Visiting the Welsh Outpouring: 2 June

The Welsh Outpouring at Victory Church, Cwmbran, continues. Five of us from our family went last Wednesday to catch it.

Victory Church is in a converted industrial unit, round the corner from a major shopping park in Cwmbran, easy to find. We joined a large queue before being ushered into the ‘dark shoe box’, as the Minister, Richard Taylor, called it. People were standing packed at the back, not a seat in sight. A leading local man led us to the front where there were free seats. Not so different from normal church…

The format was normal Pentecostal: worship songs, followed by talk, followed by more songs and prayer ministry at the front by the local team. Some of the initial songs were from 10 or so years ago, not all bang up to date. Later we sang some old hymns. The familiarity and gusto of all the singing indicated that most of the people present were long-standing Christians. We sang ‘Here is love, vast as the ocean…’ the ‘signature hymn’ of the 1904 Welsh Revival. Richard Taylor said that the Cwmbran Outpouring is the first significant such move of the Holy Spirit in Wales since 1904.

People had come far – from Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Tennessee and Singapore. We heard that Victory Church has had a million people viewing their Facebook page since the Outpouring began. Hundreds of people have decided to welcome and follow Jesus in their lives. Hundreds have reported healing. We were told of an 18 year old girl who had been self-harming, including on her legs, and who now no longer needs to cut herself. She came again to Victory Church in shorts, showing her former scars: ‘trophies of grace’ – a phrase she had heard there. A man with curvature of the spine came. He wasn’t healed, but he started praying in tongues. The Holy Spirit prompted him to go back to be reconciled with the leaders of a church which he had left in bad grace. He returned to Victory Church and, on this second visit, his back was straightened.

My 88 year old mother-in-law was with us, hoping to see at last with her own eyes a dramatic healing, like someone leaping out of a wheelchair. We didn’t see that. We did see her falling onto the floor while someone prayed for her. This is usual for her. Many such times have made her healthier and happier than when she was 68. I went forward for prayer for Holy Spirit Outpouring on me and through me. I didn’t fall over, as is usual for me. Standing, I did feel gently filled up, as though with warm air, similar to other times of prayer for the Holy Spirit, but distinctive. No obvious difference since. Maybe when I pray with others..?

From what I could see, there were fewer physical signs of the Holy Spirit moving, fewer shakings and fallings over, in the congregation, as opposed to during prayer ministry, than I have seen in a couple of other places.

Richard Taylor preached on the cross with genuine passion. He called for people to make first time commitments in the usual way: first putting their hand up, then coming to the front for a prayer of dedication and to be given follow up material. Nothing unusual: focus on Jesus and him crucified, rather than on the Holy Spirit.

It seems that some critics have said the Outpouring is all money-making. Richard Taylor joked that he could make a fortune out of selling anointed prayer cloths, instead of just giving them away. There was no offering, nor a mini-sermon on giving, as is usual in many churches, only a retiring collection. The screen at the front was no hi-tech super-reflective surface, but a white bed sheet tacked onto a wooden board.

Richard Taylor said repeatedly that Victory Church is just a local church. They are doing what they have done before, but with more sense of the Holy Spirit flowing.  He hinted that they have moved on from some of their previous practice – no longer giving a benediction. ‘When the Outpouring came, Benedict left the building.’ Mostly, though, they are the same but more so.

Normal local church with more sense of the Holy Spirit welcome, present and moving. That possibility, to me, is tremendous, exciting, inspiring hope. Not an unusual time called ‘Revival’ which comes and then goes leaving powerful memories and a disappointed hangover. Ordinary local churches being themselves in their various traditions, but with more enthusiasm, more sense of the Holy Spirit, more light, more fire, more healing, more commitment to Jesus. ‘Don’t join our church,’ said Richard Taylor, ‘there are plenty of other good churches.’ A few things may have to leave the building; not all that we do is what the Holy Spirit wants. Mostly, though, we will remain the same, but more so. May this Outpouring flow to many more local churches in Wales and beyond.

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