Dear Friends and Prayers:
As of Monday, the Coronavirus had claimed 35,000 lives since it
began in December, and the number infected is rapidly approaching
one million people. Just to add some perspective to this, I was
reminded that the devastating earthquake in Guatemala in 1976 also
claimed 35,000 lives and left nearly one million people
homeless—and that in a matter of hours and days due to violent
That said, our present-day reality has plunged us into a vast sea
of unknowns. We don't know how far the pandemic will spread, or
how long it will last. We find ourselves somewhere in a spectrum
of information ranging from carefully calculated scientific
projections to hair-raising apocalyptic speculations.
And in the middle of this media frenzy, we see some of the best
and some the worst of human nature—from tens of thousands of
good-hearted people volunteering their service at risk to
themselves, to others trying to capitalize on the wider-spread
pandemic of fear. So just where do we really stand?
Reading through Psalm 90
the other day, I was struck by these verses 1-6,
through all the generations
have been our home!
the mountains were born,
you gave birth to the earth and the world,
beginning to end, you are God.
You turn people back to dust,
to dust, you mortals!'
For you, a thousand years are
as a passing day,
brief as a few night hours.
sweep people away like dreams that disappear.
are like grass that springs up in the morning.
the morning it blooms and flourishes,
by evening it is dry and withered."
In the great scheme of things, it is this truth that is by far
the most significant. We are just passing through this world, and
there will come a day for each one of us when our passage is over.
David says a little further along in verse 12, "So teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom." And just what is a
heart of wisdom? I believe he shows the fruit of that wisdom in
the first verse, in simply recognizing with David, "Lord, through all the
generations you have been our home!"
In the middle
of this growing worldwide crisis, we believe the Lord is opening
up an unprecedented opportunity for the Body of Christ to shine as
we were meant to shine. The doors have been closed to massive
mega-churches with their polished public performances as well as
small neighborhood churches and chapels. And now, in many places,
meeting in groups of more than two people is prohibited to try and
limit the spread of the virus. So, Church, this is the chance to "...always be ready to give a
defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is
in you..." (1 Peter 3:15)
Someone phoned up last week to ask if I thought this crisis is
God's judgment on a sinful world. Not having a clear answer I was
reluctant to respond either way. I said at least it is a "wake-up
call", but that was as far as I went.
Now back to Psalm 90. When I got to verses 7-9, I remembered this
question and had cause to consider it again. "For we have been consumed by Your anger, and
by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities
before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance."
Sadly in our day and age, not many of our sins remain secret but
rather are brazenly flaunted for all to see.
In Numbers 21 we read how the people grew impatient and spoke out
against God and against Moses, and in verse 6 it says, "Then the Lord sent venomous
snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
The people came to Moses and said, 'We sinned when we spoke
against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take
the snakes away from us.' So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole;
anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.'"
In John 3:14-15, Jesus himself says, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
Ultimately, then, we can see that God's purposes are redemptive.
His ways are surely not our ways, and His thoughts are far above
ours. The massive
earthquake in Guatemala did not take Him by surprise. Of all those
who perished, each one that was going to be saved was saved
already. And today that nation has a very large Christian
We are fully convinced that this current situation of empty
streets and limited contact with others will be no different.
God's desire is that people in every situation and every walk of
life would look to Him and His amazing gift of eternal redemption
in Jesus Christ. And at the end of their days, they could look
forward to meeting Him, who,
through all the generations will forever be our home!
Paul makes it very clear in Philippians 3:20-21. "For our citizenship is in
heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord
Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body [of dust]
that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according
to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to
So let us cry out boldly from our place in the dust of this
suffering world that God's mercy and compassion abound to those in
Dick & Gladys
Last Thursday we were determined to get out into the Spanish
countryside for at least one day before our return on Friday. So
we took a train and then a bus to Serra Valencia about 20 miles
north into the mountains. A beautifully landscaped zigzagging ramp
led us to the top of this hill where an old hermitage stands. It
was wonderful to breathe country air again!
The whole city had been in preparations for their traditional
annual festival, Las Fallas, which draws huge crowds from across
Spain and elsewhere. Part of the celebrations includes many large
figures which are built and then set on fire. But earlier in the
week, the first cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed in the
city and things were changing fast. Due to the threat of the
virus, this massive event was now canceled.
The celebratory atmosphere that greeted us just days before gave
way to fear of the rapid spread of the virus. As panic took hold
of people, shelves emptied in the stores and face masks started
appearing everywhere. The non-stop media attention from Spain and
abroad just added to growing tension.
time an old article by C.S. Lewis came to my attention. It was
written 72 years ago, and is as relevant now about COVID-19 as it
is was then about the atomic bomb. It was taken from his work
titled, Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.
