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Friday, October 22, 2004 - To Wales & Moriah Chapel
We leave for Wales for 10 days this coming Tuesday! This will be our last trip there as "visitors" and that is exciting. Gladys was saying to me last night how she'd like to be able to just go and stay! We have many thing to do over the coming 6 months, and it would be nice to just "fast forward" the tape. Disposing of all that we've acquired over the nearly 16 years in New Orleans is a bigger and more complicated task than meets the eye!
We are looking forward to participating in some of the Centennial activities of the 1904 Welsh revival starting next week. We will arrive in London Wednesday morning, and drive out to Cardiff in South Wales. Thursday we meet with the now retired pastor of 40 years of Capel Cilfowyr. (Capel is not misspelled, it's Welsh!) We have heard wonderful things about him, so are looking forward to spending some time with him. Thursday night we have booked a room at Island House, where Evan Roberts grew up. This is where the revival broke out 100 years ago. I was told we'd be staying in the very room where he had extraordinary visitations from God nightly for several months shortly before things started happening.
Then Friday we will spend the day praying in and around Moriah Chapel and talking with folks as the Lord leads. There will be a special service there that night. Saturday there are several activities and then a large service with Luis Palau in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Curious, another Spanish speaker in Wales!
Sunday is the monthly service at Cilfowyr, so we plan to drive up there. We will spend four days in the area. We were unable to attend a service there last Spring, and will be glad to see the folks there again. Perhaps it will be an opportunity to let them know they'll be seeing more of us this spring! We will spend some serious time praying in the chapel during the week. Also we will be making a few logistical arrangements for our move in April, and then fly home that Friday.
Thursday, Oct. 28 - Not as planned!
We arrived in London yesterday morning, a day later than scheduled. I inadvertently had gotten my daughter's passport rather than my own, and while in line at the airport and I realized my error. We had rushed back to the house to look for it, but it was not to be found in a hurry. Later that evening only a prolonged search uncovered it.
A few times I even thought we may have to scrap the whole trip if it didn't appear somewhere. As I wondered why such a thing would happen, it seemed as if the Lord was reminding once again of my total ineptitude. It is so clear that whatever is to happen here will indeed be solely His doing. It also turned out that the wife of the retired pastor with whom we were to meet yesterday had been rushed to the hospital the night before with a stroke, so please pray for Mrs. Dafydd Edwards.
Oct. 29,'04 - Dawn on the River Loughor
After a good night's rest in Island House, Evan Roberts' old home, I awoke quite early and came across to a park alongside the River Loughor to pray. It was still very much night time, and the full moon was shining through the curtains of racing clouds.
The reflection of its light on the movement of the river, which is very wide at this point, was a beautiful sight to behold. The second largest tidal fluctuation in the world, after the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, the current sweeps everything upstream with it. And it looked like a vast host of shimmering diamonds, brightening and dimming with the moonlight, being propelled inland by some invisible force.
As I strolled along the pathway watching and praying, I felt somehow quite close to the prayers of Evan Roberts himself. Besides playing and exploring here as a child, he surely spend many hours in this very spot overlooking the river. He spent nearly thirteen years praying and crying out for a meaningful manifestation of God. He had come to recognize the church of the his day as a failure, for its lack of impact in the world.
Standing on a prominent point overlooking the estuary, as I prayed I began to realize that the people of this country, now so far removed from any relevant contact with Christianity, have no source of real hope for their lives. It seems that life is about making the best of it that you can; sort of a fatalistic "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die" mentality. Sure, everyone can hope for a better future, a more comfortable life in this world, but that is all.
The lively hope we have in Jesus is different. It is SO much more! Because it is not of us, it is of God, a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is full of glory and grace. It is the hope and assurance of eternal life, and joy in the Kingdom of God forever. While I sang into the wind that beautiful old hymn, "Place your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His beautiful face. . .", I realized again what wealth we have in the Saviour, and how destitute this land is without that knowledge.
Then later in Moriah Chapel, where the revival broke out 100 years ago, the deacon who showed us around told us about the river's tide. He said that just as it empties out the river so completely, so has the life flowed out of the chapels and churches of Wales. But with his eyes afire with hope, he said that indeed just as the tide goes out of the river, it surely is coming back in.
