Thursday, 22 June 2017

READING – A MIRACLE?

I’m sure it was a miracle when I began to read. I could chant with the others c-a-t, but how that came to mean ‘cat’ I had no idea. Then suddenly I could read. The page full of words all made sense to me. My elderly next-door neighbours were delighted that I could read to them from the paper, while my sister, two years older than I, was most annoyed that I was reading and enjoying books that were for her age.
When we were evacuated, our class was taken to a library, a new experience for me. The teacher tried to steer me towards books more suitable for an eight year old, but once she found I was enjoying the collection of fairy tales I had chosen she would call on me to tell stories for her to the class.
Once I was teaching, my method was no longer  confined to phonetics, but I still believe there was a measure of the miraculous when the children are able to enjoy books, and that we should have faith in those who appear to be slow learners, trusting for the miracle in their lives too.
Yes, we believe in a God of miracles, and for little Aaron there have been many miracles. His mother  believes it was a gift from God when she first realised her little baby had cataracts forming on both eyes, for it was Christmas Day, and it took a series of miracles from then on; for with no competent surgeon in her own country, they found a surgeon in UK willing to operate, if they could bring him before he was six months old. An on going  series of miracles, for finances, accommodation – every need was met.
Soon she had a happy bespectacled toddler,  wearing glasses, yes, but with an amazing love for books.
Certainly, the ability to read has been a miracle in Aaron’s life, but I believe it needs more than the ability  but also an appetite for us to enjoy reading.  I’m afraid I did not have a healthy appetite, for in my teens I was devouring novels all day long.  I was already in my twenties when God opened my
heart to receive Jesus as my Saviour, and my eyes to find the wonderful stories that were in his book, the Bible.
At that time they had brought out the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. It was my brother John who gave me a copy. What a gift from heaven. In large, clear print, and in somewhat simpler English, not only was it full of wonderful stories, but I found God was speaking to me through his word. To read it  was not just a duty, but a delight. Now I have learned to say with the Patriarch Job, ‘I esteemed the words of your mouth more than my necessary food.’

Eye sight – what a blessing it is! As well as schools, teachers, and books. We should not take such things for granted. But most of all the Bible, God’s book, the Bible, and in our own Mother tongue. What a gift, and all wrapped up in the greatest gift of all, Jesus, God’s only Son.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

THE GREAT ESCAPE

Well, not really an escape, but we, the members of Grace Community Church, had left the daily round for a very special time of blessing.

We were not at Barton’s Camp, our venue for the last three years, since last year we had only managed to squeeze in the 70+ who had gathered. This year we were at the Poplars, a beautiful family farm near Ledbury, who specialise now in growing people.

It was through the Common Market that the farm had to have all its fruit trees cut down, and so, seeking alternative productivity, the young family had felt God’s call to open their premises especially for Christian families. Here there was provision not only for the youth. While many were allocated to dormitories, Janet and I were shown to an odd little building, but with every creature comfort – en-suite, comfy beds and even a wardrobe! Yes, there was a rota and you had to take your turn for cooking, cleaning etc, but there are advantages to being in your eighties. How thankful I was that my name was not there.


We soon found the kitchen, where one of Ross’s curries was bubbling away, not to mention the apple crumble to follow. And yes, this year there was a luxurious lounge, with space for young as well as older. How good it was to see some of our college students who had joined us in order to help to look after the children, for of course we had not just come for fun and games, but in order that we might meet with God through his word.

Not only did we have comfy chairs in the lounges, but in the Pack Hall, the huge barn once used for storing the fruit, but now used for our meetings, where we were hopefully storing up God’s word in our hearts. There was ample seating, room to worship God, yes, even in the dance, but also more comfy chairs along the side, for us oldies, (older anyway). Lewis Roderick, co-pastor from Christchurch, Newport, was our guest speaker. We had a short service of welcome on the Friday evening, when Lewis gave a short overview of his ministry concerning being united with Christ, enough to assure us that it would not be dry doctrine, but concerning a living, vibrant relationship with Christ. Then back to the kitchen for  hot chocolate, joy, hugs and eventually most of us were settled in our cosy beds.

