2015 sees the 50th anniversary milestone reached by CWR. Clem Jackson met with CWR’s Mick and Lynette Brooks to look back - and forwards
It’s a story which begins back in the Welsh revival of the early 20th century and the impact it made on one man, Selwyn Hughes; a man whose legacy has been to impact the lives of millions of people throughout the world through his writing, teaching and preaching.
Selwyn’s heart for revival was due to the impact on his family by the 1904 Welsh revival. He experienced how the Welsh revival had petered out because the people weren’t grounded in scripture, nor able to apply it to their daily lives. This sowed a seed in him which eventually flourished when he began to write Bible study
themes on postcards to send out.
The Bible study themeshe sent out, initially to his own congregation, led to probably the best known series of Bible reading notes across the globe, Every Day With Jesus (EDWJ).
Mick Brooks says: “The publication was being given away free to people who promiseto pray daily for revival. But it grew to the point where it became unsustainable as a free publication and the decision was taken to begin to charge for people to receive it.”
CWR - more than just Bible reading notes
As Mick explains “Selwyn always had an entrepreneurial approach to ministry and was involved in all kinds of things, including Crusade Travel, partly aimed at providing flights for missionaries on furlough. In fact that was how Trevor Partridge came to first meet Selwyn when he booked a flight with Crusade Travel to return from studying in the USA.”
Despite the fact that CWR today produce sevendifferent series of Bible reading notes, and this is its core, there is much more to the ministry than that. CWR’s counselling and people helping initiatives are renowned across the world and came about as a result of people engaging with the scriptures on a daily basis. Here’s Mick again:
“People found this challenging and started to ask questions about their own lives. A number of incidents led Selwyn and Trevor to the point where they decided they needed to know more about how people are made to function and what God’s purpose is for each of us.
“Selwyn went to the States to study counselling – Trevor had already received pastoral care training in his degree – and they started looking at how people live and how they relate to each other; that spawned the Life in a New Dimension seminar, subsequently updated to become Dynamic Christian Living.
“These were really the first big seminars that went around the country and were followed by the Family Life and the Marriage seminars - all relational subjects. Then came the People of Power seminar, also very well received, and the Caring seminars from which the one-week Counselling Course was developed. That really set us off on the path on which we find ourselves today.”
This then was a pivotal moment in the history of CWR and the growth of its training and development work. As Lynette Brooks says: “The framework they drew together at that time as the basic model for ‘people helping’ still underpins all that gets taught here.”
A permanent home – a Christian university?
The success of the seminar programmes saw Selwyn and Trevor travelling the country hiring venues from which to run the Introduction to Christian Counselling week-long programme. They wanted to set up a permanent base so the search began. “They both had a vision to establish a Christian university,” says Mick, “a place where people could be equipped and trained to work within their own professions with a biblical world view.
“They looked at several properties and one day one of the prayer partners rang up and suggested they look at Waverley Abbey House. Lynette BrooksMick Brooks It was being offered through sealed bids and wediscovered afterwards, from one of the lawyers, that although the bid we put in was not the highest, ours was chosen. He said, ‘I think you must have had someone on your side!’
“That was in 1984 and then followed a four-year journey of refurbishment; there was so much that needed to be done. There were cash flow difficulties, relational difficulties, Selwyn’s wife Enid died during this time too so it was a pretty turbulent time.”
The refurbishment project made headway under Trevor’s oversight, whilst both he and Selwyn carried on writing and teaching around the country. Another key individual, the third part of the triumvirate as it were, was one of the trustees, David Rivett who oversaw all the finance. Mick adds, “He was the oil that kept the cogs turning and he played an invaluable role. Between them these three men made it all happen.”
CWR’s international ministry began through Selwyn’s early evangelistic trips, including Korea and Jamaica. In the early 80s Selwyn took the Caring seminars internationally with amazing long-term impact. Lynette adds: “EDWJ started to go international too. People would read it and say ‘we need to hear this man’s teaching’. Selwyn always said that he wanted to focus on places where other itinerate teachers/preachers weren’t. Requests nearly always came as a result of either someone who had been on course here in the UK or through reading either EDWJ or Your Personal Encourager. This really opened the doors for the international training aspect of CWR.”
