Bala Ministers conference

I have just returned from the EMW (Evangelical Movement of Wales) Bala Ministers conference at Bryn-y-Groes. The theme this year was “the Glory of Jesus Christ in His Person and Work”.

Stephen Clark gave the three title addresses, Andy Pitt spoke on our identity in Christ, Lindsay Brown on Calvin the missionary, Mark Barnes on the current views held by non believers, Adrian Brake preached on the life and Ministry of William Williams, Pete Campbell lead the prayer meetings and I spoke on Tuesday evening on what God can do with a little oil (2Kings4).

I do not wish to go into too much detail regarding the programme, just to say that it was well thought out with a real concern for the current needs of the delegates. I was greatly encouraged and stimulated by the content. As a speaker, I stuck out like a sore thumb among such titans of the EMW (Evangelical Movement of Wales).

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I do not wish to elaborate anymore on the programme for two reasons.

  1. I scribbled so many notes down that this review would soon turn into an essay if I went any further.
  2. I feel it helpful to distance the programme from the conference, because as good as it was (and it was excellent), it is the other attributes that make the three days truly special.

There are many conferences that offer the high level seminars akin to those expected at the Bala Ministers. They are all well organised, valuable and of course offer great discounts on books! However, the Bala Ministers conference is unique! For reasons you can only understand if you come! Yes, it shares in all the benefits of the aforementioned learning but it was packaged in a gentleness and sincerity that I had not experienced elsewhere.

The prayer meetings were fully attended each morning; the more academic material was not coldly presented but given in the love of Christ, the discussions (that included strong rebukes and challenges) were shared in a spirit of unity.

This was more than just a conference; it felt like a family reunion, young and old gathered together from all different circumstances, some had been coming for decades, others were there for the first time, but we all loved each other as brothers in the Gospel.

I shared meals with men who will go down in church folk law as bastions of the faith, I discussed philosophy and theology with leading and respected academics (embarrassingly asking them to sign copies of the books I purchased after the discussion), I enjoyed coffee with young prodigies set to take on the mantle for tomorrows church. We were reminded of old truths, and given new ideas to meet the needs of a changing world.

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This week battle weary brothers had fun together, we enjoyed each other’s company, we walked, we debated and we relaxed in the idyllic setting of Bala lake.

We were all cared for so wonderfully by Gwydion, Catrin and the team at Bryn-y-groes, they truly are called to serve in such a way. The food was tremendous, you could almost taste the love that went into its preparation. Nothing was too much trouble for them to ensure our stay was as comfortable and beneficial as possible. Thank you!

In conclusion

You can pay for the Carson’s and the Keller’s, you can hire out a room, book a hotel and prepare a programme. The content will be good, and the time worthwhile. But what other conference do not give you is the spirit of love, care and gentleness that I received from Bala Ministers this week.

We were not professionals meeting, we were broken men seeking our saviour and He came and met with us and bound us together in love.

By God’s Grace I hope to see you all next year!

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence,  nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

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Pray for Manchester 

The world is calling us to #prayformanchester in light of the atrocities – and as Christians we must! 

Many have woken up this morning having to face the loss of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins and friends. Your neighbours may not be directly affected but are scared, anxious and distraught by such awful events. We must pray for them all and pro actively  love, sympathise, empathise and sacrificially serve all those affected as best we can. We need to pray to God asking for His strength so that we can be Christlike in our community and pray that He will give us the right words to say during this painful time.

Whenever humanity witnesses such irrational hatred and evil, we have no other alternative but to turn to God. Made in His image we all instinctively run to Him in crisis. This collective desire to #prayformanchester should then remind us all (churched or otherwise) of our transcendence; innate love, humility and compassion, the very things that make us uniquely human. This is exactly why it is so important for us all to pray and appreciate the reality of God (and His character imparted to us as His image bearers) in our daily lives. 

