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Monday, August 31, 2009

High seas and high hills!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

The song that sprung up in my heart as I came into the chapel this morning was an old one taken from Zechariah 2:10-11. "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee."

It is promises like this one straight from the scriptures that strengthen, sustain us and encourage us. As we continue praying here day by day, we are so glad that we don't depend on our own convictions or our feelings, which can sometimes be as variable as the Welsh weather, but rather we rely only on the word of God and His strength, which abides forever and shall not be moved, come what may.

"A mighty fortress is our God .." says the hymn by Martin Luther, and this looks like it would be a tough place to get into! And though for a softer touch, "under the covering of His wings" sounds a little more inviting, it is no less secure."He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler" says Psalm 91:4. And we are so glad that He is our strength and place of rest!

This past week has been another busy one, and we were delighted to have a visit from Andrea and Paula, the daughters of two of the ministers of our home church in New Orleans. We've known them both for over twenty years, and what a blessing to see how've they've grown up into devout prayers and worshippers. Their first impression as they stepped of the ferry from Ireland was, "God's heart is in this land!" It was a real joy to have them with us, and show them a few of the special places in our area.

Besides taking them to the chapel to pray and worship with us, we spent time worshipping on top of this rock hill at Mwnt, and inside the 14th century Church of the Holy Cross nestled at its foot, a place in use for worship since the age of the Welsh saints in 500 - 600 A.D. From there we also spent a precious time praying in the chapel at Blaenannerch nearby.

The day after they left, we had a visit from a couple who recently moved to West Wales, and learned of us through friends at the Ffald-y-Brenin retreat centre. We enjoyed the visit especially because they had been missionaries in Argentina for nine years, and Spanish was their second language (as it will be in heaven, only after Welsh!). We also had an wonderful time of prayer in the chapel.

Then Thursday we went to meet some friends on the Black Mountain about 35 miles north of Swansea in South Wales. They were unable to make the rendezvous, but I did manage to get up to the top through racing winds and dodging rain showers along the way. Although I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked, I did spent some time praying over the area from this wonderful viewpoint!

Friday was also a special blessing as I spent time with a friend from Bridgend where he is a fireman and also one of the Street Pastors there. He joined me early in the chapel for a couple of hours. Besides prayer, it was very encouraging to share testimonies and learn how the Lord is moving and touching people's lives in many ways and places. You may remember this town has been the scene of many youth suicides, and it is a blessing to see how the Lord is raising up men and women to present the hope we have in Jesus Christ!

We appreciate your continued interest and value your prayers for us and this land.

Dick & Gladys


Friday, August 21, 2009

Making hay while the Son shines . .

Dear Friends & Prayers:

We are happy to report that our daughter Grace is doing well, adjusting to a new living experience in Europe. Thanks to your prayers and the Lord's goodness, she moved into her own apartment in Rome yesterday after just nine days! She is really enjoying her job with the Save The Children/World Food Program and will gain valuable work experience. Other family news is that our youngest son Richard will be moving to southern California with his company's design department from New Bern, NC in December. So once again we see God's awesome faithfulness to his promise that He would take care of our children if we would follow His calling to Wales.

In the midst of all our busy times with many guests and goings and comings, this summer has been going by so quickly that we've hardly noticed. There have been some wonderful clear sunny days with warm temperatures for which we are very thankful. Although we've had our share of wet and cold weather, is has been much better than the past two years when we had no real summer at all, and local farmers have been hard at work getting in hay and silage. It is admirable and challenging to see their dedication and hard work. When Jesus compared the work of His kindgom to the gathering of the harvest, He made it clear that it is not a part time job!

This week we visited a friend who is an itinerant preacher to Welsh chapels all around the country. He explained to us how discouraging it can be to go to week after week to small groups who are trying to keep their chapels open, but struggle with diminishing congregations. They don't see any hope for their situation, and don't think there is any value in prayer. It is as if they've given up hope, and it is difficult going for him.

