A story of Hope shared at Bethel Baptist

The first Lavish of 2018 took place in our home church, Bethel Baptist.  

Tristan asked all the women present to pray for the Lavish ministry, to help her and the leadership team discern God’s will as it goes forward.  She read from Ephesians 3: 14-21 – does God want to do immeasurably more through Lavish? Please could we ask you to pray too.

Bec lead us beautifully in worship using the 100th Psalm and a variety of songs and music  we focussed on returning to wholeness because of God’s amazing grace:

“Because of Jesus’ unfailing love, I am forgiven, I am restored.”

Hilary shared her experiences of pregnancy, miscarriage and motherhood. There were difficult times but God was there to give her signs of hope. One day she found herself buying spring bulbs and planting them In the depths of winter. The pot was a sign of hope for her, that spring would come. Sure enough, on her return home from the hospital with her new baby she walked up her front path to see the first green shoots poking out of her pot.

If you need advice on what to say to people you know who have had a miscarriage, There is help from  the Miscarriage Association’s Simply Say campaign,

We also heard from Lucy, who represents The Junction Cardiff, offering counselling support for baby loss or crisis pregnancy.  We saw a photo from The Empty Photo Project which shows real hurting people deep in the messiness of life. Can you be there for people during desperate times?  

Hilary closed her story with one of those God-incidences that we often experience in Lavish.  She led us all in the prayer for blessing from Ephesians, the very one that Tristan had opened the evening with:

“When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God—some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth— that out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.  And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself. Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ.”

Thank you, Hilary, for being honest, hopeful and helpful.  Thank you to the women of Bethel Baptist for your welcome, and giving us a beautiful space where we could come together, to listen and to share.

The next Lavish Cardiff evening is Saturday 16th June at Bethany Baptist Church, Rhiwbina, CF14 6LA. See you there.

PS Photos to follow

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Lavish 10th February 2018 at Bethel Baptist, Whitchurch

The next Lavish Cardiff event is on Saturday 10 February at 7.30 pm at Bethel Baptist Church, Whitchurch, CF14 2AA.

We are delighted to have Hilary as our speaker for the evening. Hilary will share her rocky journey to motherhood; in particular how God provided signs of hope, the value of ceremonies in dark times and how the wider church family provided practical help and support.

As always, this is a free event and all women are very welcome to attend. Please extend the invitation to any woman you know who would like to experience Lavish!

Please download the Lavish promo slide so you can publicise the event to women in your church and across your networks.

Lavish promotion slide Feb 2018

Directions and Parking: Bethel Baptist Church is on Penlline Road in Whitchurch, a few doors up from Barclays Bank. There is free parking in the car park behind the church (turn right off Penlline Road) or there is also a free car park further down off Merthyr Road.

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Lavish returns to St Mellons

Lavish Cardiff hit its five-year milestone, when we held our 15th event at the Church of the Resurrection, St Mellons on 30th September 2017.  Tristan reflected that over this time, women have laughed and cried together, prayed for each other, eaten lots of cake, and heard some amazing testimonies from other women.  It is these shared stories that are at the very heart of Lavish.

The women who gathered at St Mellons heard from our lovely speaker who shared her story of moving from respite fostering through to the adoption of children who have suffered trauma and abuse.

The charity Home for Good exists to find a home for every child that needs one, and encourages Christians to consider fostering and adoption.

I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. (Job 29:12)

That evening, at Lavish we all received a Home for Good leaflet, which outlined the reality of adoption today, where 62% of children in care are there because they have suffered abuse or neglect from their birth parents.  Missing out on the early building blocks of nurturing has lifelong effects on children, who may then go on to experience multiple moves, disruption and loss.  They may feel confused, insecure or scared, and many will experience attachment disorder or be aggressive in a bid to keep themselves safe in a world they perceive as dangerous.

Our speaker told us how her children were defined by a past which was not of their making, and how they demonstrated evermore challenging behaviour.  As a consequence, she experienced compassion fatigue and secondary trauma.

But her story was also one of hope and joy, as she told us how much support she had received and continues to receive from family, friends and her church, which has carried her and her children through the tough times.  We heard about the power of prayer; prayers for the children which God answered immediately.  Faith was turned into action, as her church family provided practical hands-on help.  She was constantly amazed by God’s love which is so powerfully manifested when people come together in His name.

This was a story of how prayer is uplifting – and our speaker reflected that she is always aware of God holding them all in the palm of His hand.

It was an inspiring story, and our time of worship picked up similar themes.

The end of the evening brought an opportunity to respond, through a meditation on an apple tree (the apples in my garden).