We can see from the worlds response to such atrocities (the request for prayer) that secularism cannot provide the comfort we need, dismissing God does not fill the vacuum or stop the killing of innocents, neither has modernity made prayer redundant. Prayer is uniquely human, it is uniquely helpful, because we are uniquely made in God’s image.

The terrible events in Manchester once again prove the total depravity and fallen nature of mankind and that we live in a cursed world, where terrible things can and do happen. Christian, we must weep with those who weep today and prayerfully love and help those in need and show them (amidst the horror of such events) that there still is hope, because there really is a God and He has a rescue plan for us… found in the person Jesus Christ of Nazareth! In Christ we have meaning in such trial, light in the darkness, we are made stronger in adversity and carry a sure hope of a better future whatever evil is thrown at us. Our desire to  glorify God with our compassion and gospel love (even to our enemies) is our best weapon against such hate.

As a church we should be on our knees today mourning with those who mourn, praying for all those affected by this act of hate and praying that God the Son, who also lost loved ones and faced injustice and death HIMSELF on the cross will be of great comfort and strength for all those suffering in grief and injury. 

May God’s Grace be sufficient in our weakness as we seek to support all those affected and may He be of help to those who have lost loved ones and are suffering today.


Fake News and the church

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Since the beginning of time mankind has spun the truth to adhere to the rhetoric of its day. For example, in the first century Octavian lead a propaganda campaign (Fake News) against Mark Anthony in Rome. King Harold died by a lucky arrow through the eye (1066 Battle of Hastings), but in France the report was “William’s brave men slayed the King of England during the heat of the Battle”. The Historians job is then to grapple with the differing accounts of “truth” to actually find it.

We must then acknowledge that all accounts are weighted in the favour of whoever the sponsor/ benefactor maybe and such motives will never change. “Fake News” is here to stay, red top papers will continue to publish scandal and embellish the “truth” to sell more papers and online media will continue to do the same to battle for clicks and advert impressions.

Pope Benedict XVI checks the new Vatican web portal on an iPad device at the Vatican

President Trump’s “Fake News” claim is nothing new, but there has been one significant development in recent times that is worthy of the fuss. “Average Joe” can now broadcast their own versions of the “truth” to the masses, whether in the form of a styled Instagram picture (intended to fool the viewer on the credibility of your appearance), or an uploaded video reporting no seats on a train during rush hour! As a result the plebs view of the world has now been equated with the media elite.

Such constant exposure to endless versions of “truth” (from either the once trusted media  or from random strangers through a hashtag), has made us (the masses) naive, cynical and dismissive of reality.

For decades the West have feared the Orwellian (1984) view of an “information-censoring, movement-restricting, individuality-emaciating state”[1] (a threat made real during the Cold war). But such fear has driven us to the Huxleyn view (Brave New World) of a “technology-sedating, consumption-engorging, instant-gratifying bubble”[2] .

This is all a result of such media saturation, increasingly consumed via image based mediums.

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It is often said that a “picture is worth a thousand words,” but are these words of truth? Does a picture really tell the entire story?

A picture can define a moment without context and thus it is more susceptible to manipulation (see above), but a “word” never stands alone! The word is always given in a context and can always be reviewed, critiqued, verified and once written the author is accountable.

As we continue to move away from ‘word based knowledge’ and embrace real-time graphic media consumption, credible broadsheets are going to be replaced by picture filled red tops and image based mediums such as TV or online video. As a result the quality of journalism will continue to decrease and we will have a society filled with people that make “informed” decisions based on the “Fake News” shared by celebrities on Twitter (a benefit of the 140 character limit).

Modern publishers and technology firms have created this Huxleyn predicted society, where questionable imaged based media not only resides in the corner of your front room, but follows you around all day on your handset or tablet. Because the truth is often boring this media saturation has driven journalists and production companies to get creative with reality in order to win more viewing figures,clicks,impressions,shares,likes,retweets etc. “Fake News” is simply an inevitable consequence to this “enlightened age” of technological advancement.

