25 February 2013
God is on the move in south Wales
God is doing some surprising work in Wales. Two churches in deeply-contrasting areas are reporting significant growth and transformation.
Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire is a small market town in south-west Wales. Surrounded by lush farmland, stunning countryside and a dramatic seascape, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is an unlikely spot for revival. But you’d be wrong. Since the summer of 2012, the town’s Emmanuel Christian Centre & Church has witnessed dozens of conversions and baptisms, primarily through contact with the travelling community.
At the beginning of 2012, a few people from a gypsy background started attending the church’s Sunday meetings. Among them was a young couple who asked to be married in the church during July. A few days later the church’s pastor, John Welsby, received a phone call from a church leader in Lincolnshire who had heard about the proposed wedding.
This pastor worked extensively with the travelling community and news had reached him about the wedding. He asked if his team could host an evangelistic campaign in the church in the build-up to the ceremony.
The mission was held for three evenings during 12-14 June. Over the three nights of the mission and over the following days, 50 people responded to Christ. “The presence of Christ was so evidently real in these meetings,” said John Welsby. A few weeks later John baptised 32 people. The church was packed and the atmosphere was electric: “The presence of the Lord was so real that those standing outside in the street were also touched by the power of the Lord. They felt and heard a powerful wind that rushed down the street and up into the air. This was followed by stillness and a gentle rain.”
Referring to this dynamic period in the church’s life John said: “During the three-month period, June to August, I could hardly speak out publicly about all that was happening. The awesome power of God’s presence was so real that I could not put into words the experience and I did not want to “touch the ark” (1 Chronicles 13).
Beaufort is in Ebbw Vale, which lies high in the post-industrial valleys of south-east Wales. It is famous for its steel, rugby and MPs (Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot represented this town). But like many other areas, the past 30 years have not been kind to Ebbw Vale. High unemployment and social deprivation have scarred this proud and rugged town. But God is on the move. To be specific, He is doing great things in the village of Beaufort on the outskirts of Ebbw Vale.
After 18 months of regular prayer and fasting, Church on the Rise - a Baptist church, is seeing growth. Church numbers have doubled since the summer of 2012; from 35 to 70. And this growth is the result of working with some of the area’s most vulnerable families and individuals. About a year ago, the church opened a CAP (Christians Against Poverty) centre, working with about 30 families. A few are now already debt-free and a number of others are well on the way to financial freedom. In addition to good financial advice, the church has seen a number of these clients coming to faith as they experience the grace and love present in the church. In the build-up to the summer of 2012, Church on the Rise baptised 11 people and welcomes them into membership. A considerable number of others have come to faith and are waiting to be baptised. The church has outgrown its building and is now looking for a venue that will seat 350.
Senior leader Wayne Evans said: “I thank God for what He is doing among us and I believe it’s because we have been obedient to his call and sought his face in these matters. We have reached out to the helpless and hopeless and those in poverty and have experienced the blessings of God from this work as promised in scripture in Isaiah 58.10-14.”