Thursday, 13 November 2014

Summer/Autumn 2014

The summer of 2014 has certainly been a long, mostly hot and dry one. Even September turned out to be the driest since records began in 1910. The clematis around our front door has been stunning for several months.

Much prayer went into the Angus Buchan event at Bronydd Mawr this summer.  As I was walking up the hillside with the prayer group to the huge cross recently planted there (enjoy the story of this in our last blog), I felt the Lord say to me "This is the rooftop of Wales". After the 22ft cross was erected, we heard that the local name for the area is Bwlch y Groes (pass of the cross) which suggests there may have been a previous cross there, or at least one carried through the pass. The owners of Bronydd Mawr recently bought the common.  Since this purchase they learnt of a prophecy saying they would buy a hill!

We then went on to pray around the shed where the event was to take place.  Two people brought prayer banners declaring the sovereignty of the Trinity and an explosion of the Kingdom of Heaven into the shed.  A swallow fluttered around the tops and corners of the shed that we couldn't reach, and then a collared dove flew right through the length of the barn!  Fancy a dove flying through a dark shed on a sunny day!

Much preparation was involved in steam cleaning, clearing ground for erecting portaloos,  collecting and erecting chairs and stage, and so much more.  The local newspaper had printed three separate articles relating to the anticipation of and preparation for the event.  The long awaited day unfolded and below is the report which the newspaper printed.

Over 700 people packed into the sheep shed at Bronydd Mawr Farm, Trecastle on Tuesday, 10th June to hear
Angus Buchan, the South African farmer/
who always draws huge crowds.  The seats had all been taken half an hour before the event was due to start, and still people kept pouring in.  Despite the torrential rain over the county that day, even in the nearby village of Trecastle itself, the lane up to the farm was bone dry and the field set aside for parking had dried out enough to take the 300 cars without any hiccups.  Several buses also brought people from further afield and there was a happy, expectant buzz about the place.

As the strains of Dyma Gariad (Here is love) subsided, Angus took to the flat-bed trailer stage.  The vast crowd hung on his every word as he not only showed he understood the times and predicaments people find themselves in, but also offered hope, encouragement and opportunity to step out in faith into the future.  Streams of people pressed forward to respond to his message and reports are coming in of people having been healed, outlooks and situations changing and a fresh hope springing up.  One farmer, who had traveled from West Wales, said he felt over eight years of depression just lift off him and a new hope and joy take its place.

Breconshire was the start of Angus's seven day speaking tour which continues in Ireland, Scotland and England, finishing in Worcester on Monday 16th before he returns to his farm and orphanage in South Africa.

As a follow up to this successful event, Rev Ifor Williams, himself an ex farmer, will speak at Bronydd Mawr on "Growing Your Faith".  This will be at 7.30 on Thursday, 19th June to which all are welcome.

We have been to a number of the local shows this summer, selling the paper bead jewellery made by the children from two Ugandan schools we are involved with. At one village show we sold over £200 worth of jewellery for the children!  These have again opened up new opportunities to do slideshows to various groups
One of these slideshows at a the Fuchsia Society led to me being offered a free table to sell the jewellery and promote the work at Brecon Gardening Club's annual show in the Market Hall in Brecon which for me was very worthwhile. It was lovely that my auntie and her friend were able to join me there.

With the lovely weather we've had over the summer, we invited our neighbours to a BBQ at our home which was lovely and relaxing and gave opportunity to get to know them better. On another occasion Ifor was asked to speak at a BBQ in Bwlch for the local Gideons.
It was a happy occasion when Ifor took the wedding of Mervyn and Eleanor's daughter. As they came out of the chapel they found six of the local Young Farmers' Club holding an archway of pitch forks for them and all the guests to walk under. (We had the same lovely surprise at our own wedding 37 years ago!)   Ifor has also taken several funerals, including sadly the funeral of Geoffrey, one of the founding members of our first home group here, after a long and determined fight against cancer.  It has not been easy for his Russian widow who has had to make lots of big decisions so soon after the funeral.

We have been preaching in numerous churches over these last few months and Ifor has led many Harvest Festivals which are generally very well attended in this rural area, often being the only service that people will attend.  One of these was right up in the Gwesyn valley where he had recently attended the funeral of one of the two members of the chapel there.  The coffin was carried across the valley on the wooden bier stored in the back of the chapel.

I was asked to speak at a women's group at the Baptist church in Abergavenny. Instead of doing lots of talking, I had them learning for themselves how to hear God speaking to them through both natural and man-made objects I placed on a central table.  So following in the footsteps of Jeremiah and many others in the Bible, they had a go and found that not only does God speak in a variety of ways, He also is not that difficult to hear if only we "tune in" to Him!  They were both encouraged and challenged by some of the things He said to them and showed them.

After speaking about our work and vision at a SWBA meeting in Brecon, Ifor continued on to Warwick, with a couple of church-in-the-home planters from near Newport, to meet with Wolfgang Simpson, author of "Houses that Change the World", by kind invitation. We also went to the
New Wine Cymru summer Leaders' conference in Swansea with Randy Clark and I went  another time to the Caleb Advance, hosted in Brecon. Ifor went to a two day discussion in Birmingham along with BU representatives from Scotland and England, looking at ways forward.  In June I went with Lucy and Timo to the Company of Burning Hearts three day conference in Cardiff with Justin Abrahams, Ian Clayton and Paul Keith Davies.  Different but good. Since then I went with a friend from Crickhowell to a follow up School of the Spirit with Justin Abrahams.

