hands on those going out. This is always an emotionally moving moment. “Those who wait also serve.” 

Chapel Ridge’s 25th Anniversary Legacy Party

Over two hundred were in attendance at the dessert fellowship.

Over two hundred were in attendance at the dessert fellowship.

Guests enjoyed outstanding desserts as they recalled the various milestones, miracles and stories of twenty-five years collectively serving Christ in the region.

Numerable tales of God’s provision were recounted as well as recalling the numbers of those who have been married, baptized, converted, trained and sent out into ministries through this “life-giving” congregation. 

Later in the service I spoke on “The Spirit of Caleb,” and how this church did not listen to the voices of doubt. Together we accomplished what could not be done without the aid of God. I went on to further say that, ” I did not know of a single church of this size that has even come close to the contributions to the Kingdom that Chapel Ridge has made. Chapel Ridge has sent out more missionaries, started more ministries and congregations, trained and deployed more pastors and leaders than any other I know of. These people have truly been spent in extending the Kingdom of God. The ongoing impact of Chapel Ridge is literally being felt around the world.

A River… not a Reservoir

I am proud to say that I have known and served this band of people and even though many have moved on to other congregations and new people have arrived, Chapel Ridge is content to have been a river instead of a reservoir. The weekend was a great time of renewing old acquaintances and catching up on the latest news.

Preaching at Chapel Ridge’s 25th Anniversary

Sunday morning at Chapel Ridge.

“Like Jumping to Capri.”


Jeanne and I drove to Ottawa, Canada where we took part in the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the church we began. It was wonderful seeing many old friends and partnering with Ken and Linda Roth, the present pastor and his wife. We took part in four meetings with Jeanne speaking to sixty women on Saturday morning.

On Saturday evening the church had a dessert fellowship with a audio-visual historical presentation and a time of sharing memories. I spoke on, “The Spirit of Caleb,” and how Chapel Ridge went up against the fortified cities – cities filled with giants. It was exciting to review the amazing world impact Chapel Ridge has had during it’s brief history. I know of no other church of its size that has launched as many churches, ministries, pastoral careers and missionaries as Chapel Ridge. Truly, CR has been and is apostolic Christianity.