A social condition best described by Neil Portman (Amusing Ourselves to Death)

An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan because everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us … [but] who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements?”

Putting my Ministerial hat on for a minute…is the church not the answer to this “Fake News” catastrophe?

The church is a set apart (Holy) people, chosen by God to be a counter-culture from the world (more on this here “Dealing with change – thoughts on BEXIT”). Is it then our generations calling to fight against the sea of amusement, the “Fake News” and stand for truth?

As a church we should be offering an escape from such modernity, a ‘wifi free world’ where “Fake News” is left at the door and replaced by the unchanging word of God! A sanctuary against a world that defines you by what you can produce and consume, a world that at best offers you scandal, lies and death.

The church should be the place for people to unplug, switch off and come to meet the God of life, love and a truth, a place for people to come and make real meaningful relationships within a humble community of believers who are defined by their fresh start and future with Jesus?

Christian, is this not our calling today? and are we (the Reformed church) not the best equipped for such a task?

For centuries the privileged few manipulated God’s Word so the plebs would follow their agenda’s, they hid the truth behind an elite language (Latin) and supported their “Fake News” narrative behind image based media (stained glassed windows). All until the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago, where the word of truth got out and it was preached FREE from mans sinful agenda (warts and all)!

The reformed church rushed through Europe deposing the priests and began to empower and educate the people to read God’s Word for themselves and ensure those in the pulpit had no other motive than to stick to the Bible and save souls for Jesus!

Christian! In this media saturated world of “Fake News” are we not called to drive against the oppressive forces of modern, meaningless amusements and liberate the lost into the Kingdom of God? Are we not to stand as a counter-culture against such delusion and be ever more resolute to the eternal truth found only the Bible? A truth that does not hide from evil, but explains it, a word that does not hide from the inconvenient truths of immorality from its patriarchs but wilfully admits them, a word with only one agenda, to save souls and bring them into a loving fellowship with God so that they can be a force for good in this world of deceit, corruption and “Fake News”!

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

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[1] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/feb/02/amusing-ourselves-to-death-neil-postman-trump-orwell-huxley

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/feb/02/amusing-ourselves-to-death-neil-postman-trump-orwell-huxley

The Llanerch colliery disaster

On February 6th 1890 176 men and boys (fathers and sons) died in a tragic mining disaster at the Llanerch Colliery, Abersychan.

Since its 125th anniversary Councillor Giles Davies has organised a service at the pit head to remember the lost and I have had the honour of leading those gathered in prayer and worship.

An earlier methane explosion  (October 1889) that lead to two casualties, raised concerns about the colliery’s safety. Mine inspectors suggested the use of closed safety lamps, but the Managing Director of the pit approved the use of open flame lamps (December 1889) on the belief that the mine was “well ventilated”. Eight weeks later the explosion happened and 176 men were dead. So severe was the blast that it echoed down the valley and could be heard for miles around. Many of the casualties could not be identified.

The incident itself stripped the local community of an entire generation of men, leaving their widows and family desolate. You can read a list of the deceased here, many are buried in our graveyard at Noddfa.

The inquest ruled the explosion was caused by the men using “naked lights”.  No one in management was found responsible and no one was fined. The mine was reopened and back in business just 13 days after the incident.

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Survivors of the Llanerch Colliery Disaster – “Back to Work”!

At its peak (1918) the Llanerch, Havod Van and Blaenserchan pits that filled this little valley employed 2,060 people. It was a booming place of industry with several pits, furnaces, brickworks, roads, trains and other amenities.

Sadly it all closed shortly after Nationalisation in 1947. Nature has now reclaimed the fair country and all that is left of the pit head at Llanerch is the bottom of the girder that once held the shaft pully.

