Planting A Church On The Rock Of Desolation

When we planted Hill City Church 3 years ago it was always our intention to be a church plant that plants churches. Right from the outset we identified two other estates in Torfaen that we believe need a gospel preaching, light-spreading, love-incarnating church at the heart of the community. One of these estates was Garndiffaith in north Pontypool (‘Garndiffaith’ literally means ‘the Rock of Desolation’!) Over recent months myself and my co-pilot, James, have become increasingly convinced that God is telling us that now is the time for Hill City to step out in faith and plant a church on the Garn.

We’re in the very early stages of working this through and suffice to say there will be a lot more to report over coming months. However, this little video should give you some idea of where we’re at and what we’re up to.

If you’d like to know more, leave a comment below or get in touch with us through the Hill City website.

36 thoughts on “Planting A Church On The Rock Of Desolation

  1. AWESOME enthusiasm, love it and it is so obvious that the Holy Spirit is using you as a vessel to spread the light of the Lord. I pray that the Lord will find a way of also helping these people free themselves from poverty in this life too.
    God Bless you and your work.

  2. Well Dai, looks like you and James have great expectations for the further and a new type of church could provid many manners of services in a deprived community,i am told that the Evangelical Angelic church has had some growth in Wales, however attendances have dropped, a census around 1850 stated attendance of church/chapel to be 57% today well under 10%., although over 3 million people live in Wales. Society is changing and the church needs to find new ways to communicate.Many churches/ chapels have closed down, sold off, private residences or storage places Some are preserved for their historical interest, with many of the congregations most likely elderly,with no other place to worship so numbers have dwindled and lots will feel discouraged let down, sad that. So when you start up your church we pray it will be thriving and bring revial . I wish you well and i certain you find a few helpers.

  3. Keep your irrational nonsense to yourselves and leave my village alone. You really are deluded if you think the people of Garndiffaith will welcome you preaching idiotic archaic rubbish.

  4. The English translation of Garndiffaith is ‘Place where a heap of stones is of no faith’ not ‘Rock of Desolation’ – but I suppose I should expect that kind of error, when did the facts ever matter to you people?

  5. “Garn” means rock.

    “Diffaith” means ‘wilderness’, ‘barren place’ or ‘desolate wasteland’. My mother was a first-language Welsh speaker and is the one who told me what it means.

  6. Whatever the literal translation of the place name is, the essence is still the same, a place without faith or hope. The good news is Jesus offers solutions to both of these things.

    Dan, cut the guy some slack you might appreciate the reduction in crime and increase in prosperity that churches generally bring to the places they plant. You have nothing to fear it will be a church for the people. If the people don’t want it, it won’t work. If they do then it’s their right surely?

    Dai, keep on keeping on.

  7. I know a few people in the Garn who already welcome the idiotic, archaic Good News of Jesus! Guess that makes me deluded! Praise God for sanctified delusion!

  8. People will welcome it, religion is a powerful thing to people who are at the lower rungs of society. It gives the uneducated a sense of power and meaning. Whether it’s a delusion or not, none of us can say until we die. If it somehow enriches peoples lives who otherwise would have nothing then you should welcome it. I’d much rather have the above in my community than Psychic Sally telling my Auntie that her husband watching over her for a tenner!
    I would just say keep it about Jesus and don’t do what your American counter parts do and start that creationist nonsense as you then Dans claims become justified. But Dan don’t be a complete knob all your life you sound like a militant atheist!

  9. Wow, check my grammar out! What I should have written was “… Then Dan’s claims are justified…”

  10. “antitheistuk: you should meet Dai”.

    Yeah, Dai’s ok I suppose but..

    antitheistuk: you should meet Jesus!

  11. Just wanted to add a final comment on what has already become my most commented on post!

    Firstly, I massively appreciate all the love, support and encouragement that has been expressed regarding the Garn church plant concept. It means a lot, so thank you!

    Secondly, Dan, I want you to know that I’m not in the slightest bit offended by your comments and I appreciate that you weren’t fake or fluffy but real! I’d rather know where I stand with someone than have them smile to my face and cuss me out behind my back! Who knows, maybe one day we’ll meet in the Garn and we can have a coffee and a chat. Either way, I’m now praying for you and will continue to do so! God bless you.

