Month: June 2012

Video: Acts 29 Western Europe

My mate Andy Toovey from 2V Design has knocked out yet another quality video. This time it’s profiling the church planting network that I am privileged to be part of – Acts 29 Western Europe. It does a great job in illustrating what A29WE is all about and why I love being part of the unfolding adventure.

Hope you enjoy it.

[vimeo 44856891]
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3 Beautiful Benefits From My Twitter Break

On Sunday I made the decision to take a break from Twitter. I had been considering doing this for a while (I generally do it at least once a year). The truth is, social media has been doing my nut in for a while now, so on Sunday I informed the Twitter world that I’m taking a break. I’m sure many tears were shed (not!) Anyway, I could use this post as an opportunity to bang on about the evils of social media, but I’m just not in the mood to be negative. Rather I’m going to use this post to highlight 3 very positive lessons that I have learned in the last 48 hours.

(more…)

Meet the Jones’…all 3 of them!

So in just a few months time, a journey that began on Twitter (of all places) will reach it’s conclusion as the wonderful Jones family make the huge, almost insane, move from the coast of Florida to the Welsh valleys. This journey has taken several years, 2 trans-Atlantic visits and A LOT of Skype-ing! Caleb and Crystal are coming over with a view to planting churches with us. More about that in future posts.

This post, however, is to simply celebrate the fact that they won’t be coming alone…

[vimeo 43613151]

Buzzin!

To find out more about the Jones’ and how you can support them here.

Reflecting on the Valleys Prayer Adventure

So how did the prayer adventure go down on Friday?

10 hours.

9 valleys.

14 intercessors.

1 rickety minibus.

Torrential rain.

Raging winds.

And A LOT of prayer.

The day started with prayer at my house. There were just 8 of us – but we were up for it. We prayed for Trevethin then legged up to Garndiffaith and prayed for the Tooveys and the fledgling church that has just taken root up there. Prayer for the eastern valley finished in Blaenavon before bombing across to the Western Valley where we prayed for the Revive mission taking place in Abertillery.

We then headed up to Ebbw Vale praying specifically for Hill Top estate, then over to Tredegar where we focussed our prayer on Cefn Golau (a very deprived community situated above Tredegar) that has no church witness whatever and is therefore high-up on my “Desperately needs a church plant” list. The guys were real troopers as they jumped off the bus and walked the streets, praying for the community, despite the shocking weather. They then jumped back onboard and we popped over the hill to Pontlottyn and the Rhymney valley.

It was as we journeyed on from there to Merthyr that the adventure started to really feel like an adventure. We took yet another treacherous mountain road en route to Merthyr and were in literally in the middle of nowhere when we arrived in possibly the most random village in the Welsh valleys – Fochriw! 35 years I’ve been a valley boy and never heard of this place (nor have you probably!) It’s a quite extraordinary, quaint, yet bleak little village that’s right on top of the mountain between two valleys and home to around 1,500 people. We concluded “surely there’s no church up here!” How wrong we were! We asked one of the locals if there was a chapel and he told us that we’d find it tucked up a side street near the chippy. So off we went to find it. And find it we did! And what a prophetic sight it turned out to be. There, at the top edge of a village that’s hidden away in the clouds above the Welsh valleys, was the Fochriw Pentecostal Mission hall. As we drew closer, we saw a something quite profound several sheep, cwtched up against the wall as they sheltered form the storm that was battering the mountain. We were stunned – what a picture of the gospel! That here in this tiny, largely anonymous backwater village was a gospel light that still shone – a place for sheep to shelter from the storm! We were privileged to pray for that chapel and grateful to God for the encouragement that while there is huge need in the valleys, there is also cause to hope!

From Fochriw we weaved our way over to Merthyr Tydfil where we hooked up with my good friend Dave Medlicott, from Sovereign Grace Church Merthyr, for a bag of chips. Dave was accompanied by a motley crew, including Scott and Rachel. Scott was a real character, converted from a gnarly background on the town’s notorious Gurnos estate. Rachel was recently converted from a similar situation on the Swansea Road estate. After our chips these guys joined us on the bus and acted as our “tour guides” as we prayed around Gurnos and Swansea Road. Some of the stories and situations we were praying into were truly heart-breaking and harrowing – drug abuse, violence, broken homes, murder, suicide and despair. At points many of us were close to tears as we cried out to God for mercy on those streets. However, unlike many of the places we had visited, we sensed real hope for Merthyr. These guys were on fire. They were the real deal – as Merthyr as they come, but clearly soundly saved, well discipled in a loving, gospel-centred church and SO passionate about Jesus! We left Merthyr challenged by the scale of need but ultimately encouraged that God has got his people in that town too!

We took the Heads of the Valleys Road across the top of the Cynon valley then ventured into the Rhondda via the back door (A4061). We made two stops in the Rhondda. First Penrhys, which at 1300ft is a crazy little estate that has long since been synonymous with poverty, though has seen a great deal of demolition and regeneration over recent years. Some of the guys found Penrhys quite oppressive and unsettling. The weather didn’t help, but of all the places we visited it was probably the most stark. We were encouraged that it had a tiny ecumenical chapel building there (newly refurbished) but to what extent they preach the gospel I couldn’t say.

We then moved south to the Rhiwgarn estate near Trebanog. This estate is close to my heart as many moons ago I was involved in running DJ workshops up there. This is another one of those estates in the clouds that has great need and absolutely zero church presence. We prayed for that community and from that high vantage point we prayed for the Rhondda valleys as a whole.

