The Dignity of Hawthorns

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.

Ephesians Chapter 1 Verse 18 from the Bible (NIV)

This is inspiring!

This prayer podcast is a little different this time! I’ve started what have become known as ’30 minute mondays’. Very simplyl this is where people commit to pray for Dignity for 30 minutes every single monday. It would be great if you could join us?

As part of my latest prayer session here I share an encouragement about the spread of Hawthorn trees here in the Machno Valley in North Wales and how that can teach us a lot about what God is doing in our world.

From the verse in Ephesians (above) we pray that God will

  • Enlighten us to whatGod is doing around us and in the myriads of communties that we ave had contact with.
  • That we and those around us may know the hope (Jesus) to which he has called us
  • That our community and thosewhere Dignity (and Jude and I) work will see the fulness of God as they come together, literally hope in the middle of people.

As usual, if you have any thoughts or words please feel free to get in touch with us. You can even leave us a voice message on our prayer podcast by clicking the link below.

You can follow our prayer podcast from Anchor or subscribe to this blog to follow the regular updates.

Photo by Jon Paul Witt

Unless God builds the house….

Just what is the bedrock upon which a work with God is built?

Very simply it is prayer. Let me be honest Dignity‘s goal of inspiring and planting 500000 Life Groups in the next decade is somewhat exciting and daunting all at the same time. We may simply by our own effort make some progress towards our goal. However it will take God and the involvement of many people to make it a reality. Jude and I are really conscious of this verse in the Psalms:

Psalm 127:1 NIV
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

When faced with a difficult goal I’ve found that prayer and fasting work!

So here in this little video I explain why and how you can commit yourself to pray for Dignity over the next weeks and months.

I’m sure to add more detail as we go along and you can find out more about about the work by clicking below or by listening to one of our regular more personal praer podcasts. The latest one you can also find the buttons below.

It would be great if you can join us in prayer.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Pray for the Witts: Prayer in the Storm

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew Chapter 14 verses 29-30

After saying that everything ‘had been a little ordinary’ in my last prayer update, the last 4 weeks has been anything but!

It made me think about Peter who when out of the boat and walking on the water towards Jesus, suddenly looks around and thinks ‘what on earth am I doing?’ and starts to sink! He forgets to look to Jesus and looks instead to the wind and the waves around him.

That is exactly how I’ve felt at times in the last couple of weeks. To put it simply I (and maybe all of us) became very aware of the enormity of what we are doing and like Peter, had a momentary wobble! Add into this some difficult personal news and it’s been a more challenging time than normal!

Our response? The only thing we can do is look to Jesus and pray. Sometimes the situations of our life and calling are way bigger than we can deal with alone.

So thank you for praying with us and if you haven’t before have a listen to the 4 minute podcast linked below. It contains far more feedback and details than the simple list described here. What are the 3 items this time?

  • Pray for our family – children who have exams and well just our sanity!
  • Pray for a wave of prayer for 500000 life groups to be planted
  • Pray for the teams and individuals in Africa and elsewhere who are working towards this

Your prayer really makes a difference! Thanks to everyone that prays regularly for us!

As usual, if you have any thoughts or words please feel free to get in touch with us. You can even leave us a voice message on our prayer podcast by clicking the link below.

You can follow our prayer podcast from Anchor or subscribe to this blog to follow the regular updates.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

A Very Public Faith

How does knowing God affect our own life and our own community?

For many faith should be kept personal and private. Not for me! I believe faith should be public and transformative! Our faith becomes amplified when we join with others and stand together for God in our own community. This means three things:

  • Being open to anyone and everyone
  • Sharing the very real message and love of Jesus with people
  • Working together to help and love the ‘least’ in our community.

Here in this interview with CVM Wales you can hear a little bit about how that can happen!

I talk about my life, Dignity and Life Groups. Drawing upon the lessons of our work in Africa, I explain how everyone can be public and the hand and feet of Jesus to the community around them.

Header Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Pray for the Witts: Over Easter

“In your desire for the extraordinary don’t rush and overlook the extraordinary in the everyday and ordinary all around you”

Paraphrase of some advice sent to me in a letter by a friend Simon Foster in 1995.

Here in our latest prayer update, well everything in the last 2 weeks has just been a little ordinary. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing!

The quote above was sent to me in a personal letter when I was on mission in Zimbabwe in 1995. The man who sent it, Simon Foster was a pastor at my church in the UK at that time. Simon, afriendly guy, as well as being able to sing he had a knack for saying the most prophetic of words, sometimes I feel without ever realising it.

Writing ths now, it strikes me as no-coincidene that our minsitry Dignity is about enabling and sending out ‘everyday people’ to be ‘extra-ordinary’. To be honest I had never really thought about that until now! I remember meeting many people in Zimabwe at that time who just lived out the life of God right where they were in the villages. I guess the foudnations of what God was saying to me and others were beig laid even then!

Of course it has been Easter this past weekend. A time to reflect on the new life that Jesus brings to us through his death and resurrection. It is this life that enables the “ordianry and every day to take on eternal life and to be something rather extraordinary”

Or in the words of the bible, “For the perishable must clothe itself with the impreishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Cor 15:53)

Reflect on the fact that this is true of your life as well as mine and those that Dignity works with.

