In our last update we mentioned that Ifor led the funeral of a lovely Christian lady. As there were so many comments after this, we requested that the next hill prayer gathering be overlooking her village and neighbouring villages. Over the few months since this prayer gathering we have seen God working dramatically in that area.
A relation of the deceased was involved in a quad bike accident.
That same day of the accident his wife, driving home tired, found herself in a ditch when she dozed off. God was obviously looking out for her as well as she was not hurt although the car was written off.
Our diocesan missioner friend who had been living in that same village found she needed a house to rent for eighteen months. To cut a long story short, the diocese are now renting my parents bungalow for her so we have taken it off the market. She had befriended a lady in that village before she moved into our bungalow and took me to meet her. She was happy for us to pray with her for an
injury to her ankle and fractured bones just above. Six months after the accident she still could not
put any weight on it and was in severe pain. She was due to see her doctor a few days later about the possibility of further surgery. He had given her something like an ice pack to wear in her shoe but this didn't help much. As we prayed she felt a sensation in her thigh, then the ankle area went hot before going "nice and cool" and the pain subsided. When her doctor saw her he decided not to operate after all because of the sudden improvement. As arranged I saw her later that week. She had just walked the length of her kitchen without any crutches! I told her that on the drive to see her, Jesus spoke to me about her having shattered nerve endings. She confirmed this was very much an issue but she had omitted to tell me. As I prayed this time she felt the ankle and lower leg start to tingle and the pain reduce further. She was due to go with a group of friends on a walking holiday at
the end of the week and was happy to take "The Shack" as a holiday novel to read. I encouraged her to keep receiving her healing from Jesus whenever she had her leg up resting. She managed a short walk using Nordic poles with her friends' encouragement. When I visited her on her return I found her working in her shed at the bottom of the garden, having left both her crutches in the house! She had loved the Shack which helped her work through some personal issues and has gone from being an atheist to the beginnings of discovering a relationship with Jesus. She is back driving again and as a result I haven't been able to catch her in lately, but she has become a good friend.
I got to visit three others in that area. One, who has read Angus Buchan's book, is now also reading The Shack. Another, who has read Angus's book and Heaven is for Real, is now reading Corrie Ten Boom's "Prayers and Promises for Every Day". The third person has recently discovered she has secondary cancer and listened when I tried to encourage her with the story of how Ifor and I prayed for a young woman several years ago who Jesus healed completely of cancer. She is not open to prayer yet. Please pray she will be.
Other hill prayer gatherings have been over Glasbury, over Builth and over Hay on Wye before the Hay Festival at which Christie Glossop, Christian Chief Vet for Wales was speaking on the controversial topic of badgers and TB. She is a part of the Goshen Project at Bronydd Mawr which prays for farmers. All the farmers that asked for prayer before having their herds TB tested had clear results.
Before we went through the gate into the stone circle above the
quarry to pray over Builth Wells, Barbara had a strong prompt
to pray for our protection. As we did so we sensed shields
surrounding us and over our heads like Roman soldiers, and an angel carrying a huge sword went ahead of us. We had a sense that whatever had been going on in the past on that hilltop was still somehow affecting the town and valley below and needed forgiveness and cleansing. Three of us prayed with banners around the stones and over the gulley alongside. Much prayer was prayed over the town. Afterwards Barbara was going straight on to an arranged meeting on the showground with some of the management and county leaders of the Young Farmers' Clubs to ask again for a live nativity to be staged by the latter group at the Winter Fair whereby Young Farmers dressed as rowdy Biblical shepherds spring up in different parts of the showground and ultimately converge at a central point where carols will be sung. Unlike last year, this time they were all very enthusiastic and started putting forward their own ideas along those lines!
The YFC have an annual drama or pantomime inter club competition. This year our small, local club of Aberedw won not only at county level, then at the Wales level, but then went on to Torquay for the UK level ... and came second! A number of these brilliant actors and actresses were in the youth group I led. I went to watch their dress rehearsal before the long journey and could easily see how they had got through to the grand final.
This spring the Anglican Renewal Ministries, which used to host Flames of Fire at the Builth Showground, put on "Flames Rekindled" for a day. It was good to catch up with old friends from around Wales and parts of England, and meet new ones. In between the speakers, individuals were invited to share what God is doing in their areas; Barbara spoke about how the Lord has recently enabled CCRW (Christian Centre for Rural Wales) to have the upstairs rooms above the Glamorgan Building throughout the year. The following day it was good to have Stuart and Pru Bell, who stayed in the county overnight, to speak at an extra gathering for local Christians.