Today CWR has around 16 national distributors and over 30 current translations of their publications. Lynette says, “EDWJ has a worldwide reach; a number of countries print and distribute their own copies, including India, Africa and Sri Lanka, and we also have distributors in Australia, New Zealnd, Canada and Singapore.” Mick adds “Sri Lanka prints translated versions concurrently with our publishing programme. You can get the current EDWJ in Tamil and Sinhala.”
In Nigeria they print and publish EDWJ, Inspiring Women Every Day, YPs and Topz and send them out in vans all over the country. Lynette says, “Their circulation and impact is staggering.”
And for the children ...
The next branch in the growth of the ministry saw CWR move into children’s publishing. Lynette, who has been closely involved with the publishing side of the ministry, tells the story.
“Quite early on Selwyn started writing YP’s, the young people’s version of EDWJ, but 10 years later he felt he wanted to reach the younger age group. So CWR commissioned the writing of Topz for 7-11 year olds. Around 2004 we began to expand our offering to children, aiming to introduce kids to fun, structured, reading that was still very biblically-based.
“We started with Christmas books, which went really well and decided to look at what we could do for this big group of 7-11 year-olds reading our Bible notes to expand their reading further. We commissioned Alexa Tewkesbury to write some Topz resources and were also fortunate to benefit from Andy Robb’s creative approach to introducing children to Bible stories, and now have many of his titles available. Alexa and Andy’s books have sold thousands of copies and we have a great relationship with them aauthors, they’ve been a joy to work with and came to us at just the right time.”
The younger children were originally served by Early Days with Jesus which was for 3-6 year olds. “It had been around for a while and was somewhat in need of updating. So we took a couple of years to come up with an alternative which was Pens. We now have two years’ worth of material plus a number of ‘specials’ and some extension product. Our heart has been to encourage kids to read; to read something which provides biblical values, ethos and a framework to the choices they are making.” Lynette says CWR are starting to look at extending what they do to the area of training for children’s workers and parents. “We will probably explore that first in Singapore because they have asked or that and then take it from there.”
Then there was film ...
CWR started producing filmed material over 30 years ago, and developed the Caring seminars on video over 20 years ago and the Christ Empowered Living material followed later. Mick says: “CWR also had a VHS video library with the People of Power seminars and the Caring seminars that churches could hire from – our own video hire shop if you like; we used to post video cassettes out on loan when requested.”
First to be filmed as a DVD was Why Revival Waits followed by Seven Laws for Life. This had been a core book of Selwyn’s which he was starting to refine as a seminar which he did at Spring Harvest. He became too ill to take it on tour so Mick took iton and presented it to camera, acknowledging it as part of Selwyn’s legacy. Since then there have been several more DVDs for small groups and churches, including several with Jeff Lucas, as well as collaborations on some historical biographies too.
Waverley Abbey College –additional space required
As previously noted, Selwyn and Trevor had a vision for establishing a Christian centre for higher education. When Waverley was formally opened Selwyn stated that one day, they would house a Christian University, whether that be at Waverley or a larger campus!
Since then, CWR has been on a journey and by 2011 it got to the point where Waverley Abbey House just wasn’t big enough to accommodate all that CWR were called to do.Lynette says; “Originally we wanted to try and grow here at Waverley. We had lots of discussions with architects and planners about extending Waverley but there were all sorts of obstacles and planning difficulties which made that a problematic proposition.”
Mick adds: “It was clear that we needed another property and so we entered into discussions with Memralife about acquiring Pilgrim Hall: God’s timing was, as always, impeccable!
“Now we have Waverley Abbey College registered with the British Association of Colleges who are flag shipping our higher education courses (BA and MA in counselling – validated by Roehampton University). We’re currently in negotiation for Masters degrees for Teachers, for Pastoral Care and for Coaching & Mentoring. We’re also hoping to get the go-ahead for initial teacher training, so are in discussions with another leading UK university for these courses. We are also well on the road to progressing our validated programmes being available in Singapore.”
