Month: September 2009

What Will I Leave Behind?

links in the chainYesterday was an emotional day for our family as we gathered at Cardiff’s Velindre Hospital to celebrate my mam’s 64th birthday. Unless mam’s health improves in a miraculous way, she probably won’t enjoy another birthday, so we knew we had to make this one special!

About a month ago my sister had a genius idea (that almost caused her to crash her bike!) She thought that while most people never get to say good things about those they loved until their funeral, we’d give as many people as possible their chance to let my mam know just what she had meant to them while she was still alive! What followed was a month of letter-writing, emailing and visiting to ask as many people as we could think of to pay their tributes to mam. We asked each of them to make their contribution on a slip of paper that would form a link in a paper chain that we would hang up by mam’s bed on her birthday.

The evening before her birthday I went down to my parents’ house to see how they were getting on with the chain. I was not prepared for what I saw – the entire dining table completely covered by paper links – some with good wishes, some with thanks, some with fond memories and some with prayers. Over 100 links that created a chain that was over 20 feet long with contributions from people whose gratitude for mam goes back more than 4 decades!

It was quite breath-taking!

Suffice to say mam was overwhelmed! She wept as she was wheeled into the special family room, was speechless as this 20 foot chain of grace was pulled out of its box, joined in with tears in her eyes as Michelle led us in singing “In Christ Alone” and broke out in a tearful, spontaneous prayer, thanking God for her family – all of whom are born-again and passionate about Jesus. It was awesome in the truest sense of the word – a beautiful Christian woman suffering greatly, yet finding hope in Christ and reasons to rejoice depsite her affliction:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8v18)

As I reflected on the most emotional birthday party I’ve ever been to, especially the paper chain, it struck me that mam can’t take anything with her when she finally passes away. Her pay-off, however, is Christ – and what more could she possibly want for eternity? (answer – nothing!) It got me thinking that we get to take nothing with us when we die, but we all get to leave something! Whatever kind of life we lived, we will all leave a legacy (either good or bad) and that is how we will be remembered. My mam who is the most gentle, humble, gracious and loving woman who I’ve ever known has over 100 links that represent over 100 lives that she has touched in a powerful and positive way. Some spoke of her example as a Christian, some of her dedictated service as a teacher, some of her faithfulness as a friend and some of her role in their salvation.

By God’s grace mam’s legacy is amazing – and I know she would want God to get all the glory for it!

The question for us is what kind of legacy will we leave?

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Beautiful Words From A Beautiful Woman

wordsToday is a very special and poignant day for me and my family. It’s my mam’s 64th birthday! It might be her last. As many of you are aware, mam has been battling cancer for more than 4 years now. She’s a beautiful Christian woman and the grace, courage and tenacity she has shown throughout these difficult years has been both a blessing and an encouragement to many, not least me! Over the last month or so, however, she has become quite seriously ill as the cancer has returned for the fourth time.

Just a fortnight ago, she wrote an article for her church magazine explaining her strong confidence in the sovereignty of God, who she loves so passionately. The next day her health started to deteriorate to such an extent that she was taken into hospital, where she still remains. We don’t know when, or even if, she will come out.

When I went to visit her on Thursday I was able to hold her hand, share some scriptures and pray with her. It was one of the most sacred moments I think I’ve ever experienced as the Holy Spirit drew close in a very real and very special way. During this time she told me about the words she had written for the magazine and asked me to pray that God would use them for His glory. Obviously I did and with my dad’s permission I have posted a copy of her words here. I pray they will bless you:

“From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny”

These lines from Stuart Townsend’s lovely hymn remind us that as Christians we acknowledge God’s sovereign guidance over the whole of our lives. But there are some pivotal points when He guides us to make decisions which have far-reaching consequences.

When I was 17 I reached a crisis point when I was desperate to find God for myself, but I really didn’t know where to turn for help. In September a new girl joined our 6th form, full of how God had changed her life that summer. I knew with certainty that God was pointing me to her. Through her testimony and help in studying the Scriptures, Monica led me to the Lord and I was baptised.

Then to college in Aberystwyth – and what a blessing that proved to be! There I found close Christian fellowship and sound Biblical teaching, and there too I found Barry (or rather, he found me!) We were married in 1969, so have just celebrated 40 precious years together, with all the blessings those years have brought.

On the recommendation of Christian friends, the Lord led us in 1975 to Ebenezer, which has been our spiritual home ever since. It is here that David (Dai) was baptised, having been converted in Bala camp, and here that Ruth, who had quietly been going her own rebellious way ,unexpectedly “decided” to come to chapel with us one Easter Sunday morning, collapsed in tears during the sermon and was soundly converted. Praise God that we can trust Him not only to guide our own steps, but our children’s also.

Then in May 2005 came the unexpected diagnosis of my ovarian cancer. A sudden decision had to be made – should Barry finish work or not? He knew immediately, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he should, in order to be able to support and care for me during the unpredictable times ahead. The wisdom of that decision has been reinforced time and time again He was there to look after me after the initial operation and through the following 4 years of hospital appointments and chemo sessions. We have been able to enjoy precious, unhurried time together and welcome the arrival of 2 lovely grandchildren.