I had the opportunity to pray for healing for a farmer's wife recently and it was great fun watching Jesus do just that! He seemed to be giving her the works, removing the pain and bringing back full movement to her neck, spine and various other parts of her body that He knew about but we'd not mentioned. Such joy!
Rather than trying to gather a group, we have started inviting individuals and couples around for a meal so that each feels special. This has helped us in building stronger relationships as well as being enjoyable all round. One of these guests who came after the hill prayer over Glasbury, was keen to borrow the book Waking up in Heaven. This is the true story of a young, damaged mother who found Jesus and His unconditional love in a remarkable and life transforming way when in hospital. This is the latest of a number of books our friend has borrowed, the first being The Shack. It is certainly a book to recommend.
This spring we had a wonderful few days at the annual Christian
A book I found at Top Barn was by Angus Buchan, called "Jesus ... a Farmer ... and Miracles". Another good book. A farmer suffering from severe depression came to the huge Angus Buchan event we helped organise at Bronydd Mawr last year. During the evening he went forward in response to what Angus had said and instantly felt the depression leave him and be replaced by the Holy Spirit. The former has never returned and the latter never left Him. He's a changed man, full of joy and has a new job which he enjoys.
The book I am currently reading, "the Freedom Diaries", was recommended by a good friend. It is book of conversations with God which started much to the surprise of the author. I find it affirms what I have believed increasingly over these last years. So many get stuck at the cross, forgetting that it opened the door for us to walk through to have a two way relationship with our Creator. Its a book that needs to be "out there" but currently it is only available from the stockists in New Zealand. However it does have its own Facebook page by the same name.
It was encouraging to have Benjamin Francis stay with us for a few days. He is very involved in mission in India and a number of the counties in that region, heading up Big Life and also the BMS overseer for India. We drove him around a bit for him to get a feel of the area. During that time we hosted an evening where a number of Christians in the county came to hear him. Being used to densely populated cities, he jokingly remarked to the group that he understood how it was difficult to find people around here! Despite this contrast in population and culture, what he said and demonstrated were very natural and helpful.
Ifor has been involved with a number of cases with Farm Community Network, helping farmers and their families who have contacted the Christian charity looking for advice, help or simply a listening ear. So many isolated farmers these days are going through so much turmoil that there often doesn't seem to be a way forward for them. Because of the huge mid Wales area and the few FCN counsellors, this has often meant him travelling long distances. This is well worth it when people can be linked up with what they need, problems solved and even lives saved.
As well as preaching most Sundays, helping a widow with no family, taking huge farming funerals and being heavily involved with the Baptist Union of Wales as president in what has been a difficult year, Ifor is still working as a rep for Bowketts. Not surprisingly he has not been able to do as much of this work as he would have liked to. However, he did stand in for someone with a broken hand for six weeks in the stores. This gave him an insight into the work involved there and surprised a number of the customers who knew him with different "hats".
The dairy herd where Ifor milks has expanded to 550 cows. When there was a busy period of getting the cows back in calf, they had three milking in the parlour at a time for six weeks. During this time Ifor was milking five or six mornings a week, but is now back to three mornings a week and enjoying it.
We have had four big events on the family front this year. First was the arrival of our nephew Owen, first grandchild to my brother and sister in law. Its so good having the cousins close in age. They will no doubt have lots of fun together in the future. Then we celebrated Ifor's mothers 90th birthday. She is happier in her new surroundings than we have seen her for many years.
It was wonderful to welcome our new
daughter-in-law Ellie into the family on Easter
Day when she and Kevin were married at St. Denys's church in Lisvane, Cardiff. It was lovely that they asked Ifor to preach, me to do the flowers and for the whole family to involved in various ways. What a joyful occasion for both families.
The following day with all the family together (apart from the newly weds!) we had a slightly early celebration picnic for Thomas's first birthday in the warm sunshine. This was also the occasion when he took his first couple of steps!
The family continues to grow - we were all thrilled to hear that Katie's and Sam's second baby is on the way, arriving in October. Quite a birthday present for Caleb who will be two that same month!
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragements which keep us going. Bless you all.