St Michael and All Angels, Highworth

Sharing Jesus through faithful worship, care for one another and effective outreach

Ashmores in the UK

Ministry in the Afan Valley of South Wales

 Latest news update: 16th April 2017 - please see further down page.

 Romans 1:20 (NIV)

 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

The beauty of God's creation is all around us but we can only really appreciate it if we know the Creator.  The above verse says "so that men are without excuse".  In 1904 the Welsh Revival resulted in there being 12 churches in the village we live in and each church was overflowing with people hungry to hear the Gospel message.  Today there are just two churches - one of around 20 worshipers and the other a mere 8.

Although no-one can be excused from not giving God the credit for creation which is all around them, they can be excused of ignorance to the Gospel message.  This is where we are attempting to step in.

Romans 10:14 (NIV) 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Unlike years gone by, no longer can we assume that people (especially the children and teenagers) know anything of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the importance of God's amazing plan of salvation.

 
We have been members of St. Michael's since 1980's and we really enjoy the warmth of friendship and fellowship here. We visit as often as we can and share news of our ministry. We enjoy joining in the worship when we are able to. 
 
We are now also blessed to be members of Peniel Evangelical Church in Maesteg, just 15mins drive from where we live. We worship there on a regular basis and we really appreciate the warmth of friendship and support for our ministry.
 
Our UK mission is to take the Gospel to the folk in the valleys and in particular ours - the Afan Valley. We are looking at ways that the church can again become a focal part of the community. We have already run the Christianity Explored course and followed it up with Discipleship Explored. 
We are going into the local school to take assembly and running a mid-week coffee morning in one of the chapels. We both are asked to lead services in the village chapels on a regular basis and are involved in running the FoodBank in Peniel Church, Maesteg.  We also help at the youth club each Friday evening at Peniel.
 
We are now part of the wider "Valleys Gospel Initiative" where different churches involved in valleys ministries, meet to be updated, pray together. share ideas and resources.  As some chapels have only small congregations this opens up opportunities to have special events or services supported by folk from the other churches.

UPDATE 16th April 2017
Happy Easter! He is risen, Hallelujah!
As we write this update on Easter Day 2017 in our home in Abergwynfi, South Wales, we celebrate along with Christians in our villages and all around the world the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words of Jesus on the cross - "It is finished" signaled the completion of God's plan of salvation through Jesus, leading to the cross of Calvary. There Jesus took the sins of us all so that all those that put their trust in Him are saved. This is as true today as it was 2,000 years ago. The Bible says...
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans10:9)

Pauline and I had the privilege last week to be at Spring Harvest in Minehead. As many of you will know this is a Christian celebration event held each year at Butlins Holiday Camps both is Minehead and Skegness.  We went many years ago when our children were young as part of the group from St. Michael's. It was always extremely encouraging and uplifting and being part of the church group we were able to bring back fresh ideas and understandings to share with those unable to go.
We returned there this year wondering how the event may have changed and what format it would take. We were not disappointed! The Bible teaching, led this year by Paula Goody, was truly amazing. The theme of the week was "unity" and we spent time looking at scripture and discovering what it says on this and through the teaching of Jesus himself. The key scripture was John 17 and this included Jesus praying for all believers.

We felt humbled to be part of a massive group of believers from many different denominations but all united in their love of Christ. The week sold out early on so there was probably about 3,500+ folk on campus. Along with the teaching were testimonies and stories and "sofa" interviews which really inspired us.

Spring Harvest would not be the same without the awesome worship throughout the day. "Worship Central" led the hymns and choruses and we were able to catch up a number of years to bring us more up to date with the music of the churches today. Having said that we are from time to time able to attend the Waterfront Church and the Elim church in Swansea (and listen and watch Hillsong) so we were not necessarily looking for "Shine Jesus Shine" (although we still really like that!!)
Each day began with the Big Start at 9.45am and we enjoyed joining in with the kids and now know the song "diddly diddly dum" - with actions!! The morning then went through to 1pm and there were different activities/mettings in the afternoon and then an evening session from 6.46pm.
As Jesus commanded His disciples to go to all the nations with the Good News of the Gospel, so we can be encouraged that as modern day disciples we have that amazing opportunity. Jesus said He would never leave us or forsake us. We have a Gospel to Proclaim so let's minimise our differences and maximise our unity in the love of Christ. We will never all agree with each other (even in the same church) so worldwide we've got no chance. Therefore let us see ourselves as God sees us -
Believers united in the Love of Christ.
Believers united in the Cross of Calvary.
Believers united on Resurrection Day.
Every Blessing,
Alan & Pauline


