Courtney McLean, Missionary in Focus, Caerphilly Partnership
Serving with MLW is one of the most unique and life-changing opportunities I have ever had. Immersing myself in Welsh life and culture for these past few months has shown me that opportunities to share the love of Christ come through both my words and my life. When you live life with people, showing up consistently, and engaging in others’ lives and stories, they will be open to hearing what makes you different, and where your hope lies!
I am so grateful for the relationships I have been able to cultivate through my placement church and with the MLW team. Although their focus is most definitely your excellence in ministry, MLW prioritizes your growth, prizes your individual gifts and journey with God, and provides all you will need to grow as a person, leader, and follower of Christ. I will forever be grateful to have been a Missional Links Wales Missionary!
Alie Breaux, MLW Intern, Bridgend Partnership
Alie is currently serving with Gilgal Baptist Church in the county of Bridgend and this is what she has to say as she reflects on the past few months as an MLW intern:
“We laugh, we cry, we pray for each other, we encourage, we call out (in love), we bless each other, we love each other.
The Lord placed just who I needed to be on this journey with me in Wales. These past few months have been brutal in so many ways. Adjusting to full time ministry life. Adjusting to my course work. Adjusting to Christianity outside the Bible belt. It’s been a time of a whole lotta self-reflection. Relearning what I thought I knew about living for Christ. Really deciding what I believe for myself.
I’ve learned that you have to have grace for yourself and lean on God at all times. I’ve learned that there is freedom in confessing sins to my fellow brothers & sisters in Christ. I’ve learned that leadership is so much more than directing people.
I am so thankful for the diligence of the MLW team and the amount of effort they put in to make sure we are accommodated for and looked after. I am extremely grateful that the Lord has called me here to Wales for such a time as this so that I can be a part of the story He is writing here. Thank you MLW for diligently serving the Lord and equipping young leaders to serve in the local churches in Wales and also that we are able to take our educational training, and hands on work beyond Wales and into our daily lives with whatever God calls us to do!”
Kayla Cradit, Former MLW Intern
Kayla was an intern with Missional Links Wales during 2016-2017, serving alongside a number of local churches in the Vale Partnership. Working back in the USA, Kayla recently contacted us to tell us how her time in Wales has helped her:
“I just wanted to say thank you. We have been teaching our youth the importance of evangelism and sharing their faith. I have been able to use the training I received from you all to help teach them. Although I have been a believer since I was young, I realize my evangelism training really did not really start till I was in Wales with you all. Thank you for all the time you invested in me and am so thankful I am able to apply it to my job today. Miss you guys dearly and pray for you often. I am praying over this new intern year for you all as well and hope it is an amazing one!”
It is always a privilege to invest in these young people and we feel honoured that Kayla is using our training to invest in and equip young people as they grow in their relationship with God.
Hannah Sober, MLW Intern, Vale of Glamorgan Partnership
God has been teaching me a lot lately and showing himself in some incredible ways! In one of my small groups, one of the ladies has accepted Christ into her life! It’s only the beginning of the journey, but God is already teaching her so much! We all have moments where we stumble, but God shows us how to ask for forgiveness and accept forgiveness when we have hurt someone or if someone has hurt us. This small group is prayer focussed and centred. I’ve seen almost everything that we’ve prayed for come to pass from healings, both physical and mental, to seeing the needs of others met. I’m encouraged by their sincerity and willingness to ask questions and come forward with whatever is on their hearts!
Coffee morning at New Life in Barry Island is beginning to be a place of prayer. Last week, one woman was sharing about the struggles in her family and some physical pain. The whole group came together and prayed for her! Her physical pain went away, and she told us that she now felt more peace about the situation. Something miraculous happens when we bring someone before the throne of God in prayer. I can’t wait to see how this group develops over the next month!
In Alpha, I’m becoming better friends with a few of the people in the group. One woman has so much joy because she has met Jesus! She is there to learn as much as she can about the God who saved her life. I’m hoping to continue our friendship even after the course ends! Another woman told us in the group how it was the lifestyle of the Christians she met that brought her to the group. It was their kindness that made her want what they had and to learn more about Jesus.
