After heavy hailstorms, snow and freezing temperatures to welcome May, it looks like Winter is finally, if reluctantly, losing its hold. Paradoxically Spring seemed to start very early in the county! This seems to reflect the nature of our ministry here: new beginnings, sad goodbyes, people in difficulties and times of blessing. We never know from one day to the next what God has prepared for us to walk into. Listening to His heart and His promptings is paramount, each and every day, one day at a time.
For instance, coming out of a shop one evening I found it sleeting, dark and miserable and looked forward to being at home by the fire. However I felt a strong prompt to call at a friend's house first, where I was surprised to find her friend opening the door. The two were having a traumatic "Goodbye" before the visitor returned permanently to her parents' home abroad. The uncertainty of her future there didn't look much brighter than the disappointments and hurts she was leaving. My friend, herself quite a new Christian, told her she needed to trust her future to Jesus and wanted me to show her how. Her visitor was keen for this so I explained how Jesus wanted to give her a fresh start with all the yucky stuff washed clean away by His own blood on the cross, and how He wanted to guide her step by step into her future, such is His love for her. As I prayed, she felt His presence, love, peace and forgiveness flooded her and they were so glad I'd been 'blown in' at that moment. Thank you Holy Spirit.
Another time a friend asked us to come over to her house to pray with a local mother with secondary cancer. She invited several pray-ers and others who wanted to see her healed. So far she has not been healed,but experienced the touch of Jesus that evening as well as the love and support of those of us gathered around her.
Another service Ifor took was on Easter Sunday in a very isolated chapel just below the top of the Black Mountains. We got soaked walking across the field from the car to the chapel, but local people kept coming and coming. More chairs were found and more communion glasses. Seventy people squashed in to the little chapel, double the good number that came last year. As the wind howled around the windows and down the chimney, the children cracked open and stirred our duck eggs while Ifor explained the Easter Story. Only one child was brave enough to have Ifor crack open an egg over her head - you should have seen the look on her face when she heard it crack! Eventually she gingerly looked up ...... Ifor had blown the egg earlier to illustrate the empty tomb. The children then left to scour the windy graveyard for hidden Easter eggs while we continued the service inside before joining them for tea and cakes in the stable, newly converted to provide an extra room and a refuge for walkers.
The following Sunday the "Off the Bus" children's weekday group, which is going well, were invited to the leaders' chapel. When Ifor spoke about Jesus just appearing in a locked room after the resurrection, one little girl became very excited and shot up her hand. "I know, I know," she said excitedly, "He came down the chimney!" Follow that!
While on the children's theme, the Mums and Tots group that meet in our home each week have been having fun with various trips around the common and our house as they traveled to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, etc. On one occasion the children made camel hobby horses on which they rode around the common, making purchase from the gold shop, frankincense and myrrh shops which they found on the way... such a long way! They love dressing up and doing the story of the day, then making things like rag balls for Jesus and his childhood friends to kick around on the common on their travels to Jerusalem. Last week they enjoyed covering themselves in white sticky spots and ringing bells as they shouted "Unclean! Unclean!" (Leprosy)
One of the funerals Ifor has been involved with this year was particularly tragic as the deceased was so young.The family are taking solace and encouragement from learning about Heaven and discovering more about Jesus. They are finding the assurance they need and growing in faith. Some of the books that they are finding particularly helpful on their journey are "Heaven is for Real", "The Shack", and "Waking up in Heaven" by Crystal McVea.
Ifor writes..... "It's quite remarkable how so much of what we do leads on to something else. Some time ago I was going round the farms with my part-time job selling feed and fertiliser, when I came to a farmer who happens to be the chairman of the local rugby club (with 16 teams including children and ladies, and 600 members). He didn't want any feed, but he did say they needed a chaplain! So I'm now chaplain to a rugby club. Recently I responded to an FCN call where a local farmer had been injured and couldn't work for 3 months. He lived completely alone and was in the
middle of lambing and calving. The situation needed someone who could step in and take over the work full-time and immediately.Where do you find someone like that? The rugby club chairman has lots of contacts, and with his help we found a suitable person within 24 hours of placing the advert. Last week I went to the rugby club end of season dinner, and had a long chat with some neighbours
who I've known for 6 years but hardly ever see. Another FCN call resulted in me making contact with the farmer's friend, another farmer who desperately needed help with milking. I offered to help once a week with the milking, and found myself supporting his neighbour, who had been tragically widowed. I've ended up milking on 3 different farms these last few months, though I'm now cutting back.
In January I was asked to become moderator at a local Baptist church, one of the few churches in the area that has been able to support their own minister. That minister retired last year, and I have been asked to chair their deacons and church meetings, and give them some support and guidance. A number of members are keen to move forward with God, and we are looking forward with confidence and hope.
Much of what we are doing at the moment is making contacts, ploughing the ground, and sowing seeds. At times it can seem very slow, but Penny and I see enough signs of God at work to be assured that we are where God wants us to be, and we look forward with hope and excitement. We ourselves are growing in God. He is giving us a greater ability to see what God is doing, and to hear what God is saying. God is good!"
Penny writes.... On the family front, our little granddaughter Emily has now been discharged from Alder Hey Children's Hospital after five months following a bleed into her brain fluid. The last scan showed all was working well and there was no longer any residue left.
Thank you for all your prayers for her. Thank you Jesus! The reflux is now being controlled by medication and she has been transferred to be under Chester Hospital for monitoring for this. She is doing really well, happy and chatty and loves performing her new party trick of rolling over... and admiringly watching her big brother.
We are now looking forward to the arrival of Emily's baby cousin in June who will be our fourth grandchild. Exciting times.
The way in which we will be reporting to you will now be changing. We have opened a new Facebook page called 'Prayer for Breconshire' where we will regularly be posting short updates. To receive these as they are posted, click "Like" for the page. These will allow more interaction. For those of you who do not have Facebook, we will copy these updates onto www.prayerforbreconshire.blogspot.co.uk so you will still be able to see them on this site. We suspect that short, up to date reports will be more useful and accessible to you than the roughly quarterly updates we have been doing until now.
We greatly value your prayers and support and look forward to reading your reactions on our new Facebook page.