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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Special International Christmas!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

Jesus himself taught us the reason for the season in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

And because He did come and give His life as a ransom for many, we are the glad recipients of more than eternal life. We also have been made members of His family and can enjoy the blessings of His great love together.

Although we couldn't be together with our own family this year, we were so very blessed to spend a good part of the day surrounded by many of our greater family in Christ. We shared a Christmas dinner hosted by one of the local churches, and were treated like kings and priests, even down to the paper crowns we wore!

It was not only the wonderful meal that made for a joyful time, but the warmth of love and friendship that filled the atmosphere. But greater than that is this amazing Hope that gives purpose to our lives, calling us into a deeper walk with Jesus and to show His love for the nations through our lives!

And speaking of the nations, there was a good sampling from different parts of the world outside the U.K. There were two young ladies from Poland, a young Welsh Chinese couple living in Hong Kong, and three couples and an infant from Singapore. Not to mention an American and a Guatemalan!

We had a very special time with our brothers and sisters from Singapore. Their hunger for the Lord and obedience to the Holy Spirit brought them to spend some time at Ffald-y-Brenin, a local retreat center where we pray regularly. I had offered to take them to the nearby chapel at Blaenannerch where Evan Roberts received his "baptism of fire" and was empowered by God to kick-start the great Welsh Revival of 1904-05. Although our time there was quite brief, the stirring of the Lord in all of our hearts was obvious, and a crying out for revival was kindled with power from on high.

Then we took them to "our" chapel, which we believe will play a key part in the coming revival, and shared part of the story of how the Lord brought us here from New Orleans in 2005. We had an amazing time with them, and the Holy Spirit knit our hearts together in a beautiful way. It was such a privilege and a thrill to have these new friends from the other side of the world praying with us at Cilfowyr.

When we asked how we could pray for them, they asked us to pray for passion for revival in their own hearts and in the hearts of all the Christians in their land. And so there we were, on Christmas Day in Wales, crying out to the Lord for an outpouring of revival and salvation in Singapore!

And then, as they took their leave, to our great surprise they gave each of us a beautiful hand-made cloth bag filled with several very generous gifts that the Lord had impressed on them to prepare for someone He would show them. When Gladys and I got home and opened these treasures, we were just overwhelmed with the measure God's love and care lavished upon us through these lovely saints. We wept together with gratitude for His endless mercy and constant encouragement to us in our mission here.

So please pray with us for God's plans for Singapore, and for His church there to rise to the challenge of rending their hearts for His glory!

With love, we wish you every blessing of His closeness during this New Year,

Dick & Gladys


Friday, December 19, 2008

Nadolig Llawen! - Feliz Navidad! - Happy Christmas!

Dear Friends and prayers:

This is a once-in-a-lifetime snow picture from Hammond, Louisiana last week. It hasn't snowed that much there for many long years. Here's our son Mike and his girlfriend Lauren sharing funny stories with their newest neighbor!

When we spoke a few days ago he told me that almost everyone living on their street was outside watching the snowstorm and admiring the beauty and the great novelty of it all. Because it was such a special occasion it drew lots of attention. People just marveled at it, and the children had never seen anything like it before!

A day or so later I was reflecting on the mental picture I had of everyone outside looking at the snow with wonder and delight. Then suddenly I found myself thinking about how awesome it would be if people would be drawn to look towards Jesus in the same way. I could imagine them embracing His words of eternal life and precious gift of forgiveness, and the prayers of my heart took wing. Things like this help make prayer an exciting and tangible exercise.

After a little time the snow gets dirty and melts away. But "Says the LORD, ' Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow..'" Isaiah 1:18 And His gift lasts forever!

As we come down the home stretch to Christmas here in Wales, there is lots of activity and traditional music of the season. At times there are groups singing carols in the town as shoppers hurry about their business. And I can't help but wonder how it is that all this is going on because of Jesus' coming into the world to save sinners, yet the whole time-honored tradition just seems to skim right over the top of people's hearts. The name of Christ is everywhere around in "Christmas", but still sadly far from the lives that so sorely need Him.

Many of the Christmas carols and hymns are really beautiful. But they don't hold a candle to the kind of worship our hearts long for. A few days out of the year just don't cut it! More like it is the worship described in the Book of Revelation. Chapter 7:9-12 says, "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.

And Revelation 15:3-4, "They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”

We wish you every blessing this Christmas as you spend time with friends and loved ones, and pray His amazing grace fill your hearts with joy.

Watching and praying in hope for the day that all nations come to worship before Him,

Dick & Gladys


Thursday, December 11, 2008

An update on our family in the U.S.

Dear Friends & Prayers:

For reasons known only to the Lord, we are missing our family a little more now, seeing as we would have been with the three younger ones during this time. But right now it is snowing in Louisiana and a little colder than here for now, so that's all right with us. We were here for the Christmas season three years ago, and this year we will be spending time with some of the many wonderful friends the Lord has given us here. These are some friends from Mt. Zion Baptist Church decked out for Victorian Night in Cardigan this week. He is from Peru and we enjoy speaking Spanish with them!

