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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Building in the unseen places . . .

Dear Friends & Prayers:

Recently the plaster ceiling above the landing of a staircase in the chapel came down, and when they started making repairs, they found that one of the wooden beams that support the balcony was rotten where it joined the stone wall. The moisture has been getting through the masonry in this corner of the building and several places needed attention. As you can see, they made a heavy steel brace and bolted it through the good wood after applying a treatment for rot, and that is now set into the stonework.

The strength of this repair should easily add at least another hundred years to the life of the building, which is already 140 years old. However, now it has all been plastered over and the new ceiling is in place, once it's painted, it will be difficult to tell that anything has changed at all!

This makes an interesting picture of what our work here is like. We are very much behind the scenes here. In our times of prayer and worship in the chapel and elsewhere, we are making repairs and preparations for things to come in the invisible realm. We always receive new strength from God's word, and this portion from 2nd Corinthians 4 is ever so pertinent:
"16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

This week we attended Welsh language Christian conference called Llanw, which means tide or flood tide. This gathering was the first of its kind, drawing believers together from diverse backgrounds and affiliations. Geared towards families, there were three days of activities and workshops for all ages, and morning and evening times of worship and teaching. It was wonderful to participate in the worship with so many familiar songs, and have the words projected on a screen so we could join in. We were part of a small group of intercessors who were there specifically to be praying for this singularly important event. They provided a room and even meals for us, and the organizers were very grateful for our participation, again mostly behind the scenes.

There was a fairly good turnout for this event, with well over a hundred registered for the whole conference, and many who came for part of it. Seeing such a variety of people of different ages and churches was very encouraging, not only to us but for them as well. It was as if some of the old lines between groups had come down. Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Feed my lambs." And this was a very positive step in the right direction, as people were getting to know one another and learning to appreciate the fact being part of God's one flock. Several people I met and talked with shared their joy at this new experience, and how they've been inwardly longing for something more in their Christian experience. Many felt that this was important groundwork for uniting the Body of Christ and for what the Lord has in store for Wales in the days ahead.

It was a blessing to find several friends there, and also a chance to make some new ones. And it was also quite a challenge for our still fledgling Welsh as we tried to put it into practice. Fortuantely there were headphones for simultaneous translation for the preaching. We still have a very long way to go, but realize we really have made some progress. I admit that I found myself quickly switching to English, as the communication itself was more important than the practicing. In all, it was a very rewarding experience, and more evidence that the Lord is indeed at work in this beautiful land that we love and call our home.

Blessings to each of you in His great love,

Dick & Gladys


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unless a grain of wheat . . .

Dear Friends & Prayers:

During prayer at the chapel this week, this scripture has been coming to me over and over, and so I want to share it with you. In John 12:24 Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." When I looked at it in context, it fits right in as we approach Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

But there is something more to it than being part of the sequence of events around Jesus' death on Calvary. It is a foundational principle for living as followers of Jesus. Without His supreme example, we would have nothing or no one to follow. But because of what He accomplished, we have Him to live for and to follow.

As we continue in our prayer here for the people of Wales, we can look around and see evidence of God stirring up His people. There are many things going on which encourage us. But at the same time, much of life here goes on as usual, oblivious to the facts of life and death, and the power and hope of the Gospel. Since we've been here we've seen many more old chapels whose doors are closed and churches whose memberships are shrinking and literally dying off. And as yet, there is no indication of change in the heart of the nation. And in a sense, perhaps this too is a grain of wheat that is falling to the ground and dying. Is the glitter and attraction of the world growing a bit tarnished?

We know what is missing, or rather, Who is missing in peoples' lives. And we also know what God's promises are! The words of Ezekiel 36 express a glorious hope. 33 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it.”

We look forward to the fulfillment of His promises not only for Wales, but for the nations. We know He will make good on every one of them. Our assurance is that it depends on Him and not on us. Through living here we are learning patience, and learning how to daily fall to the ground and die to ourselves. And in this we discover to our continual joy that we surely are not alone! God is raising up an enormous army of believers and prayers, and not just in Wales! Today I heard from a young wife and mother, "Please pray for Hungary too. This nation is so stubburn, corrupt and we need God and His love so much."

So please join us in prayers of thanksgiving for His promises, and that we soon see "...waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert." How glorious will be the time when people are as surprised by God as these women were when they discovered the glory of Jesus' empty tomb!

May your daily lives be filled with the grace and power of His resurrection,

Dick & Gladys


Thursday, March 06, 2008

PLEASE PRAY for Bridgend!

Dear Friends & Prayers:

This is a request for some specific prayer. Since January of 2007, seventeen young people have taken their own lives in and around the town of Bridgend in south Wales. The latest victim was a sixteen year old girl just two weeks ago. Each one of the deaths has been by hanging.You can imagine the shock and heartbreak of this tragedy for bereaved families and friends, and it has raised concern on many levels.

Media coverage has focused attention on the matter with typical insensitivity and caused mixed reactions among families and the area's youth. Local police have stated that there is no link between the 17 deaths in the past 13 months, or any evidence of a suicide pact or an internet cult.

We know there is a link however. Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." These suicides are clearly evidence of malignant influence in the spiritual realm. But Jesus continues saying, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." in John 10:10. Ample evidence of that is clearly shown in a newspaper report from early 1905 listing Bridgend with 317 conversions, along with tens of thousands more in other towns throughout Wales during the 1904-1905 revival. We are believing we will see these kind of reports again before long!

This incursion of satanic forces into the area has been awakening the church in an unprecedented way. Believers are coming together for prayer and taking up the offensive. Last week in one meeting about 180 people from several different congregations met together for prayer. Tonight, teams of intercessors from other areas were prayer-walking the streets of Bridgend. Next week there will be another gathering of many ministers and leaders from around the area - please pray especially for this meeting, and that the Lord would join hearts and strengthen relationships in a unique way.

Please pray for the families and loved ones who have been directly affected over the last year. The cumulative effect has brought a heaviness and sorrow for which only the love of God can bring healing. Also, please pray for the young people in the area, most of whom are starting into their adult lives "having no hope and without God in the world." And especially pray for our young Christian brothers and sisters to have extraordinary anointing of the Holy Spirit to be lights in the dark places, and words of Life to replace the words of death in so many young ears.

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,"
2 Cor.10:4

Please forward this email on to your praying friends . . . together we can help make a difference for the people Bridgend and surrounding areas!

Sincerely grateful for your each and every prayer,

Dick & Gladys


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