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During the short service, we prayed, the children, Mayor, MP and Councillors placed daffodils on the pit head and I spoke from the text 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

The men and boys of Llanerch left their wives and children in the early hours of February 6th 1890, fully expecting to be back for supper, but they never made it home. They were taken in an instant. As we remember their sudden deaths, we need to ask ourselves whether we are ready to face our own? As it could come as suddenly! Do you know peace with God? Do you have hope in the risen Saviour Jesus Christ?

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The Llanerch Colliery

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A drone image of the Llanarch Colliery site during today’s service (by Gwyn Jenkins)

 

After the service I then took a welcomed walk around the derelict and dismantled sites through the little valley with friends.

Chris Tew (the Sherriff of Abersychan) kindly guided me through the small valley and told me what went where. A forgotten past hidden amidst the rubble and thorns.

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This often unheard of tragedy is currently marked by a small memorial. The local community are fund raising to build something of more significance that will keep such a dark history in memory. You can find out more about the fund here

A big thanks once again to Giles Davies for organizing such a wonderful morning, including lunchboxes for all the children.

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Break in at Noddfa brings out the best

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You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

I had just arrived home from our church Christmas meal, well fed and ready for a lazy evening (thanks Gabby’s). Sadly this did not happen! Long story short; the Mothers and Toddlers fund had been stolen from the church and the perpetrator(s) had broken out through my office window.

We keep nothing of worldly value in the building (1 John 2:15) , other than a (well hidden) box that contains the Mothers and Toddlers collection. The fund goes towards toys, books, biscuits, drinks and snacks for the children. At the end of term the surplus is then spent on a party and goody bags for those who come.

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I do not want to go into too much detail, but, we have been told that the extensive movements of the perpetrator(s) throughout the church building left many clues for Crime Scene Investigation who are hopeful.

With Police support we published what had happened on our Facebook page. The community quickly rallied around their local church, setting up a crowdfund page that has raised nearly £600 in less than 24 hours. As a church we are terrifically humbled by this gesture and thank all those who donated, offered their support, encouragement and prayers. We are so blessed to be in such a community, surrounded by so much love and generosity.

We are just a small independent church supported by our members. We are not part of a larger denomination, we do not have fancy ornaments and relics to maintain, and you do not see me walking around the village with costly ministerial garb (more like trainers, jeans and a Parker jacket). The little money we take in during the Sunday collection goes on the facilities maintenance and bills, to ensure it remains a safe and welcoming place for all those who come throughout the week. The rest of the funds go towards serving the local community God has given us.

As a church we love everyone in our valley just as Christ loved us (1 John 4:19). We long for opportunities to show this love, by sacrificially giving and supporting the community we have been called by God to serve (1 Peter 4:10).

This is why I am so horrified by such a crime and pray deeply for the perpetrator(s).

I grieve for them and for the desperate situation that they must be in this Christmas, to risk so much for such a small collection box. If they had simply come in to see us, we would have rallied around them and supported as best as we could. They simply did not need to break in.

So, on behalf of the church I would like to reach out to the perpetrator(s) and say:

  • We understand that everyone faces difficulties in their lives and that these often lead to misjudgments and mistakes. I have made several myself (1 Timothy 1:15)! The Bible tells us, that this is human nature, none of us are perfect (Romans 3:10).
  • Please know that church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners. We are not a place of duty driven religious nuts, but a loving community of grace who gather in thanksgiving.
  • As we gather knowing that none of us are perfect, we do not judge anyone who comes in (Matthew 7:1).
  • Our unlikely unity as a family of all ages and backgrounds, is a unity unseen by worldly institutions, radiating from the love of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
  • For these reasons we welcome all who wish to come, whatever the circumstance and this means you to!

During this festive season we remember how low God came, in love, to raise the weakest of us up. He (Jesus) left the glory and perfection of Heaven to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). He chose to be born into the lowest of families, spending His first night on earth in an animal feeding trough (Luke 2:7). He grew up to live a life of poverty (Matthew 8:20) and suffering that peaked in the most unimaginable pain of crucifixion. Where on that Cross He took on Himself the justice we deserve for our failures, the consequences for our sins and gave us His perfect life despite our imperfections.