So I’ll say thanks to Simon now, 26 years after the fact.

I’ll also thank you guys as well who regulalry pray for myself, my family and for the work of Dignity.

Your prayer really makes a difference! Thanks to everyone that prays regularly for us!

As usual, if you have any thoughts or words please feel free to get in touch with us. You can even leave us a voice message on our prayer podcast by clicking the below.Listen to our latest podcast ‘Looking Forward’

You can follow our prayer podcast from Anchor or indeed subscribe to this blog to follow the regular updates.

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

A Vision for Many

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high, and we miss it, but that it is too low, and we reach it.”

The artist and sculptor Michaelangelo.

Here in our latest prayer update, as well as hearting aout how the Witt’s are doing, I talk about the outcome of Dignity’s latest vision day with a quick update of how Life Groups are doing.

We’ve always had a ‘vision for many’ that in the last few months is becoming supercharged so that we look wider, aim higher and try as much as we can to follow God and the calling that he has for us.

Like Michaelangelo and the view of the city above, we’d rather make the mistake of aiming too high, rather than aiming too low! At the same time we need the sense to not be like the mythical Icarus who flew too close to the sun! One of the ways that prayer can help us is to hear the voice of God. As we hear that voice, our life, who we are and what we do becomes more aligned to who God is and what his plans are.

Your prayer really makes a difference! Thanks to everyone that prays regularly for us!

As usual, if you have any thoughts or words please feel free to get in touch with us. You can even leave us a voice message on our prayer podcast by clicking the below.Listen to our latest podcast ‘Looking Forward’

You can follow our prayer podcast from Anchor or indeed subscribe to this blog to follow the regular updates.

Photo by Vista Wei on Unsplash

Closer to Home

I’m hoping that this simple story of how we started ‘Gwydwr Life Group’ in North Wales will challenge, inspire and encourage you! Here is the story from the perspective of Jude and myself….

In many places where we work and live, “Church” as in the experience at some sunday gathering with professional worship, entertainment and teaching simply doesn’t exist. It probably never will. That isn’t to say that there is no ‘church’ in these areas. However, it would be fair to say that for most these sporadic ‘established’ congregations really struggle to connect. This always begged the question, “What would we try and do about this?”. For Jude and I this question was difficult. After all we’ve pioneered church and movements within ‘like’ circumstances but on the other side of the world. We founded Dignity, a mission movement through which we’ve introduced discipleship, care and small groups in the poor often remote villages of sub saharan Africa. With this being ‘closer to home’, it seemed to make it harder. More to lose maybe? Maybe like Jesus, a prophet has no honour in his home town?

At the start of 2020, Jude, I and some friends Alison and Keith were met together to find a way of establishing something new within our valley. Interestingly, Alison and Keith had spent some time in Zambia with us late in 2019. Seeing the reality of what we call Life Groups, villagers and ‘everyday’ people teaching, discipling and serving together in their community provided valuable inspiration.

Our initial idea was to start a weekly meeting in the community and encourage friends, contacts and well anyone to come. We’d talk about the bible, pray and build community together. Then of course Covid hit the UK. Suddenly meetings were off the agenda and uncertainty gripped everyone’s life. Would it be like this for the foreseeable future? 

Rather than back off, cancel our plans and retreat, we decided just to start anyway

Rather than back off, cancel our plans and retreat, we decided just to start anyway using the all conquering Zoom as a platform to have online meetings. We’d somehow make these link to ‘real life’. These we started on a Thursday evening,very simply called “Panad, Cwrw and a Chat!”(Panad = Cuppa, Cwrw = Beer in Welsh)with the explanation that we would look at something inspirational from the bible, chat and pray for one another.

To our surprise people came and now in 2021 they still come and more! Some have rediscovered a sense of church and their faith. Yet others have found a place to connect that is close to them. People have looked out for one another and have been an influence for the good within the group and wider community. When allowed we have had a few social events, where people have got to know one another in person. A funny fact for me, was meeting one person for the second time, I suddenly realised they were a foot taller than me! We’ve even collaborated in a prayer initiative, simply standing and praying for people and situations within the community.

There is a ‘place’ close to people that stands for Jesus and allows people to know him. That’s exciting!

There is a ‘place’ close to people that stands for Jesus and allows people to know him. That’s exciting!

I’ll be honest and say that sometimes it does feel fragile. Maybe that’s our own insecurity? You always have that question in the back of your mind, “what if it all comes to nothing?” Yet at the same time people are growing in relationship with Jesus. People have taken steps of faith and the group increasingly feels like a small ‘community within a community’. It’s probably not as fragile as we believe.

God is speaking by His Spirit in every community. We often ‘wake up’ and play catch up to what he is already doing. I’ve observed that in countless countries not simply here in Wales. That gives me encouragement and faith to continue.

What is stopping every christian joining together with others and being the people of God in their own locality? In our often professional ‘church’ this has been almost entirely lost.  We are often even divided by the type of believer that we are! Small groups can become resource for the wider corporate ‘church’ or a ‘leaders’ vision, rather than the pioneers of vision themselves. 

