Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wales: The Why & The What

BREAKING NEWS: Until midnight this Thursday, May 25th, ALL DONATIONS will be doubled, up to the cost of one trip! We have a benefactor who has very generously offered to match all gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $3500!!! That means your your $25 becomes $50 for us, your $100 becomes $200. NO amount is too small! Can you give $10? That will be an investment of $20 towards the lives and futures of these Swazi people!
Your money will count as double!!!
For more information and to find how to donate, go to our Africa page.
Thank you for coming alongside our family in this grand adventure! 


"But, why go? You can always pray for them from here."

"I don't really think of the UK as somewhere we need to send people. They have plenty of churches, right?"

I've received more than a few comments and questions about why our church would send a team to a church in Cardiff, Wales. The two above are probably the most common, I think from a lack of understanding about why we go in the first place, as well as a misperception of Christianity throughout the world.

The great thing about being a follower of Jesus is that He doesn't just call us into relationship with Him, He calls us into relationship with each other. We are not meant to walk this life out on our own! That's why one of the last things He said was, "Go..."
It's also why disciples in the early church (and ever since) have sent people to other congregations to encourage, support, equip, come alongside of.

I had the honor of being on a team with four other amazing women: Kim, Lidia, Kathy and Madeleine. How incredible it was that, without us even realizing it, we were going to pour into the women of City Temple with someone from each decade in our group: 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. I am so passionate about women reaching women, and generations joining together, pouring into each other. God is just SO awesome like that!

We had the privilege of visiting the different women's groups, sharing with them and gleaning from them.

Kathy teaching wonderful truth at the Friendship Hour with the beautiful older women of City Temple. Some of these girls have been in the group for 40 years!
I was THRILLED to get to lead them in some worship. Hymns accompanied by piano. There are few things more precious.

We got to spend time with the women of Refresh, led by the incredible Teresa. I got to lead some worship again (LOVE!!!) and Kim gave a great message on what our role is and how we walk it out. (Just a bit inspiring and challenging. Wow.) I don't have a photo of that to share with you, but I DO have a fun photo of me and Teresa!

I had the honor of sharing my testimony with these incredible young women. They are so ON FIRE for Jesus!!! The UK is extremely post-Christian (where the US is fast heading), so you are either Christian or you're not. There is no lukewarm. There is no middle ground. And amidst that darkness the light shines so brightly.
And do these girls ever SHINE!!!
I was captivated by the atmosphere of their group, and blown away by the fierceness of their commitment to spreading the Gospel. They are praying and believing for revival in their generation. And it is on it's way, this I know.

Of course, there is always the silly picture when I'm around...

Our team was part of City Temple's women's conference the first Saturday we were there.
The awesome Sonflowerz from Colorado Springs (hey! hey!) led worship...

And the impactful Kim Trobee gave her moving testimony.
It was such a wonderful time together, and the relationships between all of us just continued to build and build.

Steve & Myra pastor church called Beacon Hill a little ways outside of Cardiff in St. Mellons. The first Sunday we were there Lidia and I were so blessed to be with them! I got to lead worship for this sincere and heart-warming congregation and Lidia preached on the love of God. (Kim preached at City Temple that same morning. Kathy and Madeleine stayed with her there.)

What an awesome thing it was to lead these people in a song they had never sung, never heard... but all of us completely engage and cry out, "The mountains shake before Him, the demons run and flee..." as we sang Jared Anderson's Great I Am together.
God is SO AMAZING!!!

Meet Steve & Myra:
(I smell very nice now, thanks to Myra's lovely taste in perfume and desire to bless me.)

(Yes, I know I look quite awkward. I was talking. Go figure.)

Both weeks we were there we got to visit City Temple's food bank. An incredible ministry started just a couple of years ago by a man named Ian. He saw there were so many people in Cardiff with a dire need for help in this area, so he decided to do something about it! Now they have a handful of locations and are making a huge difference for those in need in their city.
The first week we had a tour of how things operate and met the amazing volunteers that pour out love to everyone who walks in the door.

The second week we got to go and pray for the people that walked in the door! (I have a super cool story about this experience that will come in a later post.)

The trip was originally planned around the Ignite Hope youth event that took place in a park adjacent to City Temple. Different members of our team were there different nights, and it was so amazing to see the youth from around Wales come together to worship God and pray for revival in the evenings and go out and spread His love through acts of kindness during the day.

Praying before the event...

It was VERY rainy nearly the entire time we were there, which made for a much more adventurous (ie, muddy) youth event...

And here is where I am TOTALLY going to brag on our Desperation Leadership Academy. We had a group of over 20 second years come over to set-up, help facilitate and tear-down for Ignite Hope. They did not anticipate the rain or the cold, but worked hard with smiles on their faces the entire time. They radiated joy and servant's hearts, and I have never been more impressed with a group of volunteers.
Blown away. Just blown away by the heart and commitment of these DLA students, never relenting for one second.

The last night of the four day conference, kids came forward to pray for strength as they carried this Hope back to their families and communities. They chose to kneel in the mud, as an outward expression of their inward commitment to enter with love into the mud and muck of people's lives.
It was beautiful and moving to watch.
(I had the honor of praying with those three girls in the center with their arms around each other.)

Another way City Temple is pouring out is through their Charity Shops (what we call Thrift Stores). I KNOW!!!!!!!!! Seriously, God KNOWS my heart. (He is the One who created it, after all.)
Alun & Kathy have just started renovating a shop in Lanishen, outside Cardiff, with the goal to pour into that community with the light and love of Christ.
And WE got to SEE it!!!
Some of the DLA team was also there painting and sorting.
This whole thing was so inspirational for me. For a long time I've had a dream deep in my heart of opening a quality thrift store where the environment is welcoming and people come just to hang out. We would be more than a store, but a place where women came for friendship, for counsel, for help rebuilding their wardrobes and rebuilding their lives.
And I would serve great coffee.
Seeing this Charity Shop reawakened that vision and the hope that it will someday be a reality.

Ummm... I may have done some shopping. And I may have found some really great items from higher end boutiques, as well as a little store called TopShop. *ahem* (Come ON. I'm helping them get started!) 
Isn't Kathy adorable? She was so sweet to have us to her house... twice! And put up with me when I was droopy-eyed and falling asleep from jet-lag.

The way God arranged our time in Cardiff was incredible. The first half of our trip was a lighter schedule, but spent building relationship and really hearing what was going on in the lives of the women.
The second half we had more concretely scheduled, and when it came time for our leadership and counseling training, we already had formed amazing relationships with everyone! That made it so much more effective and incredible, knowing you can trust, knowing you get each other.

Lidia, bringing it again as she speaks on the importance of the missional element of leadership:

Praying over the women...

Kathy, Madeleine, and... Kim. She looks like she's giving me "The Look," but she was really joining in the fun and providing a great photo op.  (I love you, Kim!!!!!)

Goofing around with Claire while Lidia is speaking. Okay, I was goofing. Claire was telling me to cut it out.

The second Sunday we were there we went to City Temple's service one last time.

Steve, City Temple's Senior Pastor...
(Lidia had to leave a couple hours early. Boo.)

Amazing people with amazing hearts.
We're so thankful for the relationship that has begun and that will continue! This is what it means to be walking life out together, even from different parts of the world.
Encouraging, supporting, equipping, coming alongside of each other... this is Church... the followers of Christ... how it's meant to be.

I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

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