The land of my fathers weeps

The land of my fathers weeps
Truth is fallen in the street
The shadow’s deepening
Our nation ravaged by sin

Once bowed in awe of the Most High
We now raise 2 fingers and stroll on by
We think we’re free but in reality
We’re just slaves to the chains of iniquity
Rebellion courses through the arteries
of fractured society
The venom of the serpent’s bite

Justice staggers
Hope drains away

Beauty is broken
But God has spoken

Dangerous darkness shrouds our land
Yet the Father places His seed in our hand
And that seed – though small – is all we need
For that seed – the gospel – is strong indeed

See, from the seed salvation springs
The church is born and spreads her wings
So beauty blossoms and life begins
Resurrection dawns on deathly things

In the seed is light and life
The relentless love of Jesus Christ
This gospel seed is the good news of grace
The power of God that liberates
The soul that sin intoxicates

But the seed does not belong in a box
It must be gripped and gathered
And lavishly scattered
That vibrant colours of life might shatter
The canopy of night
With explosions of redemption’s light

Saints
The King commissions and calls us
To take the seed where there’s greatest need
Where souls are cold where the nation bleeds
Where poverty, pride, hate and disgrace is
To unleash His grace in the craziest places
An army of love invading the spaces
Where darkness dwells
Where hell on earth is

It’s time…

Father
Give us faith to step up and fight
To hold fast truth and wield the light

To grow gardens in gutters
Sow seeds of life
To plant churches
That plant churches
That plant churches for Christ

Written March, 2017

2017 in Photos

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JANUARY – a damp, misty and murky morning in Cardiff Bay with the sun threatening to break through.
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FEBRUARY –  a cheeky game of snooker with my good friend, Dave, was one of my favourite ways of escaping the madness this year. Gutted when they closed the Snooker centre down! 
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MARCH –  swans on Roath Lake. Probably my favourite photo of the year!
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APRIL –  Cycling around Splott and was stopped in my tracks by the bleakness of this scene. Made me pray more earnestly for this community.
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MAY –  Family trip to Penarth. Loved the symmetry and the shades in this shot of the iconic pier.
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JUNE –  I didn’t choose this shot because of the quality of the photography but because of its significance – this is the first ever bucket of coffee we roasted at Manumit.
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JULY –  Visited Derwent Water whilst on a family break at the Keswick Convention. Arrived just in time for this stunning sunset.
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AUGUST –  Took this moody, shadowy shot of my son, Josiah, throwing a ball whilst playing cricket on our church’s day trip to Rest Bay, Porthcawl.
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SEPTEMBER –  after visiting a church in our community that had just closed its doors for the last time we stepped outside and found this cap on the floor. It’s significant!
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OCTOBER – late night, bright light groceries. One of the many things that I love about Cardiff’s Clifton Street is that there are shops open all night long.
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NOVEMBER – the only photo I didn’t take but I had to use it because the sunset is beautiful, the woman I’m cwtching is beautiful and the adventure we are still on together is beautiful. (Thanks for the photo Vicky!)
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DECEMBER – we miss the natural beauty of the valleys so much, therefore sunsets over the inner-city that we now call home mean more to us than words (or this photo) can express.

Cut the Crap!

CONFESSION: I almost didn’t post this article because as the title suggests I use the word ‘crap’ quite a lot in it. I am fully aware that this might be offensive to some and I may well lose followers and subscribers because of it. But after praying about it I am settled in my mind that I am not just using it to be flippant or unnecessarily shocking. Rather, I believe that it’s a strong word that is wholly appropriate for the thoughts I wish to convey. I hope as you read on you’ll get what I mean. If, however, you are likely to be offended then I suggest you don’t continue. OK, here goes…

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2016 in photos

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JANUARY – a typical wintry morning in Trevethin. I love the contrast of the shaded, frosty foreground and the warm, sun-bathed mountains in the background.

 

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FEBRUARY – took this photo whilst taking a walk around Edinburgh’s picturesque city centre. Every time I look at it I see something new.