"How are we to live in an atomic age?" I am tempted to reply:
"Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the
plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have
lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land
and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already
living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of
paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an
age of motor accidents."
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the
novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and
all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the
atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were
going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great
advantage over our ancestors - anaesthetics; but we have that
still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and
drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more
chance of painful and premature death to a world which already
bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a
chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be
taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be
destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us
doing sensible and human things - praying, working, teaching,
reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing
tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts
- not huddled
together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They
may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not
dominate our minds. C. S. Lewis
The remedy is clearly written out in Romans 12:2. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove
what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
The following words of Jesus cut to the heart of the matter. John
6:27, "Do not labor for the food which
perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life,
which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has
set His seal on Him."
John 6:32-33, "Then Jesus said to them,
'Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread
from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives
life to the world.'"
John 6:35, "And Jesus said to them, 'I am
the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he
who believes in Me shall never thirst.'"
John 6:40, "And this is the will of Him who
sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may
have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
This is our certain hope and assurance. And our most sincere
prayer is that God might use the destabilizing and life-changing
circumstances of this coronavirus as a wake-up call—that the
people of this world might turn to God and live. Jesus has freely
paid the supreme price for our ticket to life, but where are the
Dick & Gladys
Dear Praying Saints:
Not long ago we had no idea the plans the Lord had in store for us. Yet here we find ourselves now in the warmer climate of mostly sunny Valencia, Spain! "So, how did this come about?", you might ask. Well, we would have asked the very same thing!
On Wednesday three weeks ago, a friend concluded his email to us, "As I type I feel excited -feel the Lord has a special surprise/ blessing in store in the next few days for you both. 'Yes Lord please bless this dear faithful couple, bless them more and more thank you, Jesus. Amen.'"
Actually, we had been praying for sunshine because there had been so much rain in Wales for weeks. Well, Friday morning, out of the blue, I got a call from an old friend that we have been connected with through Ffald-y-Brenin since we've been in Wales. And apart from seeing one another in meetings, and exchanging emails and messages, we hadn't spoken with him by phone for at least ten years. He asked us how we would like to spend a week with him in his flat in sunny Valencia in early March? And the rest, as they say, is history!
We arrived Friday night, and though still cold at night, the. temperatures are 10-15 degrees warmer than Wales, and it is DRY! We're a five-minute walk from the old part of the city, and it is fascinating place. On our first day strolling through the streets it somehow felt very much like home with everyone, of course, speaking Spanish. This has been a special bonus as both of us together can easily engage in and follow the conversations all around us.
I always jokingly tell Gladys, "Don't talk to strangers", which, of course she does everywhere anyway, and this has opened doors for lots of meaningful conversations. Someone told us we were being sent on a special mission, and so indeed it seems. In fact, Sunday afternoon Gladys asked if we could join a couple at a table where there was some shade. We quickly began to chat and the Lord opened a wonderful door to talk about the Lord. An overview of our testimony of how the Lord directed us to pray for Wales was like cool water to thirsty souls, and time just slipped away. We look forward to meeting up with them again before we head back home on Friday. And there were and will be other conversations as well. People are looking for answers, and Jesus is the only one they need.
Today I went again to the old town center with our friend to see the main square and buildings that we hadn't gotten to yet. We went into a huge old Catholic Church where there were lots of people sitting quietly. Most seemed to be there for religious reasons, praying or meditating, while quite a few others were tourists like ourselves, just looking around and admiring the elaborately ornate building with its statuary, stained glass, massive paintings, and beautiful frescoed ceilings.
As I sat there, I was immediately impressed, and a bit surprised, by a very tangible sense of presence of God. As I watched, prayed, and wondered, the words of an old song came to mind, "You can look, but you better not touch." It's fine to come and look and see, but God is so high and far above us lowly mortals that we can never approach him. As was if the liturgical hierarchy over the centuries was speaking out its mantra of "We are the intermediaries and you can only come to God through us."
Yet at the same time the Lord was crying out loudly, "Oh taste, and see, that the Lord is good!" "Whosoever will may come." "Come ye to the waters, he that has no money, come ye, buy and eat!" And yet the veil still remains over the eyes of so many people here. The steeped-in-Catholicism Spanish culture has been profoundly changed here in our lifetimes. Especially in the last 20 years with the ubiquitous influence of the online world, the younger generations live in a very different world, devoid of the influence of the Gospel.
As we continue to pray for the coming revival for Wales and the nations, being here in Spain and seeing what we see adds extra depth to words of Jesus in Matthew 9:37-8. "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Dick & Gladys