Thank you to our speaker for sharing her personal journey with us, and thank you to the ladies of St Mellons for making us feel very welcome on a wet evening.cakes

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Lavish Cardiff Saturday 30th September 2017

The next Lavish Cardiff event is on Saturday 30th September at 7.30 pm at Church of the Resurrection, St. Mellons, CF3 0EF

We are delighted to have Wendy Ann as our speaker for the evening

Come and hear her story of the rollercoaster that is adoption and how the support and prayers of friends and family and her faith have carried and continue to carry her. 

Some of you may know friends who have adopted or maybe you have adopted or were adopted so you may relate to her story. It’s not one to miss.

As always, this is a free event and all women are very welcome to attend. Please extend the invitation to any woman you know who would like to experience Lavish!

Please download the Lavish promo slide so you can publicise the event to women in your church and across your networks.


Directions and Parking: Church of the Resurrection, St. Mellons. Between the Doctors and the Pub.

Link to map

Car Parking is available in the Tesco Car Park behind the Church. Approaching from Willowbrook Drive, take the turning after the Church and you will find yourself in the car park. You can drop off in front of the Church, but please do not leave your vehicle in the drop off area.

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“For I know the plans I have for you” Lavish at Christchurch, Roath Park

Lavish in May took place in the beautiful Church in Wales, Christchurch at Roath Park; made even more lovely by flickering candlelight and masses of pink and white flowers, with the delicate scent of lilies floating in the air. Lynda and Sue led our women’s voices in worship, lifted high by the church’s marvellous acoustics.

Our speaker was Helen Lock, Playtime co-ordinator at Care for the Family.  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Helen has held on to this verse from Jeremiah 29 during her mission to Uganda over the last 15 years, and at Lavish, she shared her story. christchurch helen

It all started in 2002, when members of Helen’s church were invited to a prayer conference in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.  Although Helen initially declined the invitation, she felt God prompting her to join the trip, where she fell in love with Uganda and its people, and knew she was there for a reason.  There seemed to be so much need there, but Helen had to discern what it was that God was calling her to do.  Over the next few years, she returned, bringing a team from her church, wanting to transform lives. 

Helen recounted how one night she had a dream.  A dream where she stood on a stage with her colleagues, and saw a lake in the distance.  Robert, an evangelist friend she had made in Uganda, sent her a photo of the church he wanted to build near Kampala – it was the building of her dream!  Feeling led by God, Helen raised £12,000 in just seven weeks and the new church was started.

That year, Helen went out for the launch of the church and then joined a Crusade (or conference) in northern Uganda.  This area had been devastated by over 20 years of war, with villages, homes and families torn apart by the abduction of their children who were forced to be soldiers and whose initiation test would be to kill members of their own family.  Helen visited a local IDP (internal displaced persons) camp to share her testimony with over 15,000 people.

Back in the UK, Helen and her colleagues supported the church they had planted in Kampala.  All was going well, until she received an email to say that Robert was misusing the funds they were sending.  Helen and two colleagues decided to fly to Uganda to try to sort things out.  But they had not realised how dangerous this was, as Robert became angry and hired hitmen, keeping Helen and her colleagues under arrest in the hotel for two days.  Helen knew that God was protecting them in this terrifying situation.  She got in touch with people she had met in the North of Uganda – Pastor James and Martin Mapenduzi, the Chairman of the Gulu district – who made the six hour bus ride to the capital to mediate with Robert and help get Helen safely home.

Once back in the UK, Helen had no choice but to close the Ugandan church, amidst feelings of failure and humiliation.  However, just four months later, she felt called to return to northern Uganda, where she experienced overwhelming peace.  Seeing the pain of war in the eyes of her friends there, she asked, “What can I do?”

Phoebe had built an infant school for war orphans consisting of three classrooms and Helen promised to help her.  She set up a UK charity – the Gulu Mission Initiative – and raised the money to add a further two classrooms.  The Mission is based on three pillars: education; healthcare; leadership and training of pastors. 

Everything went well in Uganda.  Many children went to school and local pastors received leadership training.  And then Helen received a phone call to say that one of the UK trustees of the charity was being investigated for fraud.  Although the HMRC investigation was into his own business and not the charity, Helen dreaded how this would impact negatively on the charity.  Would they have to close?  She was interviewed by an investigator, who kindly said he could see her heart and he would try to help her.  Helen experienced bad panic attacks, sinking to the lowest level and wanting her life to be over, but she was helped by “annoyingly cheerful texts with Bible verses” from friends who offered their support.  She had counselling where she received the vision of a minibus with God as the driver, and knew that all would be ok.  Finally, the trustee was convicted of fraud, the case was closed and the Gulu Mission Initiative survived.