 

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MARCH – appreciated this hazy, horsey, sunny view from the summit of Garn Wen whilst walking up there with the family.

 

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APRIL – visited the Colosseum in Rome whilst attending the Acts 29 Resolved conference. A truly remarkable building with a harrowing history.

 

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MAY – the Hankey kids getting excited ahead of flying home from Scotland after a fabulous weekend away preaching with Niddrie Community Church.

 

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JUNE – on one of many training rides in the local hills I looked over my shoulder and clocked this stunning rainbow over the valley. Amazing!

 

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JULY – another shot from one of my bike rides – this one is of the Skirrid mountain taken from the Dunes.

 

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AUGUST – my photo of the year! Taken at the summit of the toughest climb on our marathon ride across Wales, it captures perfectly the beauty and brotherhood of that ride.

 

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SEPTEMBER – having left the hills and greens of the valleys to begin a new gospel adventure in inner-city Cardiff, this photo captures the landscape of our new community.

 

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OCTOBER – one of the reasons we moved back to Cardiff was to advance the work of Red Community. This was the Walk for Freedom we organised in Cardiff.

 

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NOVEMBER – Cranes standing tall above Cardiff’s forever changing horizon.

 

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DECEMBER – walking the dog on a misty, wintry morning in the local park with my littlest.

2016: Grief, Grace and Hope

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Last night I learned that one of my childhood heroines had just passed away. It’s not an over-exaggeration to say that alongside Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia fired my imagination and shaped my childhood playtimes like no one else! (I LOVED her later role in the Blues Brothers too!) Tragically, her death is one of a long, long list of celebrities who have died this year: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Paul Daniels, Victoria Wood, Prince, Carla Lane, Muhammad Ali, Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Rick Parfitt and George Michael have all passed away in the last 12 months. I mean, famous people die every year, but 2016 does seem to have been a particularly painful year.

Like millions of others I have found this year especially hard to navigate. Social media has provided an outlet for an outpouring of grief, disbelief, and even fear, that has been quite staggering. But how should we respond when the rich, gifted and famous die? Perhaps more importantly how should I, as a follower of Jesus, respond?

Here are 4 ways I think are appropriate: (more…)

Take time to treasure Christ this Christmas

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I am loving Christmas time right now.

Seriously, LOVING it!

In fact, I can’t remember enjoying the lead-up to Christmas this much in years and years! So why am I so BUZZIN about Christmas? To be honest, I think it’s because I’ve had the time and head-space to really take it all in.

  • To study Scripture.
  • To meditate on the mystery.
  • To ponder God’s perfect salvation plan.
  • To revel and rest and rejoice in the Redeemer.
  • To wander into wonder and wondrous worship.
  • To thankfully think and thoughtfully thank my Saviour.

But why does this year feel so different to so many of my recent Christmases? Here’s why – I’ve got TIME! What I mean by that is that for the last 17 years I have been involved in full-time Christian ministry (I still am, you’ll be pleased to know!) But this is the first time in almost a decade that I haven’t had a CRAZY amount of Christmassy stuff to sort out – church events, outreach concerts, carol singing etc. on top of all the usual stuff like attending my kids’ school productions, visiting family, buying gifts etc. This year the only thing we’re involved in organising is an international carols event in our new community (more about that in a future post). And I’m doing a few preaches here and there. But I’m probably only doing about 25-50% of the amount of stuff that I am used to doing at this time of year.