    Finally, Stead, thanks for posting a supportive comment that genuinely made me laugh out loud and kept me smiling for the rest of the day!! We do thoroughly intend to keep it all about Jesus, though we also hold firmly to a creationist theology (please don’t take us off your Christmas card list!!) If you (or anyone else) would like to know exactly what we believe and why it matters, feel free to check out the Foundations teaching series on our website: http://hillcitychurch.org/sermons/alisten/foundations.php

    Thanks again guys.

    God bless the Rock!

  12. Dia, that’s why most people are offended by who see these churches come to their neighbourhoods. You believe these things to be real because it’s what you are told not from what you have learned like when we learn something about the world. If I read a book that said all trees have green leaves I know at first glance their seems no problem and I could just let that be. However we could test the statement by looking and we would see that it is only evergreens have green leaves. True statements can be tested and when you have somebody come into a community who statements are claimed to be the most important but which cannot be tested and the ones that can be can more often than not be shown to be inconsistent with the world.
    You accept creationism as an explanation for life not because you have tried to find an explanation for Life but because you interpret the Bible in such a way that you cannot allow for an evolutionary explanation. Many Christians, and people of other faiths, can do this comfortable and this also gives them more reason to believe in a god. I guarantee every belief you hold about Evolution Theory is inconsistent with what the theory (the term theory holds a very different meaning in science)actually says! Not only that I’m pretty sure that all your reasons for this is because of the way you gained an understanding.
    The traditional religions have no place in the modern world and just like when Jesus come to sort out the misunderstandings of the Old Testement somebody needs to do that again. The New Testement was written a lifetime after Jesus assented and I highly doubt it’s as accurate as most people would like it to be. Any body who holds creationists views in this day and age does not qualify, in my eyes, as a responsible logical person to give spiritual guidance (or any guidance really). To accept a creationist view means your either really ignorant or/and stupid or very out of touch with our achievments as rational beings. Either way, I wouldn’t want that for my community.
    Please if your church happens then I hope it’s only Jesus you teach about and keep it to adults and not children as id rather have a bubbled loose on the streets than a creationist, creationists do more harm to society!
    Rant over, LOL

  13. That’s ‘burglar’ not ‘bubbled’, damn word predicter! I need to stop blogging on the go as the above sounds worse in words when reading back.

  14. Stead, I personally believe that belief in a loving creator who has a plan and purpose for this world gives me far more security, far more value and far more dignity as a human being than the idea that I (along with everything and everyone else in existence) am nothing but the by-product of a cosmic accident! I’ve met countless scientists who ridicule me for what I believe and brand me ‘ignorant’ for ignoring the facts, yet have never met one who is smart enough to be able to give me a satisfactory scientific explanation for how something was made out of nothing! In fact, believing that we originate from ancient exploding gases is hard enough – but where did those gases even come from? There is NO satisfactory scientific answer to that – it demands a leap of faith (in the name of science) that is far greater than my faith in God as a creator!

    Mate, I don’t want this to be a major deal and perhaps it should be the subject of a different post (or even a cuppa if you live in South Wales!) However, if my creationist position has relegated me in your mind to a fool – so be it!

    Either way, God bless you bruv and thanks for your contribution to the discussion.

