Turning to God in Wales
People from 125 churches of different denominations in 30 towns and centres across Wales went out on the streets over the past couple of weeks to ask others if they knew Jesus.
Earlier in the year training sessions had been held in Swansea. People were familiarised with a very simple Bible-based conversation and taught to come together to pray for the right people to meet on the streets for the following hour or so. Teams of three from various church backgrounds went out to ask people what they knew of heaven, of Jesus as Saviour and their eternal destiny. Responses were recorded rigorously and 3,051 people prayed a prayer of commitment to Jesus, not counting those that took a prayer card to pray at home.
This story was told by Revd Ifor Williams who was taking the service in Presteigne Baptist Chapel on Sunday, July 16, 2017. He had previously read and briefly expounded the account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when we read that 3,000 were converted and baptised.
These Welsh people that responded, Ifor said, represent all the different soils of the Parable of the Sower and will be a challenge to follow up effectively. However the numbers make one recall the Day of Pentecost, which was a world-changing move of God. This might not be revival yet, but it was surely a move of God, if not as dramatic as Pentecost.
A vision in May, 2015
The back story is that Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union and a prayerful, prophetic person had reported seeing a vision of fires of prayer and a cloud of glory over the UK in May 2015 which touching certain places. The first place she saw the cloud touch was Reading, Berkshire, where significant church unity had been achieved over the past 20 years through pastors meeting and praying together weekly. They had invited an evangelist who travels globally, Tommy Zito, to do some training in this simple and brief ‘script’ approach and on the first day 61 people made commitments. About 80 made commitments the next day. At that point they nearly stopped — this was going to be a large number of people to follow up and help find their way into churches.
Other cities followed, all places where a unity of purpose and mission shared between different churches had been established. The unity, Ifor said, is an essential starting point, and Reading had long been growing this. Many thousands have now been saved across the UK.
Hence the mission led by a team from Reading that New Wine Cymru have called The Turning.
Ifor pointed out that going out and asking people questions is not all glory. It is not a magic wand. Not everyone says ‘yes’. But even people professing to be atheists have been saved. When someone says they are an atheist, the training reminds them never to judge but to stay positive, keep the conversation going and trust God for the outcome.
It starts with a question about whether they know there is a heaven and where they would be if something happened suddenly and they died. Then, very briefly, these key truths:
– All have sinned and fallen short
– The wages of sin are death but the free gift of God is eternal life
– Whoever calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.
One such conversation was with an atheist. The team asked whether they could pray for God’s blessing for him. Somewhat surprisingly, he agreed, sharing that his brother had just died. They prayed a simple prayer of God’s blessing over him – nothing more. He stayed in conversation, and a short time later he gave his life to the Lord.
Pontypridd and Abergavenny
In Pontypridd another conversation led to a woman saying that she was an atheist – and also a fatalist. They shared the Bible verses and gave her a handout which was part of the Bible. She opened it and found her finger against the very verse that had been shared: “All have sinned and fallen short…” As a fatalist, this shocked her, and she left. Later, as the teams were returning and assembled back in one of the churches in Pontypridd – there she was sitting in a pew. As she walked away, she had a strong sense that she needed to find a church, and this church was open and looked friendly with people in it. In a short time she, too, gave her life to the Lord.
In Abergavenny Park a team met a young lad and as they shared with Him briefly he became quite emotional. Later it turned out that another young person who knew him texted him; they’d had the surprising reply that he had just given his life to Jesus.
Some people who have come for the training did not like the idea of using a script. They wanted to do it their own way. They went out on the street and the results were about what you would expect. However those who followed the training did much better. There seemed to be an anointing on this script approach, bizarre though it might seem – it works. The responses are far greater than one would expect.
The Turning is just that – a turning to God, Ifor said. Perhaps not yet revival, but God’s hand is clearly on it.
On the Day of Pentecost the Bible tells us that 3,000 men became believers and the Holy Spirit pushed them out on to the streets of Jerusalem. Similarly, the Holy Spirit is pushing out on to the streets people who have never shared Jesus with another person before. There have probably been 6-7,000 conversations and as many as 25,000 have heard the Good News in some way over the nine days. Many of those who went out had never led anyone to Christ before. Some found it easier than they thought and some found it quite difficult – but of course people vary in gifting and in personality traits.
Unity a prerequisite
One of the greatest factors has been the sense of unity in a place. Unity commands the blessing of God. On one day in Brecon, 10 people gave their lives to Christ and a further five wanted to pray the prayer at home. Many were struck by the fact that people in the teams were from mixed church backgrounds but on the same team, sharing Jesus together.
Ifor said that historically in the church, we have not been good at asking people whether they want to come to Christ. So many people have come to Christ through The Turning, simply because they have been asked.
It is designed to be short and to the point. A bus driver was engaged in conversation while he was waiting at his depot in Abergavenny; he said he had to take his bus out in five minutes. It won’t take long, the team told him, and in that time he decided he wanted Jesus in his life.
At the first Pentecost, we know from the account later in Acts that these people had their lives totally changed. People have had their lives changed by an encounter with Jesus at The Turning, and will need a lot of follow up and further discipling.
– Continuing spiritual growth
– People to find their way into the right church
– For those charged with the follow up. The intention is that every person who responded will have a text or an email from someone who lives near them with 24 hours. A big task.
The work continues
The Day of Pentecost didn’t end at Pentecost. Similarly The Turning didn’t end this week. More is planned. The work continues. God has started something and the fire will continue to burn. Many seeds have been sown and God’s promise is that “My word shall not return to me empty…”
Ifor said: “We need to continue to pray, and seek God for what He wants to do in other towns, perhaps like this one.”
Church planter and leader of the Valleys Region of New Wine Cymru Rob Jones will be saying more about this at the meeting of Brecon Beacons Filling Station this Friday (July 28), 7pm at Glasbury-on-Wye Village Hall. For map and details see