By accepting that God has done the “religion for you” (In Jesus Christ) and repenting of your ways, seeking to follow Christ’s example, Christians can know a fresh start. A clean slate that we as a church offer (by God’s grace) to you today! What a gift this Christmas  (John 3:16) .

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25.

As Christians we do not come to a God who cannot sympathies with life’s difficulties that you maybe facing, because in Christ Jesus, He faced the world at its very worst! (Hebrews 4:15). In Christ, we do not come to a God of judgement but one of love and compassion (Psalm 145:8). The God who by His grace (not by our merit) forgave us for our failures (Ephesians 2:8-9) and in this same strength, we as Christians can forgive all those who have caused us pain to.

This is the real meaning of Christmas! Hope, in our loving God, who paid the price for our failures.

It is a shame that such profound love that we are reminded of at ‘Christ-mas’ has been replaced by a big red man that shows no mercy to those on his naughty list. It is a greater shame that Christmas has driven such social pressure on families that some have had to go to extreme lengths simply to fund the season.

If the perpetrator(s) is reading this, we have a number of events going on over Christmas and you (as well as all the community) are most welcome to come and join us to find out more about a love that you will not receive anywhere else, a love that can forgive and forget all things. (1 John 4:8).

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A rigorous morning at Victoria Village School

I have just returned from a wonderful morning at Victoria Village school.

As ever I was warmly welcomed with smiles from both the children and staff (partly because I am funny to look at).

As regular readers may know, I am a proud governor of the school and had reason to be there in that capacity, but I was also asked to go and speak to the year 6 class about our worship practice as a church and the differences between Christianity and Judaism.

These are huge topics I know, but I tried to keep my presentation as light as possible, so not to engage in deep theological teaching that I could not give any justice to in just an hour slot. The children listened intently and were engaged for the ten minutes I spoke for.

The Q&A began and I was clearly not prepared for what was heading my way!

Each child had between 10-20+ questions written in their books ready to take me to task!

The depth of questioning was astounding. We discussed the historicity of the Bible, Scriptural inerrancy, Science, and Salvation by faith, Heaven, Hell, Sin, morality, angels, Christianity and other religions, pets in Heaven…and even the role of women in ministry!

I answered as best as I could, bringing the children back to the Cross of Christ amidst the apologetics and I will no doubt spend the rest of the week either regretting some of what I said, or wishing that I answered some questions a little differently.

What I am most encouraged about, is that these children are thinking and are being allowed to take Christianity seriously, approaching the subject with respect.

We could have spoken for hours!

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Such reasoning will never bring anyone to faith without the work of the Holy Spirit in their young hearts.

Please pray that the Lord intervened between the weakness of my tongue and the willingness of the hearts of these wonderful children.

Please pray that God would water the seeds that were planted today so that the church of tomorrow will reap a bountiful harvest!

Please pray for this most wonderful school! They are all so committed to the children and it is such an amazing place for them all to come and learn, if only I was 25 years younger,(i’d probably be enjoying detention there)!

In the next few weeks we are starting a club for “young people” at Noddfa, where such discussions can take place, as well as games (table tennis, pool, Nintendo Wii, DVD’s and food).

Just like Church, this club is not just for Christians, or young people from Christian families, it is open to all, from whatever background or philosophy!

The poster is below – if you are interested to send your children, please email pastor@noddfabaptist.co.uk and I can inform you of the start date!

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Let there be Light!

Last week we welcomed over 40 local children (many un-churched) to our light themed holiday club.

Each morning began with games around the chapel; from guess what is in the boxes, to blindfolded ‘put the flame on the candle’, shadow puppets, Simon says and activity sheets.

We then gathered to hear God’s Word and I gave a brief message.