  15. I believe Carl Sagan said it best, “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
    As for scientist not being able to answer your question to a satisfactory mannor, well your asking a question that makes no sense! It is as pointless and meaningless as asking, “can you explain to me where and how the Universe came to be? If not then your explanation for [insert any well established scientific theory] is invalid in my eyes!” As it is Carl Sagan Day i’ll give another fitting quote, “In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” just because we haven’t yet figured out how the Universe came to be doesn’t mean we can’t explain, or learn about, how the Universe works. Just as you don’t need to explain where the first atom/s came from you can explain how an atom works and how all the rest of the atoms (they are made in stars) came to be.
    Holding onto bronze age beliefs which are counter active to established modern scientific theories is counter productive to human reaso, just because a book written at that time tells you to believe so! What makes it worse is that it’s just an interpretation and an interpreting that differs to other parts of that book. *I have* yet to here an explanation that is consistent with logic and reason for why Genesis should be taken literally and not Deutronomy *eventhough* Deutronomy is actual Law, a Law that God himself laid down! Will you be having weekly stoning lessons up the Garn too, or what about ‘How to kill your neighbour, friend or even son if they worship false gods’ lesson? We could easily find ourselves in a world where Christians are flying planes into buildings and blowing themselves up on London tube trains if we start telling the wrong young influential people to take the Bible literally! I prime example of this problem is an advert done by Answers in Genesis where a young boy holds a gun to the camera and fires it because according to AIG if evolution is true then why not!? Well as usual with AIG this is totally inconstant with evolution theory and very misleading to it’s audience. What if some young influential kid looses his faith and decides ‘why not!’ we have a young kid who thinks if God ain’t real and evolution says it doesn’t matter if we kill each other (it doesn’t it says the opposite).

  16. My question makes total sense – it’s essentially this – where do we come from? The ignition of gases doesn’t completely answer that question as there is no explanation for the origin of the gases. However, please don’t think that as a Christian who believes in a creator God I therefore disregard all scientific theory, practice and breakthrough. Far from it! Putting faith in God should never mean hanging your brain up at the door! Indeed there is a great deal that we can (and I do) learn from science. Interestingly, however, there are now large swathes of scientists (not all religious ones) who are gravitating towards an “intelligent design” theory of evolution – that there is a certain order and structure to the universe that points to a grand design(er). I’m not a science boffin so I won’t pretend to be able to explain it in any more depth than that, but it’s an interesting new perspective you might want to check out.

    Regarding stoning kids in Garn – I’d say there’s enough of them stoned up there already, without us getting involved LOL!!! Yes we take the Bible literally – even levitical law – but we do so from the perspective that Jesus came to fulfil, not abolish those laws. He was crushed for sinners so that they can be forgiven. Therefore, who are we to cast the first stone? (Jesus taught that in John 8!) A true, literal understanding of the Bible will never lead people to flying planes into buildings or pulling triggers, but into love, peace and grace. That’s where we land on it anyway! Certainly I think that most people who we’ve encountered in Trevethin would prefer to have this Bible believing posse of creationist Christians knocking round than the same number of burglars at large. Creation might part of my theology, but unconditional love, sacrifice, compassion and peace with God is my message!

    Is that so bad?

    You local by any chance? I’m thinking we need a coffee, not a blog!!

  17. Sorry Dia, your question doesn’t make sense. If I said to you that atomic theory isn’t valid because scientists can’t answer where atoms came from you *should* surely see that you don’t need to answer that first!??? Maybe you didn’t read a large chunck of my last post, where I explained the fallacy in this? Just because we can’t *YET* explain how the Universe kick started that doesn’t mean we can’t explain how life works and servives! Just as we don’t need to create a Universe to make a pie! Evolution theory is the explanation if how life survives, not how the entire Universe started, what started, how it expanded and how everything in it works! It’s a biological explanation for Life on this planet.
    As fir this swathe of scientists including non religious scientist working in an Intelligent Design theory well i’de love to hear where you got that info from! I.D is nor accepted by the scientific community in fact I.D is very very unscientific it’s just creationism in another guise Americans created to try and get creationism in the science class. A major scientific organisation in America activly has had to support descent court cases in the US to prevent the IDers slide in the back doors and the creationist book ‘Of Pandas and People’ has been proven to have had the word creation or creator replaced with design or designer. In science you cannot start with an unproved unproovable assumption (god/designer) the theory is invalid as it’s fundamental idea is unprovable and a theory has to be testable before you can call it a theory. So whoever told you this is either lying to you, or they got lied to themselves. I regulary by scientific journals and have read pretty much every scientific book on these subjects. Dia somebody is seriously misguiding about what is going on in science! It seriously think about changing your source!

  18. Jesus believed in creation.

    “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.'”(Mark 10v6)

    That is Jesus citing the Old Testament as well.

  19. The devil don’t care about having a church in Trevethin or the Garn, you can carry on with the singing & preaching, giving to charity.Until someone decide that they are going to take a stand for the Lord & start serving & praise the Lord above him, that’s when trouble comes. That is when the Devil will attack them and family members As long as we are doing nothing and just going through the motions of playing church, we are no threat to the devil at all.