And the result is that I have had time to actually enjoy Christmas. To study, meditate, ponder, revel, wonder and worship. But mingled with my enjoyment have been 2 strong thoughts that I want to share:

  1. SINCERE GRATITUDE for all those brothers and sisters who serve their socks off to make Christmas such a blessing – both for believers and the hordes of unbelievers who often attend church at this time of year. Christmas undoubtedly provides one of the best opportunities to impact our communities in the whole year and it is right to take that opportunity. So in all sincerity THANK YOU to all who are working and will work so hard this Christmas time. I pray that you will know great joy as you serve. But I also have another emotion rising up…
  2. LOVING CONCERN for all those who, like myself over recent years, might miss the beauty of the incarnation because they are just so busy. So rushed. So wrapped up in what they are doing for Christ that they neglect to focus on what Christ has done for them. And that’s where the true wonder of Christmas is to be found. After a marathon trek to Bethlehem Mary birthed the Saviour of the world in a cattle shed. And after a rabble of scruffy shepherds had gatecrashed the scene to worship her newborn baby, the Bible tells us that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2 v 19) In the midst of the glorious, mysterious mayhem of it all – Mary took time to treasure the true joy of Christmas – the birth of Jesus and the dawn of redeeming grace.

This Christmas, can I implore you to make the most of the opportunities that the season will provide to gather and to give, to sing and to serve, to praise and proclaim the good news. And of course spend time with family and friends wearing dodgy paper hats and watching the Great Escape (again!) But please, Please, PLEASE take time to remember what…or should I say who…it’s really all about! I know it’s a cheesy old cliche but Jesus IS the reason for the season!

Be sure to make space and take time to treasure Him this Christmas!

Blessinz!

Looking for 300 Prayer Warriors

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Dear friends, hope you are all doing well and starting to get in the mood for Christmas. We certainly are! Anyway, this is just a very simple email with a super simple request.

A few days ago I was chatting with an older, wiser Christian brother who has preached more sermons, planted more churches and learned way more lessons about life and ministry than I have! As I was sharing with him about the new gospel adventure that we have recently embarked on here in Cardiff, he laid down a challenge. It went something like this:

“Dai, what God has called you to do is going to be HARD! You need to get some serious prayer behind you. Why don’t you try to find 100 faithful saints who will commit to praying for you, Michelle, the kids and the mission every day?”

Well, as he was speaking I felt (a) compelled to respond to this wise and compassionate challenge; and (b) that I needed more than 100. In fact, as I thought and prayed about it further I have concluded that I should look for 300 brothers and sisters to commit to stand with us in prayer as we embark on this new mission.

Could you be one of them?

If so, we will commit to sending you regular news and prayer updates by email, as well as a simple prayer guide to help you to pray for different aspects of our ministry on a daily basis. We will also gladly commit to praying for you!

If you would be willing to stand with us as one of our 300 we would be so honoured, humbled and grateful. To ‘sign-up’ all you need to do is email “Count me in!” to daihankey@gmail.com and we’ll hook you up from there!

Thanks so much for you love and support. There are some crazy exciting adventures ahead and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Blessinz

Dai and Michelle and family.

FREEDOM DAY

Join us in Cardiff on Saturday 15th October to be a voice and make a difference!

We’ll be joining in the A21 Walk for Freedom before heading to the iconic Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay for where we will be raising awareness using street drama, followed by the Freedom Event inside the Pierhead building where we will be hearing from various people involved in standing against trafficking, praying for them and spending some time in sung worship.

Join us!

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Eric Says Sorry

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Hey guys, I am excited to announce that tomorrow my latest children’s book Eric Says Sorry is being released. Essentially this is a story that sets about introducing children to the concept of God’s grace and it is, I honestly think, one of the best and most important things I’ve ever written! After all, if our kids can grasp grace at a young age – they grasp one of the most precious jewels that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers to us.

You can listen to the story in the video below (recorded by a really rough looking guy who looks similar to me but has a shaggy beard and an eye infection). And if you like it you can order it from the Good Book Company here (and even post a favourable review if yer that way inclined!)

Enjoy.

Post-Sabbatical Reflections

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Tonight is the last evening of my first ever sabbatical that began at the start of July and ends in a few hours. It’s fair to say that A LOT has changed in the last 2 months:

  • I spent a week in the U.S (and got fat).
  • I trained for and cycled from Holyhead to Cardiff (and got slim).
  • I got to spend some quality time with my family (and got blessed).
  • We transitioned out of the church we planted 9 years ago (and got sad).
  • We reconnected with our sending church, Highfields (and got loved).
  • We moved from Pontypool back to Cardiff (and waged war on slugs – more on that in my next post).
  • We got 2 rabbits (one of which looks like Chewbacca – pictured above)
  • Our kids got a new school (as of tomorrow).
  • I pretty much stopped blogging!