In one of the books the Missional Links Wales interns are reading, the difference between gifted evangelists and living an evangelical lifestyle was examined. I am not gifted in evangelism. Knowing myself confirms that I don’t operate in that way. Does it mean that I’m not supposed to share Christ then? By no means! I just didn’t know that there were other ways to share Christ; in fact, I thought there must be something wrong with me or my relationship with Christ because I don’t have this overwhelming, burning desire to tell everyone about Jesus all the time. Maybe this is you too. Then the question of how do we share comes to mind.
Live a surprising life! The Christians that the lady from Alpha met lived in such a way that it testified to the transformative power of Christ! From watching them and personally experiencing their kindness, she wanted to know why they are the way that they are. Just by living a life glorifying to God opened the door to tell someone about Jesus, to have them asking about him! I haven’t always lived a surprising life. There are many days where my life doesn’t really look all that different from the rest of the world. The monotony of life easily sets in for me, and I can become more task oriented than God oriented. I don’t want that anymore. I want my whole life to shout what Jesus has done for me, so that opportunities to share who He is spring up from it! So what does your life say about what Christ has done for you?
Please pray that my relationships with the people I’ve met deepen, that prayer becomes a foundation in the ministries in the Vale, and that the lives of the Christians in Wales become a shining example of Jesus! Please pray that Wales will be reached for Christ, that Missional Links Wales will bless every area it is a part of, and that the church becomes ever more unified! May God bless you with his healing and a better understanding of who He is! May He show you how to live your lives in a surprising way!
Five interns arrived from the US in September to serve on mission in counties across Wales. Abby Smith, returning to serve at Lisvane Baptist Church and St Denys Anglican church for a second year, is following God’s calling to continue the work she had been doing in the North Cardiff Partnership and has also taken on the voluntary role of co-intern leader at Missional Links Wales. We can’t wait to see how God is going to use Abby to reach out to the community and to build on the relationships she has already formed.
Joining Abby on this year’s internship are Audralynne Burns, serving with the Caerphilly Partnership, Madison Perry serving in Bridgend partnership alongside Gilgal Baptist church, and Hannah Sober and Haven Taylor who are both serving with the Vale Partnership. It is a year on mission that will give the interns the opportunity to serve alongside faithful leaders and churches, sharing God’s love to reach the people of Wales.
Please join us in praying for Abby, Audralynne, Madison, Hannah and Haven as they share God’s love with the people of Wales.
Missionary in Focus – Caerphilly Partnership
Alex Burnett has returned to Wales for a fourth year and we’re so excited to welcome him back as Missional Links Wales’ first missionary. Having served as an intern over the past few years, Alex has returned in his new role to continue serving at Caerphilly Gateway Church.
With such a genuine heart and passion for the people and nation of Wales, Alex felt a clear calling to continue sharing the gospel in and around the community of Caerphilly. He will be serving through discipleship development, preaching and teaching, youth and schools work, and church networking, as well as helping lead parts of Missional Links Wales. We can’t wait to see all that God has planned for him!
Missionary in Focus, Bridgend Partnership
This is Gisele Allard. She is Belgian and has been travelling over to Wales for the Bridgend Mission Week every year since 2010. It takes her 17 hours to get over to Bridgend.
Her work on the Primary Schools Team is invaluable and we think she is just fabulous! What a keeper!
Missionary in Focus, Vale of Glamorgan Partnership
Another of the brilliant summer missionaries we are so thankful for!
Willie Mack, Texas singer song writer, who made a living as a country music songwriter and artist and joined into the Vale Partnership Mission Week. He used his gifts and talents as a professional country music artist to share the truth of Jesus across the county!
We love to see how American churches partner into local welsh mission. Together we reach further than we ever could apart!
Ground Force Team, Vale of Glamorgan Partnership
US and Welsh teams, along with our intern Josh, serving the local community by tending gardens in Dinas Powys – the rain did not stop them!