  20. What an interesting video. I liked that Garndiffaith as a village was referred too as a ‘council estate’ – I’m sure this is in no way offensive to the residents. I suppose if you want to really highlight the desolation of the souls of this barren hamlet, next time you should film a crisp packet blowing in the wind. Metaphors work wonders, at least for the educated. Har har, little people.

    I’m sure my sarcasm is a ailment brought on through fear, so I appreciate that you, in response to this, will pray for my immortal soul. In the mean time, I’m off down the Co-op.

    Bye bye.

  21. Dear Dai,

    I have been interested to follow the videos posted by Hill City Church organisation. However, I think, along with a couple of other posters on this website, that you and Andrew Toovey have got your facts materially wrong.
    You both clearly have limited understanding of this valley, and of Garndiffaith. The Garn is a lovely little village, with a thriving community. They are not a deprived bunch of people; they have plenty of access to Churches, chapels, libraries, town halls etc. They even have buses and cars which can take them further afield!
    I have lived in this area for 10 years, and in the valley for 20, and I am appalled that you, as a Welshman, can have such little understanding and sensitivity towards your own people. The Welsh are proud, and hardworking, and those Welsh who do have a faith, have the opportunity to express it.

    One further thing: the slag heaps you start your video atmospherically on top of, are actually listed. This is because of the valley’s proud contribution to the Industrial Revolution.

    Please, please, before you start preaching to the “unreached”, make sure you don’t alienate, through ignorance, the poor people on the council estate.

  22. Sarah: Thanks for the sarcastic comment – I actually found it quite amusing. Hope you had fun at the Co-op. And yes, you can be sure that I will be praying for your immortal soul.

    Lizzie: Sorry you think I’m ignorant about this valley. Truth is I was born here, raised here and still live here. I also studied local history to A-level standard so trust me I do know it well. The slag-heap that you referred to is probably listed, in part at least, due to the efforts of my dad who worked as a local planning officer for Gwent for many decades.

    I’m not sure what facts I have wrong in your mind (I concede that to brand Garn a council estate is incorrect. I was unaware how much private housing there was in Garn at the time I shot the vid.) Please let me know what they are.

    I’m aware that not ALL people up there are deprived – but many are – I know them personally! In fact I still remember the headlines when I was a teenager when local vigilantes rose up from within the community to deal with anti-social young people because the police wouldn’t! I agree that there is a tremendous community spirit in the Garn – but to claim that it is without its problems is wrong.

    You say that locals have plenty of access to churches, but I have to disagree. As far I can tell there is now only 1 small chapel left on the Garn? In fact when I bumped into an elderly lady in a chip-shop recently (she lives on Stanley Road) she was lamenting the fact that her local church had just closed its doors (St.Johns) and that she had been advised to attend the Anglican church in Blaenavon – something she is unable to do as (like many others) she has no transport! She was very excited to hear our plans and asked us to let her know when we were up and running.

    You might also be interested to know that this church plant hasn’t come out of the blue. It has arisen from conversations that we have had with local Christians who live on the Garn and who eagerly desire a fresh expression of church on their patch, so that they haven’t got to travel for miles each Sunday to attend church in an area that is not their own.

    I am genuinely grateful for your comments and for the gracious way you have expressed them. I pray that God will bless you.

    Dai

  23. Its estimated around 82.000 people live in Torfean,and the majority of its areas are more deprived than the Welsh average. I live in the Garn and i have a lot of good neighbors, and a few good shops.
    Church planting can be very problematic, and its a must i believe to have tried and proved ideas, and the guidance of God that the planter truly believes in. Just because it has worked well in one area doesn’t guarantee success in another. The planter can have all the information and it may still fail, but if the planter gets the timing right then its a great chance of immediate success to serve God and the community,..let the foundations be strongly laid..ezra 6-3.

  24. As a person who used to live up the garn, I know that it is deprived and doesn’t have a lot for people.
    I believe that planting a church could benefit so many people in so many ways. At the moment there is nowhere for people to go and share their beliefs and maybe if there was then people would be more open minded!
    Going to church has helped me to understand what life is really all about and helped me to cope with lifes difficulties, I don’t think anyone should pass judgement on the unknown which I know as GOD- who loves US.

