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.
After the worship, Ifor introduced Dr. Christianne Glossop, chief vet for Wales. She spoke about her passion to see TB eradicated and about a prayer group that meets regularly at Bronydd Mawr to pray against this awful disease and other matters affecting farmers. Ifor then introduced Angus Buchan. As he spoke a dove did three circuits inside the barn! When Angus gave a call at the end, people kept on coming forward to commit or recommit their lives to Jesus. Angus himself was still buzzing about the Trecastle event when he got back to South Africa.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
A 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.
Last 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.