At the Baptist Union of Wales Assembly, Ifor was inducted  as President. Unfortunately this has not been an easy year for the BUW, as discussions to unite Baptists across Wales have broken down, resulting in some difficult meetings which Ifor has had to chair. Ifor has also been heavily involved with Farm Community Network activities, including a new initiative at a monthly cattle market. After a lot of work making contacts around the County, some of those contacts have resulted in some intensive pastoral care. Sometimes we seem to be spreading ourselves very thinly over a wide area, but God showed us recently that a key part of our work is simply to meet people here and there and be a spiritual influence at key times in their lives. A bit like Jesus who often met people on the road, spoke into their lives, and then moved on.

The hilltop prayer group continues to meet, and one month we prayed from a hill overlooking Erwood and Llyswen and beyond. Another month took us back to a hill overlooking Llanwrtyd Wells. Here we met Richard and Jan.  Richard was on the staff at a YWAM base in Scotland and since then they have been leading a church plant there before moving down to Llandrindod Wells recently. This month we prayed over Crai.  The Lord is wonderful in giving us Spiritual insight to help us know how how He wants us to pray in these areas.

On a calm, warm day at the end of August, over fifty people gathered on the banks of the River Wye in Erwood to witness a lady being baptised. After doing a Christianity Explored course and the follow on course with Anne Roberts, the lady asked to be baptised in the river.  Her family came to support her. Two days later her husband had an unexpected encounter with God whilst installing a velux window on a roof!  He went home and looked for a Bible. Google suggested he start with the gospel of John where he found some familiar stories that he recalled hearing in his childhood.  He downloaded an app for his phone and started listening regularly to the whole of the New Testatment, on one occasion coming home at
 lunchtime to recharge his batteries! He is now on his eighth time around and loving it.  He has found himself to be growing in patience and friendliness, while she recognizes her confidence has grown, as the Holy Spirit works in their lives.  Anne is leading her and a friend in weekly bible studies on the Old Testament.

When we started "Table Church" in our home a week after the baptism, the husband asked  his wife if he could come too, which surprised her and the rest of her family.  Another couple from Rhayader joined us as we enjoyed a meal together, including taking communion in the natural way in which the early church partook. One said he wouldn't normally go to a church but he liked that. Another said it was brilliant.  The following week the second couple were unable to join us due to illness, but we still had a good time looking into the Bible around the table to find answers to some of their questions. Another person has since joined us.

Product DetailsA fortnight ago we restarted the monthly film shows in our home, for local people starting with the new film of the book Heaven is for Real which many people around here have now read.  This went down well, with a break in the middle for bring and share food and chat. Several people borrowed books afterwards. Two people from this film evening would like to start coming to Table Church.
As many people in the county now have read this book, we hope to encourage some of them to show the film in their homes, inviting their friends around to watch it with them.  This could be a way to precede Table Church in a number of homes.  One person in a church where we sometimes preach bought a copy of the book for her married daughter who enjoyed it so much that she asked her mum to send any similar books to her.  I suggested The Shack which is also proving an excellent tool in introducing the possibility of a God of love to people who don't go to a church.

slide-8Last month the Baptist College in Cardiff asked us to talk to their students for a couple of hours about how we are going about rural ministry and mission in Breconshire and relating some of the things God is doing.  We had some very encouraging comments and emails afterwards from the students. One informed me that as a result of me doing a similar talk a couple of years ago to a combined group of rural churches in Herefordshire, they have decided to look to employ a rural missioner!

An exciting time for our family was the wedding of our daughter Lucy to Timo in Estonia where our three other daughters were bridesmaids. It was wonderful my brother and family were also able to come and we enjoyed getting to know Timo's family. We erected a marquee in the grounds of Timo's family home on the edge of Lake Pepsi which forms the boundary with Russia.  We arrived in time to prepare for the big event,
including making the cake. The best tool to cream the hard muscavado sugar proved to be Timo's dad's electric drill!
But it turned out fine.  They asked Ifor to take the service, during which Mary sang Dyma Gariad as a solo and both sets of parents laid hands on the couple as we prayed for them. There were lots of interesting and lovely traditions from both countries which we all enjoyed. After the marquee was down and everything tidied away, we had a week sightseeing locally and then in the walled medieval city of Tallin with its many towers.                                           Lucy and Timo are now living back in Norway where Timo is leading the
worship at the YWAM base and Lucy is working in a kindergarten while she improves her Norwegian to the standard at which she can take a degree there in Social Studies.

It has been lovely this year getting to know our two grandchildren better. Thomas is now six months old and developing his unique character.  Caleb celebrated his first birthday combined with his dedication before he left with his parents for a fortnight in California, visiting family friends and attending a leaders conference with Bill Johnson at Bethel Church in Redding.

Sorry you have had such a long wait since our last update in May.  Sorting, clearing and putting on the market two houses from our parents has taken much time and been emotionally quite draining. But thank you for your much appreciated prayer support.