The first Sunday of Mission week in the Vale, a lady was baptised having received Jesus when the teams were helping in her garden in a previous year! She now has a house group where a number of friends have also asked Christ into their hearts.
The ground force team cut grass and pulled weeds and saw people come into the Kingdom!
Abby Smith, MLW Intern, North Cardiff Partnership
Beginning of January we started back to work after our break for Christmas, and it’s been so good! I’ve been able to get to know the youth more and even took a few into town for the day just to get to know them better. They took me to an American candy store and they spent way too much on overpriced candy!
The highlight of my week is probably an event we do called Fun Factory. This is where we go into Lisvane Primary (elementary) School and do lots of fun games and then have a Bible story time. The kids really engage in what’s going on and it’s super high energy fun – and I get to work under two incredibly talented children’s leaders. Each Tuesday we have Missional Links Wales day at the office in Cardiff City Centre and we start the day off with a staff meeting with all the interns, it’s great to see how everyone is doing and really focus on what God has been doing in each county. We have Caleb training twice a month which is our Church Leadership Training and then we have different church leaders come in and we get to interview them. Overall things have been incredible, and it’s amazing to see how committed people are to seeing their community and country come to know the Lord. I am so excited about what the Lord is doing through Missional Links Wales in Wales!
Alex Burnett, MLW Intern, Caerphilly Partnership
I have known Rob Burns for many years and had heard about missions in Wales in my home church growing up. However it wasn’t until I was 20 that I answered the call that God placed on my heart to go to Wales as an intern. Originally coming as a Going Public intern with Vocate I began serving in churches and schools in Cardiff, Wales as well as, at the time, a brand new partnership in the Rhondda Valley.
Serving alongside Welsh people to accomplish Welsh mission was inspiring and allowed me the opportunities to be challenged in ways that developed me as a person and deepened my faith. Following this first year I returned for a second year where I was able to take on a different role in supporting that internship; running teaching sessions, discipling, travelling across Wales to visit churches, preach, and continue to be trained and mentored while serving.
After returning to Colorado for two years, where I worked in a local business and served in the local church, God began to draw me back to mission in Wales. Journeying through the process with Missional Links Wales I returned for a third year to serve as an intern living and serving in the Caerphilly partnership. Over this year I have been able to serve across churches, schools and communities to build relationships, share the truth of Jesus on a regular basis and help launch discipleship for young people in the church. God has used this year to focus his vision and purpose in my life through training, ministry, discipleship, challenges and constant support.
Pastor Jon Davis, Dinas Powys Baptist Church, Vale of Glamorgan Partnership
It was great to have Kayla and Brinsley working with us for a year. Kayla noticed that in one of our youth house groups, mainly made up of non-Christians or new Christians, aged 14-17, there was one 17-year old girl who was very mature in her faith, and because the sessions were pitched at non-Christians and new Christians, she wasn’t getting very much out of the sessions. Kayla recognised this and suggested that she might help by effectively mentoring her. Kayla met with her every Sunday night and also in our schools’ work on Fridays – it was so good to see.
So I just wanted to say a big thank you to Missional Links Wales on behalf of our church for what you do that enabled us to have Kayla and Brinsley with us for a year. It was also great to have Brinsley encouraging some of our age 10-13 group in prayer, and seeing her willingness to take a lead in that group.
The two youth house groups that Kayla and Brinsley helped to lead each Sunday night were partly made up of young people from our church, but over half of the young people in these groups were from non-Christian families and would certainly be classed as ‘unchurched’. A key part of the work with them in recent years has been to take them away for a long weekend in the summer to an event called ‘Spree Wales’ where there are over 500 or so other young people from churches across Wales. In the past few years this has been a great time for the young people and many of them have given their lives to Christ or gone deeper with him during this time.
Steve Lock, Youth Pastor, Gilgal Baptist Church
With the average age of attendance in churches getting higher, reaching millennials and the young people of Wales has always been a challenge. The United Kingdom and Europe live in a very secular culture. The norms here are very self-focused and with more and more young people choosing not to attend church or enter a relationship with Jesus Christ we must find positive solutions to help reach young people.
