We’ve grown used to stories of dazzling new churches with huge followings, global media ministries and where founders and leaders become worldwide celebrities. Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts tell a different story. No glittering palace of worship here. No global media empire and no mega church congregation. Instead, this is the story of a converted farm, high up in the bleak but beautiful hills of West Wales, where God breaks through.
The Grace Outpouring is a simple story of hospitality and prayer: where all are made welcome and aware of God’s presence. There’s no story of building a congregation or even a resident community. Instead, the core vision is a scattered prayer community - The Caleb Community, pouring the grace and power of God outward into the world, rather than inward, into a church.
A House of Prayer, A People of Blessing
The story begins with a sixth century Irish monk, Brynach, looking for a place of intercession and prayer for the local pagan and heathen community. Ffald-y-Brenin – ‘The King’s Sheepfold’ proved to be one of those ‘thin places’; a joining between heaven and earth where King’s flock could find safety and shelter. From the Welsh Revival years to the present, many others have found themselves written into the spiritual history of the unassuming retreat centre.
The story of the current expression of new Celtic monasticism begins with a vision that seemed about to fail. Then, in 1984, Phillida Mould and her mountaineer husband unexpectedly discovered the crumbling farmstead, establishing the Trust that would become the Ffald-y-Brenin house of prayer, salvation and wholeness.
Moving Outward in Prayer and Power
Most of all, the story of the Grace Outpouring is a story of stories; individual stories of men and women made whole and restored through their direct encounter with the love, grace and forgiveness offered freely to all pass through the Ffald-y-Brenin’s door - for a few days or just a few hours. It’s clear from the stories of the Grace Outpouring that Ffald-y-Brenin is a centre to move out from rather than move into.
Location is important to the work of Ffald-y-Brenin – or the work of God through Ffald-y-Brenin. One of many stories recounts the experience of a young Australian woman with Welsh family roots. Her Welsh grandfather had been a miner and drunkard keeping the family in a constant state of fear and financial desperation. She despised her grandfather and her land of origin.
Yet an experience in the blackness of nearby mine turned visitor attraction opened her mind to the hardships of her grandfather’s lightless world, and the darkness of her own unforgiveness. With a symbolic piece of coal from the pit, the woman returned to Australia establishing a centre for prayer, worship and repentance that was: “Like everything you read of 1904-1905 revival in Wales.”
It's The Story of The Father's Heart
So is it a retreat, sanctuary, house of prayer or a spiritual resource; even the founders and leaders have difficulty defining Ffaldy-y-Brenin. That might be because they’re not in control of the story. Co-author, Roy Godwin admits as much in the book’s final chapter: “The story you’ve been reading so far is not my story; it’s the story of the Father’s heart.”
Modestly told, the authors make no great claims for themselves or their achievements. It’s a humbling story that the mega-church leaders and followers would do to read; which might be why the book is written with American style English and grammar. It is a surprisingly well written and readable book that deserves to be widely read.
Best of all, it’s a story that’s still unfolding. “That’s the story of this book: the unfolding of the Father’s heart,” concludes Roy. “It’s his story and it’s his glory we seek. If he can do this with me, who knows what he could do with you?”
February 15th, 2013 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison