Cardiff Carols

CUqccIXWEAQaT8PHey guys, quick heads up about a really exciting event happening in Cardiff next week. Cardiff Carols is taking place at Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday 3rd December and it’s going to be epic!

Tickets are just £4 (£2 for under 12’s). You can find out more information here.

Why not make every effort to get there and be part of something truly special and Christ-exalting in our capital this Christmas?



BIG Hankey News!


This is a little post that contains some BIG news!

Last night Michelle and I shared with our ‘sending’ church, Highfields, some news that we have already announced to our ‘home’ church Hill City – that we believe that God has called us to move back to Cardiff to plant a new church in a very diverse, transient and challenging area of the inner-city.

This is not a flash-in-the-pan decision. Far from it! In fact it goes all the way back to a powerful, supernatural encounter that I had with God back in April 2012. This encounter literally changed my life in a range of ways. It’s where Red Community and my passion for human trafficking ministry originate from. It’s also where this call to plant a new church finds its roots. I don’t believe that this blog is the right place to unpack all the specifics though I will be happy to share the full story with anyone who wants to know more. Furthermore, there are still a lot of unknowns and a lot of details yet to be worked out.

However, as a means of allaying fears and stopping unhelpful rumours before they start, here are a few important points:

  1. This move is only being made with the blessing and support of the leaders of both our sending church and our home church who have been involved in the process for over 18 months.
  2. I have spent much of this year working to train and equip leaders. We will not leave Hill City until we are happy that the right leaders are in place to care for the flock and continue the mission in the Eastern Valley, including a plurality of biblically qualified elders.
  3. We aim to retain a close, strategic and ‘apostolic’ relationship with Hill City. It seems that very few Christians have ever seen a leader leave a church in a healthy or biblical way (it’s usually a result of burning out, selling out, or getting kicked out). Our desire is to be ‘sent out’ joyfully and willingly with an open door to remain involved in the life of the church that we planted and still love dearly.
  4. We genuinely don’t want to leave the valley. We love it here. We love our community. We love the creation that surrounds us. Above all we LOVE the church family that we have seen grow around us in the last 8 years. This move is happening purely because we are persuaded that God has spoken to us and that not going would be disobedience.

Please do pray for our family as this is a big and daunting move for us all, but especially for the little ones. If you’d like to know more about any of this please do get in touch. All my contact info is on my page.

Big love and God bless.


“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”
(Romans 15 v 20-21)

Philip the Evangelist


Earlier this week I had the privilege of spending the morning with a motley posse of OAC evangelists. What’s more I even got to teach the Bible too! The theme they gave me was “The role of the evangelist in the local church” and I had 2 sessions in order to unpack that theme. The first session was more a theological framework for where evangelists fit into the local church. In the second session, however, I took a slightly different approach and chose to profile an evangelist from Scripture. The guy I picked was Philip who is the only chap in the whole of the Bible who’s actually called “the evangelist” (Acts 21v8). So I started to research Philip going all the way  back to his first encounter with Jesus. What unfolded was a marathon investigation that truly blessed my socks off as I studied and that resulted in a 22 point sermon (that I managed to preach in under 45mins!! THAT’S A MIRACLE). The example of Philip the Evangelist seemed to encourage the men and women who were there on Tuesday, so I thought his example may encourage you too. So here are 22 things that Philip can teach us about the life, character and ministry of the evangelist:

Philip the Evangelist was…

1. Christ follower (John 1 v 43)

2. Instinctive witness (John 1 v 44-46)

3. Resilient witness (John 1 v 46)

4. Fruitful witness (John 1 v 47-49)

5. Prayer Warrior (Acts 1 v 12-14)

6. Humble Servant (Acts 6 v 1-2)

7. Team player (Acts 6 v 3)

8. Right-living (Acts 6 v 3)

9. Spirit-filled (Acts 6 v 3)

10. Wise (Acts 6 v 3)

11. Church approved (Acts 6 v 5-6)

12. Courageous (Acts 8 v 3-5)

13. Gospel Preacher (Acts 8 v 5-6)

14. Miracle Worker (Acts 8 v 6-7)

15. Joy Bringer (Acts 8 v 8)

16. Freak Magnet (Acts 8 v 9-13)

17. Obedient (Acts 8 v 26-29)

18. Eager (Acts 8 v 30)

19. Astute (Acts 8 v 30)

20. Winsome (Acts 8 v 30-34)

21. Focussed (Acts 8 v 35-39)

22. Relentless (Acts 8 v 40)


This is a poem that I have been working on line-by-line and verse-by-verse ever since the rise of ISIS first hit our screens. It’s my response to what’s happening in Iraq and Syria. It’s very graphic, very raw and very disjointed. My prayer , however, is that it’s ultimately very hopeful.


It’s a CR:ISIS
I’ve never seen nothing like this
My heart’s in bits
Tears flow as I write this

Men torn from their wives and kids
Decapitated corpses dumped in ditches
Vicious violation of precious desert princesses
Snatched and stripped and sold for sex
It’s vile, it’s sick
it’s a CR:ISIS

I’m haunted by this

I got images of terrified kids
Indelibly etched on my irises
Burned on the inside of my eyelids
So every time I close my eyes I witness
The unspeakable evil of this CR:ISIS

Like the face of a boy who watched his sister get raped –
Her throat got slit before they could escape
They were gonna kill him next then the cavalry came
And he broke down and wept and wept and wept
Oh God heal his heart with grace 

I still see the little boy from the Yazidi tribe
Carrying a box with a baby inside
But this was no crib, the baby had died
No time for burials when you’re running for your life
Oh Lord have mercy on this child

But there’s also images that flood my heart with hope
Like the photo of this tiny soul
A young refugee forced to flee brutality with his family
I saw a photo of him clutching his pet bird
In the face of sheer evil some innocence preserved 

There is hope in the midst of this hatred
But we can’t hide from this –
It’s a CR:ISIS

Truth is I don’t know how to process
The spread of this virus of mindless violence
But I gotta confess
There’s a righteous rage
Rising up in my chest that
I’m not prepared to suppress
Cos ignorance is bliss and
I simply will not ignore this
It’s a CR:ISIS

And I defy any true disciple of Christ
To turn a blind eye
To this genocide
We can’t deny their plight and hide
Its time to arise
Turn back the tide
To fall to our knees like a warrior bride
And  C-R-Y out to the most High
Cos it’s the right and righteous way to fight
Against this CR:ISIS

And I’m not placing my faith in Kings or politicians
I’m trusting the One who alone can change the hearts of men
And the direction of my intercession
Is that these terrorists will find true redemption
In the face of the Christ who gives salvation
Cos only grace can change a heart bent on sin

So the prayer I groan as I clench my fist
Is “God be glorified in this!”
This is a CR:ISIS
But my faith is in who
King Jesus Christ is.

Full Grown

Today is #antislaveryday. I am sure that the news channels, as well as your social media feeds, will be full of news about human trafficking and modern slavery today. I thought it would be good to mark the day by profiling a film that was made here in Gwent recently.

As you are probably aware I lead a ministry called Red Community that is all about raising awareness, raising support and raising an army to stand against human trafficking in Wales. One of the projects that we have been involved in this year is RED Alert – the creation of a series of short films aimed at helping people understand the reality and scale of human trafficking in our own nation. The first film, Escape, profiled sex trafficking (you can watch it here).

Today, I’m posting up the second film, Full Grown, that profiles criminal exploitation. This is the crime of forcing or coercing people to engage in criminal activity such as begging, pick-pocketing, credit card fraud and cannabis cultivation.

Vast amounts of the UK’s cannabis is grown by young men, often children, who have been trafficked into the UK, from overseas nations, perhaps most notably China and Vietnam. Full Grown is a gritty and powerful film, based on actual events, that sheds some light on the brutal reality faced by many of these modern-day slaves.

Please don’t just watch it. Let the weight of it’s message impact you. Pray about it. Share it. Help us to raise awareness about human trafficking in Wales.