Thanks to the partnership initiated and facilitated by Missional Links Wales, one church in Bridgend Wales, Gilgal Baptist Church, noticed they needed someone to help reach the young people in Wales. After seeing the number of young people touched by the mission they saw the importance of investing in the youth and hiring a student pastor. Steve Lock was hired and began his mission of growing leaders within the South Wales town of Porthcawl.
The Bridgend Mission focuses on reaching young people. Concerts, shows and teaching classes in the secondary and primary schools are of key importance when the Americans come. One of the most important things that must occur is good follow up. Gilgal noticed the investment needed and decided to hire a student pastor to continue the good work that the mission started. He explained how Gilgal saw the need to invest in the youth of today:
“Gilgal has been a traditional Baptist church that hasn’t connected with a whole bunch of young people over the years. I have strategically focussed time, energy and resources on building a group of children, growing their faith and applying the bible to their lives as they grow. It’s a long-term slow burning time intensive method but I’ve been here 4 years now and those children are growing into teens, and also growing in faith. We have not seen any young people who have made various commitments over the years join our church – I think because we haven’t had that age group in our church… that is changing”
Seeds are clearly being planted here in Wales, with churches like Gilgal seeing the importance of good discipleship and being intentional with the next generation. Talking to Steve, he clearly has a passion for young people and seeing lives changed for Jesus. He also states how inspiring the mission is within the county:
“Having the American mission team over does give the Christian / church young people I work with weekly a level of ‘this is cool’ in their school that just doesn’t exist any other time in the year. That is hugely inspiring, and motivates me to continue this and other well-presented outreach programmes.”
It’s amazing to see the shift in change in church culture, with individuals like Steve helping reach those young people that need to know the truth that is found in the Gospel.
Amazing news how a small traditional church is making changes to ensure that no one misses the grace of God in Wales.
Kymberly Anthony, Bridgend Partnership
It’s easy for us in our walk with Christ to get comfortable. It is easy to get stuck in the motions and be selfish with how we see Christ. How we pray, how we act towards others and focus on ourselves. The bible calls us to die to self and live for Christ. Easier said than done but it is a decision to live for him each and every day for the rest of our lives.
One young person serving in the Missional Links Wales facilitated partnership in the Bridgend area is doing exactly that. Kymberly Anthony, a 27-year old is from the small village of Bettws, Bridgend, Wales. Having become a believer in Christ, she made a full commitment to be on mission every day. Talking to Kym she explained how much God means to her, as well as how God has impacted her through the mission, changing her perspective on how she sees her role as a believer in a secular society.
“God is everything! He is the best friend that I could ever want. He listens to me, even when I say nothing at all! He gives me courage when I lack some, he gives strength when I feel weak, and he makes a way when I don’t really see one. When I feel down, or am lacking in confidence and in heart, he tells me to take courage, to have Grace, and to seek wisdom. He will see me through the tough times. He hasn’t ever let me down and he never will.”
Such authentic faith can be seen from Kym, she really has Christ at the centre and makes him priority number one. As Kym has grown she has become more involved in serving and in mission. A member of the worship team in the church, she then explained the importance of mission and being more intentional about sharing her faith.
“Mission is a great way to make Christ alive today in people. I love that we can reach out to our loved ones and strangers and feel so joyful in talking about the Gospel.”
One thing Kym loves to see when she reaches out to others is that lightbulb moment. The moment when it all clicks for the individual and they understand the gospel.
“When we see that light, that spark, that switch go on; when they want to know about him, what he has done for them, or what hope they have now thanks to God, it makes for a great day. My mission is to share Jesus with a broken world that needs his love.”
It has been amazing to see the change in Kym as she has grown in Christ over the last few years. From learning more about God, and growing in her faith. Kym works in a coffee shop and can regularly be seen serving with a smile, people often commenting about her fantastic level of customer service as she shows the light of Christ in all she does. Despite it not always being easy, she has decided that following Christ is the best thing she can do.
