Through the eyes of a child

On Saturday the Hankey family went to the cinema in central Cardiff. After the film we hurried back to the car along St Mary Street in two units – me and the girls in one, Michelle and the boys in the other. As we dashed though the drizzle we passed several homeless guys sat on grubby blankets in doorways seeking shelter from the elements. Having spent many years in Cardiff this sight was nothing new to me, so I just walked on by as quickly as possible in a bid to get the kids back to the car before they got too cold and miserable.

But that’s when Anastasia spoke up:

“Daddy, why aren’t we helping those men?”

I was stunned to a standstill.

“What’s wrong?” Asked Michelle?

“Ana wants to helps those homeless guys.” I replied.

“Yeah, Ezra just said the same thing!” She replied.

So after a brief family street conference we decided that we should offer to buy the men a hot drink each, and Ezra accompanied me to go and take the order, which I phoned through to Michelle and the others in a nearby Costa. I then went with the kids as they delivered the drinks to the grateful guys. It was a beautiful moment,but one that I have to confess challenged me deeply!

Why did it take the intervention of my 5 year old twins for that to happen?

I mean I had seen the same men as they had just seen. But whereas my instinct had been to rush on by, theirs was to reach out and help. My response was the most cost effective – we could have saved time and money if we had just passed by. Their response was more costly…but certainly more compassionate!

Now I know that historically I have not generally been indifferent to the poor. Indeed much of my  ministry has involved a great deal of serving the impoverished and the downcast. And certainly when I was younger and less time-pressured I’d regularly take time to sit with, eat with and pray with the homeless in Cardiff and beyond. But not on Saturday. In fact the truth is – the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Why not?

  • Have I got cynical about helping the homeless over the years.
  • Have I lost sight of the world beyond my immediate family and their needs.
  • Do I deep down feel the need to protect my kids from the realities of the streets?
  • Is there a lack of love in my heart towards other people right now?
  • Am I just too busy?

To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s any, all or some of the above. All I know is that I have much to be thinking and praying about (and probably repenting of!) And as we begin our new gospel adventure in the inner city of Cardiff, I thank God that He has blessed us with beautiful kids whose eyes are open to the broken world around them, and whose hearts are soft and courageous enough to dare to believe that they can, and should, do something about it!

Father, forgive me for being so cold-hearted, bitter, cynical, busy and selfish that I don’y always see the opportunities that you surround me with to make Christ known in this broken world. Please forgive me for the times that I have modelled the example of the Priest and the Levite more than the good Samaritan to my family. Thank you for the lesson you have taught me this week through the faith and kindness of my precious kids. Please bless them. And please give me the grace to once again see the world through the eyes of a child. For your glory. Amen.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus

Riding Wales for Human Trafficking

 

unnamed-2Hey guys next week I’m attempting something kinda crazy and would really appreciate your prayers and support.

Riding Wales for Human Trafficking is a 4 day bike ride across Wales from Holyhead to Cardiff that will include several awareness events along the way (including Barmouth, Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff Bay). We (myself and a small team of mad-heads) are doing this ride to raise awareness about human trafficking and modern slavery, and to raise financial support for IJM.

This might not sound like the biggest challenge in the world, but trust me, it’s going to be a big challenge for me! Until a few months ago the furthest I had ever cycled was 15 miles (as a teenager), so to cover that kind of distance is going to be hard graft. However, while it’s been a crazy season for our family with the house move etc., I have been blessed to be able to get out on my bike quite a bit over the last few months and am therefore in more likely to make the distance than I otherwise would have been.

Anyway, I’m posting this to ask if you would consider sponsoring me and the guys. All money raised will go straight to IJM and will be put to very good use! If you would like to support us financially you can do so here.

If you would like to come to one of our awareness raising events they are taking place at the following locations and we’d love to see you:

Thursday 25th (7:30pm)
Barmouth Elim Church, Barmouth

Saturday 27th  (7:30pm)
Hope Church, Merthyr Tydfil

Sunday 28th  (6pm)
Costa, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay

If you’re interested and are on Strava you can check out some of the training rides that I’ve been doing.

Blessinz dear people. See you soon.

Dai

A New Chapter for the Hankey Family

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Sunday was a VERY emotional day for the Hankey family as it was our last Sunday in Hill City Church, at least for quite a while.

From July 1st I will be taking a 2 month break from ministry (I believe the posh word is ‘sabbatical’) and when that break is over, by God’s grace, we will be living in a different home, in a new city, with a fresh adventure ahead of us. It’s the first such break that I have taken in almost 17 years of full-time ministry, and to be honest, it’s much needed!

