Thursday, 13 June 2013

Spring 2013

SPRING 2013



Easter snow at Waterloo
 Spring was very slow coming this year with daffodils battling against the snow over Easter.  The farmers around here suffered many losses over the freezing lambing period, despite pulling out all the stops.  A farmer near us lost sixty lambs one night when the weather suddenly changed.   One farm lost forty sheep in a snow drift.  So sad.  A neighbour was bottle feeding nearly a hundred lambs, mostly because the mothers' milk dried up after the prolonged cold wet weather of most of last year.  She's never known anything like it before.  The ewes that did have milk often had sore chapped teats as a result of the biting wind blowing through the lambing sheds.  Because of congestion in the lambing sheds, many  farmers had to turn out the lambs into the snow as there was  nowhere else for them to go, adding to the huge loss of lambs this spring.

A positive side effect of all this trauma was that Ifor has been going out with a brand new Christian on the 'sheep run', collecting dead animals from all over the county from 6.30pm till often after midnight, meeting so many farmers every time.  Like a couple of other farmers in his neighbourhood, this man is regularly reading his Angus Buchan daily journal for farmer. He has been on a men's Alpha, has now started on  a second Alpha course and is steadily being transformed by God.

Enjoy the video!
One day Ifor came back with six orphan lambs from a farmer who was struggling to cope with the difficult lambing. Then two days later another six, then another two!  We started bottle feeding our little flock four times a day initially, reducing to twice a day as they approached weaning.  Nearly a fortnight ago we walked them over
like the pied piper, to their new home - a lovely woodland paddock carpeted with bluebells and loads of grass that our kind neighbour has let us use for free.  The farmer who gave us the lambs  is also reading the Angus Buchan journal daily and is noticing big changes in himself.   Like Mervyn in the video in an earlier blog, he is telling others how prayer really works and giving his own examples.  His mother has recently started going to chapel and people are remarking on the positive changes they are seeing in her.  Ifor has also been helping another branch of that family with issues they are going through.

It seems our little lambs have their own ministry: When the senior school bus drops children off by our house, the lambs run to greet them and some of them have been helping us bottle feed them. Through this, two of them have joined the monthly youth group I run.  The group have now finished the Journeys DVD testimony series and we have just started something called Think Tank.  This involves discussion around true but surprising stories, a parallel Bible story from the Street Bible and of course games and food.

 Still on the farming scene, Ifor is now relief milking three mornings a week, back home by 9am.  Because of this we have been able to reduce the stipend we are being paid by the Baptist Union.  Since the dairy herd has been increased to 450 cows, they need two people milking at a time. Seven different people milk on a rota, so Ifor is always milking with one or another of the team, and getting to know them better. To thank everyone after a successful concentrated time of calving, the farmer and his wife invited all the men and their wives/partners around for a meal, which was great for getting to know everyone better. Then a few weeks later we were invited to an evening at the pub with all the farm workers to say goodbye to the herdsman who was off to New Zealand, and to say hello to his replacement.

Ifor has been visiting more farmers through his role in Farm Crisis Network and helping them in various ways. One of these farms is all the way up near Welshpool, but thankfully most are in our area.  After the difficult lambing, which is the main "crop" for farms around here, Ifor held a "Spring Thanksgiving" service in a rural chapel in a part where he has been working, as opposed to a Harvest Thanksgiving.  It caught the imagination of a few others in the area who came along and appreciated it.


At the beginning of March we were able to go to the New Wine Leaders conference in Cheltenham where Robbie Dawkins and Guy Chevreau were  teaching on power evangelism.  These four days were an inspiring, empowering and equipping time for us.

The day after we arrived back we cooked breakfast at our home for the Holy Spirit Away Day  of the Alpha course we have been running in a cafe in Glasbury.  People experienced his presence strongly.  One woman was so affected that when she went home afterwards she just had to sit and take time to reflect on what she had experienced as it was far more than she had anticipated. God does like to surprise people!  Everyone was greatly blessed by Him.  The group did not want to stop meeting after the series finished, and they have been meeting up in the pub to look into difficult passages in the Bible and other questions they have.  They call these weekly pub nights "Pester the Pastor"!