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Monday we took the children time travelling, back to the very beginning of everything, where God said let there be light (Gen 1:3). Tuesday I shared my difficulties on going to the bathroom during the night, treading on Lego and tripping over toy cars and doll houses, and how I need a torch to help guide me through safely. The world is a dark place and Jesus is a lamp to our feet (Psalm 119:105). Wednesday Peter spoke on the Parable of the ten virgins, digging out an old mining lamp to show the children (Matt 25:3). Thursday I tried to light up the church by putting a lamp under a chair (Matt 5:15) and on Friday I showed the children that a flame on a match casts no shadow, there is no darkness in light, we have nothing to fear in Christ (Psalm 27:1).

After the message, we all conga’d up to the hall for craft, where the children made light/dark plates, lighthouses, lanterns, light jars, sparkly footprints and candle stands.

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We then played various games and had refreshments. 

Each day finished back in the chapel, we’d go through the memory verse (which they all remembered the following day), a quiz and prizes. On Friday the children enjoyed a “treasure hunt” to find logs (brown painted toilet rolls) which were brought back to a fire and we all had marshmallows on sticks during the message.

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We then finished with a presentation back up in the hall. The children all received a copy of Matthew’s Gospel and the parents came in to see their child’s craft and have a cup of tea.

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The week concluded on Sunday with our (light themed) Look Up family friendly service.

These evenings are intended to be a “church taster” so we can build bridges with the community. We sang two hymns, read God’s word and I spoke briefly.

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We welcomed many from the community, most from outside the church. They came into the chapel (a big step for some of them) and I believe we broke down their assumptions that church is a boring and fearful place, but a Christ centered community of love.

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Fellowship continued, where we gathered outside to see the chapel lit up with lazer’s, the children enjoyed sparklers and lanterns were let off into the night sky.

We then retired into the back hall, decorated in fairy lights and LED balloons, where we enjoyed hot-dogs and spent well over an hour getting to know people from the community. The Lord seems to be softening hearts in what is a very dark valley. 

Prayer requests

Please pray for all those who came, that we will see them again. 

Pray for all those that thought about coming, that we may welcome them next time. 

Pray for all those who chose not to come, that they will see Noddfa as a home for people who once thought church was “not for them”.

A big thanks to my loving wife and everyone in the team who helped put on a wonderful week for our local children. May the Lord Bless the seed that was sown. To Him be the Glory. Amen

 

 

New Term and we are Open for Business.

“Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Ezekiel 37:3

The new academic year has begun and after a long summer break our various meetings are now back!!!! We are open for Business!

All are welcome, you do not have to be a Christian to come to any of the below!

Please take just a few minutes to watch our “Year in Picture” at the bottom of the page to see what you missed last year, and hopefully we can welcome you to join in the fun over the coming weeks.

Noddfa’s week.

Sunday

11am- 12:30pm – Morning service and Sunday School

Take a break from the world, recharge your batteries and enjoy time with you maker. We sing hymns, pray and share a message from the Scriptures. The children are taken to Sunday School during the service, to have a story and craft. Tea, coffee and biscuits after the service for us to chat and meet new people.

5pm (when advertised) “Look Up”

A monthly Family Friendly service, where we sing hymns, share a short message followed by a seasonal activity. (Fireworks, Christmas Party, Valentines Craft, seed planting etc).

Monday

6-7pm Monday Club

For Primary School aged children. A story, quizzes, games and refreshments. Prizes at the end of term and special “cinema nights”. Children”Graduate” after six meetings and receive a Bible of their own.

Tuesday

10am- 12 noon Mothers and Toddlers

Pre-school age meeting for the community, includes lots of fun toys to play with, games and activities, refreshments including toast and fresh fruit for the children, a short story (and a good opportunity to catchup with friends and meet new people from the community). We ask for a £1 donation per child to cover some of the cost.