UPDATE 7th February 2017
On 21st January 2017 we all celebrated the marriage of Simon and Antoinette. It was an amazing wedding with guests from all around the world. There was a strong African theme at St. Michael's and at the reception held in Wick House, Stow on the Wold. The happy couple then went on honeymoon to Botswana (Safari) and then on to Cape Town.

Both Simon and Antoinette would like to thank all those that played a part to make the occasion so special. The church looked so beautiful with all the floral decoration, as did St. Michael's Hall. Thanks also to those that served at the hall and in transporting all the crockery etc.


UPDATE 29th November 2016
As Christmas approaches we would like to send our Christmas greetings to all those that read these pages.
The Christmas term is always a busy but exciting one for us, especially with our work in the schools. We are currently running our hand bell ringing club at the school in the village. The children will be performing at the school concerts and at the Church Carol Service later in the month. We hope to have the school choir at the service as well. We are also visiting the four primary schools in the area to support their Christmas productions and take assemblies.
We continue to run the weekly Coffee Morning at the church on a Wednesday and support the Foodbanks including a Foodbank presentation at the Comprehensive school who are currently collecting food as their main community project.
2017 Sees much of the ministry continuing in the same way - this includes visiting folk from the churches, hospital visits and to any other contacts we have made that have asked for a visit.
We also run mid-week Bible studies at the church from time to time.
In addition we are excited to announce that we will be starting a weekly children's lunchtime Bible Club in our village School and eagerly await to see what response we have from the children to that. This will begin in the New Year.
Also our church Family Service, which is held every two months, will now be changing format. We are introducing a "Cafe Church" style format which we hope will bring in more folk from the village.
People have shown real interest in the Christianity Explored Course and we plan to run this again (the new format), probably around the spring time.
We wish you all a very special and Blessed Christmas and we look forward to reporting back later in 2017.
 
UPDATE 28th April 2016
We are not unfamiliar with extreme weather up our mountain here in Abergwynfi but still having snow at the end of April is amazing. However for once other parts of the UK are experiencing similar conditions to us. Sadly, Tabor chapel in the village has been closed over the winter due to the poor state of the fabric of this 1904 Revival chapel and at present is unlikely to re-open. This leaves just the one chapel of the original eight still having services and meetings - "White Chapel" Villiers Road. Our ministry there continues in leading Bible Studies, regular Family Services, occasional preaching and running the Coffee Morning. We have also had film nights and Hymns of Praise events. As members of Peniel Church in Maesteg we continue to help at the Kids Club and Food Banks and more recently are involved in visiting church members and occasional outside contacts. Recently we were asked to take a service in a church in Porthcawl.
The school contacts with four local schools continue to be a blessing as we are able to take an assembly in each once a month and as we continue to get to know the kids and their teachers.

UPDATE 27th January 2016
The Christmas services and outreaches went really well. It was very special to see White Chapel with so many families in for the Carol Service where our school hand bell ringing group played carols and the school choir perofrmed. They all did so well.
As we move into 2016 we have already been in to the four schools and all the other activities have re-started. We had a meeting with the leaders of some local churches to talk about supporting each other in various ways throughout the year. Our family services continue in March.

UPDATE 23rd September 2015
The work continues here in South Wales and we are so grateful for all the times God shows His hand and for all the payers of His people.
Much has been the same as below with the weekly Coffee Morning, Bible Study / courses, youth club on a Friday evening, Foodbank and School Assemblies and ESL.

We are especially pleased with the schools contacts with both children and teachers. We regularly go into four Primary schools to take the morning assembly and help with other projects occasionally such as Harvest and Christmas activities.

