by Charles Gardner
As several of Jesus’ original disciples were fishermen, it seemed perfectly appropriate that a former trawler-man from North-East Scotland should be casting out the net for souls during what has been dubbed the Welsh Outpouring.
Kenny Brandie speaking
Kenny Brandie is also a reformed drug addict helping to lead a remarkable move of God being played out in what has become known as the “tin cathedral” – a converted warehouse in the South Wales town of Cwmbran serving as a base for the Victory Church.
Having sunk to the depths himself (and nearly drowning after falling into a harbor), he has personal experience of the transforming power of the gospel which has given him a passion to save others lost in a sea of apparent hopelessness and despair.
Former prisoner Richard Taylor (from Llanelli in Wales) is the pastor, and Kenny has been sharing the huge responsibility which has now come upon the church where more than a hundred packed nightly meetings (except Fridays) have reaped a harvest of 920 conversions to Christ.
Wales has a reputation as the land of revivals, which have sparked similar outpourings in foreign lands, but many of their church buildings have all but emptied in recent decades as a materialistic world has seemed to have affected this once spiritual haven more than others. The most spectacular revival occurred in 1904 when some 100,000 people turned to Christ in the space of a few months.
But the Victory Church, formed as the result of a highly successful drug rehabilitation center, is so far refusing to call this revival because they are loathe to make extravagant claims for what is happening in their midst.
They would rather that the Holy Spirit did the talking, and miracles of healing surely testify that something extraordinary is taking place. A 53-year-old man, Paul Haynes, dramatically held his wheelchair aloft after being healed through prayer of injuries sustained in a car crash ten years earlier. And an ex-prostitute testified to the miraculous removal of a tattoo on being baptized! In addition, families have been reconciled and marriages healed.
Victory View: My wife, Linda Gardner (left), with Marilyn Heavens, a member of the Victory Church prayer team, on a mountain-top above Cwmbran
One family cancelled their holiday to attend the Outpouring, and we also made sure it was on our holiday itinerary. And despite it being a steaming hot midsummer evening with many away on vacation, there were few vacant seats on the night my wife and I visited the church.
The air was thick with the presence of God as a truly anointed band of young musicians led the congregation in worship with a mixture of old and new songs.
When the call went out for those who needed healing, prominent in the queue was an elderly blind man with a white stick as well as a young blind woman accompanied by a gorgeous black Labrador guide dog. You could feel the expectancy, and it called to mind the days of Jesus’ ministry.
Despite the low-key approach and no apparent advertising, the Cwmbran outpouring has attracted visitors from all over the world – the night we were there included Americans and Brazilians along with Christians from Singapore and China.
Koreans have also been involved with a group coming to Wales to pray specifically for this move, and indeed their own considerable revival (South Korea can now boast some of the largest churches in the world) was originally sparked by a Welsh missionary!
It was in 1866 that Robert Thomas, a missionary to China, was savagely attacked and killed by Korean coastguards as he waded ashore with some of the Bibles he had brought to distribute to Chinese-speaking people there. His ship had been attacked and burned, and his colleagues killed. But he managed to press his precious Bibles into the hands of his murderers as he collapsed and died. Forty years later revival broke out in that very same spot.*
Kenny spoke passionately on John the Baptist’s statement in John 3.30: “He (Christ) must increase; I must decrease.” He said we needed to allow Jesus to take control of our lives and churches. We should not just welcome him as a passenger, but hand over the ignition keys and climb into the boat!
Much of today’s church was too self-centered. It was all about “me” and what God can do to bless me whereas the key to revival lay in giving Jesus first place in our lives, and being prepared to sacrifice everything for him.
It was not about professionalism, people and pounds (referring to the obsession with church growth and building our own little empires), but about his presence in our lives and communities.
The entire evening was gospel orientated, focusing on the work of Christ on the cross in paying for our sins and making it possible to know the fulfilled life God intends for us.
He urged his audience not to be choked by sin or religion, but to be freed to fulfill God’s best purposes for our lives.
We needed to come to God as humble and hungry servants prepared to pay the price as it will cost everything, perhaps including nightly meetings!
*For more on revivals read Tongues of Fire – The phenomenon that set the world alight, available from Amazon and Sable Publishing. — ASSIST News