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Blessed Is the Cheesemaker
Participants at Melbourne’s regular Belgrave Heights conventions feast on Bible teaching that many believe is among the best in Australia. Occasionally, they also feast on gifts of special cheese. Little have they known that this is the best cheese in the world.
The cheese is Jindi Brie, made by the Ronalds family in the lush dairy district of Jindivick, Gippsland, east of Melbourne. The founders of Jindi Cheese, George and Bev Ronalds, have a long involvement with the Youth for Christ movement, as does their son Andrew, managing director of the company and a member of the Belgrave Heights Convention council.
Earlier this year, Jindi Brie was crowned World Champion Cheese at Wisconsin’s biennial World Championship Cheese Contest, the world’s premier cheese and butter competition. More than 1,100 cheeses and butters from 19 countries were entered, and panels of judges spent several days evaluating them, and awarding medals in 37 categories. On the final day all the gold medal winners were pitted against each other, and Jindi Brie emerged as the best of the best.
The cheese is made by hand from creamy milk that is rich in butterfat, sourced mainly from Jersey cows from the Ronalds’s own farm and from four other farms in Jindivick. Jindi Brie has become one of Australia’s most popular white mould cheeses. It is also exported to Asia. The company has grown substantially since it started in 1985, now employing nearly 60 people.
Though managing director of the company, Andrew Ronalds does not call himself a cheesemaker. “That would be an insult to the cheesemakers who work for us,” he told me.
He has strong views on the role of Christians in business.
“So much Christian work is with the downtrodden,” he said. “But there is also a mission field among the successful. In my job marketing our cheeses I meet lots of highly successful people. There is an important role that Christian business people can play in witnessing to such people. They may not be hanging out for God, but there is a God-shaped vacuum in their lives.”
He also thinks it important that he use his business expertise in Christian work. “If God gives you skills – in whatever area – you should use them for His glory. Running a business teaches you all kinds of skills, and I feel it’s important to use them to help others. So I have served on boards of Youth for Christ and the Belgrave Heights Convention. Leadership skills are needed in the Christian field.”
And the award for best cheese in the world? “I always pray for God’s blessings, but I never expected this. It was nothing short of phenomenal.”