We are both called upon regularly to take sevices in our local chapel and occasionaly further afield. Here it is usual for one person to take the whole service (leading, prayers and preaching). We have a mixture of hymns / choruses and in one chapel a mixture of languages (Welsh / English) but fortunately for us only the hymns are in Welsh. We also from time to time play keyboard and guitars and occasionaly have a "Hymns of Praise" meeting on a Saturday evening.

One change of emphasis in our ministry is that we have just handed over leadership of the two Foodbanks (Caerau and Maesteg). Although we will still be connected we felt the need to spend more time on follow up, nurturing new believers and visiting folk from the church etc.

As we start the new academic year we are excited at what lies ahead and are so grateful for people's support and prayers.

UPDATE 3rd June 2014

The Caerau Foodbank has now been open over one year and below is a photo taken on the 1yr Anniversary showing our volunteers and those who deliver the food supplies to us weekly.Caerau Foodbank 1 yr on
 
The Caerau Foodbank is kindly hosted by the Noddfa Community Project who can be found on Facebook and is in what was previously a South Wales valley chapel.


UPDATE 27th March 2014

God is Good! As we mentioned in our last update below we have planned a number of family/all age worship services for 2014 in White Chapel, Blaengwynfi. We had our first last Sunday. Although announced through posters in local shops and invitations through some doors it was sad that no families came. We were well supported with folk from the church and others that do not normally come. We had a very blessed time. Andrew Norbury (pastor of Peniel Church Maesteg) took the service and the message was very special and was for us all. Our Daughter and Son-in-Law came over and we led worship with a mixture of instruments and voices. A mix of old and new and we were able to lift worship the Lord on clarinet, flute, keyboard and guitars and of course beautiful voices welsh/english mix. We will continue with the planned programme and look to the Lord to direct us.

Our other ministries continue with some amazing and humbling conversation at the two Foodbanks each week. Bible studies and the mid-week prayer meeting are a real blessing as are the school assemblies.

There are some different types of changes taking place in all three churches at the moment and we would appreciate prayer for the continued witness to the Gospel in this area and that the local church will be responsive to the needs of the local people while continuing to be faithful to this Gospel.

We are so grateful for our continued support at "a distance" from St. Michael's folk, without which we could not continue and we love the time we are able to be part of what is happening there.

UPDATE 6th January 2014
 
Happy New Year!
 
God is Good! We had a very blessed Christmas with family and friends.  The pre-Christmas services and events went really well. Our young bell ringers did a spledid job at both their inter school event and the Carol Service held at White Chapel in the village.  The services over Christmas were very special too. Simon came to stay with us and we all went to the midnight service at St.Michael's in Maesteg and to Peniel Evangelical Church, Maesteg for Christmas morning.
 
Yesterday we led both services in the village and as we looked at the visit of the Magi we considered our journey in life. To always have Jesus at the centre as we enter a New Year.
 
Today our weekly program starts again. The children ringing the bells at the carol service saw our chapel buzzing like we have never seen it before. The children brought various family members and they all seemed to feel very at home in the chapel. It also gave us the opportunity of announcing the first Family Service planned for March.
 
We are also so grateful that we now have a replacement car to take us into 2014!
 
As we progress into the year we will continue to update this page and thank you for all your support and interest in the outreach here in the valleys of South Wales.
 
UPDATE 5th November 2013
 
Countdown to Christmas! 
 
God is Good! He gives us the seasons here in the UK. As each season passes and a new one begins He gives us something very specail to look forward to, plan for and more opportunities to share His love with others.  After one of  the best summers ever for sunshine and dry days (even here in South Wales) we now approach Winter with all the excitement that it brings.
 
We are looking forward to a "Ding, Dong" Christmas as we go into the village primary school to teach the children how to play the handbells, or more acurately hand plates - the modern day equivalent. 23 Children turned up to the taster session just before half term and they did embaressingly well - embarassing for us as two weeks before we did a far less than perfect demonstration to them to show how it was done - or not. How many will last the course each week ready for the inter-schools carol service and the church service, remains to be seen. However along with our monthly assembly it is very special to get to know the children and their families.
 