Just now I sit here watching the tide flowing in, when only a while ago when I sat down to write this is was still going out. Besides the main course right in front of me, the half kilometer wide sand flats are being invaded by great tongues of the river as the tide sweeps in before my eyes . . nearly 50 yards since the beginning of this paragraph. The resting seagulls leisurely enjoying the ride!
And so, "Let Your tide come upon this land, Lord Jesus! We know that the rivers of living waters are waiting to be poured out once again. May the Holy Spirit be poured out upon our lives and our lands."
Saturday, October 30, 2004 - Moriah Chapel & Birmingham, England
Last night we attended a special meeting at Moriah Chapel. There were groups of people from the U.S., Northeast India, as well as several individuals from South Wales.
Different ones came forward to lead prayers, and tell of their connection to Wales. The most moving were the large group from Misorum, India. Their story and expression of gratitude was deeply moving. What a tremendous blessing to hear their testimony of how their tribe was converted by a lone Welsh missionary who had arrived there as one of the burning embers spread from the 1904 revival.
Then this morning we accompanied out host Carl Brettle to Birmingham, England for a wonderful prayer rally, A Trumpet Call to a Nationa Day of Prayer. It was attended by several thousand people, and was of great encouragement to us to see such a throng of believers crying out for a move of God in the U.K.
Oct. 31 - Monthly Meeting at Capel Cilfowyr
When we arrived at Cilfowyr this morning from Cardiff, we found there were less participants than usual - only thirteen counting the pastor. We were greeted in English by name during the service, which was a nice gesture. But we still don't understand a word of Welsh other than Duw, which is God.
Here's a familiar verse in Welsh, let's see how you do:
"Canys felly y carodd Duw y byd fel y rhoddodd efe ei unig-anedig Fab, fel na choller pwy bynnag a gredo ynddo ef, ond caffael ohono fywyd tragwyddol."
Of course you probably recognized immediately that this was John 3:16, right? Well, maybe not quite. So please pray for us when our language studies start next spring! This is the first language of most of the rural people in this area, and I know how important it is to be able to converse in the language of one's heart. I hope that my fluency in Spanish spills over into Welsh.
We were sad to discover our friend Betty Bowen, the little lady who took part in the miraculous baptism of 1932, had fallen and broken her arm. She is in the rehab hospital in Cardigan and we plan to visit her while we're here.
After the meeting, we were supposed to have had a brief meeting with two of the deacons, but it didn't work out. We did have a little chat with them outside after the service, but we didn't really get anywhere other than to know that it was alright with them that we come and pray here. One of the ladies there suggested we might be more connected at the English services in the Anglican church up the road. Still most of these folks have no idea why we're coming here.
And while I was praying later on, I got the impression that it really is better to meet with the leaders one by one until all of them have heard at least some our story. I recalled how these people are not comfortable talking together about things of God, and yet with someone outside their circle it is easier.
From the chapel, we went to the end of the English service in Cardigan's New Life Center, where we know several people. It was nice contrast to be so warmly greeted! The Welsh folks at the chapel are polite enough, but we still feel like outsiders. Time and language skills will surely change that, but it will take a while.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with the Elsaessers' at Rhosygadair Uchaf, the old farm we have been coming to work on. Then Gladys and I went and settled into the cottage in Cilgerran near the chapel where we have stayed before. It feels almost like home now. Soon enough it will be!
Nov. 1 - At home in Cilfowyr
This morning as I walked and prayed, I was again reminded of how totally we are obliged to rely on the Lord in everything. When I called the Welsh pastor who had offered to arrange a meeting with the others of the group that meet to pray for revival, he informed me that he had not done so. He said that he had not met with them lately and that next year he intended to start attending again. He also said that they only meet for 45 minutes or so, and then all hurry off again about their business.