Our secret weapon – JOY!

TopSecretfolderI’m quite a chipper person.

My glass is generally half-full.

I tend to see the best in people.

I sincerely love life.

And I do laugh…


But I have to confess – this year has been hard! As previous posts have alluded to I have been through some pretty dark seasons of the mind and soul and while I am genuinely in pretty good shape at the mo, I am very aware that a dark cloud is never far away.

Sometimes it literally feels like I’m being stalked by sadness.

Trouble is – I’m not even sure why!

  • My marriage is strong.
  • My family is a blast.
  • My health is…fair to middling!
  • My finances are in order.
  • My church family is fab.
  • And I’m not harbouring any secret sin in my life.

So why does this happiness assassin keep showing up?

  • Is it because I live in the anti-depressant prescription capital of the UK?
  • Could it be the pressures of pastoral ministry?
  • Perhaps I’m getting too emotionally involved with human trafficking?
  • It is possible that I’m simply doing too much.
  • Or as I turn 39 this month perhaps I’m just preempting the inevitable mid-life crisis!

Who knows?

Actually, God knows.

And while I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why things are as they are, God in His grace has blessed me with a means of standing strong and fighting back. In fact, He’s given me a secret weapon.

“What is that secret weapon?” I hear you cry.

Well, quite simply – my secret weapon is joy!

It’s like my buddy Nehemiah said:

“do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
– Nehemiah 8 v 10

So there you have it – all we need is the Lord’s joy and we’ll have all the strength we need to take the happiness assassin outta the game, right?!


So the question is how do we get the joy of the Lord? I mean Paul told us to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, but HOW?! How do we get our hands on this secret weapon?

Well, a few weeks ago the Lord handed me the key to the gun cabinet, and I’ve been buzzin ever since. Here’s the key:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation”
– Psalm 51 v 12

Ultimate joy is found in God’s salvation, nowhere else!

When I seek joy in anything or anyone else I am setting myself up for a fall because everything and everyone else is broken, fractured and flawed.

  • My wife is great, but she’s not perfect (neither am I!)
  • My kids are epic, but they’re still little sinners.
  • My health is deteriorating at a rate of knots!
  • My money keeps getting spent.
  • I love my ministry, but it involves people who, like me, are broken.
  • And while sin has no dominion over me, I still regularly screw up.

But God’s salvation…that’s different! The blood of Jesus NEVER runs out! His forgiveness IS limitless. His love NEVER fails. His grace IS sufficient.

I still remember the day that Jesus saved me. I was 15 years old and as I surrendered my life to Him I experienced His mercy in a powerful, life-changing, future-shaping way.

I was clean.

I was accepted.

I was joyful.

I was home.

But sadly, that joy has not always remained with me.

To my shame, I think that when I experience a lack of joy it is directly linked to sin and a loss of wonder in the salvation of God. I think that’s where David got to when he prayed that God would restore the joy of His salvation in Psalm 51.

So here’s where I’ve landed – I need God’s help to stay fixated and fascinated by the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ:

“When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.”
– Charitie Lees Smith

My secret weapon is joy but it’s the gospel of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ that activates that joy. A single step away from the cross is a step towards joylessness, despair and a butt-kicking at the hands of the happiness assassin! Therefore humble repentance is the only way to lay hold of the secret weapon of God’s pure joy. And when I’ve got that joy, I feel invincible, because the source of my joy, Jesus, is invincible. And because His grave is empty my heart is full.

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”

Refugee Crisis: 5 ways to get engaged

My previous post has generated so much interest and sparked so much discussion about how best to respond to the current European refugee crisis that I felt that a further post was necessary. Here are 5 ways to get engaged:

1. Get clued up

I was going to put prayer as the first thing we should do, but controversially, I’ve put this ahead of prayer. That’s not to downplay the importance of prayer. Far from it. Intercession is the most crucial thing that we can do! But I’ve put this point first because I believe that getting clued up will help us pray with more clarity and more compassion.

How do we get clued up?