The two FoodBanks, Caerau and Maesteg, continue to be well used and we have had some amazing conversations over a cup of coffee and biscuits, while the clients wait for their food bags to be prepared. People have been so generous in their donations and most of the schools in the local area have had Harvest collections and donated them to FoodBank. Along with the churches doing the same.
 
Wednesday coffee morning with quizes and outreach continue to be a real joy. Lots of laughter and nattering!
 
We have been asked to take the services for the next four weeks at one of our churches (November) and are looking forward to being able to share with folk what the Lord lays on our hearts. They very much welcome other instruments and we are very pleased to include a praise time at each of the services. 
 
We were asked to lead a weekly Bible Study on Revelation at one of the churches. We are now some weeks into it and it has been a real blessing to all of us in the group.  We are learning so much and looking to the Lord to direct us. We are all so encouraged.
 
We continue to teach English to our four Japanese students in Swansea and Llanelli. ESL tutoring has always been a pleasure,  we first began a number of years ago in Africa and it is wonderful to be able to "keep our hand in" with just a few hours a week helping these wonderful Japanese students. We follow the Oxford University Press publication "New Headway" which is excellent.
 
Our car, which we use a lot for ministry and ferrying people to and from churches, FoodBank and various meetings etc. is on it's last legs. We paid £930 for it over 3 years (V reg) ago and have had to pay very little out to keep it going.  We have very nearly doubled the mileage in that time! It has been a real blessing and we are reminded how the Israelites sandals did not wear out in the desert and regard this car as one of God's modern day miracles. We are now looking for a replacement while we are still able to drive this one.
 
Psalm 31:24
 
Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord.
 
 
As Christmas is still some weeks away we do hope to do an update before then. Meanwhile thank you for your all interest and support and we so value prayers. We also pray that you will know the Lord's leading and peace in all that you do and for all in your family.
 
 
UPDATE 1st June 2013
 
Summer has come to the valleys!

It has been wonderful to see the sun and blue skies over Aber and Blaengwynfi. Pauline and I have been able to head up the "mountain" for some walks and to take in God's beauty as we gaze and pray over the valley. In psalm 121 we read " I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." (NIV).

It is interesting that the latest NIV translation uses the word "mountain" while some other translations use the word "hills". It was not long after we moved here that we realised that our lovely Welsh neighbours call the hills "mountains" and are very proud of them. Quite rightly too, as the scenery around here is awesome. Whether they are hills or mountains is immaterial when we compare it to the greatness of our God, it is from Him that we have life - and life eternal through Jesus Christ. In a very small way we get a precious insight as we stand on the "high land". In some way it lifts us away from the day to day details and difficulties of sharing the Gospel and helps us see the "big picture".  

The message - If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" Simpls!

Now, we need the chapels in the valleys to be willing and able to respond to a modern generation, before the last places of worship dissappear from our villages altogether.  Alternatively, let's have new modern churches being planted. God, your will, not ours.

UPDATE 16th April 2013

 
CAERAU FoodBank Opened 9th April 2013 !

We are really pleased to say that the Caerau FoodBank opened as planned at the Noddfa Community Centre, Caerau. We are grateful to the staff there for their kindness and help in getting this up and running and also to the local councillor and his wife for their support.  We were quite busy today but had time to talk to our clients at length. It is very humbling as we offer Christian love and a listening ear to their individual situations.  In human terms some feel their situations seem hopeless but we have a great God who can and does turn lives around.

Christianity Explored Course (similar to ALPHA)

We are now running this course again in our village. There is always something new and challenging, especially when those who are searching ask questions which are so important to them (and to us).

Coffee Morning

The quizzes that we put together for each week take time to prepare but really give another dimension to the morning.  With around half non-church people there, the Bible quiz is important, as is the short devotion time.

Holiday Bible Club (Easter) and Youth at Peniel

The three day holiday club held at Peniel church was a great success (and great fun for the helpers) with up to 45 children attending. Every Friday during term time we have the Kids/Youth group at Peniel and we are hoping some of those that came to the Holiday Club will come to this. It is also good to get to know some of the parents.

