God at Work in Wales at Alfred Place Baptist Church in Aberystwyth (pronounced Aber wrist with)
The Gospel Triumphs in Wales
It’s been a quiet time of preaching and pastoring in January and February, but March and April will be busy. One of the greatest encouragements has occurred during this tranquility. There has been a man attending the church for twenty years. All those years ago he had fallen in love with a church member whose non-Christian husband had deserted her. He was also not a Christian but she was lonely and this man loved her and came to church twice a Sunday with her and also to the Prayer Meeting. She asked us if we wanted her to resign, but we were more concerned about him and his salvation. The elders took the decision that she could not be married in church and so they were married in the town registry where by far most weddings take place these years not in Aberystwyth alone but throughout the country. Iola and I went and it seemed bizarre. We kept waiting for the prayers etc. All this was twenty years ago. They both took our refusal to marry them in church well from their different perspectives, understanding our position. I don’t think that church marriage was at all important to him, and she knew she was doing wrong in marrying an unbeliever, but they kept coming to every meeting.
Then after fifteen years he had a major criminal fall which took him to prison for a year. I often visited him there, and his loyal wife went twice a week. The sentence over he returned here and picked up where he left off, but with a growing seriousness for these next five years. He began to read the Bible and listened intently. At the close of sermons of gospel power Iola would ask me how was it possible that still he made no profession. “Thou must save and Thou alone.” The second Sunday in February, after the morning service when I had preached on the dying thieves, he came to me. “We must have a talk.” We went to visit them on Monday and the change in him has been one that God alone can produce. I told him that the next step was for him to pray in the Prayer Meeting, and the next night he did just that, simply and briefly but one of our church’s kind of prayers . . . I am seeing him again in a week and soon he will be baptized. He is almost sixty and loathes the fuss that might surround that event, and I agree with him that it must be as low key as possible. God must be honoured alone, and there can be no hint that all this is part of a public rehabilitation for his crime. It is none of that. It has been sovereign grace. It has of course been a grand encouragement to the congregation who have prayed for him for these decades.
There is also some saving work going on both in a twelve year old girl and also in a taxi driver. How long he sits by himself upstairs after the evening service, his face buried in his hands for ten minutes. . . . . I think that some students have also come to the truth. . . . . We are balancing morning congregational growth with evening congregational decline, both imperceptible. We have about twenty Africans in the congregation but few of them come to the evening service.
I have had frequent help in preaching on the cross, especially on the dying thief, and most recently a sermon on Romans 10: 1-4, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” It was the good old perspective of the apostle Paul. I felt there was saving power in the word. They will soon be both on our websites for whoever in the world desires to read and to hear.
– Geoff Thomas
[Geoff uses the phrase here about the converted man having, “a growing sense of seriousness” – that is what we need to pray for in each of our loved ones who are yet unconverted. The sermon on Romans 10 mentioned above is very warm and heart moving– Geoff sermons can be heard at http://www.alfredplacechurch.org.uk on Sermon Audio.- Mack T. ]