The last 18 months have been the toughest of my life and I’d be lying if I said that they haven’t taken their toll emotionally, spiritually and physically. Not surprisingly I have been encouraged to take a sabbatical by friends and leaders who have walked this challenging season out with me (and for whom I am so thankful to God for!)

Preparing to move back to Cardiff to plant a new church in the inner-city was always going to be a daunting prospect and less than 4 months ago it seemed like an impossible dream:

  • Hill City Church had been reduced to having only one serving elder – me!
  • There was no sign of a house in Cardiff that was suitable for our family.
  • Not only did we have no school places for our kids, we were told that we were bottom of the list as we didn’t have a Cardiff address and that we had twins in the most over-subscribed year group.
  • Personally I was floundering, confused, emotionally drained and (probably) depressed.

But 4 months on I am able to write this and testify that God has been unimaginably faithful to us and His grace unfathomably sufficient for us. In the space of a few mind-blowing weeks in April it all changed. I want to share something of the story as, frankly, it’s gloriously encouraging…

I had told Michelle that I didn’t think we would get any clarity on the move to Cardiff until the leadership situation at Hill City was sorted out. Therefore you can imagine our joy when, the day after announcing the 4 new elders who were going to be inducted at Hill City, a house came on the market in Cardiff. And not just any house – this one had briefly been on the market last year and was the only house we had seen that Michelle had been taken with. Naturally we booked a viewing and, long story short, that house will soon be our new home!

Buzzin!

And you can also imagine our shock and amazement when a week later we had a phone call from Cardiff admissions to say that we had places for all 4 kids in our first choice school! It really is a miracle!

On personal level, while I’m still very much aware that I’ve had the spiritual snot kicked out of me this year, right now I am honestly in better shape than I have been for a long, long time. I’m so thankful to have handed the church on to 4 godly elders who are now in place and, I am convinced, are the right guys to lead the church forwards.

Furthermore, the outpouring of love and goodwill that the saints of Hill City have heaped on us as we prepare to move on has blessed us beyond measure. We were given many incredible gifts at our leaving lunch on Sunday, but for me the greatest gift was the gracious way that our church family have released us for the purpose of mission, despite the obvious sadness that departure brings. Gospel goodbyes are so much better than grievous goodbyes!

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, I can honestly say that for the first time I am truly excited for the move to Cardiff and the new church planting adventure that lies ahead.

Faith is rising for the next chapter (more about that in a future post).

The Sabbatical

So what will the next few months look like for me/us as I take this ministry break.

  • The kids will be finishing school here in Pontypool.
  • We will be visiting friends and churches that we haven’t been able to visit for ages.
  • We will be praying and dreaming together as a family.
  • We will be moving house.
  • I will be reading lots of books.
  • I will be writing poetry.
  • I will be riding my bike (to prepare for this crazy ride in August).
  • I will be heading to the USA for the Acts 29 pastor’s retreat in Longbeach, CA.
  • We are not having a family holiday this summer so will arrange lots of fun day-trips.

Friends, please do be in prayer for our family and for the community and mission we are about to step into, and for Hill City Church and the new leadership team. Thanks so much for your ongoing love, prayer, support and encouragement.

Blessinz.

Redemption Conference

Next Saturday we (Red Community) are hosting our first ever Redemption Conference in Cardiff. We have a great line up of speakers and practitioners who together will be exploring what a gospel-centred response to human trafficking and slavery looks like. If you are free it would be wonderful if you could join us. You can book tickets here.

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Word Alive 2016

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Hey guys, just a quick post to ask for your prayers. This weekend I am privileged to have been invited to attend the Word Alive event in North Wales. I am only there for a day but will be doing A LOT while I am there. The stuff I’m going to be involved with will include:

Story Time: 2 separate slots of reading books to some of the little kids, including Eric Says Thanks.

Red Community: 2 separate slots in the morning celebrations to share about the work of Red Community.

Seminar: leading a 70 minute session in which we will seek to explore how we as God’s people in the UK should respond to the refugee crisis.

Evening Celebration: Preaching in the evening celebration on the second “I am” saying of Jesus “I am the bread of life” from John 6. (You’ll be able to watch a livestream of the evening celebration on Word Alive’s YouTube channel).

I feel really humbled and honoured to be involved and in all sincerity would appreciate your prayers.

Blessinz.

Red Alert

RED Alert homepageHuman trafficking is happening in Wales.

Right here.