“I was baptized three years ago, and if I said the journey has been easy it would be a lie. To me it has been difficult, but also worth it, it has been encouraging. Seeking God, who he is, there have been many tears, many refreshers of who I am in him, what I’m capable of through his lessons, what the Lord has done for me and why this world, my family and my friends need him at the centre of their world, it just needs to be shared.”
An amazing testimony of how God can change someone to be so focused on going out and reaching lost people for him. Kym is just one of many lives transformed in this way. Choosing to live a life on mission for Jesus
Tech Mission Team, Bridgend Partnership
“The American mission is one of the highlights of my year. I love doing what I can to help the gospel be preached and it’s so rewarding seeing people come to know Christ. I love how intentional the Americans are with Christ. I want to be more like that!” says Ben Pottinger, age 19, who has served on the mission for 6 years.
With the average working week lasting 40 hours and most humans spending a third of their adult working life in work, you would think that the normal person would ensure that the time they get off each year would be used for rest and relaxation. That is not the case in the county of Bridgend where the churches are mobilising to use their time wisely and see to it that no one misses the grace of God. The Bridgend mission relies heavily on the musical talents sent over from First West Baptist Church, West Monroe, Louisiana. For this to happen it takes a dedicated sound team to move the gear from place to place, setting it up and down at each location. This dedicated team of around 15 young adults take 10 days off a year to wake up at 5am, setting up and down the rig in schools and venues across the county. It’s hard, physical work that requires a willing attitude to serve and do the work that nobody sees. The team are the first to arrive and the last to leave, often getting home at 1am to wake up at 5am ready to go again the next day. With an average 10-day working stretch the team clocks up close to 150 hours over the course of the mission trip. A clear showing of selfless serving to see peoples’ lives changed. This is one example of the many different roles people take whilst the mission weeks occur.
Both groups either side of the Atlantic bring different elements to the table. The intentional attractiveness of the Americans alongside the servant heart of the Welsh people goes hand in hand to further the gospel together. These Missional Links Wales facilitated partnerships create lifelong friendships and provide synergy for all groups. With two groups of people working together, the mission serves as a catalyst for both the American and Welsh church whilst seeing to it that no one misses the grace of God in Bridgend. It’s exciting what God is doing through these wonderful partnerships across Wales.
Barry Comprehensive School – Summer Mission Week 2017, Vale of Glamorgan Partnership
I just wanted to say thank you Missional Links Wales for bringing together the partnership in the Vale of Glamorgan and to share with you all the good feedback I’ve had from staff and pupils. It was really nice to see everyone again and to meet a few new faces. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the team visit and was so enthusiastic about the lessons and presentations they delivered.
Boys have been asking about them today and telling me what they learned yesterday – have also seen the lyrics to the songs they put together with Willie and watched a short video of one of the classes singing along with him – brilliant! The sports boys loved the opportunity they had to some extra PE with Kayla and Stephanie. They really enjoyed the different quizzes and learning about life in Texas. Please pass on my best wishes and thanks again to the team, we really appreciate what you did in school yesterday.
Brenda Henderson, Rhondda Partnership
Sometimes in life you get to see God put the pieces together in ways you would not imagine. I love to travel, like the UK and enjoy serving others and going on mission trips. When I met Rob and Gaynor Jones during their visit to Wedgwood Baptist church in 2011 all of those interests fell together. As I got to know them and listen to their vision for Wales, I knew I wanted to be a part of what God had in store for Wedgwood there. I have grown to love the people of Wales and especially the ACTS church. I love the graciousness and warmth of the Welsh people. They are as beautiful as the countryside around them.
A group of 7 from Wedgwood traveled to Wales in 2013. We met members of the ACTS church and spent time visiting with teachers from Tylorstown Primary school. During the summer, a team of 20 from Wedgwood and Hillcrest Baptist painted a fence, renewed relationships and helped host a Texas bar-b-cue. We also helped with “Messy church” and the 6th grade leavers ceremony. I look forward to more times of working and serving along with the sweet people at the ACTS church.