Wednesday

11:30am-12:30pm Prayer meeting

The engine room of the church, where we meet to hear a short message and to share prayer points, concerns and encouragements. We then set aside quiet time to be with God and pray for the work and the community we serve. All are welcome.

Thursday

10am- 12 noon Mothers and Toddlers

Pre-school age meeting for the community, includes lots of fun toys to play with, games and activities, refreshments including toast and fresh fruit for the children, a short story (and a good opportunity to catchup with friends and meet new people from the community). We ask for a £1 donation per child to cover some of the cost.

Coming Soon……

Friday 9am – Clinic, held at local cafe for people that want to chat over a cup of tea in neutral surroundings.

Friday 7:30pm – Youth group (name TBC) – Teenagers welcome, a safe place to discuss topical issues with of course games (we have a pool table), been bags to sit in and refreshments (probably chips….i like chips).

Sunday 5pm – An informal evening service, Bible Study or DVD and discussion.

And a half term Holiday Club!

Life is like riding a Bicycle….Welsh Velothon 2016

It is often said that “Life is like riding a Bicycle”…..all you need is; a bit of balance, keep yourself strong and healthy to get up those tough valley climbs and be prepared for the dangers ahead. Keep on peddling and you will get to the finish line and all will be fine!

But sadly life is not all that simple, the road often gets bumpy and you can lose your balance and fall off, or the hill is too steep and you have to give up, or at the slightest distraction the dangers ahead pop up before you notice them and CRASH you are out of the race.

We have all fallen off at some point and have suffered life’s cuts and bruises as a result.

The truth is, by our very nature we cannot cross that finish line in our own strength, the course of life is too difficult, none of us are perfect.

Even the greatest men of the Bible fell off their “bikes” at some point.

Adam disobeyed God, Noah a drunkard, Abraham lied, Moses a murderer, Gideon an idolater, David an adulterer, Peter denied Christ three times and Paul persecuted the church. Yet the Bible tells us that they all got to the finish line! Not by their own strength and ability but by trusting in their Saviour, Jesus Christ the Son of God, who by His Grace picked them up when they fell off, washed away their dirt and guided them safely through to the finish line.

The church at Noddfa does not claim to be a home for the yellow jackets, although those who know Christ have been given His.

Noddfa is a place for those of us with scruffy knees, bent frames, flat tires and sore limbs who keep falling off and are looking for help. Noddfa is also home for those who think they are doing fine, but are simply lost and seeking a purpose and direction in life.

If you want to find out more about Jesus Christ and how He can help you get you through life’s Velothon, why not come and join us at Noddfa? Because of the road closures for the Velothon we can’t meet on Sunday (22nd May) so we are holding a family friendly service on Saturday 21st May (5pm) instead. If you can’t usually make Sunday mornings, it is a great time to come and have a taster! Come as you are, all are welcome!

though we may stumble, we will not fall, for the LORD upholds us with his hand” Psalm 37:24

We look forward to welcoming the Welsh Velothon back to our village (Aberyshcan) on 22nd May 2016.

 

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Well Done Giles

Let me start by stating clearly that I follow King Jesus. I am not a proponent of “church and state,” neither is the below piece intended to show any favouritism or indeed affiliation toward any political party. With that now said… let us begin!

It was over a year ago now that I was asked by Councillor Giles Davies to join Rev. Martin Freeman as his chaplain during his tenure as Mayor of Torfaen. I was flattered and put it to prayer.

I agreed and by God’s Grace the year has been a real blessing. Giles has given me the opportunity to meet and engage with people in the community that I might otherwise not have had the chance to.

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The role began at Giles’ induction (May 2015) where I was brought in before the Council to accept the commission and pray for the new Mayor, a daunting task that ended with a rather serial applause from the council – I get myself into some crazy situations!