    Were praying for you guys!

  25. i should start with photos from an undiscovered dolmen in trevethin do you believe in ghosts i have over a hundred photos if you go to youtube or myspace print kingarthwys in one word you and see real spirits from a ancient world we are decendants of the silures tribes celts who where pagans christen romans who came and changed the landscape bye draining the land to the banks of the seven pontypool was once a avon ense blaenavon end of avon trevethin was on the banks of the avon the english have hiden the facts bye changing the name of the river to afon trevethin is a silures stronghold and could possible be avalon and christains start wars since the crusaids to the modern days the bible is a story my friend if there was any truth init jesus must of been a magican to walk on water split seas feed thousands with a loaf of bread and a fish turn water into wine and come back alive after death its a load of tosh when you christains came to ower lands you killed our poeple because we didnt beleave. it a shame your spreading the word of god you really should listen to edutainment krs1 as your in to rap

  26. Gemma by opening an evangelical church and hoping that it would open peoples minds is like saying if we paint the walls black it should brighten up the room. Any form of fundamentalist belief requires you ditch the concept of open midness. Any evangelical Christian would dismiss any evidence or reasoning that could disprove any claim in the bible, they have to. The biggest example of this is the theory of biological evolution and the rejection of it by all evangelical Christians.

    Lyndon, WOW! what is that!? It just looks like a whole lot of words randomly placed in a box. Clearly Hill City Church pisses you off but if you want to let them know your gonna have to learn when to use a full stop and a commer.

  27. Dawin theory of evolution was just that a theory to explain biological diversity.
    No reason you can’t be a christian and still believe in evolution, it up to the scientist to work out how the creator,(God) carry out his work.
    Scientific evidence for biological evolution does not make one an atheism. Just because you believe in evolutionary science why should it compromises peoples faith in the creator( God), because of science, are we not discovering the wonders of the creators (God’s) miracle in His creation,finding more and more about the universe and all things we know love and value, its nothing to fear, in fact it should be celebrated finding out these wonders of the creator (GOD) Well that is my theory and opinion but I’m not so smart as Darwin.

  28. Al I agree with what you’ve said regarding evolution/atheism however you’ve also just proven my point in regards to close minds. But incase I’m wrong let me ask you a few questions:
    1. Do you believe it is possible that the Bible is not the work of God but the work of man?
    2. Can you imagine a Universe without a God?
    3. Are you open to the idea that your religious beliefs totally wrong and that it would be possible to prove this to you?

  29. Gareth, without going into a debate i will reply
    Q1., The bible was inspired by God, although He did not need a holy book it was a guide on life,written yes by men, so therefore its may not be perfect,God uses man for his purpose but allows us a freewill.
    Q2. A divine creative force at work, an intelligent design by the creator,(God) makes scientific sense to Christians.We need the creator of the universe.(God)
    Q3.I firmly believe in a life after this one, and have reason to say so. The existence of the paranormal support the existence of God, i believe.
    For years people have being searching the skies looking for E.T who would have to be far more intelligent than us, yet many reject the existence of a supreme creator.
    God.I myself do not attend Hill City church, my wife does in fact i don’t go to a church, but will i go to, what is called Heaven, but not for a fews years on hopes.
    Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God,…luke 12-8.

  30. Those answers are very politician’esque. From what youve said estentially
    1. No
    2. No
    3. No
    And you say the existence of the paranormal as if your talking about the existence of trees! What paranormal? That statement holds no water at all. Also ET wouldn’t necessary being far more intelligent than us. Even if ET visited us it still wouldn’t mean that, he/she/it could just have access to a far more efficient fuel source and have been around much longer than us and therefore have learned something we don’t yet know. Many people reject a supreme creator simply because it makes no sense from a objective point of view. Although I am open to a “Supreme Creator” i think it highly improbable it to be the same idea as an actual god.
    This is turning into a debate about the existence of God when the point I’m trying to make is that religious fundamentalist do not encourage open debate or free thinking (open mindedness).

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