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It is a little known fact that 2018 is the tercentenary of the death of William Evans, Pencader. For some sad people like myself, there are individuals from the past that are a huge inspiration. The God that guided them, that strengthened them, that gave life and unction to their ministry, is my God.

Anyway, what of William Evans? Well, as a Nonconformist, he was educated at a school run by Rhys Prydderch, himself a leader of a nonconformist congregation which, following their refusal to worship with the Church of England, met in a cave, on the side of the Epynt Mountain. When licensed following the Toleration Act in 1689, he moved to become the ‘minister of Brecknockshire’. William himself, having been called by a group of Christians to Pencader, was sustained in his ministry by his wife’s income. He extended his ministry later to include Carmarthen. He became known as the ‘Minister of Carmarthenshire’ and like Prydderch, he trained up a new generation of young leaders whose call was to ministry. Convinced of the need to equip in order to plant and sustain congregations, he published ‘Gemau Doethineb’ (Gems of Wisdom) as well as a translation of the Westminster Catechism!

When I speak about learning from our past, it is particularly clear that those who served the Gospel in past days had a very keen awareness that this was a particular challenge in a country of hamlets and villages. Although Wales has changed somewhat, it remains the case that the challenge in any parts is to understand what a viable Gospel witness looks like in large areas where both the geography and demography will often mean that leaders will undertake responsibility for extensive areas. William Evans not only worked diligently himself, but sought to train others to work, to serve and to do so with limited support. In a period which knew the Unction of the Spirit in a very real way, it is salient to be reminded that the growth came through the ministry of ‘county pastors’, and their work not only in their own churches, but also in the equipping of others.

Will you prioritise praying for our country of small communities, villages, towns and cities? Will you pray for leaders who, despite the difficulties of geography, will attend to Christians who have to travel extensively to be a part of a fellowship of God’s people? Will you pray that new leaders will be identified, equipped and sent? Although it is both fashionable and strategic to focus on centres of population, will you ask the Lord to give you and your church a burden for all of Wales, its urban and rural areas? Will you seek God for opportunities to serve and support ongoing Gospel work, as well as seeking to identify new Gospel workers?

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