UPDATE 14th February 2013

FoodBank - We had an amazing meeting yesterday regarding the opening of a new distribution centre for clients. Thanks to the kindness and willingness of the local community centre, local councillors, Bridegend FoodBank trustees and volunteer helpers we managed to sort out all the necessary details in just ONE meeting - impossible? For us yes, for God all things are possible! PTL 

UPDATE 12th February 2013

We are now enjoying hosting our weekly house group, which started last week. The village school was excited to see photos and hear a report of our recent trip to Burkna Faso, West Africa. They have worked on various class projects concerning Burkina and it's people.  The number of clients coming to the Maesteg ditribution centre of Foodbank has doubled over the last two weeks - sad to see the effect cuts are having on folk.  We are looking at opening another centre further up the valley where the need is so great.

UPDATE 29th December 2012

Arrived back in the UK on 18th December from a return visit to Burkina Faso, West Africa. We were soon back into our ministry here in the valleys of south Wales. We are so grateful for those that covered for us while we were away and the very encouraging response from the TESCO food collection weekend for FoodBank. We had a very special and enjoyable family Christmas here in our house.  We are now planning and looking forward to the year ahead.

UPDATE 21st October 2012

We are currently finalising things here to ensure our ministry is covered for when we head of to Burkina Faso, flying out on November 2nd.  The valley ministry is going well with encouraging responses to the various outreaches.  We are also excited about the "Valleys Initiative" that we were involved in setting up.  This is the bringing together of those outreaching in various valleys around the Bridgend area. It means we can support each other for special events as we work together to further the Gospel.

UPDATE 7th August 2012

Last week we were at the UFM Worldwide mission family conference near Market Harborough. With over 200 people there it was a wonderful week when we were able to catch up with all that is happening around the world in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  It was good to see the mission growing and new countries being reached with the Gospel.

We were able to discuss our day to day ministry here in South Wales, which although still slow is showing encouraging signs as those outside the church come along to events. They hear Gospel truths in different ways and with the Bible Quiz at the coffee morning are at least scanning through the books of the Bible to get the answers.  With a short break over August in some places we are preparing to get into full swing as the schools go back at the beginning of September and people return from their holidays.

Plans are progressing well for a return to Burkina Faso, West Africa, around the beginning of November this year. We both will run ESL classes with SIM mission lasting for about 6 weeks.  We hope to do some pastoral visits with folk out there and encourage them in their faith. We are really excited about catching up with friends both nationals and missionaries and will to return to the UK in mid December.

UPDATE 5th April 2012

We have just returned to Wales after a very enjoyable visit to Highworth at the weekend.  We were able to go to 3 services and catch up with people on Sunday and also go to the Lent Lunch held in the Methodist Church on Wednesday before returning.  It was good to be back at St. M's.  Our son  Simon is now back living in Highworth after his two and half years in Senegal, West Africa.  He started work on Monday 2nd April 2012 in Swindon.

. The FoodBank project is going well with local a store in Maesteg (South Wales) getting behind the scheme and we have permission to have a 4ft collection box placed at the exit to the store where customers can donate non-perishable food.

. School assembly - we are able to go into the local school regularly to take assembly and it is good to get to know the children and for them to talk to us as we wander around the village.

. Church Coffee Morning - we are pleased that we have been able to start up and run a coffee morning in one of the village chapels. This has been very popular with church folk as well neighbours and friends coming into the church.  We supply quizes and puzzles and also there is a time of Bible reflection as an outreach. For some it is the first time they have been into the Chapel.

. Linking with local people - we are pleased to be undertaking ministry out of Peniel Evangelical Church, Maesteg as community evangelists.  

. Church youth group - we are really enjoying helping each Friday evening at the club for young people held in the church room.

. We often are asked to take the services at Tabor Chapel in our village playing our guitars for a time of worship, prayer and delivering the message.

. There is a great need to bring young families back into the chapels and churches of Wales - much prayer needed.