At one of the early meetings of our first small group where one member is Russian, someone commented that we might have a Russian group one day!  Well just recently she invited a Russian friend who had come to visit and also another Russian friend who lives nearby - so much of the conversation that evening was in Russian!  Her visitor experienced God's presence and His comforting of some of the hard times she had been through.  The other guest has been reading  a Russian translation of The Shack. To date she has not returned to the group but seemed to enjoy the experience.  All this original group have now read "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo. Todd's three year old son Colton died briefly during an operation and over the following months mentioned some of the experiences he had in heaven and what it was like there, relating things he could not possibly have known otherwise. With this group we have now started a DVD series of interviews with Colton (now aged 12) and his family which stimulates group discussion.  Ifor referred to this book at a dedication service last spring, and since then we have lent out over a dozen copies to people eager to read it for themselves.  People who read a copy often lend it to their friends and family.  We are aiming to circulate several books in many areas and follow this with conversation groups in each area as it is proving to have quite an affect on the readers. Most people are curious to read such a book.  We are also finding it greatly helps those who have been bereaved  and those who have suffered a miscarriage.  People who ordered copies of this book following an anniversary service Ifor led last year have been lending the book out to other family members.  They are keen to meet in one of their homes later this year to discuss the book together.  At this year's anniversary service at the same chapel I read out the Father's Love Letter, and many people took copies of it in bookmark form. This service attracts a number who do not otherwise go to a chapel service.

I was invited to do slide shows on Uganda and sell necklaces at a Mothers Union and also at a W.I.  At the latter, after hearing about some of the healings we saw as we prayed for people in Uganda, one woman asked me "Where does that leave me as I don't believe?" As we talked it became obvious that she wanted to meet Jesus and was happy for me to pray with her.  Through this she experienced His peace and readily agreed to the challenge to ask Jesus to reveal Himself to her then to watch to see how He chose to do so.

A Christian friend joined me when selling the Ugandan jewellery at a craft fair in Crickhowell where we had some good talks with many of the customers. The Christian organiser of the fair has bought a quantity of various sizes of beads, made by the children of Moses's school in Kampala, to package and sell online to craft people and hopes this will be ongoing.  A few weeks ago I was asked to do a stall at a school when they hosted an eco/holistic Green Day.  All sorts of  things were on offer, so beforehand I asked God for words for any of the people there.  I recognized  the person I had "seen" and gave her the message I felt I'd been given from God for her.  She was very enthusiastic and asked me to write it down for her. She also took a card explaining the Essence series (see previous blog) and was keen to host a group of her friends to do this in her home.  She also asked for another card for a stall holder she was friends with.  I need to get back to her soon to see how she's getting on with gathering a group.

The hill prayer group met to pray over Rhayader on a very cold day which included a blizzard before we came  down! We were told that the cafe style church there had stopped meeting as it was only attracting other Christians.  However the vicar of Rhayader has started  Messy Church  which has taken off and is attracting 25 to 30 children, accompanied by their grandparents.  The town is built as a cross, following the four valleys out of the town.  It used to be the centre of pagan worship in Wales.  As we prayed I clearly "saw" big columns of fire scattered around the town, possibly coming from each clearly defined estate.  I also "saw" big sweeps of blue water pouring down over the surrounding hills and flooding the town. So lots of hope there.


We were not able to join the group praying over Crickhowell this time, but the following month we took communion together on a hill top, recently cleared of forestry, overlooking Abergavenny.  This venue was confirmed to a couple who regularly pray over the town by               the verse God gave them from Isaiah 13:2 NIV  :                              "Raise a banner on a bare hill top"

On the way back we called to make contact with a couple in Bwlch who have recently gathered together a group of seven Christians to meet monthly to pray for the village.  We came away most encouraged.

When preaching on the Kingdom of God in a chapel in Crai, some visitors of ours came along and one of them prophesied to the whole church about them being His treasure in jars of clay and that God is going to use them to bless the area around them and He'll show them how.
Ifor spoke at a Christian gathering in nearby Bronydd Mawr on receiving the Holy Spirit and everyone there received individual prayer and prophecy afterwards.