We have been overwhelmed by the love and support of so many. And now, as the cancer runs its course, we face the future together, with the peace of God in our hearts and with joy and hope, knowing that our times are in His hands, and the best is yet to be.

Happy birthday mam.

I love you so much!

X

Pray For The Park

central parkWhen we moved into our home here on the estate, we did so knowing that right in front of our house was a huge, two-tier playground that had been derelict for over a decade. What we didn’t realise was that if we wanetd to take our kids to a local park, there were only 2 playgrounds left on the whole estate, neither of them were nearby and both involved walking back up long, steep hills. The shocking reality is that there are just 3 swings, 2 slides, a climbing frame and a see-saw for an estate of over 3,600 people (over a third of whom are under 16!)

Therefore, out of concern for both my own kids and the children of the estate I approached the council to ask if anything could be done to renovate the site outside my house and create a new play facility that would be a blessing to the local community. To cut a long story short, an action group was formed, of which I’m a member (representing Hill City Church), and Communities First took the lead in gauging public support and seeking to raise funds.

Well here we are 2 years on and the site looks just as run-down as it has done for years. However, today we have a very important meeting with the Big Lottery fund who have asked to meet us to discuss an audacious bid that we have made for over £170,000. Apparently we have made it through the first round (which is a good sign!) and they want to find out more about our project and what it will mean for the area.

Please pray that the meeting will be successful and that we will be awarded the money to deliver the play facility that this area so desperately needs and that the local kids so clearly deserve.

I’ll keep you posted on how things progress.

You can read more about the Central Park project here.

100th Post!

100OK so I just noticed that I was on 99 posts, so thought that seeing as I was about to pass a small milestone I would take the opportunity of using my 100th post to just say “thanks and God bless you” to everyone who has ever been bored/stupid/intrigued/supportive (delete as apprpriate) enough to read and comment on the Sanctifiedrant. It is humbling to know that God has used this blog to bless and encourage people and if you’re one of them then praise God.

I also thought I’d use this 100th post to give you guys the chance to have your say, so please feel free to post any ideas, suggestions, thoughts you might have about what you like or don’t like about the Rant. Are there subjects or issues that I cover that you’d like more/less of. Should I just keep doing what I’m doing?…Just wanted to let you have a say that’s all!

Anyway, thanks again for reading.

May God bless and inspire you.

Dai

Burkina Faso: Compassion Update

compassion thumbnailCompassion Sunday went really well. Particular highlights included some of our precious children and young people reading scriptures (very cutely) as part of worship, and the overwhelming emotion as people responded to the Compassion in Bolivia DVD (if you haven’t seen it, watch it here). Ask the church and they may just say that the fact I preached my shortest ever sermon (29 mins!) was also a highlight!!! However, what’s most important is that several more children were sponsored – so now around 15 of our 20 allocated children have been sponsored directly through Hill City and that’s just awesome!!

house-floodThese sponsorships will certainly come as a welcome blessing to children whose community has been absolutely devastated by the recent flooding in Ouagadougou. Tragically 9 of our Compassion kids are currently homeless due to the floods (including the little girl that my own family is sponsoring) and it is our prayer that through Compassion they will receive help and hope in Jesus’ name.

One last bit of news that’s frankly REALLY EXCITING is that we have had confirmation that myself and my co-leader James have been cleared to visit our partner Church in early January in order to meet the local pastor, see how we can help out as a church, and hopefully even meet the beautiful kids who we are privileged to sponsor!

I love this whole adventure!

Thank you Jesus!!

Beach Baptism Pics

OK so it’s a week after the event but I’ve just got hold of the first photos of last week’s baptism at the beach, so thought I’d post a couple up here, along with a quick report:

Basically it was one of the best days of my life, hearing the incredible testimonies of 3 such amazing people and then taking the celebration down to the beach where their very public baptism was witnessed by a core crowd of around 60, with hundreds of other beach users looking on (some even standing on rocks for a better view!)

The whole church pulled together brilliantly taking care of the cooking, the games, the towels and everything else that was needed (except for the numb-skull who gave everyone the wrong directions to the beach…oh that was me!!!) The baptisms themselves were so emotional and beautiful and the 3 guys all confess that it was an amazing moment for each of them. I think everyone who was there couldn’t help but me moved by such an inspiring day!

All in all an awesome day for both me as a pastor and for us as a church.

Here’s some pictures:

beach baptism09

Tweet, Tweet…

twitterHaving promised myself that I’d never get sucked in to the whole Twitter phenomenon, yesterday’s visit to the EA’s Symposium on engaging the 18-30 culture prompted me to think again. Therefore, in the name of staying connected with my generation and reaching out to the one coming up fast behind me I have set up a twitter account. If there are any other Twits who read this blog, feel free to find me @daihankey (the advantage of having such a stupid name!!) Alternatively, all my tweets will appear at the top right of the screen here at the Sanctified Rant so you can still stay up to speed with all I’m up to.

OK, I’m off to bed now. Tweet dreams…