A frosty, sunny morning, and after bacon butties for breakfast, and prayer, most of us were sitting out in the glorious sunshine before we made our way to the  barn with expectant hearts.

I won’t attempt to give you a synopsis of Lewis’s ministry. I know what impacted me. Remember I had been anxious about how far away I might be from the Saviour when I got to heaven? Now God was showing me that I wasn’t going to heaven in order to be a spectator to the triumph of the Lamb. Jesus died for each one of us that together we might be part of the celebration, for we, the church, are not  only his body, but his bride. We will have no place there as an onlooker, but as the joy and delight of our heavenly Bridegroom, the marriage feast of the Lamb. Oh, what joy.

Marshmallows round the bonfire was a special activity rounding off the day, made complete by a wonderful blaze of coloured lights against the backdrop of starry blackness. (learned from the Maori’s I am told - )

Sunday morning was a very special time of family celebration, including ‘Messy church’ with meaningful handwork at each table, and then the highlight of our celebration when we broke bread  together. It was at the discretion of the parents as to how their children were included, and for one birthday girl who had very recently committed her life to Jesus, it was her first communion.

Back for our last ample dinner and then it was clearing up, loading of cars, - the  great photo shoot and we were on our way. We are so very thankful for all those who had been planning and working throughout the year to make this such a successful time. Our hearts are still brimming with thankfulness to God who is knitting our hearts together and making us a small part of the universal church of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

ARE WE THERE YET?

These last three years I have been able to go to Nichlaston House for a ‘Looking forward to Easter’ retreat, only this year, although it was only Monday to Friday in our timing, we travelled in our meditations from Maundy Thursday, right through to the day of Pentecost.
We were encouraged to participate in imaginative contemplations so that God might speak to us through our imaginings.
I was so happy to participate in this, as my writings and poems all come out of pictures God gives me. And I have learned to  teach our children to pray by putting a chair for Jesus, asking  them what they would like to say to Him and then imagining what he says in reply. I know that God speaks to me very often through my imaginings.
So when Sam (Samantha) placed an empty chair for Jesus, and then asked us to sit quietly and see what we imagine happens next, I was wonderfully blessed.      
The next morning I sought to catch the joy of that time into words:
                        ‘An empty chair? But you are there
                        I run, I kneel, and know my pain you feel
                        What joy we share at that empty chair.’
I won’t attempt to share all my meditations, but I remember how, as I stood with the crowd on that dusty Jericho road, it was not only the poor blind man who was calling out to Jesus, for I too had called out to Jesus, and together we had followed .
I too felt troubled and convicted in the Upper Room when Jesus told us that one of us would betray him, and I also experienced the tremendous surge of joy as the Holy Spirit came in mighty power on the Day of Pentecost. But out of all these meditations, I think I was impacted the most when Sam asked us to picture ourselves responding to God’s call  after the veil of the temple had been rent in two.
You see, I had come with a special need. I often long for heaven. Is it those we have been closest to who will be in our special reception committee? I like to picture it so. But our greatest hope and longing is that we might see our Jesus face to face. But  with all the multitude of the redeemed gathered throughout the ages, and those who have done so much, surely I will be far away. Will he, who is King of kings and Lord of Lords,  even see me in the great throng?
But now, in my godly imagining I stood before the rent veil, the new and living way that had been so miraculously opened for me through the death of my Saviour. I heard God’s voice. He called me by my name. ‘Come. You must come alone.’
I came. I was welcomed as if I were the only one for whom God gave his Son. Not a plain chair this time, but a glorious throne. But then, taking me by the hand, he drew back another curtain so that we were looking out to a universe redeemed. There, from every nation and people and tribe and tongue, all were there worshipping our Saviour.
Among this great throng there was a place for me. The Father reminded me of Jesus’ words, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ he told me, ‘He has prepared that special place for you. His eye is always on you. How could he fail to be aware of you?’
I drove home on Friday morning, knowing that each of us in the small company  who had gathered had  been deeply blessed. Doubtless we had all come with our individual needs, and God was sending us each on our way, deeply satisfied, knowing we could face all that lay ahead of us in the joy and power of our risen Christ.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