Singapore – an important hub
In recent years Asia has become an important region for CWR and this led to the establishment of CWR Asia in Singapore. “We’ve been running courses there for some time”, says Mick, “and we needed a formal structure to facilitate this arm of the ministry going forwards.”
In 2000 Selwyn met with church leaders in Malaysia and committed three months of his time to train local leaders. It was forestalled by the Asian economic crash so this, combined with Selwyn’s ill-health meant delay was unavoidable. In 2005 Mick met with the leaders and things started to move again both in Malaysia and Singapore, and since that time CWR teams have been visiting South East Asia several times each year, serving the church through counselling training, Insight seminars and translation of discipleship resources for the region.
50 years on from the written postcards what does the future hold for CWR? Mick says they are currently in transition, “but I am completely clear that we are all about engaging, reading and application of Scripture in our individual and corporate lives, and equipping the church in areas of discipleship, people helping and counselling. It’s about helping us become who we are in God - that’s our focus.”
Lynette adds, “What Mick describes is the essence and core of CWR. For the last year or two we have focussed on establishing the college, but CWR is much more than
Waverley Abbey College and always will be. We are continuing to develop significant church resources and initiatives and Bible reading aids, as well as providing seminars and events to help people live life as God intended – both at our two centres and also regionally.”
“Waverley is not just an academic institution”, says Mick. “The goal is not to be a Christian college, it is to influence and transform society by having godly men and women, in their professions, who know how to make a biblical decision from a Christian world view, to act righteously and to relate genuinely, with a love of God, to those around them.
“Another significant area of opportunity in the future will also be in translation work for those in China and we currently have the EDWJ Bible, Personal Encourager and EDWJ for New Christians being translated into Chinese. We’re also receiving requests to translate into other languages as the application element of our work seems to be what the church is asking for.”
Celebrating the anniversary
One of the ways in which CWR are marking their 50th anniversary is with several weekend events around the UK. Whilst Waverley and Pilgrim Hall host the higher educational programmes, CWR offer a wide range of seminars and events that can be taken to churches and towns for a morning, evening, day or weekend. Lynette says “We are out and about far more now than in recent years, and value the opportunity to work with local bookshops at our events where possible, and engage with people in their locality
who may have never considered travelling to the south east.
CWR are also segmenting their core materials under different banners. All the women’s daily reading materials (the second most purchased product after EDWJ) and the courses for women will now come under the Inspiring Women banner. Similarly all the Cover to Cover materials come under the Small Group Central banner: both streams offer seminars and events to compliment the resources.
Pay it Forward
A key initiative for 2015 is ‘Pay it Forward’. This reflects one of the major aspects of CWR - daily Bible reading - and will hopefully increase the number of Christians regularly engaging with Scripture. Mick explains, “We have tens of thousands of people daily reading our notes. So, going back to our roots of daily Bible reading, Selwyn preaching to a packed crowd at Westminster Central Hall we’re asking them to spread the word about regular Bible reading by perhaps buying an extra copy from their local bookshop or a gift subscription as a gift for someone else, to help pay the blessing forwards that they have experienced themselves from daily reading of the Bible”. CWR will supply Pay it Forward posters and counter displays to bookshops to promote this initiative.
Individuals can also sponsor a subscription for CWR to pass on to someone identified to them by a pastor. More information can be found at cwr.org.uk/payitforward.
In September 2015 CWR are planning a National Prayer Weekend, supported by HOPE and the 24/7 Prayer network. Mick says, “The concept takes us back to our roots; it’s about praying for your neighbours and your locality. It’s not a stadium event, we want to equip local churches to pray for the needs of their locality and we hope
the trade will get on board with that with their local church leaders. Plans are developing rapidly, including a national prayer grid and resources for purchase and wide distribution.”
So much has been achieved since those first postcards were sent out by Selwyn Hughes. The next 50 years will do well to match the achievements of the first 50 but we can be certain that CWR will continue to encourage individuals to enhance their knowledge, understanding and application of God’s Word in their lives.
February 24th, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine