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Wales Prayer Journal, April 2004

Thursday, April 1, 2004
The seven of us arrived at Gatwick Airport this morning. I had arranged for a taxi to meet us and take the four brothers to another airport north of London to catch their flight to Bergamo, Italy.After a long weekend touring in the North, they would meet us in Wales next Tuesday evening. Gladys and I, with Alicia Behrhorst, took the train into the south part of London where we picked up our car, and drove out to Dartford, west of London where we would stay with friends that night.

Friday, April 2, 2004
Today we made the five hour journey west by car. By now the change to driving on the "correct" side of the road is nearly automatic, and the route is becoming quite familiar to me. As we crossed the Severn River bridge into Newport, Wales, I felt a wave of relief come over me, as if leaving a foreign territory behind me and coming home to where I belong.

Gladys and I arrived at "Rhos-y-ghadair Uchaf", the Elsaesser's farm in the late afternoon near the little village of Felinwynt a few miles northwest of Cardigan. We were welcomed with dinner and had a nice time catching up a bit with Alex and his family. It was surprising to realize that with Gladys we had been here just under 3 months ago! For Alicia, however, it was two years ago that we had come here with a small work team from our church. And it was during that time that the Lord had spoken to me so clearly about my mission to come here to pray and intercede for the nation of Wales and for the coming revival.

Saturday, April 3, 2004
This morning was absorbed into the haze of jet lag, and this afternoon we made made our first trip out to the Chapel for a while to pray. After a brief visit with Mr. & Mrs. Williams, the caretakers of the chapel and grounds, we let ourselves into the chapel with the large key. Once again we were enveloped in the cold and silence of this place, and began to make our presence and our prayers felt once again within these heavy stone walls. As we prayed and sang out in worship, I could not but help wondering once again how indeed God would begin a move of His spirit in this place! And yet the assurance of what I have heard and seen about this coming to pass is as solid within me as these old walls are solid around us.

Afterwards we went to the supermarket in Cardigan to stock up on food and supplies for the first week of our stay here, and came home again to the little trailer where we stayed when here for a month last year. The weather was quite cold and very windy. Our little refuge shuttered and groaned as the winds lashed against the sides with occasional fury, heavy with moisture picked up from the Irish Sea not even a mile down over the green fields to the south of us. We certainly hoped for better weather for next week when the work begins!

Sunday, April 4, 2004
We went to church this morning with Alex and family. It was a blessing to come here now and greet friends that we have made in our previous visits. Though we don't see evidence of a numerical growth in the group here, there is a sense of expectancy among the members. This is not just a group of believers hanging onto a far away "until death do us part" hope, but rather there is a tangible yearning for a breakthrough. You can sense it in the worship and in the preaching, and it is encouraging!

Monday, April 5, 2004
I woke early this morning and was drawn to 1 Chronicles 28 where we see David setting Solomon up with everything necessary for the building of the temple. He even tells him in verse 21, "And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skilful man, for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment." As I read this, I saw that parallel in what we are actually doing now, in preparation for this to be fulfilled in Wales. Our own calling, and plans to move here, are just a small part of God's plan for the coming outpouring. There are many other "willing and skillful men" also being prepared and placed, for for service at the King's command. Many have been here for years. Still others have been sovereignly called out to leave homes and nations to come and serve here.

Today I was able to spend nearly 6 hours at the chapel alone. After an initial time of watching and praying, I got down to some serious soul searching. Like so many times before, I found myself overwhelmed by the fact that I have been called to pray here. It is such an enormous privilege to be here and plead God's heart for Wales.