Together with our friend Canon Janet Russell, the new Director of Mission in the diocese, we organised Brecon and Radnor's first New Wine Cymru event to encourage, empower and equip His people.  Being the first, we focused on encouragement so after an inspiring time of worship led by local people we heard over a dozen short updates and testimonies of what God is doing across the two counties.  Most people had no idea that so much is happening, nor did they know many others who came along. Ifor preached a very encouraging sermon. The large number of people left no longer feeling disillusioned and isolated but greatly encouraged, taking with them a free gift and buzzing about the event over the next few weeks.  The next one will be 13th July when hopefully even more will come along.

It was good to see Cath Woolridge and her team in New Life Church, Llandrindod Wells, at the opening of their new excellent and central premises. They performed a drama which revealed different characters in a cafe. One of our small Glasbury group came and brought his sister too. Next time Cath comes to the county will be to take part in Brecon Jazz Festival by invitation of the Dean.

When my friend Trish Rogers in Pembrokeshire came in as the new president of the Baptist Missionary Society in Wales, she invited me to say a bit about what God is doing in Breconshire and then in the evening to preach.  I tried to show the congregation ways in which each of them, scattered deliberately across Wales, can be missionaries and spread the effects of the Kingdom of God in their own areas.  It was good to catch up with friends in Pembrokeshire and also to meet new people.


As I suspect many of you are, we are greatly encouraged by what God is doing in Cwmbran through Victory Outreach Church and their leader, Pastor Richard Taylor, an ex prisoner. When we went to the warehouse building behind Sainsburys to see for ourselves in April, a dozen people received Jesus for the first time, many of them addicts, ex prisoners and people from difficult backgrounds. Both of us received a powerful touch from the Holy Spirit when we went forward for prayer. Now, as the outpouring continues, there are people becoming new Christians every night and the many healings are continuing. We watched online their first baptism service since the outpouring began when over fifty people were baptised.  You may like to look at this link:  http://daibach-welldigger.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/cwmbran-overview.html#!/
 

A similar move of God is happening in Calcutta in India through Benjamin and Gillian Francis and their
daughter Abigail.  We met them in Cardiff Baptist College when Benjamin shared how God has used them to plant 10,500 house churches in the last ten years.  They came to spend the following day with us, helping feed our lambs, enjoy our ducks, pray for us and bless the work God has called us to here.  They are keen to keep in touch with us through Skype, which is wonderful.
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This year is the 200th anniversary of when John Wesley was saved.  To celebrate, the little isolated church of Llanlleonfel near Garth had a special weekend of events, including a re-enactment by the local primary school of the wedding led by John Wesley of his brother Charles to Sarah Gwynne of Garth House.  I walked across the field and climbed over the style to the little church hidden in the trees to join the congregation of "guests" at the wedding. It was a great occasion and wonderful to see how the children had researched the lives of the Wesleys.



On the family front, it was great to meet Lucy's boyfriend Timo from Estonia who joined us over Easter.  He did the DTS with Lucy in her first year with YWAM in Norway and this year has been on her staff helping lead the School of Evangelism. He happily joined some of the family in a sketch we did in a chapel on Easter Sunday. Lovely too to have all the family over the Easter period.
More great excitement followed as Katie and Sam announced their blessing of a new baby, due mid October.  So we will be grandparents!  Katie works in an old fashioned sweet shop in Chester and Sam is the manager of a new outdoor pursuits centre in New Brighton, just over half an hour beyond Chester. 
    
Kevin has been looking for a change of career after instructing in outdoor pursuits for a decade.  He now lives with us and has been successful in getting work with Welsh Water as an Assistant Ranger, helping to look after all the reservoirs in the Brecon Beacons but based at Llwyn Onn.  He is applying for a graduate training scheme with Welsh Water which if successful would start in the autumn.

Thank you all for your prayers, support and interest in Breconshire as we try to advance His kingdom here.  I'm sorry there has been such a long wait for this update.  I really do want to try and post new blogs each month!  Please pray that will happen!  May God bless you all.