Travel Blog - Wales
Oct 21, 2022
I have a bit of a flight delay here in Dublin so thought I’d take the opportunity to write about the past week. It’s been such a blessing to be in Wales, to see some revival history and then experience the beauty of Ffald-y-Brenin, a Christian retreat centre and prayer house about two and a bit hours from Cardiff in the south west of the country.
We flew into Bristol from Frankfurt early on the Sunday and were picked up by Ember’s cousin, Tess. It was nice to be back in an English speaking country. Where Tess and her family live in Bristol is close by to a ‘common’, a grassy area with woodlands that is open to the public and cows! After a bite to eat at Tess’ house we took a walk through the lovely landscape on a surprisingly warm and sunny autumn afternoon. At one point we reached a lookout that was used during WWII as a watch point. We spent the night in a lovely airbnb in Frenchay, with dinner at the White Lion - a typical English pub in a typical English village.
The next morning Tess drove us to Cardiff airport, just over an hour’s drive from Bristol, so I could pick up a hire car. Ember and I then headed to Swansea to go to the Bible College of Wales, which is significant for the fact that it was started by Rees Howells, the famous Welsh Intercessor. There is a couple of rooms at the restored Derwen Fawr that share the history of his life as well as the Bible College. One is the ‘blue room’ which was the personal prayer room of Rees and then his son, Samuel, who took over the Bible College once Rees passed away in 1950. There were many prayer meetings here during the war years too. While there, an elderly gentleman came into the foyer area. I felt prompted to ask him to pray for me. We went into one of the rooms and he shared some of his life (and gave me his book). He was a student at the college in the early 60’s then went on to be a staff member. In that very room he had been prayed for by Samuel Howells and Duncan Campbell, who is known for the Hebrides revival. I felt so blessed that he was able to pray for me and give me words of encouragement.
Following a couple of hours at the college we did the 20 minute drive to the Pisgah Chapel where Evan Roberts Prayed. Evan Roberts was one of the major players in the 1904 Welsh Revival, which also impacted Rees Howells. It’s a very small stone chapel and a short drive away is Moriah Chapel, where he preached and where many came to salvation. Again, a blessing to be in a place that God used mightily. I took Ember back to the BCW then quickly got some groceries before taking the drive to Ffald-y-Brenin. I arrived just as it was getting dark and I’m glad I did. The back roads in Wales are sooooo narrow and often you have to reverse to allow a car coming in the opposite direction through.
The country-side is stunning, with sheep dotting the lush, green hills. Ffald-y-Brenin actually means ‘Sheepfold of the King’ which is very apt for such a place of peace and rest. When I saw the room I was staying in, I felt like I was in a hobbit hotel! Mine was named after St. Teilo, an early bishop in the area (500’s). Cristina, one of the wardens there, said they call them their ‘monk’ rooms. Nonetheless, it was a comfortable bed and the view from the window amazing.
I was so tired that after a good sleep and an explore around the property, I went back to bed and slept for another couple of hours! I guess it is a retreat centre after all! At Ffalyd-y-Brenin they have a stone chapel where the rock from the mountain actually juts out in the centre, a prayer room and a ‘day room’. They have a daily rhythm of prayer that you can join in any time if you like - 9.30am, 12.45pm and 5.00pm. I joined in the 5.00pm one that day and then each one after that. It was so beautiful to pray and fellowship with others from around the world. I met some wonderful people while there including an animator from the DreamWorks studio, a Singaporean who works for Amazon in Luxembourg and a Singaporean couple who are pastors. I also spent time ministering to a young GP from England who was there as a day guest. I felt the Lord had something for me in going to Ffald-y-Brenin and besides the rest and beauty, I felt it was the people. It was hard to leave on the Thursday. I received a blessing at the last prayer time I joined and after packing up, took the long way back to Cardiff Airport so I could see the lovely coastal village of Fishguard.