I've had several folks ask about our children, so will give a brief update of each one, starting with Peter, our eldest. He is currently living in Victorville, California where his duty as a recruiter for the U.S.Marine Corps has him very busy. He's been with the Corps for close to six years, and seems content with life in general. We are thankful he was never exposed to combat duty, and look forward to a visit with him sometime. We haven't seen him for several years, but maintain contact via phone and occasional emails.

Our daughter Grace, 27, is contentedly working with World Vision as you may recall. Actually, many of you helped pray for her employment situation last summer, and your prayers bore good fruit, thank you! She is involved with a project that distributed much needed food supplies to people in North Korea, and is looking forward to possible changes in her job that will allow her to get more directly involved in health related projects in the coming year. She has found a local church that she seems quite happy with, so we of course are delighted at that.

Mike, 26, just lost his employment of nearly three years along with the other 532,999 Americans that shared the same fate during November. Thank the good Lord, he has specialized talents in computerized mapping and his years of experience in that field are a real asset. He has been encouraged by a couple of calls from prospective employers that found his resume on the internet. He is currently considering the possibility of relocating to northeastern Louisiana, if a possible job opens up for him there. It means he would have to postpone his studies for a time, but the additional experience of what would be an excellent employment opportunity would make it worthwhile. We appreciate your prayers for him in that respect.

Our youngest son Richard, 23 this month, is employed as an industrial designer with a large international firm, and enjoying his experience to the max. His department designs high-end kitchen appliances, and gets to travel frequently to design conferences and some sales events. He was even sent to an exclusive cooking course earlier in the year to broaden his experience relative to his work. He also may be traveling to Germany for a time this coming year, in which case we could enjoy a visit with him here, which would be great!

So, we are so thankful for each of them, and more thankful to the Lord whose promise to Gladys and I before we came to Wales was that He would take better care of our kids than we ever could ourselves. When people ask about the biggest challenge we had in following God's call to our mission here, it was that of leaving our children so far behind. But as we look back now and see He wonderful faithfulness towards them, we know that seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness by coming to Wales has brought many blessings into our lives. His plans are always much greater and wiser than any of our own design, and we have continual assurance that He will continue to perfect His will and ways in our lives and those of our children also.

Gladys is still having some difficult days with her health, but overall is making gradual improvement. She has started to regain a little of the weight she had lost, and is feeling a bit more strength. With the cold of winter around us, she misses those extra pounds of "insulation" but has learned the secret of layers of clothing to keep warm. We really appreciate your many prayers for her healing and recovery, and know that it is on the way!

These are special times in world around us as we see worsening economic times and political unrest. Please pray with us that as people's foundations are shaken and challenged by challenging times, that their hearts would become sensitive to their need for Jesus in their lives - He is the rock of salvation for all that turn to Him.

Blessings to you and your loved ones this Christmas time,

Dick & Gladys


Monday, December 01, 2008

Spiderwebs and man traps . .

Dear Friends and Prayers:

The book of Proverbs says, "The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings' palaces." But here in wintry West Wales, spiders live in ice palaces! Every single strand of the many webs in this hedge were delicately coated with ice as the dew crystallized around them a couple mornings ago. Just one further testimony among innumerable examples of how God's "wisdom calls aloud outside" and beckons recognition of a loving Creator - "the firmament showing forth His handiwork."

Yet in spite of the overwhelming evidence, mankind plunges headlong into a godless future, without lasting hope or meaning in life. Old and young alike, people are looking for love and acceptance, security and a sense of belonging. And fueled by a voracious world wide marketing machine, they are compelled to acquire things unnecessary for life, and seek entertainment to divert their attention from the important issues of life.

A few weeks ago there was an old-fashioned fair in Cardigan. Gladys and I ventured into town that night and saw the streets packed with people and literally tons cheap merchandise, and a large parking lot was turned into an amusement park. I took a brief stroll through that part, but Gladys didn't join me because the noise was deafening! Rock and roll music threatened to tear the speakers from the housings and lights and rides and shoulder to shoulder crowds were a sobering spectacle. People lined up and paid big money for a few minutes of "fun." This ride was the biggest and newest - four banks of seats spin in circles and swing eighty feet high up into the night sky, and I was not even tempted!

But what really struck me was the emptiness of this raucous spiderweb of worldly attraction to a vanity fair. The throngs of young people going from one thing to another just "looking for or having a good time" seemed to emphasize the desperate need for something profoundly real in the midst of such proliferation of artificiality.

So what will it take to turn their hearts to the Lord, the source of love and life itself? How can they be drawn to discover that wonder of wonders in this life, that "in His presence is fullness of joy?" What can open the hidden doors of their hearts to the intangible and overwhelming love of a longing Savior?

How can we pray? What do we say? How do we stand in the gap when the gap is big enough to swallow us whole? How can we rend our hearts for such overwhelming needs?

Confronted with such a daunting task, what comfort that we can find the strength of Almighty God through these words in Mark 10:27, "But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.'"

May His grace affirm you each day,

Dick & Gladys


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