Last night I drove an hour down the road from my clients in Gloucester and visited Victory Church in Cwmbran, the home of the “Welsh Outpouring”.
To be brutally honest, I was slightly cautious about what I might find. I’m on record as being highly critical of the “Revivals” that we see so often on God TV and the like. The over-emphasis on signs and wonders together with the undiscerning blindness to the warped theology and spirituality of the likes of IHOP and Todd Bentley is far too often branded as a “work of God” and “Revival” whereas in actuality it is just emotional sensationalism and nothing like what a real revival looks like. More on that later.
We arrived just after 6.30pm and already there was a queue out the door of the warehouse that acts as the home of this Elim church in the Valley of the Crows. If you’re expecting a large super-modern building with hi-tech visuals and glitz and glamour, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Victory Church is on an industrial estate and the surroundings look, well, industrial. Neither is it a big place – I reckon there were in the region of 500 people there last night and we crammed the room with very few seats to spare. On some evenings they overflow into the coffee lounge, on others it’s just a few hundred.
In some senses there was nothing extraordinary about the evening at all. The service ran pretty much like you would expect a charismatic / pentecostal encounter to. There was around 30 minutes of worship to begin with which was very Christ and cross centered. This makes a refreshing change to the very ego-centric stuff you often see on the Christian TV channels and this theme was permeated through the whole evening. We sang of Christ, his atoning work on the cross and his victorious resurrection, and we proclaimed him to be God. This was followed by one of the pastors sharing some of the testimonies of God’s work over the past weeks. What was striking was that as much as the physical healings were reported, we also had the accounts of those who had come in repentance to Christ, those whose lives had been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The pastor left the stage and then the band played again, but rather than using the opportunity to sing more songs to “hype up” up into a state of expectation, instead there was just one hymn and then the preacher Peter Jenkins came up on stage and began to speak to us. Speaking for almost an hour, Peter concentrated on focussing our hearts and minds not on the miracles and gifts of the Spirit but rather on the fruit of the Spirit and his prime work, that of convicting of sin, converting the sinner and pointing him/her towards Jesus.
Peter returned us to the events of 1904-1905 Welsh Revival and reminded us that the chief hallmark of that move of the Spirit was not healings or dramatic manifestations but rather the 150,000 Welsh men and women who gave their life to Jesus in repentance during that momentous year. Peter spoke about how Jesus has sent the Spirit to guide us in truth, and chiefly that truth is the truth about our need for God and the fact that Jesus has died for us. Once we are filled with the Spirit he is then interested in transforming our character with his fruit. It matters not if we can heal or speak in tongues or prophecy (though these things are good), without the inner transforming work of the Spirit it is all redundant, and indeed it can be dangerous because we become focussed on what *we* can do rather than what Jesus wants to do in us.
All this is deeply encouraging. I don’t know if the preaching is like this every night, but if it is it bodes well. Time and time again we were reminded that the Spirit comes to point us to Jesus and his work, that is all about Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Victory Church don’t advertise who is speaking each evening because, well, they want it to be about Jesus and not the person on stage, as if he was the one performing the healings and conversions. And yes, there are conversions, because after Peter Jenkins finished speaking and invited us to pray, or rather commanded us with a clear “Every head bowed in prayer”, the first thing he did was to call sinners to repentance and over ten responded. And he was very clear – this was the most important act of the Spirit that was happening that evening. Forget the man who got up out of his wheelchair over two months ago starting this “Outpouring”, forget the brain tumours healed, sinners coming to a God who sent his Son to die for their sins and finding forgiveness and transformation is the key work of what God is doing in a little valley in Wales.
Which is not to say that after the new converts had prayed and been prayed for there wasn’t a call for prayer for healing. One of the key marks of this move of God has been the dramatic miracles, so those who wanted prayer for anything physical or emotionally broken were called forward. And then the general call was not for “your miracle” or for “a blessing” but for attendees who wanted to see more of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives to come and receive. And come they did. For the hour that I stayed after Peter finished preaching people came forward to be prayed for. Once again the humility of the occasion was evident – no-one was brought on stage to be paraded in front of the TV cameras (though the whole event is live-streamed) and the microphones were switched off so nobody could hear what was happening in the individual pastoral encounters. Equally, there was no lining up to “receive” from any particular person, Christians came up and stood waiting for prayer and it didn’t matter which member of the prayer team prayed for them – what was important was Jesus not any human.
As we left towards 10pm (and I would have stayed if I didn’t have an hour’s journey back to my hotel room) I had a great sense of peace about the whole thing. Yes, I went forward for prayer and I received for a specific purpose, being prayed for three times including a word of knowledge. That’s between me and God. And that crucially is the beauty of what is happening in this little tin shed in a forgotten corner of the United Kingdom. Christ is being proclaimed and people are meeting him and being transformed by that encounter. It’s evidenced in the life of the reformed alcoholics and drug addicts who showed us where to park. It’s proclaimed in the testimony of the lady saved from Satanism and whose life has broken into light from darkness.
If I could offer some words of wisdom it would be simply “Carry on like you are doing”. For years now I have been teaching that the true work of the Holy Spirit happens when the truth of Jesus’ promises in the Bible are clearly proclaimed and then we invite God to do what we have just seen him share with us in Scripture – that is exactly what I saw last night. Yes, there are miracles, but the miracles are not an end in itself but rather the tools by which the unsaved are drawn to encounter a living saving redeeming and transforming saviour.
