Friday, 15 June 2012

Spring 2012

Hello Everybody! Sorry you've had to wait so long for this post. As you can see below, things are progressing more quickly now so we will have to be more vigilant in making sure we keep you wonderful prayer supporters updated more regularly! We're calling this update "Spring" because although its nearly the longest day, we still end up lighting the fire some evenings! Thankfully a farmer friend has very kindly brought us a large amount of wood from a tree that had fallen.
Looking back on our last update, the monthly cinema at Waterloo continued successfully until we paused it after the Easter showing of John's gospel from Lazarus to Jesus' resurrection, as lambing had started and with the light evenings it was no longer appropriate. We intend to restart it in the Autumn. The Sennybridge/Crai group have finished the Alpha Course and have since done Christianity Explored. Mervyn is still witnessing to people enthusiastically and he will be coming in as Vice President shortly of the Breconshire Baptist Association. He will be the speaker this coming Sunday at the monthly Cafe Style service in Erwood Market Hall. He has been asked to join the worship group at the Elim church in Brecon which he has started attending. Our monthly hilltop prayer group has since prayed over Talgarth, around Talgarth town and the ruined mental hospital, and over Llandrindod. We are sensing these are having great effect and can definitely discern a lifting of the spiritual blanket over the county. People are becoming more open. Since the first time I prayed around Talgarth there have been encouraging changes: A dodgy shop I prayed to close has closed and is up for sale; another has 'cleaned up' what it sells, a cottage covered with New Agey stuff is no longer like this; a cafe there, which also sells lots of second hand books, including a couple of shelves of Christian paperbacks, has agreed to sell my Ugandan necklaces and offered to do so all summer. We are hoping this will be a 'place of peace' which may be open to hosting an "Essence" course designed particularly for people into New Age, for them to experience God in different ways. Please pray into this. Ifor and I have recently started joining with Ruth (who initiated these hill top prayer groups) every week to pray for the county. These prayers are also proving effective. Two weeks ago we felt God was asking us to fast and pray over the county. We did this by driving to five different viewpoints which covered most of the county. We prayed constantly for the areas we were driving through as well as from the hills. Some of this prayer was answered wonderfully the very next day concerning a domestic situation. On the Sunday after this Ifor and I led a service together in a chapel that normally leaves us feeling heavy afterwards. This time we came out buoyant at their response. Prayer really does change things!!!

At the beginning of March we led a church weekend in Stratford on Avon about "God's Secret Weapon - The Tongue" - how it can be used to tear down or build up. We enjoyed getting quite creative with You Tube clips, dramatised readings, stories, games, teaching, training in hearing God and how to prophesy to build up others and for outreach. They cottoned on to this very easily and were prophesying freely over each other so were greatly encouraged. One of the members even asked for our notes at a later date so that she in turn can teach it. Praise God!
Also in March I was asked by Brecon Library to do a display for Internation Women's Day and to sell Ugandan necklaces there. The library in Hay-on-Wye asked me to do the same three weeks later on their busy market day. Both resulted in good conversations as well as sales. One lady who saw my display in Brecon Library asked me to do the same in her home that evening where she was hosting a clothes auction for International Women's Day. The women there invited me to join them to do 'balcony dancing' in the village hall straight afterwards. This was mostly medieval dances from around the world - different but fun! - a group of women whom I would probably have never met otherwise. I think this original lady could well be a 'person of peace' and will pursue this possibility. Please pray in to this.

At the end of February 34 people crammed into our sitting room to hear Peter Farmer (do google his Mission Britain website) talk about forming multiplying discipleship groups through seeking out 'people of peace'. People were inspired and encouraged. So in a fortnight's time (29th June to 1st July) Peter will be coming back to train a number from this initial gathering to do missional prayer, how to recognise 'people of peace' and how to encourage them to form groups who in turn will form further groups. He warned us that many of these potential 'people of peace' will be like Saul was initially! Peter has very kindly offered to come to us a week before to help us get going with this pioneering mission more intentionally and strategically. Since that large initial gathering here, Peter has got together a small group of people from across the UK who are doing similar work to us. We now have a monthly Skype conference altogether where as well as learning from and supporting each other, Peter gives us some input too.

 Since Ifor and Bruce Collins spent a full day traveling around mid Wales meeting with lots of leaders to consider starting a New Wine Cymru Leaders group for Mid Wales, this has now had its initial gathering in Llandrindod Wells where the vision was cast and discussed and people were encouraged. We agreed to meet altogether again at the end of September. It covers a large area from Welshpool to Aberyswyth to southern Breconshire. There is a possibility it may subdivide into smaller regions in the future, but people in rural areas are well used to travelling long distances!

 We heard about a local  farmer who had suffered a tragic bereavement. We were just wondering how we could get alongside this grieving man whom we hadn't met when the phone rang. It was the undertaker asking if Ifor would take the funeral! Immediately there was an opening to visit him and his grieving extended family. Ifor was very well accepted and quickly became a friend to many of them. Quite a few hundred came to the funeral and many talked about it for a long while afterwards. This has opened up many doors. He is now avidly reading the Angus Buchan farmers' daily journal and being greatly inspired and comforted.

