I arrived in the afternoon and had a chat with two of the staff who were lovely and filled me on on all that had been going on and how people were getting saved each night and being healed, how people were coming from all over the place just to see what God is doing and to receive a touch from him.
I spent some time in the main auditorium in the afternoon and to be honest I just couldn't focus, I was asking God why he had sent me there and what he wanted to show me and I was just so distracted, so instead I went into Cwmbran for a few hours with a copy of Pastor Richard's book 'To Catch a Thief' that they had kindly given me. Turns out this was a total God thing as I sat and read the whole thing over a cuppa (or two) in Costa! And I think it helped me to understand a little bit of what God is doing there. Pastor Richard's background is that he was once a drug addict and criminal and spent time in prison. God rescued him from this and turned his life around, and it is this kind of ministry that is so central to what he is doing now, reaching into the real depths, to people who some would call the 'depths of society', people who others would turn away from, and yet at Victory Church they are welcomed into loving arms and so, are meeting Jesus.
So, having read the book, I went back to the church around 5.30pm and found the place buzzing with expectant people, some who had travelled long distances to be there, others coming again, having been night after night, others being brought by friends and neighbours. The atmosphere was one of huge expectance and people were already queueing, and by 6.30 the queue was out the door! I met up with a couple of friends, the lovely Anita from 'Dreaming Beneath the Spires blog' and her husband Roy, who had come from Oxford. As we went into the main auditorium at 7pm the worship team were already in full flow and immediately people joined into a powerful time of worship. Pastor Richard felt led to pray for people with blood disorders and many went forward to be prayed for. One thing I noticed was that even though he hadn't given an 'altar call' at this point, so many people went forward to give their lives to Jesus anyway, one after the other, and eventually he just asked anyone else to come forward who wanted to give their lives, and he then prayed for around 10 people at the same time. This is one thing that has marked this outpouring and I guess is the true sign that God is doing something, that many people are getting saved each night.
Later the Pastor spoke, and I have to say I was so impressed with his humility and honesty. He spoke of his own experiences but also of what God is doing and how they are just taking one day at a time, not being over confident, but just daily asking God what he is doing. He talked about how often we long for revival but we just aren't prepared for it, and yet here, he said, we have been preparing. And I could really see that, having spoken to the staff earlier, the structure of the churches (they have planted four from the main one already in just three years) is well organised, with a training programme and good links to Victory Outreach UK, the organisation that helped Pastor Richard when he was released from Prison. In fact he himself is now Chief Exec of Victory Outreach UK and the Victory churches have a team of Pastors covering their plants.
Times like these are often messy, and it was! People were dropping all over the place, there was much laughter. But I loved how they welcomed everyone, even those that were clearly off their heads (and there were a few!) there was such a diverse mix of people just gathered together to meet with Jesus. Everything was about Jesus, and I have heard others say that, and stress that this outpouring is all about him. Jesus is at the heart of it, not the Pastor, or the church or anything else, but Jesus, and he gets all the glory.
Pastors, leaders and those needing healing were specifically invited for prayer although I think everyone in the place wanted to be prayed for! And I did go forward and there was a tangible sense of the power of God moving. He is clearly on the move there!
One thing I did feel (and I don't want to deter anyone from going, and this is my personal opinion only) was that I felt that what is going on there is very much about Wales and particularly the valleys area. I was struck by the fact that parts of Cwmbran seemed deprived and run down and I asked one of the staff about this who confirmed that the valleys generally are marked by deprived areas, unemployment and so on and I guess that so often leads to alcohol, drugs and crime being more prevalent. It was this that I really felt God was and is addressing there. So I had a look at their website this morning and it says this:
Victory Church started with a passion to see the Gospel saturate Wales. The purpose was to start a church in Cwmbran and to expand from there into the rest of Wales and the Valleys. God spoke clearly to Pastor Richard and give him a mission to preach the Gospel and teach the bible that would result in transformed lives.
They also have a vision to plant 50 churches in 10 years in Wales and I really felt like this is just the start of that. That God is bringing these people, largely from the nearby area and that through them these churches will be planted across Wales. It is abundantly clear that God is on the move there and I would not be surprised if it takes far less than 10 years to plant those churches, I think God has plans far bigger, and as we sang last night of 'changing a nation' I really believe God is going to do that in Wales. This is just the beginning. So watch this church....!
Just to clarify, I'm not saying that people won't be touched and take this move of the spirit elsewhere (and indeed people have already said that and I certainly prayed for our team back here in this mornings staff meeting!) but I just had a sense that the main heart of this is for Wales and for those really deprived areas. I would also say that if your church is in a deprived area or you have people experiencing these kind of problems, drug abuse, alcoholism etc, then do go. Go, and ask God for that annointing and take it away!
Lastly, to give God the glory some more... I had to leave at 10pm and the meeting was still going on, but with a 3 hour drive ahead of me I didn't have much choice. I had prayed before hand, that if God wanted me to go he would give me the stamina and energy to do so in less than a day, and having suffered with fatigue in the past, some of you will know this was a bit of an ask! However, the drive was a sinch! (is that how you spell sinch...?!) On the way there and back I prayed, sang and was just having fun, I had planned to stop and sleep in the car for a few hours on the way home, and yet I didn't need to. I didn't feel at all tired until I got to Gatwick, which is just 10 mins drive from where I live. No sleepiness, no head nodding! nothing. And I don't really feel tired today either, and I've done a days work now too! Praise God :)
If you want to read more, Victory Church is posting info on their facebook page and website with regular updates of meetings and healings etc. I can't vouch for any of them because I didn't speak to anyone who had been healed, but what I will say is that to me it seemed totally genuine.
Update: You can read Anita's post here