THANKSGIVING FOR DAVID

It was such a privilege to have been among the many who gathered for this wonderful service of thanksgiving, and so I felt I should try to share some of the blessing.
 How deeply we feel the loss of this great man of God, David Ollerton. Ours was not the privilege of those who have already crossed the river, and are among the joyous company who gathered to be part of his abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.  Yet we had that foretaste of the kingdom as, maybe a thousand or more of us, met in the ample facilities of Christchurch, Newport, and sang some of the old hymns of the Welsh revival, and some of the newer ones, also deeply meaningful, which David had taught us.
‘His children will arise and call him blessed.’ It was wonderful to see so many of his children, and grandchildren too taking part, while our dear Liz, who has been so strong for David in all his trials, and  now for all of us too, had doubtless choreographed it all.
Some of the youngest of the ‘Tribe’ recounted how their Taid, as they called him, had learned to memorise Psalm 121 at his grandmother’s kitchen table, and now, each speaking a few verses in turn, they spoke it out strongly. ‘I will lift up my eyes to the hills.’ No wonder they have become a family of mountaineers.
It was David and Liz’s two daughters, Ruth and Joy, who between them read to us the history of David’s fruitful life, while their husbands too had been included in the service.
We could not have had such a service without the Gospel being preached. David had placed this responsibility on his very capable son, Andrew, also in the ministry, but before he did so, it was thrilling to hear his wife, Charlotte, declaim a selection of verses from Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians. And now, like Elisha, it seems a double portion of his Father’s anointing, is now upon him.
The whole of this wonderful family behaved with charisma and dignity throughout this moving occasion. But who could not help but feel deep emotion in the face of such a parting. It was only at the end of such  exemplary  preaching that his son paused a moment to regain control of his own emotion, and somehow this seemed so fitting. They set  an example for us all, for David, with Liz, and their children too, have sown so much into our lives, and he will be so greatly missed. It was they who planted our fellowship in Porthcawl, pastoring us for the first two years until,  because of health he could no longer continue.
While in remission, with the measure of health he had, he knew he had to make Wales Wide his priority, but he continued to mentor Tom and Laura, who have so capably taken on his role of pastoring, and has loved and supported us all from afar.
An awe inspiring picture of David towered over us, by means of the screen, so life like, in his mountaineering gear, and standing by the cairn he has built, just a stone or two at a time. It is his Ebenezer. For even in the last painful months when he endured a course of chemotherapy, yet again, - yes, for our sakes, even though, like Paul, he longed to be with Christ, which is far better, he had slowly, painfully, yet joyfully, climbed the gentler slopes of Fan Fawr, raising funds for Felindre, and building his Ebenezer – a thanksgiving to our faithful God.

            GOD’S MOUNTAINEER
Oh God, creator of the rugged ranges
Thank you for those with heart of mountaineer
Loving the great outdoors of open spaces
Facing the fiercest climb with glad good cheer

Thank you for those who count each climb a challenge
Trusting God’s strength to face each rocky road
Nor fear the final peak that’s yet before them
Knowing they’ll soon be present with their Lord

Oh how we thank you, Lord, for those like David
His joy to lead us all to claim the heights
To gain new strength for every climb before us
And so possess the land in God’s own might

So may we hear God’s call to face the mountains
To know we each can be his mountaineer
To claim new heights nor fear the steepest valleys

To walk, e’en as he walked, with glad good cheer.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

PASSING THE BATON

I was honoured to be invited to at a special service because  someone in my family was to be ordained as an elder. It was to be at the Temple in Penygroes, known as ‘the Mount,’ - a place of significance to many brought up in the Apostolic church.
After the ordination, the young couple were  commissioned  to be part of a team involved in pioneering work into West Wales.
Image result for passing on the batonNot only was I thrilled for their sakes, but especially because of the honour this is to our family, fruit of that sown into their lives by their godly parents and grandparents; of those who have passed on the baton.
But I was thrilled on another count. And this is what I believe God wants me to share. For at this time we cannot help but grieve as another great man of God seems to be drawing very near to Heaven’s gates. Glory for him, but for those left behind, the pain of bereavement. For through his fervent prayers and his ministry in Wales Wide he was surely passing on the baton to this young couple as they are taking on his burden for Wales.
It was while in this service I felt I must write the following in acknowledgement of David, one of God’s greatly loved Apostles, who among other things was used to lay a firm foundation for our fellowship in Porthcawl.