Small groups can become….. the pioneers of vision themselves!

When God deemed to place His Spirit within everyone, right there he gave the ability for everyone to forge the kingdom of God right where they live their life. 

Everything may be shaken by Covid and the changes it has wrought. If we don’t heed the lessons now, other ‘shakings’ (climate change, economic turmoil, who knows after the last year) will come and eventually we will be forced to embrace what God is doing in any case. Maybe jump on the train earlier rather than later?

Every community whatever shape is comprised of relationships and friendships that create the very fabric of the place. The closer we can build the church to this the better. This way we do not create a separate community, we build within the community itself. That is surely a fact so obvious it does not require stating and yet it does need to be stated. Maybe the more ‘church stuff’ we have, the more removed we are from the everyday reality of life in our community?

Whether we are individuals in a remote village or members of a larger thriving congregation, this companionship on ‘mission’ is church in its’ purest form. People who urge one another on toward Christ, who worship with their lives in what they say, think and do. It’s really simple. 

this companionship on ‘mission’ is church in its’ purest form.

Dignity inspires and teaches people to firstly love and know God and secondly to love their neighbour. We encourage groups to always look for those on the outside financially, spiritually or relationally. These are the ‘least first’ as a friend coins the phrase. That’s a real hallmark of God’s love and kingdom.

This type of church can exist anywhere under any conditions. It is incredibly resilient and ideally suited to spring up ‘from the ground’. At this time and looking forward to the future, we need this!

This type of church can exist anywhere under any conditions.

In the Conwy Valley, as we look forward, we think and pray about what we will do together. We could use the relationships and people that we have to reach further. We could looking at starting some new small groups up the valley and anywhere in between. We could run an Alpha Course? We can find those that need our help.

A couple of people with a heart and an idea has become a group. There is life, it is growing and continues to grow. That has to be encouraging!

When we take a step closer to home, it may be difficult. It could seem more risky or that we have more to lose. Yet the reward is not only in the life to come, it is seen in the friends, families and community that are infused with the presence and life of God all around us. 

This a time of huge opportunity!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing on my blog about how to plant a life group yourself. To gain inspiration, you can also see all of the fantastic work that Life Groups do in Sub Saharan Africa and the inspiration they have caused elsewhere at www.dignityonline.org.uk

Looking Forward

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, in a letter dated Feb 5th 1930 to his son Eduard

Things have now settled down into something of a ‘normal’ pattern. It’s amazing how that happens. 2 weeks and you feel up in the air, 5 weeks and you are feeling positively settled. Being settled allows you to look forward. Your immediate needs are catered for, so you can raise you head and take a look forward.

Just like Albert Einstein, we really want to keep moving.

Your prayer really makes a difference! Thanks to everyone that prays regularly for us!

Prayer is all about hearing the voice of God, aligning our lives to him and asking for him to intervene where we cannot.

That’s what we need you to do with us. As usual, if you have any thoughts or words please feel free to get in touch with us. You can even leave us a voice message on our prayer podcast by clicking the below.

You can follow our prayer podcast from Anchor or indeed subscribe to this blog to follow the regular updates.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Back in the UK

“I am convinced, however, that our constant activity is fruitless without first making that humble act of kneeling to pray. I am convinced that prayer is not only our greatest privilege, but also our greatest source of power.”

Pete Greig, Punk Monk: New Monasticism and the Ancient Art of Breathing

Well it’s time for another prayer update. This time from the forzen wastes of the the UK in an especially cold week!

Your prayer really makes a difference! Thanks to everyone that prays regularly for us!

The last few weeks have been a maelstreom of stressful events, encouraging stories and quarantine! However now that we are back in the UK, some of our focus shifts to places other than Zambia where Dignity and those inspired by our work are also found. In our latest prayer update we want to make sure that our activity is backed by prayer.

Prayer is all about hearing the voice of God, aligning our lives to him and asking for him to intervene where we cannot. That’s what we need you to do with us. As usual, if you have any thoughts or words please feel free to get in touch with us. You can even leave us a voice message on our prayer podcast by using the button below.

You can follow our prayer podcast from Anchor or indeed subscribe to this blog to follow the regular updates.

What’s Important?

A few years ago many people supported the “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) campaign. They wore wristbands and tried to ask that question in every situation that they came across. They were asking, “What is important?”

As we face all of the new difficulty and uncertainty of 2021, what is important for us? Well to answer that question, I decided to have a look at what was important to Jesus and work from there.

During an informatve and topical presentation, we look at John 17 and some of the last words and thoughts that Jesus had before he was arrested and killed. As he spoke to God the Father, what was on his heart, what did he really want to see for himself and all that would follow him? Even those of us in 2021!

My hope and prayer is that we would all find strength, direction and purpose as we understand just what was important to Jesus as he left this Earth. As we face 2021 with all of its’ uncertainty, may those very same things become important to us.

A little spoiler – together is always better!

You can listen on the audio player here or download the file to whatever device you have!