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.
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.
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!