By 2015, the school was educating 600 children, who all passed their national exams, giving them hope and a future.  And Helen is part of this future, her next step being to raise £20,000 to build a high school for those children, which they raised in just four months, and now have 4 classrooms, Phase One of the High school. God is faithful.  Teams continue to go from the UK to Uganda every year, and lives are transformed.

Helen concluded by saying that if God has put something on your heart, then believe in yourself.  You may go through difficult and challenging times, but don’t let anyone take it from your heart.  Keep believing and trusting; hold onto God’s promises to you. 

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

Lavish would like to thank Helen for inspiring us with her story, and to thank the women of Christchurch for making everyone so very welcome at Lavish.

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Lavish 13th May 2017 at Christ Church, Roath Park

The next Lavish Cardiff event is on Saturday 13th May at 7.30 pm at Christ Church, Roath Park, CF23 5QN.

We are delighted to have Helen Lock as our speaker for the evening

Come and hear her story of

A journey of betrayal, trauma, joy and blessings.

God’s call to work in Uganda’.

As always, this is a free event and all women are very welcome to attend. Please extend the invitation to any woman you know who would like to experience Lavish!

Please download the Lavish promo slide so you can publicise the event to women in your church and across your networks.


Directions and Parking: Christ Church, The Church by the Lake.

Link to map

Car Parking is available in their large car park by the side of the church. There is also plenty of free parking on nearby roads.

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What others meant for harm

The first Lavish Cardiff event of 2017 brought us back to Bethel Baptist Church. Ladies from across the city gathered together on February 11th.

As the church filled up you could sense the excitement and the presence of God. Rachel led some powerful worship focussing on the faithfulness of God.

Our speaker for the evening was Rev Hayley Young who had travelled up from Hayling Island to be with us. Hayley was an incredibly dynamic and funny speaker who, despite a difficult story to tell, kept us all laughing all the way through. She was so honest about her struggles with the diagnosis and life afterwards.

Hayley from Hayling shot into the public spotlight when a cardboard testimony she prepared to share the news of her HIV diagnosis went viral on social media. Hayley started by sharing a key verse in her story from Genesis 50 v 20 (the story of Joseph)

‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good’.

She took us on her tough journey; from being called into ministry at age 21 when some thought she was too young to be able to empathise with people; to her life today. She shared how in 2013, following an attack, she found out she was HIV +. Unfortunately, the hospital did not think to ask whether her assailant was HIV+ and so she wasn’t given drugs that could have prevented her from developing HIV. Four months after the attack she started feeling unwell. After some tests she was given the diagnosis and deciding that she should ‘in all things rejoice’ so went out and bought a bottle of champagne!

Hayley was very honest about how difficult it was coming to terms with the diagnosis. She decided she needed to share her news and so told her diaconate. They were all wonderfully supportive, but some struggled and after her hair started to fall out (because of the medication she was taking) they recommended she share something with the congregation. She didn’t feel telling them her HIV diagnosis was necessary so she told them she had a blood disorder. This unfortunately started rumours and when this extended to suggesting she was unsafe around children, she decided she needed to share the full diagnosis. She prepared a cardboard testimony to ensure everyone saw the same message and nothing could be misconstrued. Sadly some of her congregation left afterwards – it was surprising to hear how ignorant many people still are about HIV today.

A few weeks later Hayley received a call from the Portsmouth News asking for an interview. After taking advice she gave the interview, which was very helpful in unifying the church and the local community. Hayley then found herself contacted by the BBC and ITV. She was advised to give an interview to each and so appeared on the ‘Victoria Derbyshire’ and ‘Lorraine’ programmes. In these interviews, she clearly gave her perspective on the diagnosis and gave some powerful answers including when asked ‘how do you rationalise why you’, she responded by saying ‘why not me I’m not anyone special just because I believe in God and am a minister’.

She said she found it very easy to say she had forgiven the individual who attacked her, but when confronted by him when he knocked on her front door she really had to re-think forgiveness. She shared that the individual had been cared for by someone who had managed to bring them to faith.

Hayley shared the impact of HIV on her body and some of the tough long term decisions she has had to make. She said the most important thing for her is to be able to continue preaching.

God has got lots left for me to do …. and has got me to a place where I can cope”.

She explained how God is working through things we have in the world, such as providing a therapy dog to help her in her day to day coping. She also shared how she has learnt to lean on God and how she is determined not to give up. In her words ‘crap happens’ and we can choose how to respond. She is choosing to respond in a positive way and that blesses her.

Haylry ended with these powerful verses from Philippians 3 v 8-9.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that …I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

It’s in our suffering and struggles that we know Christ more.

Thank you to everyone who made this evening possible and to Hayley for her openness.

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