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.

The Water Cycle

I am blessed to live in a beautiful corner of one of the most beautiful places on earth. It also happens to be a great place for mountain biking as I can literally cycle from my back gate and be in the Brecon Beacons within minutes. Anyway, I have resolved this year to get out on my bike more…and then I came across this video!

This is MTB in Wales and it’s stunning.

Enjoy…

God is Faithful

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GOD IS FAITHFUL.

This is my testimony at the end of the most difficult year of my life.

It’s hard to put into words exactly how and why 2015 has given me such a kicking – but it would be fair to say that I have reached December 31st emotionally, physically, spiritually battered and exhausted. This year, more than any other, I have dwelt far longer in the valley depths than I have danced on the mountain heights. I have known more stress, wrestled with more doubts, shed more tears and known more fear and loneliness than at any other point in my life.

But I made it.

By God’s grace.

Because HE IS FAITHFUL.

God has proved His faithfulness to me in putting amazing people in my life, not least my wife, whose love, care and patient wisdom has blessed and helped me more than words can express. I have been blessed with a wonderful and supportive family, good friends and gracious leaders who have sought to guide and encourage  me throughout the year.

But all these people are in my life and a means of grace to me because my GOD IS FAITHFUL.

There have been multiple moments throughout this year when I honestly didn’t think I would make it to the end of the year sane or still in gospel ministry. Times when I looked in the mirror and didn’t even recognise the man looking back at me.

But I made it.

By God’s grace.

Because HE IS FAITHFUL.

God has also proved His faithfulness to me through His Word. I have battled to spend time every day reading the Bible, sometimes more out of discipline than devotion. And this year there have been more occasions than I can count when the dark clouds that I have felt gathering above my head were pierced by precious, powerful words of light from the Scriptures that delivered timely grace and sufficient hope for the day.

As I write this post on the last day of this year, and as I look forward to a year of unknown days and mysterious providences that lie ahead, I do so persuaded more than ever that I can’t do this alone. That I don’t have what it takes in and of myself. That I have nothing to offer anyone apart from Christ crucified.

But also utterly persuaded of this – that my God is unstoppably faithful.

And I can rest in that beautiful truth.

Happy new year guys!

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
– Lamentations 3 v 22-23