Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stanley James Grassow

27/10/1925 – 05/08/2013

Stanley James Grassow was born in Wynberg, Cape, on the 27th October 1925. He came from a missionary family: His Granny Hurrell was the first deaconess sent from England for the S.A. General Mission. Grandpa Hurrell, having worked his passage from England in a sailing ship, joined her in running the Cape Town Docks Mission during the Anglo-Boer War, before serving in the Salvation Army at the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home connected to the Simon’s Town Methodist Church.

Stan attended the Lutheran Mission Primary School, and then the Wynberg Boy’s High School. He wrote Matric, but did not pass, because he failed Afrikaans. He later obtained a Matric Exemption at Rhodes University by writing Afrikaans I.

Stan attended the Wynberg Methodist Sunday School from the age of two and a half years, became a Full Member in 1942, and then taught in the Sunday School for 2 years. He was always grateful for the example of the teachers in the Sunday School. It was there that he learned to appreciate Hymns.  He joined the S.A. Air Force in January 1944 while WWII was still in progress. After the war Stan worked at Iscor in Pretoria in their Cost Accounts section for three years. 

Stan joined the Wesley Church ( Andries Street), where he found friends in the Wesley Guild. The Guild had a tennis club and tennis became Stan’s sport. He encountered the Lord Jesus Christ personally in 1947 at a Youth Camp, and found his life turned around. Stan became Guild Devotional Convenor, A Sunday-School teacher in two Sunday-Schools, Choir member, and Mission Band member.

In 1948 at the September Youth Camp Stan experienced a call to the ordained ministry. The Rev. Alfred Salmon gave good advice to Stan who felt unqualified for this call:  “See if you can win one person to Christ in the next year. If you can bring one person you can bring more. Meanwhile become a Local Preacher.” Stan started as a Local Preacher.  Six months later Stan’s brother Ted started work for the Post Office. He was living in a tent at a Post Office construction camp outside Vanwyksvlei. He was converted mainly through Stan’s writing to him.

Stan could not escape the call to the ministry. 1950 saw Stan working at Capital Park and Wesley Church as assistant to the Rev. Alfred Salmon and as a Prospective Candidate for the ministry. Stan was accepted as a Probationer Minister in October 1950 and stationed at Primrose, Germiston for 1951 before being sent to Rhodes University in 1952.

Stan found academic life very difficult, but experienced spiritual nurture through the Rev. A. J. T. Cook’s “How Greater Flame” Campaign in the Eastern Cape, the dynamic preaching of the Rev. Charles Moore at Commemoration Church and the Saturday evening prayer meeting.  One very good result came from the Rhodes episode: Stan met Robin Beard who later became his wife. They had to wait 2 years to marry: he needed to be ordained, and she to finish her teacher training.

Stan then served in Durban County Circuit in 1954, the year of his ordination, before moving to Newcastle (1955 – 1956) where Stan and Robin were married in January 1956; This was followed by Matatiele for six months before a move to Mthatha  (1956-1962). The six and a half years in Mthatha was a time of growth for Stan. To keep up with preparation for preaching two sermons and a Bible Study each week Stan had to read and study. Both Stan’s and Robin’s children were born in Umtata. In the sixth year Stan got ill and was diagnosed as having epilepsy and was moved to a quieter station at Standerton (1963), before being moved again to The Pretoria East Circuit (!964 – 1967). Stan describes this as “one of the busiest, most challenging, and most satisfying times in my ministry. In addition to being District Youth Secretary. Stan started the process of joining small societies into what was to become the Valley Church.

Simon’s Town. (1968 – 1972). The next three years were heart-breaking. Under the Group Areas Act the Coloured members of his congregation were forcibly relocated. These people needed a great deal of counselling and practical and spiritual help. Stan’s emphasis here was to teach the people so that they could stand on their own spiritual feet wherever they went.  Stan was also District Youth Secretary and then District Missionary Secretary.

This was followed by periods in Camps Bay (1973 – 1975), Vanderbijl Park (1976 – 1980) and Primrose, Germiston. (1981 – 1991). The last lap ended where Stan had started as a Probationer in 1951. 30 years earlier Stan started at Primrose knowing nothing about ministry. Now he was able to start putting 30 years of experience into the work there.  

After retiring to their new home Stan assisted at the Fish Hoek Methodist Church, leading the morning Bible Study and preaching. The last three years of his life saw a gradual deterioration in his health, with a number of mini-strokes. Stan finally took leave of this life on Monday 5th August in the 63rd year of his ministry and the 88th year of his life.

I pay tribute to one whose passion was for teaching, training and encouraging faithful followers of Jesus. In addition to his Bible Study notes and preaching series, his passion for church camps, and his involvement with the Order of Christian Service, his ministry resulted in many effective Christian ministers: I think of people such as Mel vd Berg, Costa Stathakis, Joe Kruger, Peter Grobler, Eric Jurgensen, Gordon Edgar, Cathy du Plessis and Jimmy Ramage - and I am sure that I have forgotten to mention others.  

My father never wanted a tribute at his funeral. He was afraid that talking about him would take the attention away from Jesus. I hope that this account of his life would be seen as a tribute to the work of God in the life of a frail human being, who did great things because of Jesus.  

Stan writes: “Marrying Robin was the second best thing I did in my life; the first was responding to Jesus”.

 Thank to for all the support we have received.

The family would want especially to mention the special people who cared for Stan when he became frail: 
The carers - Eunica, Mandi, Valentia, Elizabeth
St John’s for their availability to help with anything we needed
Cape Medical Response – who always came again and again and always showed great compassion and support
We are grateful for the messages, email, and phone calls from family, friends and people we do not know.


Jenny Sprong said...

Thanks for this outline of your Dad's life and ministry, Peter.
We met, through OCS and you, and later, when serving in the Germiston Circuit, whilst in Brackenhurst.
May God sustain your Mother and your whole family as you grieve and also celebrate your Dad's life and accomplishments.
Jenny Sprong

Anonymous said...

What an amazing man and servant of the Lord. I know he had to be so proud of you. This is a beautiful tribute to him and I love that photo at the end. Hugs and prayers, friend.

bugs said...

It has been a privilege to be able to assist for us as a medical response team. Thank you for the meaningful way in which the service was conducted, i know it has had a great impact on my colleagues and i. We have truly been blessed by you and your family. Thank you