Hi all, gorgeous day! I hope you’re had a really good start to the week – I’ve had a really interesting one… This morning I was doing some filming at the site of the first ever Baptist Church in Wales!! The ruins of the church building are at Ilston, and are only a short walk from the public carpark at The Gower Inn.
I met up with my former colleague (Simeon Baker – who some of you know really well!) and his colleague at the Baptist Union of Wales (Judith Morris), as well as Rosa Hunt (former student at Bethel and now co-principal of the South Wales Baptist College) and our Regional Minister, Mark Fairweather-Tall. It was a lovely way to start the week, on such a special day, in such a special place and such a special bunch of people!
We were there to film a promo for a special “Wave of Prayer” that will move across Wales, building momentum and carrying prayers of blessings as it goes from place to place! The wave will start, symbolically, in Ilston and move across the length and breadth of our nation, praying that God will (in the words of the Rend Collective song): “change the atmosphere”!
Build Your kingdom here, let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand, heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire, win this nation back
Change the atmosphere, build Your kingdom here, we pray.
Back in the 1640s, a young guy called John Miles, and his friend Thomas Proud were travelling up to London, and were introduced to the “London Baptists” a growing congregation at ‘Glass House’. Their visit left a big impression of them both and they got baptised while they were there! As a church, they had set a very clear prayer target:
“to seek the Lord that He would send labourers into the dark corners and parts of this land.”
What a great vision! This was something that the church had committed to fast and pray until they saw people called by the Lord to preach the gospel in unreached parts of the United Kingdom… talk about passion!
After loads of praying and discerning together, John & Tom were commissioned by the church to plant a Baptist fellowship in the Gower! Within two weeks two young women (Margaret Davies and Sarah Williams) were baptised on the 1st of October 1649 in the Ilston Brook… and by the end of the first month their number rose to 40!
Within two years they had established four new churches and appointed pastors to continue to lead those churches, with John Miles serving with a kind of apostolic oversight of those new congregations. John had a strong emphasis on the role of the prophecy in his teaching, and trained up people to be “ordinary prophets” within the church! They met primarily to hear what the Lord was saying to them, where people could speak out whatever they felt the Lord had laid on their heart. It was a particularly liberating movement for women, who found greater freedom in churches than ever before:
…women who had been denied a voice in the established church revelled in the opportunity to worship freely, and participate in charitable work. Not least among the attractions of believer’s baptism was that they could happily count themselves the equal of their husbands and other males in spiritual matters.
On the shoulders of giants!
It was an incredibly inspiring time in our history, and an incredibly inspiring place to stand and pray today!
God give us a fresh vision today to reach the unreached parts of our nation, a deeper hunger to hear Your voice, and a renewed faith and passion to stand and pray until we see the atmosphere change in Jesus’ Name!
Jesus said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves!”