Right now.

It’s well over a year since I managed to secure a significant sum of money from Gwent Police’s Partnership fund to make a series of short films that raise awareness about trafficking and modern slavery in Wales. Well, after a lot of hard work alongside the good people of TorFilm I am delighted to announce that Red Alert is now officially released!

Red Alert is a teaching resource that revolves around  3 short films that are based on actual events that have happened in Wales. The films are further complemented by introductory videos, a next steps video and a film that explain the gospel roots that lie beneath all that Red Community stands for. We are getting 1000 DVDs of Red Alert pressed in order to give copies to every high school and college in Wales, as well as churches, youth groups etc too. The content is all freely available for viewing and downloading online too. You can find it here:

Please do check it out and let us know what you think.

Blessinz

Am I worth following…?

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I woke up early this morning and was promptly greeted with a beaming smile and a huge hug from my 5 year old son, Ezra.

“Dad, can I take Cassie out with you this morning?” he chimed.

“Course you can!” I replied.

The weather was predictably murky and so we put on our waterproofs and wellies then headed out together into the wind and freezing rain with the dog.

“I love taking the dog for walks with you, dad!” chirped Ezra.

“I love it too Ez.” I replied. “It’s nice having a mate to walk the dog with on mornings like this.” 

“Yeah, I’m your dog walking mate aren’t I dad?” exclaimed Ezra.

“You sure are!” I replied.

We continued on with our walk chatting and praying as we went.

“What are you having for breakfast, dad?” inquired Ezra.

“Weetabix fella.” I replied.

“Dad, I want Weetabix for breakfast too!” blurted Ezra.

“But you don’t like Weetabix Ez!” I replied.

“But I want the same breakfast as you!” enthused Ezra.

“OK then.” I replied.

When we got home we went upstairs to get ready for the day.

“Dad, can I use the same toothpaste as you today?” asked Ezra.

“It’s the blue one Ez, it’s quite strong.” I replied.

“I don’t mind, I want to use the same toothpaste as you.” insisted Ezra.

“Alright then fella.” I replied.

I put the blue toothpaste on both our toothbrushes and passed Ezra his. I then started brushing my teeth. As I looked down I noticed that Ezra’s gaze was fixed on me and he was copying my every move. When I scrubbed side-to-side, he scrubbed side-to-side. When I brushed up-and-down, he brushed up-and-down.

And that’s when it hit me – he’s mimicking my every move!

He’s observing.

He’s learning.

He’s copying.

That’s what kids do.

And that’s terrifying!

I mean, it’s not only my taste in breakfast cereal and toothpaste that I’m passing on.

  • It’s my words, my values, my passions and my priorities.
  • It’s the way I relate to my wife, the way I talk about others, the way I use technology and the way I spend my time and my money.
  • It’s the integrity of my faith, my attitude to church, my commitment to prayer, my devotion to Scripture, my appetite for mission and how I treat those who are different to me.
  • It’s how I suffer, how I celebrate, how I sabbath and how I serve.
  • It’s my whole, uncensored life that I’m putting on display to my kids.

Like I said – that’s terrifying.

But it’s also incredible!

In 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 1 Paul urged the Corinthian disciples:

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Paul was confident that as he followed Jesus he would be living a life that was worthy of imitation. Not because he was perfect, but because the One he followed was perfect. Not because of his faith alone, but because of who alone his faith was in. Ultimately Paul knew that it wasn’t him but his Jesus that the Corinthians needed to follow. But he got the privilege of putting Jesus on display to a watching world.

Like I said – that’s incredible!

So I guess the challenge for me is to live a life worthy of imitation. To faithfully follow Jesus, and by doing so to commend Him to my kids.

  • To preach and to demonstrate the gospel.
  • To be gracious, merciful, compassionate and encouraging.
  • To speak the truth in love.
  • To cherish their mother, honour the covenant of marriage and embrace family.
  • To lead them in prayer, to guide them through Scripture, to include them in church, to involve them in mission, to walk by faith and not by sight.
  • To set the bar for my daughters on how they should expect to be treated by men.
  • To set the bar for my sons on what it means to be a man.
  • To have fun, enjoy life and laugh as much as possible.
  • To weep, mourn and grieve yet not as one without hope.
  • And when I screw up – to model repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness.

Today, it was all about toothpaste and cereal. Tomorrow it might just be about truth and salvation.

Father, please grant my Your Holy Spirit to enable me to live a life that magnifies Your Son so that by my example the little flock I lead might look to You and live. Amen.