God’s Mountaineer

Oh God, creator of the rugged ranges
Thank you for those with heart of mountaineer
Loving the great outdoors of open spaces
Facing the fiercest climb with glad good cheer

Thank you for those who count each climb a challenge
Taking their strength from God to face each step
Nor fear the final peak that’s yet before them
Knowing they’ll soon be present with their Lord

Oh how we thank you, Lord, for those like David
His joy to lead us all to claim the heights
To gain new strength for every climb before us
And so possess the land in God’s own might

So may we hear God’s call to face the mountains
To know we each can be his mountaineer
To claim new heights nor fear the steepest valleys
To walk, e’en as he walks, with glad good cheer.


It is so important for each of us, in our endeavour to follow our Lord, to  prepare to pass on the baton to those who follow after.
‘The teachings you heard from me, commit to faithful men, who will be able  to teach others also,’ was part of Paul’s commission to the young Timothy (2 Tim 2:2) So the Kingdom of God will grow.
When I trained to teach Bible Explorer, part of our commission was that we should pass on the baton, to get others involved in this specific ministry. Teaching this inspirational course for over ten years, I have sought to inspire others to become involved, but now not only is my natural strength  declining, it seems this door of opportunity in the schools might be closing too, at least in this area. But though we must  accept that we can’t go on for ever, and ministries may change, part of me knew that if I gave up now I would be failing  in fulfilling my commission.
But as I saw a definite link in these ministries to the Welsh areas, I felt God reassuring me that we don’t always see the links God is forging, not the plans he is working out, but we must continue to pray and to trust that others will take up the baton, while we must continue to pray, as Jesus told us, ‘to pray the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into the harvest.’
Watch this space! God has been speaking to me, to give the doors into the schools one more push, while reassuring me that he will continue to renew my strength, and that I will rise up on wings like eagles even as I seek to be obedient in passing on the baton.
Be assured, God has asked me to share this because he has special ministries for each one of us, which we must commit to faithful ones who will be able to teach others also. Let us pray for each other.



Thursday, 16 February 2017

EAGLE CHRISTIAN



Yes, I am moved into my new flat. Some say I am in the pent house, but I call it my Eagle’s Nest.
Many years ago I was  given a card by one of my students at the Apostolic Bible College, where I was lecturing on children’s work.
Now it has a place of honour. Titled ‘Eagle Christian’, it is of an eagle, standing alert on some rocks, as it views the land, while the text is, ‘The glory of the Lord shines out as one rests in him.’
So here I am, resting in the Lord, in this beautiful apartment God has provided for me, and asking him to teach me to live as an Eagle Christian.
Firstly, I am trusting him to renew my strength so that I my rise up each day with wings as eagles, for  moving house is certainly exhausting, and takes courage and strength.
A lovely cosy home, - almost too warm first thing in the morning, I open a window for a few minutes and breath in the sweet fresh air, then switching on a lamp,  I open my curtains even though it may still be dark, in faith that the morning is coming, and ‘as surely as the day dawns’ as Hosea says, open my heart for all God has for me for this new day.
Once the morning is here I look away, above the back yards that are down below, over the roof tops, to the strength of the mountains beyond. Even if I cannot see them through the mist, I know they are there. I am told an eagle is able to turn his head full circle, but I have to wait to see the sea until I walk along the corridor, and passing the lift, look from the window across the harbour to Ogmore.
We admire the eagle for its nest- making skills in the bleakest of places. And of course the purpose of a nest is for raising young. God is reassuring me that with him, I am never too old, and he is continuing to anoint me with fresh oil in my various ministries.
God has made me so sure that this move was his best for me. He has appointed the places we live, as Paul told the people of Athens. And I have been filled with joy as I have been ‘playing house’ with my limited, but more than adequate space. I am amazed to be living in such luxury, but then I remembered that I had just as much joy in brightening up some of my little homes, such as they were, when in the Highlands of New Guinea. I am proving the words of Madame Guyon,
            ‘While place we seek or place we shun, the soul finds happiness in none,
            But with my God to guide my way, ‘tis equal joy to go or stay.
Image result for eagle christianQuietly I am getting to know all these wonderful senior citizens who like me, have moved into Stoneleigh court, determined to maintain independent living, all so brave and positive, and  friendly. But we all have deep deep needs, though we may strive to keep them hidden, and I pray this Eagle Christian, with those others already here, may be used to spread God’s wings of love so that none of us may need to fear the time when we are leaving earth, but  have assurance of the mansion Jesus has gone to prepare for his own.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