At one point I was asking the Lord some pretty straightforward questions about who I was to be here doing this. "Why me, Lord?" and the like, feeling my total unworthiness. And as I opened myself to examination, I discovered that there was a part of me that seemed to want to justify the Lord's choice, as if there were some kind of merit in me to make me deserving of this incredible calling. I can easily pray and confess that I am nothing more than an unprofitable servant, but my soul doesn't like to hear that stuff. But it rather quickly leaps to pretend that there is some hidden "goodness" in me for which the Lord was going to use me. I found myself deeply convicted of this, and there I stood totally naked and defenseless before my Maker, weeping, broken and penitent, in awe of His boundless love and forgiveness. It seems so contrary to human nature, but truly, apart from this place of a broken and contrite heart, there must be nothing at all that "we" can do to be useful to Him.

After this experience, I found a great freedom to pray with authority and direction, and cried out to God for the descendants of those buried here. I appealed to Him for the release of the generations that have been ripped off by the devil's schemes ... entertainment, self-seeking, etc. The tremendous coldness towards and disinterest in the things of God is like a fog that has enveloped the great majority of youth, not just in this nation but around the world today. And this is not limited to youth, but seems like the goal of the modern world. "Life (the knowledge of God), liberty (freedom to worship and serve God) and the pursuit of happiness" seems to have gotten turned around. "Pursuit of happiness" is now at the head of the list, and the other two elements are long since left misunderstood and forgotten.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Off we went today to the monthly prayer meeting at Ffald-y-Brenin, the retreat center near Newport in Pembrokeshire that we visited in January. Several of the people we had seen then, but there were also some new faces. It was a blessing to arrive early enough to share coffee and meet some of them. What a blessing this group of prayer warriors comes here month after month for a day of prayer for a new outpouring of revival for Wales and the world.

In a short teaching during morning session, Roy Godwin shared from 2 Chronicles 15 and Ezra 3 about how the sacrifices were re-established before the high places were torn down and any rebuilding could be undertaken. That dovetailed in very directly with what the Lord showed me yesterday in 1 Chronicles 28. We are all called on to become that willing sacrifice, pleasing to the Lord. There is a price to be paid, and it will get more costly as we proceed towards obedience, but oh, the recompense of seeing His glory manifested will far outweigh any meager offering on our part.

During one of the prayer times in the afternoon session I was overcome once again by a deep crying out in anguish, imploring for God's process in Wales to be fulfilled. When these seasons of strong intercession come, all I can do is weep and pour out my soul before the Lord in what I can only describe as a profoundly joyful agony. When I am by myself there is great freedom, but with others around I try to keep as silent as possible to not interfere with their praying. It is embarrassing sometimes because my nose runs like a fountain and it can get pretty messy. I found it amusing that afterwards, a very sweet-spirited elderly lady who was seated two chairs to my left leaned over and said she was "so sorry I had such a terrible cold!" When I explained that I wasn't sick at all but just praying, we shared a warm laugh and moment of acknowledgement that His ways are not always according our preference!

Tuesday afternoon, April 7, 2004
After the prayer meeting at Ffald-y-Brenin, Gladys and I drove down to Carmarthen to meet Alex. He had adjusted his schedule to get off his work there to meet the four men from New Orleans at the train station. So we distributed people and belongings between the two cars and headed home, about an hour north. We heard all about the adventures they had during their long weekend in Italy, where they saw Venice and Bergamo, and then Monday explored London a bit also.

They were being hosted with a very nice family from the English-speaking New Life Centre in Cardiga. They live in the picturesque town of Aberporth, a small port town perched atop the cliffs of the Irish Sea, about 4 miles from the Elsaesser's farm in Felinwynt. It was here that we had come for a baptism last spring at the little beach nestled between the rocky arms of this natural harbor. I left them to get acquainted over a lovely dinner that Ruth had prepared for them, and encouraged them to get a good rest for what would likely be a long day's work tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 7 - the work begins!
After picking up the others, we wound our way through the narrow little streets and up an incredibly steep hill, called "Punishment Hiill".This apparently acquired its very descriptive name during the Second World War when soldiers from the nearby base were marched up and down repeated to do penance for unsuitable behavior and/or endurance training! With 5 of us in an old Ford Esquire, we prayed we would not meet a car coming down and have to stop and find a place to pull over and let it squeeze by!