When he asked us if we feel that anything is changing in the spiritual climate here, we had a lot to say. In the two months we've been home from our visit to the States, our own experiences have filled us with much encouragement. So we were delighted to be able to share some of the blessings we've had with him. Please pray with us for him, and the groups where he preaches, that the Lord would begin to change the hearts and circumstances of those groups, and kindle the fires of hope once again. I also spoke this week with one of a group of American pastors from Colorado Spring who visited Blaenau Ffestiniog in April, and he told me that their meeting with the local pastors reflected their discouragement and hopelessness also.

This is a common report of the traditional chapels and churches here, and yet in spite of this, there is also a great hope and expectancy growing on many fronts. Just as our home garden is growing and productive, things are very much starting to happen in Wales, and we continue hearing from more small isolated groups. We hope to be able to connect some of these people, and encourage them to pray together, and also to help pray for and encourage the many ministers and groups that desperately needs signs of hope and life.

Jesus is that Life, and His heart is longing to bring renewal and revival to this land once again! We are excited and anticipating the next steps He has for us. Please pray with us that we would have clarity, and that others whom the Lord is stirring up would also have clear guidance for the days and months ahead.

These are challenging and exciting times to be alive, and God's goodness and His plans for this nation are a source of joy and strength to us. Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. Please pray for those that need them more than us!

In the fields of His glorious hope,

Dick & Gladys


Friday, August 14, 2009

Something's up in North Wales!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

Last Monday we drove north again to Blaenau Ffestiniog, this time accompanied by our young Korean visitors. We had no plan other than to just be open to the Lord and "go with the flow." I felt that our first order of business was to go to where this town originated - in the slate mines. It was here in these mountains after years of sacrificial exploration that slate was finally found. So we rode into the heart of the mountain on a tiny train, through the original tunnels made in the 1800's.

At one place we were taken into a large chamber, about 75 feet in height and width and cut back into the rock face over 100 feet. Our tour guide turned of the electric lights and there remained only three small bulbs the strength of the candles they used in those days. It was incredible to hear how three men would spend up to fifteen years in the same chamber working twelve hours a day six days a week in near darkness to drill, blast and cut slabs of slate that would then be sent out through these tunnels to be further split into roofing slates. They barely made enough to support their familes, and many wasted money on drink before their earnings ever made it home.

Can you imagine working in conditions like this with only three or four candles rather than the flood of daylight pouring in through the broken wall? When I heard how boys as young as ten years old were brought into the mines to spend the rest of their working lives underground, it broke my heart. And yet there was hope!

In was in just such places as these that the fires of revival swept through this village in 1904 and brought God's glorious light into such darkened places. Men and their families by the hundreds came to the saving knowledge of God's grace in Jesus Christ, and the sounds of misery were changed into songs of praise in the mines and their neighboring villages. Not far from this mine there were prayer meetings that had as many as 2500 in attendance!

As I reflected later on darkness of this scene, I realized how things are still very much the same. Even though in today's world many people manage to make a reasonable living and experience a degree of happiness and satisfaction, without Christ in their lives, they live in spiritual darkness. Just as in those former times when men were basically enslaved by the mines, so are people today enslaved in the free market world system, with death at the end of their journey, having no hope and without God in the world. And yet, this pervasive darkness belies the wonderful hope we can have in Jesus. And that is the heart of our prayers!

After leaving the mine, we spent time walking and praying through the village, and had some interesting encounters with people. The Lord led us to some who were believers that had long since given up going to chapel or church, and we were able to bless them and encourage them that God has plans to revive this town and make His name great here once again. At one point as we walked along, a car pulled up beside us and the occupants asked, "Are you Dick and Gladys?" It turned out to the friends mentioned in the "funny kind of email" of July 19th's update, and we arranged to meet with them the next morning!