In the light of this Victory Church needs to eschew the limelight. Resist the temptation to put this move of God on the big Christian TV channels. Carry on not publicising preachers and turn down offers from big names to come and “impart the blessing” for there is no blessing to impart apart from what Jesus through the Spirit is already doing. If Victory Church consistently find they are running out of space then open a second meeting further down the valley. The 1904-1905 Welsh Revival spread because they run out of space in the churches so they had to meet in new places. It was an organic flood of the Spirit’s power through the Prinicipality and beyond and the big danger 100 years later is that any attempt to “organise” will quench not fan the flames of what God is doing.
And God is definitely doing something. Is it revival? Quite blatantly it is not yet because, as we heard preached so clearly and correctly last night, revival happens when the church is repentant and when unsaved unregenerate sinners come to the foot of the cross and claim it for their own. Although that is happening in small amounts it is not yet the flood that would indicate a truly powerful wave of the Spirit of truth unveiling spiritual eyes and showing people their sinfulness and the way that Jesus is the solution to that sinfulness. But, and of this I am certain, if revival is to come to this land it will *not* come through the glitz and glamour of the likes of God TV, whose “revivals” are anything but. If revival is to come it will come through the faithful preaching like I heard last night and a God who honours his name being glorified and his Son’s sacrifice being proclaimed boldly to all who will hear. And who knows, perhaps a small shed in the middle of nowhere is the place where the transformation of a nation begins.
Lord send revival, send it now. Start with me.
It’s a good write-up Peter. I’ve been quite sceptical about this, especially the claims of physical healing, as they seem very much based on hearsay and I’ve yet to read of anything confirmed by a doctor. But it sounds as though the emphasis is right; i.e. focusing on what a sign is pointing to rather than the sign itself.
I left my last church (which recently joined the Elim network, though without actually telling the congregation, apart from a small note hidden in the backwater of the church website) partly because of the obsession with signs and wonders, which subsequently has led to a bit of a split with some of the church becoming more orthodox while another lot have set up a new “church” which is based on the New Mystics and all the dodgy gumph associated thus.
Pentecostalism often gets a bad name, but from what you right, this sounds like a church that’s got a good, solid foundation.
Well, if every night is like last night, yes.
Peter, great article. You answered precisely the questions I had about this outpouring, and your report is hugely encouraging. If it gives glory to God and turns sinners to Jesus, then let it spread!
Thanks for your very balanced article. There’s been too much hype about this from others on the internet who are not part of the church and not from Cwmbran itself.
As a pastor of another church within Cwmbran, I can certainly say that it’s not revival, at least not yet. I have been along to the “Outpouring” and can echo that the gospel is preached and that people are coming forward for salvation. Yet, as far as I can see, it’s not spreading to other churches in the town, and as far as I can see, it’s not made a significant impact on the town more generally, with those who aren’t church attenders.
This isn’t to belittle what’s going on there, but it is to say that all the hype that has surrounded this has been largely out of proportion. I do pray that any genuine move of God will spread and that it will impact our town and nation more widely than it is, but as of yet that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s probably not appropriate to call this the “Wales Outpouring” nor the “Cwmbran Outpouring”, as of yet it is only the “Victory Church Outpouring”.
As I have said to other pastors in the area (many of whom have asked me about what’s going on), if it is genuine revival, it will spread to other churches, and not just those that preach the gospel like Victory and our church, and the handful of other gospel preaching churches in Cwmbran, but also to the dead and liberal churches which will truly be revived, and to other towns and cities. When it’s undeniable, then it’s revival. Until then, let’s beware of false hype on the internet!
Thanks for your comments – I think I broadly agree. There is something happening at Victory Church, but if it is significant that will be evidenced in it spreading.
The report in July’s Christianity magazine confirms they ‘had turned down a request from God TV to film: ‘We know the’re good people but we don’t want to turn into a circus. We don’t want this to be about any particular pastor; that’s why you’ll see different people each night.” (Page 8)
well peter you perhaps should have been a little more cautious perhaps, this church as just promoted Joel Osteen, could anyone be anymore heretical? if you would like to hear and see what this church stands for just listen and watch this video, I will post the link to it here if you are interested in correcting some of your promotion for this church. the outpouring that never was has fizzled out, I like you took the trouble to visit this church as I had heard disturbing things about it, I possibly went a little deeper than you perhaps, I first check the book stall they have, this is a wise thing to do because it tells you much about the influences they expose there people to, well the book stall looked like the who’s who of bad theology. well lets check the worship band- the music was mind numbing playing the same verse over and over again, until people were all but zombies, surely any Godly worship band knows what this does to the mind, I’m a musician myself, give me my violin, or piano and I will work your emotions like you were a puppet, there is nothing Godly about it at all. 0 out of 10 for the book stall and the worship band matched the bad theology of the book stall, with mind manipulation that belongs to nightclubs, and cult gatherings, really peter did you really go with an open mind, did you really go at all? The sermon was by a guy name kenny can’t remember his second name, well I am 22 but you may consider me old fashioned but you would need to teach from the bible if you are going to hold my interest, you know what, funny stories, best keep them for the pub, me i’m sitting here not because you are my best friend, you are not my hero, I don’t worship you, I don’t hang on your every word, you are there and I am here for you to teach me, you failed, try keeping your bible open, spend time on your sermon and you may just may be able to hold my interest,
I have been tough on this church because in your review you was not, you are either a plant for this church or you simply writ your review before attending this church, out of interest pete did you buy a coffee after the service? if so have you any comments on that perhaps.
10 minutes research would have been better then the hour drive peter, you have little idea how to check a church out, it can’t be on the back of one visit where they tell you what you want to hear. poor, poor review, try an update, contact me I will point you where you need to be looking, unless that was not the point of your review.