The clock was ticking (so were my eyelids by this point) so we swiftly made our way through Pontypridd to our final destination – Caerphilly. We had 2 very good reasons to be in Caerphilly:

1. Lansbury Park – a council estate that lies right at the heart of the town and that was last year declared to be the most deprived community in South Wales. Again, while there are some great churches in the town, there is no church whatsoever on that estate. Again, this need resonates with our vision at Hill City Church…so watch this space!

2. Costa – After 8 hours in the bus we all needed a strong coffee, so Costa was our last stop. As we drank we reflected on all that we had seen on our adventure – the challenges and the encouragements. There are 1.3million people living in the Welsh valleys and while there are gospel lights scattered across the region that continue to shine, things are spiritually bleak and there is still much to do! I challenged the guys to not only continue in prayer for the valleys but also to be willing to be an answer to their own prayers. I really believe that some of those guys will go on to to make Christ known in these precious valleys in the years to come. We closed in prayer and headed home – humbled, but expectant!

May these dry bones live again!

(You can read my friend, Tim Neale’s thoughts on the prayer adventure here.)

PS – Big thanks to our friends Alan and Margaret for supplying us with much-needed drinks for the day!

Valleys Prayer Adventure

We have brought the much-anticipated valleys prayer adventure forward by a day, so we are now looking at going this Friday (8th June).

The day is essentially all about 3 things:

  • Raising awareness of the scale of gospel-need that currently exists in the welsh valleys.
  • Praying for families, churches and communities across this beautiful, broken region.
  • Envisioning some of those who come to take a huge step of faith and be part of the solution.

While we won’t be able to cover every area of every valley in a single day, the plan is still ambitious. The day will look something like this:

09:30 – Coffee and prayer at my house in Trevethin

10:00 – Eastern Valley

11:00 – Ebbw Vale

11:45 – Sirhowey Valley

12:30 – Merthyr (inc. Chippy lunch at Sovereign Grace)

14:00 – Cynon Valley

14:30 – Rhondda Valleys

16:00 – Pontypridd

16:30 – Caerphilly

17:00 – Finish

I’m well excited about this prayer adventure. If you are able to jump aboard the minibus and join us for the whole day, great! If not but you fancy joining us for part of it, just drop me a line and we’ll try to hook up with you somewhere on the road! If you can’t make it at all, please make a point of praying with us for the Welsh valleys this Friday.

Blessinz.

Alive and kicking thanks to Steve Timmis

When I was a teenager I used to regularly go on adventures on my bike. I’d ride from my home in Pontypool out to Usk Island and then back home via Chainbridge. It was a 15 mile jaunt and it was smooth roads all the way. However, it was the furthest I ever cycled on my bike…until yesterday!

Yesterday, I made the most of the bank holiday and successfully completed a bike ride that I’ve wanted to do for years, but knew that it probably would have killed me. It was great to have my friend and co-nutter, James Richards, joining me with his running daps on (cos he’s insane!) Our missiont involved climbing from my house (900ft) to the White Stone at Garn Wen (1350ft), riding along the ridge to Blaenavon and up to Keeper’s Pond (1550ft) before climbing up to the summit of the Blorenge (1841ft). I then dropped back down to Keeper’s for a picnic with our families before descending to the floor of the valley and heading south to Pontypool (450ft) before climbing the steep hill back up to Trevethin. In total it was a 20 mile ride (the majority of which was mountainous terrain) and involved a total ascension of over 2000ft. I managed to do it in just under 3 hours riding time…and I was absolutely shattered…but totally elated!

However, I’m not sharing this to show off. I’m sharing this to say thank you to a good friend.

On October 19th last year (2011) I was having a coaching session via Skype with my friend Steve Timmis. Our coaching sessions were geared around the area of church planting, so I wasn’t really ready for Steve’s opening item on the agenda: “Dai, I was wondering if you’d like to join some of the other Acts 29 guys in trying to lose 7% of your body weight. We’re calling it Acts 29’s Biggest Loser!” Initially I was a bit taken aback “Is he saying I’m fat? Cheeky git!!” But the truth is that Steve had hit a raw nerve! That week I had jumped on my dad’s weighing scales and was shocked to realise that I weighed almost 16stone. That, coupled with the fact that many of my (large) clothes were starting to feel small and tight, meant that my weight and health were increasingly concerning issues. Which is why I’m grateful that Mr T was willing to speak up and speak into my situation, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” Proverbs 27:6)

So I accepted the challenge and then went away to try to work out how to lose almost 2 stone in weight. I knew from past experience that a blitz or binge mentality was not going to work, this endeavour needed to be sustainable. So I decided on 3 very simple action points:

1. Stop eating ALL snacks between meals.

2. Stop eating cereal before going to bed.

3. Start doing weekly exercise.

So that’s what I did. My exercise regime consisted of Fight Club each Wednesday night and one short bike ride each week on Monday afternoons. And it worked. I’m now weighing in below 14 stone (and still reducing) and clothes that used to be a squeeze are now hanging off me. I reached the 7% target several months ago – praise God! I’ve discovered that it’s great to have a personal target to aim for and a real achievement to reach that target. Goal setting is good! I haven’t felt this fit, healthy and up for anything in years. Similarly, I have found that the discipline required to train each week, as well as saying ‘no’ to chocolate and junk food has started to affect other areas of my life, not least my walk with God and my relationship with my kids. More energy, greater discipline and a happier home! I guess that bit of coaching advice was all about making me a better church planter after all!

And it’s all thanks to a friend who was willing to speak the truth in love.

Thanks Steve – I owe you one!