But what I want to focus is on in this post is where I’m now at with ministry. To be honest I really wasn’t sure what 2 months ‘out of the game’ would feel like, or what effect it would have on me. It’s certainly the longest time I have not done any preaching in over 17 years and the longest I have not had to function in a church leadership position for the best part of a decade. So where does that leave me now as I’m about to dive back in to ministry?

For what it’s worth, here are my 2 overwhelming thoughts:

  1. I don’t NEED to be in gospel ministry
    It’s been so long since I wasn’t in full-time Christian ministry that until I took a step back I could neither remember or imagine what life as a ‘normal’ Christian was like. That was kind of a scary place to be because my ‘reality’ was one of preaching, serving, leading, living and giving as both a calling and a vocation. And I love this life – especially preaching – which is what I believe God put me on this earth to do. But as any gospel minister will tell you – it’s very easy for our identity, value and worth to be rooted in our performances as preachers, our effectiveness as leaders and our fruitfulness in ministry. And that’s certainly been true of me over the years – loving it when people tell me what a wonderful message I’ve preached and feeling crushed when people have rejected or criticised me.

    Which is why it was so encouraging that as I stepped out of leadership and stepped away from the pulpit I didn’t experience any of the withdrawal symptoms I expected. In fact I kind of enjoyed loving Jesus primarily as a disciple again. Studying the Bible for the sake of my own soul and the edification of my family rather than with a view to how well the stuff I was reading would ‘preach’. Praying more from a place of wonder and personal dependency than a place of pastoral obligation. Sitting with my wife in church for a WHOLE service – not just until one or both of us had to get up and minister in some capacity.It was so refreshing!And I guess what I’ve realised is that while I know that I have been gifted, called and anointed by God to preach his gospel and make disciples – I don’t NEED to do it. Now hear me right, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it – I know what my calling is and to do anything else would be rebellious and disobedient. But what I mean is that I am not primarily Dai the preacher. First and foremost I am Dai the disciple of Jesus – saved and made righteous by HIS works, not my own. Yes, I’m saved FOR good works, but they are not where my identity lies. My identity is in Jesus – the resurrected Christ.

    Furthermore, before being Dai the preacher I am called to be Dai the husband, Dai the dad and Dai the faithful member of the local church. These are all far more important callings than my personal ministry and if I were to neglect those things I would be a hypocritical preacher.

    So no, I don’t need ministry. I need Jesus. But by His grace I get to live and speak for Him, and so…

  2. I really WANT to be in gospel ministry!
    As I’ve stepped back from ministry and sought to press into Jesus, serve my family and purge myself of unhealthy ministry experiences and expectations, I have (especially over recent weeks) found myself getting more and more excited to step back into the ring. There have been 2 main reasons for this:

    i) Firstly, God’s Word has been getting under my skin again – encouraging me, shaking me, provoking me, reminding me that God still speaks powerfully and prophetically today. There have been several scriptures these last few months that have so stirred me that I have just had to share them with people. His Word is burning in my bones again!

    ii) Secondly, as we have moved into our new inner-city neighbourhood we have been excited by so much, but have also been greatly challenged by the scale of need all around us. As I have walked the streets and started to pray, often against the backdrop of sirens, idol worship, drug dealing and broken relationships I have been reminded again that the gospel of Jesus Christ truly is the ONLY hope for our world. And I have been given the privilege to seek to share that gospel and make disciples in this new context. What an honour!

So there we have it – my post-sabbatical reflections in a nut-shell. Please do pray for me and for our family as we step back into the fray. This coming week our kids start their new school and as myself and Michelle start to explore what this new church planting, gospel-ministering, disciple-making, community-impacting adventure is going to look like for us.

BRING IT ON!!