In a quiet, remote corner of Pembrokeshire this remarkable place of healing and blessing shows that God has not forgotten this part of Wales.
With romantic misted hills as background the evening light settles over Ffald-y-Brenin (‘The Sheepfold of the King’). This is an atmospheric place of great charm and beauty clinging to the rugged mountainside overlooking the quiet Gaum Valley in this wild remote corner of SW Wales.
As part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park this area is a favourite destination of many holiday-makers with its beautiful beaches and dramatic cliffs. Near here lie the Preseli Hills, source of the ancient Blue Stones used in the construction of Stonehenge’s inner ring.
A ‘Thin Place’
In the 6th century an Irish Christian monk, Brynach, came here to bring the Christian faith to these parts.The records say that he used to come regularly to the hill above this Centre to pray. A number of old Celtic crosses remain in this part of Pembrokeshire together with several ancient pilgrim routes leading to St David’s, 20 miles away. With such a spiritual heritage it is not surprising that this much prayed-over place is still special today. The Celtic concept of ‘thin places’ where heaven seems to meet earth seems to be still very much alive here.
A Place of Blessing
The Retreat Centre was founded as a place of refuge, where people could come and be refreshed and meet God in creation and in simplicity of life. Ffald-y-Brenin has certainly fulfilled that dream and more. The life of this ‘House of Prayer’ centres around a daily rhythm of prayer. Four daily prayer services are held in the chapel. This is a place of community, seeking to be a blessing to others in the spirit of the ancient Celtic Christian monasteries like Iona.
In recent years under the leadership of Roy and Daphne Godwin wonderful things have been happening here. People have been seeing visions of Jesus and faith has been restored. Marriages have been healed, broken lives put together and the sick healed. One profoundly deaf visitor was concerned shortly before leaving that he had lost his essential hearing- aid. To his great surprise it suddenly dawned on him that during his stay his hearing had returned completely and his hearing-aid was now redundant! Recently a young blind mother, with several children at home whom she had never seen, received her sight. What a joyful homecoming there must have been in that household! Another visitor left this note recently in the visitors’ book, “My chains are all gone”.
The stories are reminiscent of what was happening in Galilee in Christ’s ministry. As then, many return home refreshed by their meeting with Jesus, their faith rekindled and a new spring in their step. Sceptics have gone away convinced followers of Jesus. Even workmen on the site have been deeply impressed by the atmosphere.
The small chapel and the cross which was erected in the Centre grounds both seem to be specially ‘thin places’. Many people have experienced a deep sense of the presence of God here. Friends of ours came to Ffald-y-Brenin several years ago but sadly we have never visited, but since reading Roy’s story in ‘The Grace Outpouring’ I have been inspired by this place.
It is a quiet work without modern hype, and little publicity. Most healings have occurred, not through services or special prayers, but spontaneously. There seems to be a healing atmosphere here. But it is not all excitement. Many days are quite ordinary with nothing special happening but there is always an atmosphere of peace, and a sense of God’s presence.
A Singing people
The people of Wales have always been a singing people and in past days they had much to sing about with regular religious revivals in full-tide and full churches. But today, as holiday makers will have noticed, disused chapels abound, many turned into warehouses or private homes. But at Ffald-y-Brenin, Wales is rediscovering its true Christian heritage as a blessing to the nations. No wonder this place draws increasing numbers of overseas visitors eager to start similar ‘houses of prayer’ in their own countries.
Many of the people of Wales may have largely forgotten God, but it seems that God has not forgotten Wales. New voices of praise are being heard in the valleys and over the wild and rugged hills of this beautiful land that God has so blessed and made a blessing in past days.
“Let all the people praise Him , then will the earth give forth her increase and God, our own God, will give us his blessing” From Psalm 67
Thank you for joining me. To take a further look visit http://www.ffald-y-brenin.org/
If you can’t get to Fald-y-Brenin yourself, maybe something of the spirit of that place could come to you – visit ‘Water into Wine’.
Top featured photo also by Pete Walker