First of all, I hope you are duly impressed with my Latin. Now to my point.
I returned from Wales Monday, and, as always, the first few days after returning, I spend time early mornings thinking and praying back over the trip. This visit was somewhat different. Rather than preach a conference or meeting in an established church, David Willhoite and I spend our days visiting with old friends that his father, Jackie Willhoite, met when he served as a missionary to Wales in the middle 1980’s.
It was an interesting trip. We stayed in Cardiff, but our contacts were all a bit north of Cardiff in the Rhondda Valleys. I drove through the narrowest streets that humans have ever traversed, and all on the wrong–that is to say, left–side of the road. Was quite interesting. Kept David prayed through, a blessing his wife and family should thank me for. Having arrived safely each day at journey’s end, by the grace of God, we were well received, and I trust that we made a few good friends. We shall see how all of that develops.
Leaving for now the matter of right and wrong sides of the road, all of this gets me thinking about missions and methods. What is the best way to take the gospel to an area? This question always makes me rummage around a bit in what little I know about Paul’s approach to missions. I have read a pile of books on missions, and Paul’s approach to it, specifically. But the one thing that always comes back to mind for me is that Paul focused on urban centers where he established churches that became mission centers, hubs of a sort that allowed the mission to spread outward like spokes in a wheel.
Paul reached people from all walks of life, but he always ended up winning people of great influence within large cities. (See, for example, The First Urban Christians by Wayne Meeks.) Paul would follow the Spirit to a specific region, take up residence and find work in the social and cultural center of an area. Then, he would teach and preach the gospel, winning converts as the Spirit added them to the church. These converts would fan out into various communities, and the gospel would spread quickly over a fairly large area. But it always began with great revival in an urban center.
Paul’s approach was simple: go where the people are. Indeed, go where the influential people are. Reach the influencers, and they will reach the world. I do not mean to say that Paul ignored the lowly and the poor. On the contrary, Paul was eager to remember the poor, as he stated in Galatians 2. But he also understood the value of finding the center of social activity and planting the seed of the gospel there.
I am not sure what all that means for us today. But when I consider revival in Wales, for instance, I cannot get away from the fact that Cardiff is where the next wave of revival begins. Maybe I am all wrong about that, but I keep feeling when I pray in my hotel in Cardiff that there is a great revival coming to Wales, and it is bubbling under the surface in the city centre. I have been blessed many times to worship with the beautiful congregation led by Pastor Gwyn Roberts, and I keep feeling the Spirit lead me back in prayer to them and their hopes and prayers for great revival. God is doing something there that must be cultivated and flourish.
I plan to return soon and spend a few days with them. They have opened their heart to me and extended invitation to do so. I would love to see God enlarge the church there to become the incubator of missions throughout the country of Wales. Imagine what could happen if God would raise up powerful men and women to go out and establish mission churches throughout the countryside. Just thinking about this as I pray this morning and dreaming about the possibilities. Only God knows what He plans to do. But whatever He plans to do, it will be born in prayer.
If you get a chance, pray with me for Wales.