Well obviously the news is a good place to start, especially right now as we are being bombarded by a torrent of information from pretty much every available news source. But there is certainly more we can do. A really helpful thing to do would be to speak to those who are already on the frontline of local outreach to refugees and ask them to give their perspective on what the greatest needs are. Similarly we can read articles and books from experienced practitioners. Furthermore we can contact our local councils and others who are responsible for policy making and coordinating emergency provision. Getting educated from these kinds of sources will really help with the next point…

2. Get on your knees

If you’re anything like me you probably look on at the refugee crisis as it unfolds and feel totally overwhelmed. What difference, if any, can I make? This is actually a healthy place to be as it’s when we feel small, weak and incapable that we are perfectly positioned to cry out to the only One who is wise enough to understand the situation in its totality and strong enough to do what’s right. Sometimes prayer can feel like a token gesture that we do when we don’t know what else to do. That is the wrong perception of prayer. Prayer is where the power is at:

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
– James 5 v 16

Can I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to take God at His Word and to spend some serious, considered time on your knees on behalf of those who are suffering right now. (If you don’t know what to pray, the Evangelical Alliance have written a model prayer you could use).

3. Get in touch

One of the most simple yet practical things you can do is to write to your MP / AM and express your concern for the current situation. Tell them that you, and your church, are burdened about what’s going on. Ask them what they are doing about it and implore them to press our government for meaningful action. Furthermore, if your church is willing and able to help out practically let them know. There are some helpful pointers on what you could offer here. You’d be surprised how encouraged they will be to know that there are people in their communities who are ready and willing to serve. It also testifies to the life and love of the local church. Finally, you can also put pressure on the government to act by signing this official home office petition.

4. Get your wallet out

There will always be opportunities to give financially. Already my inbox is pinging with messages offering opportunities to respond. Tear fundWorld VisionOxfam and Open Doors are just a few of the organisations you could give to who have people at work on the ground. However, you might also consider helping to support a local ministry that is serving refugees and asylum seekers who have already made it to the UK. I guess this is where I’d like to raise one specific opportunity for those of us in South Wales to consider.

My friend Liz Perret-Atkins runs an outreach in Cardiff. Every Thursday she and her team of amazing volunteers at the Rainbow Centre bag up loads of food and give it out to the scores of asylum seekers who attend. They also faithfully share the gospel with these guys each week. I have had the privilege of speaking at the Thursday morning outreach and it is incredible to see how the work is growing as more and more men, women and children from all over the world come to receive food. Apparently they had 75+ there this week and there will be more again next week. I was there last week and the demand was so great that they started to run out of food. Liz shared with me that it is becoming increasingly difficult to finance the work as it is entirely donation based and funds are short. If you have some money that you would like to donate to a gospel-centred practical outreach to refugees and asylum seekers then I can personally vouch for Liz and the ministry at the Rainbow Centre. If you would like to give then get in touch with me (contact details are here) and I’ll put you in touch with her. Alternatively you can text a donation to 70070, citing “Matt25” plus  “£ (amount)”.

5. Get the red carpet out

Finally, we can get involved by opening our hearts and out homes. If you live know of any refugees who have come into your area, why not make every effort to welcome and befriend them. Be the one who chats to them at the bus stop or in the park. Smile at them. Serve them. If you don’t personally know of anyone who has come to this country under duress, find out what is being done for refugees in your area and volunteer you help. If no one is serving refugees in your area – you and your church should start something up. Serious! A coffee morning. Toddler group. Anything…

Finally, a few crazily radical ideas on how you could roll out the red carpet for refugees and asylum seekers:

  1. Could / would you host an individual or family in your own home at your own expense? Could your church building be used as emergency accommodation? If so, tell your local council. Tell your MP. Obviously be wise and realistic, but also be compassionate and courageous. There’s more chance that the government will let refugees into the UK if they are persuaded that they will not be alone in having to make provision. How beautiful it would be if the church of Jesus were at the front of the queue to serve in this way!
  2. Could / would you be willing to provide emergency, or even long-term, foster care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children? If so, Home For Good are collecting names of those who are interested here.