After a month and a half away in the US, first in Salem for the monthlong Halloween and then home to California, I am now back in the place that has become my new home: Caernarfon, Gwynedd, Wales. It’s back to immersion in the Welsh language, organizing community events in Caernarfon, and preparing for “Dim Saesneg” my yearlong Welsh language trip through the country.
Since my return to Wales, people have been stopping me to say that they’ve seen me in the news and are thanking me for making a point to learn their language and promote it. Learning a language of the people who speak minority languages across the world is a major point of identification with culture and it represents one more way that we can incarnate the love of God to others. Language acquisition is just one important missional representation of “God with skin on”.
Wales has been football crazy since I returned, because the country made it into the World Cup for the first time since the year I was born. Unfortunately, they did not make it into the round of 16, but evidence of excitement was everywhere with large gatherings watching the matches, and people singing Yma O Hyd.
My first two weeks back have been eventful. I’ve done an interview with the Welsh language magazine Golwg about why I moved to Wales, why I am learning Welsh, and why I will be traveling through the country for a year and a day speaking nothing but Welsh.
Last weekend, I spoke at The Community Church – Wrexham during a Sunday Evening Christians Together in Wrexham event. As is typical of my work and my outreach, I spoke about reaching out to subcultures, the disenfranchised, and going to the places Christians are typically afraid to go. Stories from Salem, Burning Man, Glastonbury, the Appleby Horse Fair, and my immersion in the Welsh language punctuated my point that part of loving God is learning to love what God loves, and God loves the people of the world. He appears to have a special place in his heart for the disenfranchised and the oppressed. As a nation that has struggled to maintain its ancient language despite centuries of effort to eradicate it, this is a message that rings deeply in the people of Wales and motivates many of them toward compassion for the oppressed of all nations.
After the evening with Christians Together in Wrexham, (and seeing friends like Faith and Keefe Owen) I joined John Ramm, one of the musicians from the church, and my wonderful hosts Mike and Hazel Norbury at the Magic Dragon Tap for an open mic. The place was hopping. I received a wonderful reception from the people and after making even more friends in Wrexham (now famous for the football team owned by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds), I am expecting that Wrexham will be a place of necessary return.
The following day, I met with The Community Church pastors Nick and Sue Pengelly at Mike and Hazel’s home, and we visited Grace Lockhart at the Rhos Community Café. Grace pastors a small church with a huge outreach to festivals, and a café in the village just outside Wrexham. Grace has been doing outreach like the prophetic festival outreach that happened so effectively in Salem for a couple decades.
Last night I revisited an open mic in a town in the top of Anglesey (the northern tip of Wales, about 20 miles from Caernarfon), and it was like returning home. I’ve made several new friends in Amlwch, and like Wrecsam, this is likely to become a place of necessary return on a monthly basis.
Sunday morning, I will be preaching in Bangor at Penrallt Chapel during the second week of Advent on the subject of love.
 The monthly magazine should be coming out in a couple weeks. See Golwg at https://golwg.360.cymru