After early prayer walking in the rainy mountains of waste slate that surround the village and then breakfast, we spent a few hours together with our new friends Eric and Jane. They shared how they so clearly heard the Lord directing them to come and live there, and are patiently waiting for God to show them the next steps. We had a very powerful time of prayer for God to break through into the lives of many there who know Him, but are disconnected from any fellowship, and especially for inactive ministers who have given up hope for a new moving of God. Also we prayed for Jane's years-old physical condition, and appreciate your prayers for her as well.

While we were there I received an email from a man saying, "There will be revival coming to Wales. I had a look at your latest news letter, going to Blaenau Ffestiniog today..." and that he would like to meet us in the town center! So under umbrellas in the town square, we shared and prayed together, and it was marvelous indeed. This brother has a powerful booming voice and in his prayers proclaimed the gospel loud and clear to any that were passing by. Several looked to see what the noise was all about, and it seemed a clear foretaste of things to come.

It was amazing to see how the Lord so ordered our steps, and there is no doubt that He is indeed laying the groundwork for something special in this place. Even on our way home after two days of rain, we were treated to a spectacular sunset over Cardigan Bay.

Back home the following morning I talked with a minister friend in North Wales who said that he had been contacted by a large church in the States that is making plans to send a church plant in Blaenau Ffestiniog! So we are thrilled and expectant to watch how the Lord brings all these pieces of the puzzle together in His perfect timing!

In closing, I'd like to share the words of our new Korean friends. One wrote, "It was a series of greatly awesome events to be with you. I was glad to share with you many stories which were very beautiful spiritually. I could see the heart of God being with you." And another said in her note, "I could feel the 'Love of God' through the two of you and am so inspired by what you are doing with passion, joy and tears. Let it be continued by the Spirit of God until we see the Revival in Wales!!!"

Amen! We were so very blessed and encouraged by having these precious saints with us, and thank God for sending them to spend time with us. It was an honor and a privilege for us to share and partake of their zeal for the Lord.

In the wonderful care of Him who died for us all,

Dick & Gladys


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Enjoying our Korean Visitors!

Dear Friends and Prayers:

The days have been so full of blessings, we are overflowing with gratitude for God's goodness. I'd need more time and space than I have now to give a full picture, so this will be very brief.

Jonathan, Grace and Joshua are the young South Koreans who have been with us since Thursday, and we have been having a super time with them. Their passion for Jesus and heart for the nations is exemplary and we are honored to be able to have these five days with them.

The Lord has been implementing His plans each day and we are so thankful for the privilege of seeing how He guides our movements in perfect timing. Today for example we took them to Mwnt to visit a very old church, and pray there as well as on the top of this rocky mount overlooking the sea. From there we visited our old friends the Elsaessers, through whom we came to Wales the first time ten years ago, and they arrived home minutes after we got there!

Then we just were going to drive them by the chapel at Blaenannerch where Evan Roberts received his "baptism of fire" to show them the outside, and found what we thought was a meeting getting underway. It turned out to be the last choir rehearsal before the competition in the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and they invited us to sit in and listen! It was wonderful! You can hear their rendition of a traditional hymn called "Son of Man" at this link.

Tomorrow we head north once again to Blaenau Ffestiniog with our short term "adopted kids" to pray around the area, meet some more people and see how the Lord guides us. They will be leading us in some open air worship in the town center, and we will be joined by the couple whom we mentioned earlier that moved there last December! They actually bought the house of our friend Ken who showed us around last time! Also, Ken connected us with a lovely Christian couple there who own the nice B&B where we stayed on our last trip. They are going to provide lodging for the five of us tomorrow night no no charge - an investment in God's kingdom! It is amazing to watch all these things coming together with such coordination, which is none of our doing for sure.

So please pray especially Monday and Tuesday that we can be sensitive and obedient to the leadings of the Holy spirit. Thank you!

Blown away by His grace and goodness,

Dick & Gladys


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