UPDATE 1st Feb 2012

The Bridgend Borough Food Bank - Maesteg branch opened its doors last Friday (11am to 3pm) out of Peniel Church.  With volunteers from a number of local churches we enjoyed getting to know each other as we weighed in and dated and stored cans of food, cereals etc.  We welcomed a number of clients and folk chatted to them as their emergency food supply was packed.  At 2pm MP Irranca-Davies came to see the centre along with a number of councilors and were very encouraging and supportive.  As we closed doors at 3pm the volunteer team joined together for prayer for those clients and their families that came in on the day. 

UPDATE 15th Nov 2011

There is a new Food Bank project planned to operate out of Peniel Church, Maesteg.  As a team, we are hoping to get it up and running at the beginning of December as there is a great need in the town and the villages around.  Pauline has finished her work and the Christian Bookshop in Cardiff will close in January after nearly 50 years of witness.  This is sad but there is an intention to open up a ministry centre run by local churches which will include a coffee bar and bookshop in the centre of Cardiff later in 2012. We are currently looking at other opportunities of ministry both in Maesteg and in our village so these are exciting times. Watch this space!

Carrie is working full time as a dispenser in a Swansea pharmacy and her husband Shaun is studying and both are very busy with outreach in their church and with the youth work.  Jo continues to work in the office of a family run business and Nathan is teaching and is a classroom assistant and both are part of the music group in their church and frequently lead worship.  Simon is back in Dakar, the capital of Senegal serving as a Wec Treker, after coming to the UK for his sister's wedding.  He is currently involved in the construction of a pastors house, along with other ministries and is due to return to the UK in the next couple of months.

UPDATE 12th July 2011
We have now just finished our latest Christianity Explored Course held in our home, before taking a break over the summer holidays.   Everyone had a great time of fellowship and learning, provoking many good discussions and a thirst for more.  Great food as well!  (For information the 2011 Edition of Christianity Explored is now available, still headed up by Rico Tice and well worth investigation.)

Pauline and I have been going into our local school weekly on a Wednesday morning to take assembly and we are pleased to be able to continue that into the next academic year.  It has been exciting and the local kids are getting to know us as we walk around the village.

We are in the process of planning outreaches for the coming year starting in September.  In addition to what we are now doing, a number of suggestions have been offered to the village chapels from our church in Maesteg.  This includes the possibility of five or six special events that would be aimed specifically at families outside of the church, with door to door invitations and posters etc.  As yet the churches have not taken a decision on this and we have been asked to a meeting in the next couple of weeks to talk about it.  One of the village chapels is very central and would be ideal for outreach, kid's clubs etc. but we are uncertain at present if they see this as a part of their vision.

We continue with our part-time jobs with Alan in the Cardiff Christian Bookshop in the city centre and Pauline as a Care Co-ordinator for adults with severe learning disabilities in Swansea.

Every Blessing,  Alan & Pauline

UPDATE 17th May 2011
We continue to pray for all aspects of ministry here which, as in many parts of the UK, continues to be very difficult.  Church attendance continues to decline and the next generation are hearing little or nothing of the love of Jesus for them.

Pauline and I continue to seize opportunities to share the Gospel and have been more encouraged recently as we have been asked to take a number of services where there would not have been a visiting minister available for the Sunday services in the local chapels.  We also had the opportunity to take part in the morning service held at Harborne Baptist Church recently.  Their focus of the day was on the BibleFresh initiative for 2011 where church members are encouraged to read the Bible more and to look at mission both locally and further afield.  One specific feature is the encouraging and supporting the work of translating the Bible into Bissa Barka which is the local language of a peoples group in the south-east Burkina Faso.  We had spent a short time in this area of Burkina and were able to give some first hand knowledge of the work of the Gospel there and the real need to have the Bible in this dialect.

We continue to have a meeting most weeks in our house, looking at different aspects of the Bible and of the Christian life in a relaxed way and over a light lunch!

One exciting development is that there is a possibility that we can link up with a church 15 minutes down the road from us.  They have succeeded in reaching folk from the local area and have a flourishing Sunday School and links with young people and mid-week Mums and Toddlers meetings etc. We will be interested in knowing more of the ways that they have managed to impact into the "valley" community, help where we can and see if the Lord opens up similar opportunities in our village.

Watch this space!

Alan & Pauline