Further openings started when Ifor was asked to take the wedding of the daughter of some longstanding friends of ours in the county. The marquee had snow drifts against the window - this was in April! The brother of the bride asked Ifor to do a dedication service for their new son. Lots of positive comments after this, with some of the relatives asking to meet up with us again. So we are arranging a meal to carry on the conversations. One of them is keen to have walks with spiritual talks with her friends with us too. Another even more local couple are asking for marriage preparation. At the dedication service Ifor spoke about an easy to read book called Heaven is for Real by Todd  Burpo. Its the story of his three year old son Colton who died for a few minutes during an op for a burst appendix and since then keeps coming out with memories of what happened in Heaven during that time and what it was like. We have taken over a dozen orders for this book from guests at the dedication and from an anniversary service that same evening in a different church. Its a great one to lend out. You just can't argue with an innocent three/four year old who tells it as it is!

 Just before Easter a crystal healer came to see us. A Christian girl had recommended she came to visit us! Intrigued, she made contact and arranged to come over. She poured out all this stuff she is into and learning about, then asked us why we thought she was here in this "serendipity moment". She knew Ifor is a Baptist minister but apparently that was a good thing because her grandfather used to play the organ in a Baptist Chapel. Ifor explained that it is Christian healing that we practice through Jesus. She said Jesus is a part of her life - in the circle around her and asked if we thought it might be a good idea if she were have him more as the focus! As she practices meditation, I tentatively suggested that in the next two weeks leading up to Easter she could focus on the cross. She thought that was an excellent idea and hungrily took the Passion of Christ DVD to borrow to help her in this meditation. Yes we did explain that this Mel Gibson film is very gory, but that did not put her off at all. We haven't heard from her since so please pray!

Shortly after Easter, thanks to some of our family, Ifor and I had two wonderful weeks holiday in Cyprus, staying most of the time in our son-in-law's parents' beautiful villa near Kyrenia in the north. I lived in Cyprus as a child between 1965 and 1969 and have not been back since until now. It was wonderful to share with Ifor (and Becky and Pete in a brief overlap at the beginning) some of the experiences of a significant time in my younger life. I was thrilled to find that, beyond the built up areas, much of the island had not changed all that much. We hired a car and drove all over the island, visiting old haunts and swimming most days either in 'our' private swimming pool or snorkelling in the clear sea most days. We did the same in the south for four days and found both of my old houses. We came back brown, refreshed and relaxed.

After a long drive from Heathrow we arrived back while it was still dark to the roar of our waterfall that we had left as just a trickle down one side! We had no idea about the torrential fortnight of rain in UK that we had missed! With so much stone washed down, our neighbour who had been looking after our ducks said one day she had to paddle through four inches of fast water over the bridge! With the aid of a pick axe and lots of muscle power, Ifor has managed to reclaim our pond which was full of stone up to the top of the dam. Since then we have bought another three ducks from the Smallholders show in Builth Wells.

 Another blessing we have received came just at the time we had briefly wondered what would happen with our increasingly high mileage estate car that has been serving us so well. The free blessing came from a friend in the form of Mercedes Benz estate with half the mileage, a year's road tax and MOT! Amazing! Katie and Sam are equally thrilled that they will now have our old car with still a lot of life left in her when they return next month from their ten month internship at a Christian outdoor centre near Sydney, Australia. "Our God supplies all our needs ..."

 Some of you may know Tony Nam from "Flames of Fire" days. His step daughter Sian has done a year's school at Bethel, Redding in California. She came to our house recently to talk with a small group of us who gathered to learn from her about Prophetic Art. This is basically drawing whatever crazy picture that comes to mind after asking God for a picture for someone. Match-stick men are allowed! This is another good conversation opener to encourage strangers and friends that God knows them and understands. We were greatly encouraged by the pictures God gave for each of us in that gathering.  Our monthly youth group is now following the "Journeys" DVD series of testimonies and it is making them think. Last time one of the lads said he thinks he should start reading a bible to find out more about this stuff! 

Lastly, another testimony story: Ifor was asked to join the social committee in Erwood to help organize the Jubilee event there on the Tuesday. He had also been asked jokingly by a man to pray for good weather. He protested on the Saturday that Ifor hadn't been doing his job because although the weather was good for Monday, the forecast for the Tuesday was awful. (On the Monday night we gathered around a huge beacon on the hill behind us, and could see ten other beacons burning from that point - hundreds of fires lit all over Wales reminds me of that prophecy ...!) Tuesday came and the morning was dry. There was just a light drizzle for the sports in the afternoon then for the rest of the afternoon and evening at the marquee it dried up completely. He had heard that we had prayed at the chapel nearby and was amazed at the result and came up to apologize! In fact quite a few remarked on it, knowing the horrendous forecast and hearing that there was torrential rain in a village just three miles away, and 'rivers' running down the roads not much further away. It gave us opportunity to tell of similar occasions where God had sorted out the weather in very localized locations in spite of all odds. Food for thought! 

Thank you all for all your prayer support which we really value and which definitely makes a difference.  The ground is certainly softening!