A few weeks later I received a call from Giles, inviting me to join him at the Blaenavon World Heritage Carnival. This was simply to show support (in his guise as Mayor) and for a walk around the shops for a meet and greet. I dressed accordingly (jeans and a short sleeved shirt). To my surprise, I ended up leading the parade down the high street alongside the Mayor and our MP. As I walked past the many faces in the crowds lining the road I was told to wave and smile, I felt so out of place in my casuals and could not hide my embarrassment, repeating Isaiah 61:10 in my head as I walked. To my horror, later that week, a picture of us all appeared in the Free Press, front page! It was a privilege to be part of such an occasion.

Pastor John with Mayor of Torfaen, Mayor of Blaenavon and Welsh Labour MP for Torfaen

Pastor John with Mayor of Torfaen, Mayor of Blaenavon and Welsh Labour MP for Torfaen

Another duty of the Mayor is to go to parliament and it was a pleasure to accompany Giles. I had a great day walking the halls where many a hero such as Oliver Cromwell, Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Nye Bevan once walked. I was humbled to sit in the viewing area to witness our democracy in action (you can read more about the day here – A day in Parliament). To the “enjoyment” of the Mayor and Mayoress, the car journey to and from London was filled with theological debate with my Methodist brother Rev. Martin Freemen.

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Together we have judged painting competitions in Pontypool Park, shares a cream tea in the museum, enjoyed garden parties, fireworks at the Golf club where Giles arranged for Folly Tower to be lit Purple (in support of Pancreatic Cancer UK), we have supported and been part of local concerts, memorial services, school plays, fundraisers, memorial services and pub quizzes. I have had a chance to meet and work alongside Churches and Ministers from across the county, something I longed to do.

All of this was just the tip of the Iceberg of the Mayor’s role. Between the Ministry and secular employment I simply could not accompany Giles to everything, my entire year’s service could be compressed to just one of his active weeks, he truly embraced his opportunity to be the first among equals of Torfaen.

The year has not been easy for Giles. He has been one of the faces of a council faced with great austerity; we have both campaigned vehemently to save our local Victoria Village School and Brynteg Nursery (that has not been easy and put him in an awkward situation at times).

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Giles has had to balance his work as Councillor for Abersychan as well as Mayor (alongside the “day job”). This left little time for his family, including his wonderful daughter, who has supported him all the way. I am surprised Giles has not burned himself out with the workload and I have prayed that God would uphold him. A prayer answered.

Whatever you’re political or personal view of the man, I can say he worked hard for our county and I am pleased to call him friend.

Giles brought the office of Mayor into the 21st century, being the first in history to have a twitter account desiring to be both transparent and approachable through all communication channels; he worked with the greatest sincerity aiming to achieve the impossible task of pleasing everybody.

Giles took his duty seriously (with his heart on his sleeve) and whilst out on engagement would always seek to support local businesses, purchasing goods (from his own pocket) to buy anything from cheese platter’s to commissioning paintings from local artists. He worked with a humble spirit and saw his position as a privilege and raised thousands of pounds for his chosen charities; Alzheimer’s, Llanerch Disaster Memorial fund, British Heart Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Folly Tower World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Giles has regularly supported the outreach at Noddfa, attending special events in a personal capacity and in his guise as Mayor, for that I am grateful. The last function he attended at the church as Mayor was the Queen’s birthday party where he and Gwyneira shared my vision to bring the local churches together and show our unity in Jesus.

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Giles would be the first to admit that his efforts were could not have been achieved without his team, I did not have the pleasure of meeting them all, but would like to thank them all especially Hywel (chief advisor, security, chauffer, guardian of the chain, comedian and all round legend) and the wonderful and hardworking Chris Slade.

Sadly I could not attend the handover as I have just returned home from a family holiday, but delighted to hear that the baton of “Chaplain to the Mayor” has now been past onto another Evangelical Rev Johnny Raine at Pontrhydryrun Church.

I will continue to pray for Giles and all the other Councillors, as well as our new Mayoress Veronica Crick, may the Lord bless you in your service.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1-3