EAGLE’S NEST

Since writing of how God spoke to me at Hebron Hall, that I was still to run the race, the Lord has opened a door for me to move to a beautiful flat in sheltered accommodation. It all happened so swiftly and very surely. A new home! No, God did not want me to give up on my ministries, or think about my declining health but rather to face a new chapter in my life.
We had named our home in Hawkhurst Court Hafan Deg, - Fair Haven. Now I needed a name for this beautiful flat on the top floor of Stoneleigh Court, with double aspect views across the roof tops to the mountains, while just along the corridor I could see across to the harbour. I found myself referring to my ‘Eagle’s Nest.’
The last time God spoke to me about the eagle’s nest was when my beloved Joel had died. After five years in the ministry together, retired, we were settled into our own ‘Fair Haven.’ Re-tyred, we said, for you never retire from God’s service, but we did not expect any more moves until it was upward, and we were hoping to make this move together.
Image result for eagles nestBut unexpectedly, Joel preceded me to heaven. That was fourteen years ago, and it was then that the lesson of the eagle spoke strongly into my heart. I learned how the parent eagle, in order to encourage his young to fly, will gradually break up the nest that had been the eaglet’s security so that he must launch out and learn to use his wings. Now I felt the lovely cosy nest we had built together had been broken, and so I must launch out to trust the strong currents of God’s love.
But this eagle has been getting older. So many times I have had to remind myself of God’s promise that they who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, mount up with wings as eagles…. And walk and not faint. Yet my strength was declining.
But God had shown me very clearly that I was not to give up on my ministries, and now he has given me a two bedroom flat in a sheltered complex, where I have a study for my writing and room to store all my teaching aids as well as a lounge/diner and bedroom, a safe, secure nest where I can still welcome my friends.
Waiting for the completion date, so that I can move in,  I am already calling it my ‘Eagle's Nest,’ for it is on the top floor and, with dual aspect, I can see over the roof tops to the mountains.
We don’t have to fear declining health as old age creeps up on us, but God has put eternity in our hearts and he has never finished with us. We are missionaries wherever we are, and we can still rise up with wings as eagles.
Yes, I am down- sizing, but most of all I am laying up treasure in heaven. That needs to be the priority for us all, doesn’t it? I have always  tried to travel light since I first moved with my parents from our five bedroom family home into a bungalow, but especially as I set out for Papua New Guinea, but it is amazing how year after year we accumulate ‘stuff’ which needs to be thrown out. As the years pass and circumstances change, we have a different view of our treasures.
I had been thinking of parting with many of my teaching aids, but no. God may yet renew my youth and open doors. But meanwhile I must always remember that it is Christ who is my treasure and he told us, ‘Where your treasure is there will your heart be,’ – so, while I am enjoying my eagle's nest, and you the home God has provided you, we must seek each day to lay up treasure in heaven.  

I don’t know the author, but it was Mrs Charles Cowman’s favourite poem, and mine too, and so I will copy it hear and pray it will bless you too as we enter this New Year,

            My heart is there!
Where, on eternal hills, my loved one dwells
Among the lilies and the asphodels;
Clad in the brightness of the Great White Throne,
Glad in the smile of Him who sits thereon,
The glory gilding all His wealth of hair
And making His immortal face more fair –
THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.

                        My heart is there!
With Him who made all earthly life so sweet,
So fit to live, and yet to die so meet;
So mild, so grand, so gentle and so brave,
So ready to forgive, so strong to save.
His fair, pure Spirit makes the heavens more fair,
And thither rises all my longing prayer –

THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.