Category: Family

Looking for 300 Prayer Warriors

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Dear friends, hope you are all doing well and starting to get in the mood for Christmas. We certainly are! Anyway, this is just a very simple email with a super simple request.

A few days ago I was chatting with an older, wiser Christian brother who has preached more sermons, planted more churches and learned way more lessons about life and ministry than I have! As I was sharing with him about the new gospel adventure that we have recently embarked on here in Cardiff, he laid down a challenge. It went something like this:

“Dai, what God has called you to do is going to be HARD! You need to get some serious prayer behind you. Why don’t you try to find 100 faithful saints who will commit to praying for you, Michelle, the kids and the mission every day?”

Well, as he was speaking I felt (a) compelled to respond to this wise and compassionate challenge; and (b) that I needed more than 100. In fact, as I thought and prayed about it further I have concluded that I should look for 300 brothers and sisters to commit to stand with us in prayer as we embark on this new mission.

Could you be one of them?

If so, we will commit to sending you regular news and prayer updates by email, as well as a simple prayer guide to help you to pray for different aspects of our ministry on a daily basis. We will also gladly commit to praying for you!

If you would be willing to stand with us as one of our 300 we would be so honoured, humbled and grateful. To ‘sign-up’ all you need to do is email “Count me in!” to daihankey@gmail.com and we’ll hook you up from there!

Thanks so much for you love and support. There are some crazy exciting adventures ahead and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Blessinz

Dai and Michelle and family.

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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

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.

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.

Rainbows

Folly Rainbow

I took this photo on the Folly Ridge last week (click the photo to see it enlarged). In all seriousness, the photo does not even remotely do justice to the sheer intensity of this rainbow – it was probably the most spectacular rainbow I have personally ever seen!

Rainbows have been incredibly significant for myself and Michelle on our church planting adventure here in Trevethin. Neither of us will ever forget the impact that one rainbow in particular had on us back in 2007. It was the day that we were moving from Cardiff into our new home on Trevethin estate. We were travelling along with our then one year old daughter in a car bursting with belongings and hearts full of both faith and fear. We were so excited and so daunted. So expectant and so out of our depth. We were leaving family, friends and all that was familiar behind us and driving full-force into the next chapter of our life.

It was as we driving down the dual carriageway from Croesyceiliog to the bottom of New Inn that we saw it – a huge, bright, shining rainbow that literally straddled the valley from the Western side to Trevethin in the east.

It was stunning.

Glorious.

Prophetic.

We wept and prayed as we drove into “the Land of Promise” grabbing God’s covenant promise with both hands as fresh faith started to rise. And there have been dozens more rainbows along the way. They’ve showed up in hours of hardship, times of trouble and seasons  of suffering. Each time God graciously reminds us of His great mercy and enduring faithfulness.

This latest rainbow was especially poignant because it stretched above the Folly Tower – the place where I asked Michelle to be my wife almost 13 years ago, and where she crazily said yes! It reminded me yet again that God is faithful for both the mission He called us to and the marriage He has blessed us with. I find great comfort in the fact that even though we are so often faithless, He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself.

Thank you Lord!

“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9 v 12-17)