So as I reflected on this, the picture became clearer in two aspects. One is that the relationship of these men is more on a "professional" level rather than having meaningful relationships, perhaps similar to the leaders of the chapel. As eagerly interested as this brother seemed when I shared my experiences with him six months ago, I thought he would have shared about it with the others. But that was not so. What likely I'll need to be do is build friendship with each of them first.
The second aspect is that the time we spend praying in the chapel is of paramount importance. That is the instruction I received so clearly from the Lord two years ago, and obedience to that is where the fruitfulness will come from. It would be so easy to follow the natural inclination to meet with people and encourage them with the hope and the vision we have. And no doubt there will come a time for that. But the time of prayer is really going to be the key element. It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit directly in each heart that the way be paved for a genuine awakening. So we pray consistently and intently, and His response will be forthcoming as He draws men unto Himself!
We spent several hours at the chapel today. It feels so much like home here now, it is a joy just to be here again. For a while I tried to look at this place objectively, and the whole idea of our coming here to pray in this all but abandoned old building, and wonder what do we really expect to happen here? People must think were nuts to be moving here and doing this! Ha, isn't that great? Lord, You are so awesome!
So I just turn off the carnal mind channel, and settle into the work at hand. What a great privilege to be here and just cry out to the Lord for His mercies to spread over this land and its people. What assurance we have of this calling, and the fruit that will come.
As we prayed through the afternoon, we read Psalms 27, and it became such a declaration of purpose and strength to us both. Here is a precious segment, "4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek."
Nov. 2 - Praying with the saints at Ffald-y-Brenin
This morning was gloriously clear and sunny, a nice change from the mostly overcast days that we've had here. It was still chilly as I walked out of town a short distance on one of the small lanes that weave their way through fields and over the rolling hills. I couldn't help but reflect on how clearly we see the Lord drawing us to this place, and have such assurance of what is to come. So it is, even on the days that clouds obscure the sun and the views are dimmed, we know what lies beyond our natural sight. And so it is also for us, that by faith we can walk boldly ahead, embracing all He has for us, and trusting completely in His guidance and provision.
We drove out to the retreat center, Ffald-y-Brenin (The Sheepfold of the King), perched high on a ridge of the Preseli Hills. The first Tuesday of each month is set apart for people to gather from 10 until 3, and precious saints come from many parts of South Wales and beyond to join together for times of concerted prayer, and fellowship over lunch. This was our third time attending, so we were greeted warmly by many we already know, and met others we hadn't seen before. There is such earnest crying out for the Lord's hand to move upon Wales, and an almost palpable expectancy of things not seen. We feel very much encouraged and inspired by this wonderful group of believers.
It is good to hear of things that are going on, and hear testimonies of what things the Lord is doing in answer to these prayers. We had a chance to listen to Matt Godwin, the 31 year old son of the center's directors Roy and Daphne, share how the Lord had given him an "inexplicable" desire to minister in Siberia since his early teen years. And now we had the opportunity to pray for and confirm him, as he will be leaving in January for that far country. So Wales suddenly didn't seem quite so far away to us!
After lunch we had the opportunity to watch the latest Transformations video about the amazing revival in the Fiji Islands. What a glorious testimony of how God can truly transform a nation's character and destiny when His people are willing to be bold in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is a present day move of God, at work in the hearts of a nation even now as you read these words. What excitement to see God at work around the earth today. History is being made!
This is history just like what we heard about Friday night in Moriah Chapel at Loughor as we heard the testimonies of the Misorum people from Northeast India. Their stories of what took place with their ancestors 100 years ago as fruit of the Welsh Revival of 1904 are being written again right now in Fiji. How many places more around the earth today are in God's heart and plans! Siberia? Wales? What exciting times we are living in today. What a privilege to work in His service!
Sunday, November 14, 2004
This morning I went by to visit a large farm near the chapel. I met the owner on a previous trip, and so went to inquire about a place for us to rent when we return in the spring. He didn't know of anything off hand, but said he would keep his eyes and ears open for us. We have left word with many people about our need for a place, and so we may hear of something that way.
From there I went over to the chapel to spend a last few hours before are return home. It was a special time as I reflected on how all this has been leading up to what will surely be an eye opening adventure as we pray and obey and lay our lives on the line for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!