When we got back to thefarm "Rhos-y-Gadair Uchaf", it was a joyful time of greetings and introductions. This was the second trip for Sergio Enamorado and David Beristain, having accompanied us on the missions work party two years earlier. For both David's friend Johnny Barrera and my part-time assistant Pablo Cruz, it was their first time in Europe, where the word "old" takes on a new significance. After their weekend in Italy, the nearly 200 year old farm buildings we would be working on somehow didn't seem so old any more!

So we met together and I gave them a little bit of the story of how Alex and Renie had come here just over five years ago. There are three "old" stone barns which will be converted into living quarters for families which, like Alex and Renie's youngest daughter Alissa, have a child with special needs. The vision for this project is thatthese families cancome out to spend their holidays or retreat times in this beautiful place near the sea. This will be a place they can leave behind the daily routines and find a time of refreshing and be ministered to by God's love.The children can ride ponies, pet the sheep, or help collect chicken's eggs. There are beautiful walking paths along by the seaside, beaches, and other attractions nearby as well.

Before left New Orleans I had tried to describe what we would be doing, but now I showed them exactly what our task would be for the next five days. We would begin with the barn which is attached directly to the south end of the house, and remove the old disintegrating mortar between the stones, and replace it with new waterproof mortar.

It is a very slow and painstaking job, chipping away with long-pointed pick-type hammers. In some spots the old mortar falls out if you just look at it hard enough, but in other areas it is just hardened mud that after 100 years or so of soaking and drying outtime and time again can be hard to remove.

The new mortar we are using with plasticizer and waterproofer mixed in not only adds tremendous structural strength to the thick stone walls, but will now be an effective moisture barrier in this very wet climate so that the living areas can be kept relatively dry and comfortable as residences.

As everyone got to work, learning as they went, the work went by quickly. The time change gave us plenty of daylight hours, until after 8 o'clock. Before we knew it, the workday was over and we were all exhausted. Everyone slept extra well that night!

Thursday, April 8, 2004
Today we worked a good and long day. I want to mention a detail that provided great deal of intentive to our labors. Alex & Renie's kids were all on Easter vacation, and the older daughters were working away outside as well. They were busy tearing out an old barbed wire fence in the upper pasture and building a post and split-rail fence in its place. The sight of these girls driving a farm tractor, loading the wagon with the wooden rails, and using a 15-pound two-person muscle-powered fence-post-driver like old pros had a wonderful effect!

The chipping went on most of the day today, but by mid-afternoon, a couple guys started doing the pointing - putting the new mortar in place. There is definitely an art to it, but it can be learned fairly quickly.

You have a square pallet, which is the size of a large plate with a handle on the bottom which you grab in one hand, andput a small pile of mortar on. In the other hand you have a small triangular mason's trowel, and placing the edge of the pallet against the stone just below the joint you are filling, you just flip or push the amount of mortar you need to fill the gap, and then packed it in and smooth it out with the trowel. You quickly discover you are a sculptor at heart, and then have to resist the temptation of making each joint be a masterpiece. You are almost ready to add your initials when you realize that there another 50 or 60 joints within your immediate view!

With aI have found myself to be the official "mud mixer", making the mortar and wheeling it down to the "annex" as the barn attached to the house is called. I remember as a boy mixing cement and mortar for different projects around our old house in rural Maryland. Then, we did it in a large trough or wooden box, using a shovel or hoe. So having an electric mixer at my disposition was real luxury.

After the first few batches, about a wheelbarrow full each, I got the "mud" just about right, and from there on I felt all the professional! The correct mixture consisted of 5 parts of sand to 1 part cement, each part being a bucket or shovel full. Then when the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, you start adding water until the desired consistency is attained. It had to be just wet enough to stick to the stones, but a bit too much would make it to loose to hold itself in place. There is quite a lesson to be learned in such simple things. I will elaborate more tomorrow.

