Victory Church in Cwmbran, South Wales, is getting known for The Welsh Outpouring. See http://www.victorychurch.co.uk
On April 10th at their normal midweek healing meeting a man who had been in a wheelchair for ten years was healed and carried his chair round the hall – strong men struggled to do the same since. Faith zoomed and they have held meetings every night (bar Fridays) since then.
Friends of mine have been over and given good reports like ‘my best experience of God for years’ and ‘you could feel the presence of God’. They also appreciated the down-to-earth-ness of it all, the fact that the leaders are unpaid, and the numbers of people getting converted from hard backgrounds.
Pastor Richard Taylor (picture) himself was in prison; reference his book To Catch a Thief. He was a leader at Renewal Christian Centre, Solihull (and a friend of mine knew him there). Victory Church Cwmbran was planted, apparently out of the work of four Victory Outreach drug rehabs in the area. I say apparently because I haven’t researched it all thoroughly. The church grew from a few to 500 in the last three years, and had many conversions of drug users etc. It doesn’t seem to be a middle class church.
It all sounded authentic so I took the opportunity to chug down there myself yesterday. I needed to hear from God so I had real hopes.
I got to Pontypool near Cwmbran at lunch time, so I walked up a hill just north of there and looked over to the Bristol channel, with Sugarloaf at Abergavenny behind me and part of the Brecons and all of the Malverns also in sight. Beautiful. No words from God, but he was around.
I’d asked God for somewhere to park up a small road below the hill and found one. On returning to the car there was a note saying don’t park there as I could block horses and farmer’s buggies. Oh dear, but I was still grateful for the spot.
I got to Victory Church by 4pm and the car park was empty. A sign said the cafe would open at 5pm and the outpouring meeting would begin at 7pm. The building is a converted warehouse on the edge of a trading estate.
Soon another car pulled in and I met a guy from Tonbridge (Wells?). We talked for some time and prayed for each other; that was really good. I met a few other people from various places too, and my impression was that the gathering crowd was mainly charismatic Christians from other places.
At 7pm the doors opened and we were guided to seats. The hall was dark and windowless. It filled up fast to 500 or more in three blocks. The band played songs and people got into it straight away. In fact the band, or part of it, didn’t stop playing right through until 10pm. Several musicians, and of the team of staff and leaders, looked like they could be night club bouncers. This to me was a plus (+). Various things didn’t appeal to me personally, such as the speaker’s slightly o.t.t. pentecostal style, or gushy women among the crowd, but I decided not to be prejudiced.
After a few songs the leader got on stage. It wasn’t Richard Taylor, who presumably needed a break, and I don’t know which of their leaders it was. He told us news of the outpouring and read about ten testimonies and messages received. They included a few impressive stories of solid encounters with God, healing and conversion etc. He also remarked that they didn’t plan the events and if they started to think that they knew what was going on it would be finished. That was a definite +, as I recall a similar awareness with the group I was with in 1976.
Soon he invited people forward for healing, and perhaps 100 responded, including me (for a couple of minor but real problems). He then went round commanding healing for some time; he didn’t reach me, but never mind; I’m not that receptive to healing, though it has happened. I did think that it would have helped if the team had joined in the ministry, to save time and take away emphasis on him. But the team, who all had red lanyards on, were busy putting cloths over women’s legs if they fell over (+), and catching people as they fell. Later it was emphasised that only the trained team should minister to people (+).
Then the leader read a scripture and preached the gospel from it, including to the livestream audience around the world. The exposition was flakey, the delivery a bit repetitive and long (which always scores low with me), but solid enough. I didn’t look for how many responded but it seemed not many. I suspect that the vast majority of people there were visiting Christians, and probably most of the normal congregation had taken the bank holiday off. A friend said that a block of guys from the rehabs had been conspicuous when he went, but I didn’t see them at all.
After giving time for response he moved quickly to an invitation to come forward to receive a fresh filling with the Holy Spirit. Many chairs had been stacked up by now – I stood for at least two hours, and he started going round again commanding a filling of the Spirit. After a while the team joined in; all men. There were fallings, shaking, swaying, jerking (I jerk a times), shouting etc. A younger guy came to me and I asked him for a word from God, so he prayed with his fingertips on my forehead (no pushing, +), and then said Sorry I’ve got nothing; keep loving Jesus and perhaps ask someone else. Good honesty (+). I asked another man the same. He used the same method and prayed about me seeking God, said he’d been reading about Israel winning battles when they sought God and losing when they didn’t, and I’d find God’s word and vision as I sought him. Again, nice one for not conjuring anything exotic up (+).
At ten the leader said That’s it but stick around if you want, and celebration continued in the thinning crowd. I went home.
Reflections: It was quite possibly not a typical night, with Richard Taylor away, and due to the bank holiday, a different audience with less members and more Christian visitors. The leader said the presence of God was heavy, but I felt zilch throughout. I do know God’s presence and it can make me cry, but I also accept that others may feel it when I don’t.
There were very few young men, lots of young women, some emotional types. Adrian Plass would have described it well. We in the JA have our quota of people who always get excited and manifest stuff in big events. Where does group behaviour end and the anointing start, and does it matter? I heard it said that John Arnott of the Toronto Vineyard church was asked how much of the manifestations going on in the ‘Toronto Blessing’ was genuinely God’s work, and he said About twenty per cent. I like that realism. It also covers that fact that if you get 100 people coming forward for healing or to receive the Spirit, some of them will receive from God, whoever prays for them.
So from my limited experience I could not call it an outpouring, and certainly not revival, but snowballing faith yes. If you see an irrefutable miracle (the wheelchair guy) and keep ministering the gospel and healing and Holy Spirit power, then people will keep coming and some will find real power, and it can snowball. This should apply to any church.
An Iranian guy came to our congregation last week. He had been a serious moslem but had a painful back problem for seven years. He went to Germany in about March and an Afghan Christian came to his house and prayed for him, and he was fully healed. His wife turned to the Lord, and also his Iranian friend back in the UK. That friend came to us too and was receiving the Holy Spirit’s work in him this Sunday, and he wants baptism. Business as usual in the kingdom.
The Victory Church team could get over tired; they could get swamped by charismatic seekers. God bless them.