How it all began – 20 years ago…
In 1998 I travelled out to South Africa with a percussionist friend to lead worship at a reconciliation conference led by Dr. Rhiannon Lloyd at a place called Elandslaagte, near Ladysmith. I remember it so well! It was my first encounter with the HWEC teaching and I took part alongside around 40 others drawn from all ethnic groups in that country. The first week I slept in a dorm room with 10 zulu soldiers who got up at 5am every morning. During the week, the worship touched many hearts. Sometimes we sang English songs, but more often the Zulus sang their songs and we just played our instruments! Each night the team met for prayer and reflection on the day. Rhiannon led us so faithfully and sensitively through the teaching of Scripture. Then we broke into small groups to share our personal stories with each other. In my group the stories were so terrible and heart-rending I found myself praying that my turn would not come! Towards the end of the week, I knelt before an Africaans pastor and washed his feet with water from a plastic bowl. I asked forgiveness for the atrocities committed in the concentration camps during the time of the Boer war. He wept and told me his grandmother was there. Later, during a time of confession, my friend knelt before all the women present and asked forgiveness for all the sexual abuse and demeaning behavior they had received from men. I quickly joined him on my knees. One man stood up, protested and tried to stop us; then suddenly there was a power cut and the whole room was plunged into darkness! In the confusion, we prayed urgently and desperately for God’s wisdom! The lights came back on, and a Swazi pastor stood up. He explained that the whole room supported us in what we were saying to the women present, and they then received our confession with tears of joy and acceptance.
What a journey it has been! 1999 was my first visit to Rwanda. I could tell you so many amazing stories from my many visits to that place, but maybe I don’t need to do that here. Right now, Emily my daughter-in-law is working with Joseph to write a book on the story of reconciliation and community development in Rwanda from those early years until now. We hope it will be published very soon. In the meantime, we have put together a 2 minute film that shows a recent HWEC workshop being run by Rabagirana staff members. The participants are mostly worship leaders from the Kigali area.
Can you help us?
Do you mind if I ask a small favour of you? This year, we are trying to raise awareness and the profile of the ministry, so please do share this film clip as widely as you feel able to, and encourage others to visit the website, and sign up their email addresses so they can get regular newsletter updates. The original can be found on my YouTube channel (search for We are One promo film) – the above video thumbnail should take you straight there.Thank you so much!
‘What does the Lord require of you …to act justly and to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.’ [Micah 6:8]
What did I learn through those early experiences? Many things, but here are some that have come to seem most important. I learned not to try to offer easy Bible answers to desperately wounded people who have suffered way beyond my own limited experiences. Sometimes it is enough to cry, laugh and just walk beside them. I learned that humility is a powerful heart attitude to have, because it allows us to become channels for the Holy Spirit to use in ways beyond our wildest imagination. And much to my surprise, though I had been a Christian for many years, I learned that the cross of Christ is far more powerful than I ever imagined, if you are desperate enough to decide to kneel down there.
Plans for 2018…
My diary for this year still remains fairly open; however it now seems likely that I will be returning to Zimbabwe with a UK team in the summer to lead the childrens conference once more. I have a number of young people who are interested in coming with me, so please pray that God makes a way for this to happen, especially in the light of all the recent political change there and the possibility of new elections this year. Before Christmas, I had the pleasure of meeting a young UK based Ghanaian songwriter called John Asabil and I am at present doing some studio song arrangements for him. He came with his wife and young family to visit us and they shared their desire to see the power of the gospel change lives in Ghana. It is still early days, but we discussed the possibility of recording vocals for this new project in Accra later this year. Please pray for God’s wisdom as we work together and get to know one another as the project progresses. This year is a big year for Micah Network, as they have two conferences planned; one in Stuttgart in June and their major Global Tri-annual Conference is in the Phillipines in September. I have yet to hear confirmation that I will be involved (if you recall, I was in their worship team in Lima, Peru 3 years ago) so please pray that God will make a way if that is supposed to happen. Meanwhile, I am continuing to lead worship regularly at Malmesbury Abbey and a number of other local Christian events.
I’m happy to say we are all fit and well this year. Nathan’s web designing business seems to be going from strength to strength; he continues to live in North London for the present. Jean and I hope to spend a part of February half-term week visiting Joel and Emily in Manchester. We are also planning a family ski-ing holiday in France in early April with everyone together as a family (let there still be snow Lord, please!) Our granddaughter Faith is a delight of course, and growing so fast! Come to think of it, this page seems to lack an interesting photo, so here’s a recent one of Joel with Faith.
DIARY DATES – SPRING 2018
- Feb 1st Social Media course in London
- Feb 3rd Leading worship at Harne Hill, leaders weekend
- Feb 4th ‘Source’ service at Kemble Parish
- Feb 6th Abbey mid-week meeting/worship
- Feb 9th – 13th Travel to Manchester to visit Joel & Emily
- Feb 18th Leading worship at Malmesbury Abbey
- Feb 21st Leading worship at FS, Cirencester
- Mar 4th ‘Source’ service at Kemble Parish
- Mar 13th Abbey mid-week meeting/worship
- Mar 21st Leading worship at FS, (Tim Hughes speaking)
- Apr 7th – 14th Ski-ing holiday in France with family!
Love from Dave & Jean
With special thanks to The Crossroads Trust.
The Crossroads Trust is a Registered Charitable Trust, set up in 1987 with the following aims: to assist in the encouragement of missionary activity designed to foster the spread of the Christian faith; to promote better education between and within diverse cultural settings, and to provide relief for the poor and needy in society. Since 2005, the Trust has focussed solely on supporting the reconciliation ministry of Dave Bankhead and ‘We are One!’ Trustees include; John Jenkins (Chairman) and Simon Shaw. Registered Charitable Trust No: XN74834