Friday, April 9th, early morning - What a night!
I had some very vivid dreams last night, which I believe relate directly to what is to come. In one there was a very small group, myself and only 3 or 4 others, and we seemed to be in a place in a forest, and in a sort of pit or sinkhole, and at first it seemed that there was intense prayer going on for each of us in general and then more of an intercessory crying out for mercy for this land. Then, I found what seemed like a very old wreath-like shape, and as I examined it and continued praying intensely, I found it to be like a dried out and emaciated person rolled up and just chucked into this pit. So I took this figure up in my hands and began to bend it a little and rub it and try to make it a little pliable, and so just worked at this for a while, praying intensely all the while. As I called the attention of those with me to this curious creature, there appeared others of these dried out and abandoned figures as well, so they too began to pray over them and work on them as if they were old leather. Sometime around this point I woke briefly and found myself rubbing my own cold face with both hands, warming my cheeks from the chill of the morning. And then I drifted back into the same dream again, and as we worked on them, these figures began slowly to come to life again. At first they started breathing, and grew faintly warm, and then actually begin to fill out a bit and get softer and more responsive. It was as if they had been asleep for ages and ages. As we massaged their faces and arms, they very slowly came back to be quite themselves again, and then joined in with us as we prayed for more restoration for others that we found.

As this went on, I realized somehow that there were other pits like this one in different parts of Wales, and that the same process needed to happen. I don't know how I got from one place to the next, but found myself there also and saw others doing this same kind of process of praying and massaging these figures back to life again. This seemed to be the key to the beginnings of the revival - restoring these lost and forgotten members to a place of power in closeness to the Lord and to one another, and in care intercession and ministry to still others.

As I lay awake again shortly afterwards, I began to reflect on our work of the previous day, and the mixture of the mortar for "pointing" as they call it, filling in the spaces between the stone in the old buildings. There had been an insistence on the mixture of sand and cement, although written instructions and opinions on making different mixes for different purposes were abundant. But for this particular work of pointing, five parts of sand to one part of cement was very clearly recommended by the professional workers who had done the back walls of the main house when we were here in December. Alex also had emphasized this proportion, as did his daughter as well, who reported that she had actually experimented with different measures and found this one to be the best.

I could not help seeing the parallel with the five-fold ministry gifts. The application of the mixture would be useless of course without the cement, which represents the unfeigned love of God for one another, and everyone alike. The sand, the many, many grains, each unique yet indistinguishable amongst the mixture, would just fall to the ground useless without the cohesive power of the cement. And as I was responsible for making the mortar, I got to watch the process closely as the sand and cement tumbled and blended together in the turning drum of the mixer. Once evenly combined, I added water, which I had pre-mixed with a plasticizer to make the mortar more viscous and workable, and another ingredient to make it waterproof when it set up. Much care was needed as the mixture neared the right consistency. Not enough water would leave the mortar too dry, causing it to crumble and fall apart rather than sticking to itself and the surrounding stones. On the other hand, just a bit too much water would make it too soft, and it would not retain its shape as it was pressed into the cracks and spaces with the metal trowel.

As I considered this, I was fascinated to notice how much this process paralleled the operating of the church. Making mortar is much easier because the properties of each ingredient are always the same. People working together in the church present a much more difficult dynamic. It is essential to maintain the delicate balance between the Word and Spirit, the letter of the law, and the living out of the law of love. One extreme would be the leadership growing administrative and legalistic to maintain order and focus; the other would be the "sloppy agape" of just flowing in the Spirit without much regard and adherence to the principles of truth and doctrine as clearly presented in the scriptures.

It seems that keeping the correct focus on the end product is the best way to keep the balance. If in fact the main objective is to build up an inviting and inhabitable house made of living stones, then the condition of each stone and its adjoining neighbors are what determine the best mix. It is not the mix itself, but rather the whole house that becomes a home for others.
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