Wednesday, 1 March 2017

ROY GODWIN AND FFALD-Y-BRENIN RETREAT CENTRE - A KEY FORMER EMPLOYEE HERE SHARES HER SOBERING TESTIMONY.

"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed;
neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."
(Luke 12:2-3)

Grace outpoured on all... except the staff?


What follows is the heartfelt personal account of a key former employee of Roy Godwin at the Ffald-y-Brenin Retreat Centre in Pembrokeshire, of her harrowing experiences there. It is no small thing for her to share what she has here; I know from having met with this very plucky and principled Christian lady, whose integrity shines through, that her soul-searching over all this has been considerable indeed. I greatly commend her for her decision to make her concerns a matter of public record, solely in the interests of the truth being told. So without further preamble from myself, here is Jane's sobering testimony:

I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about whether to write something and post it here.  To be able to put down in words that which I experienced whilst working for Roy Godwin at Ffald y Brenin, I do not approach lightly.  It is a very serious matter to discuss another individual publicly.  However, I am greatly challenged by Rob Thomas’ desire to see the truth exposed.  I see how easy it is for us Christians to ‘sweep things under the carpet’, or not to ‘rock the boat’.  I have felt it too and no more so than whilst working at Ffald y Brenin and particularly following my exit that I should be silent about my experience since to talk about it somehow curtails the work of God, is an affront to God, sabotages those who might be on the verge of receiving God or any other number of different messages that people think about in a situation such as this.  But it is clear to me that it’s not about being ‘nice’ or making allowances, which quite ably allows what is not quite the truth to continue on it’s way. 
I came to faith out of a great suffering and love the Lord as I know that so many others do.  I have so often questioned my own part in my time working for Roy Godwin, I have rent my heart before God, have wanted to come to some other conclusion but sadly, do believe that things are not quite right. Please don’t misunderstand me, I do not expect perfection, as I know that is not achievable, but there does seem to lie the problem with Roy Godwin, who I found to expect it and whom I found to be uncomfortable with his own imperfection and worse is prone to a spiritual bullying that is very uncomfortable for those subject to it.
Now I am not a theologian or scholarly in any shape or form but I know the peace of God and the day that it was imparted to me was an incredible day.  Furthermore, trusting in God enabled me to learn more, harvest more of the treasures of heaven and in particular become more comfortable with myself and to embrace my imperfection.  Most of all, a gift of discernment together with my own walk in darkness prior to being born again has given me a rich understanding of the wiliness of the world.  I know the heart is deceitful and that mine can also be.
I would have to write a book to say how things were but the gist of it was much to do with a spiritual bullying and the devaluing and disempowerment of others.  This done in such a surreptitious and underhand way that it is difficult to put your finger on and very difficult to put into words.  My antennae went up on day one of working with him, however, when I was told that two of my predecessors were ‘awful’.   Perhaps I am just too sensitive, as I knew straight off that if he could talk of others in that way, then he could quite obviously talk of me in that way.  Moreover, I was not issued with a contract or given any details prior to joining in regard to salary or exactly what would be required.  Whenever I asked, I was fobbed off with, ‘we are very relaxed here’.  Clue no 1.  What you want is not important…  It became clearer and clearer to me that it was all about Roy Godwin and what he wanted.  At first, I was confused since I believed I might find something different to the world in the way in which Ffald y Brenin was run but in fact what I found was something worse than I had experienced in the world.  His attitude was very authoritarian and I do believe that most of the staff were and are afraid of him.  Certainly, nobody dared to challenge him.  Staff were able to relax more at lunchtimes when both Roy & Daphne were not around when the atmosphere was markedly different.  One new staff member asked me about my background and where and how I got to Ffald y Brenin only to be told by Roy Godwin that ‘we don’t talk about people’s backgrounds here’.  I’ll leave that one for you to ponder on but perhaps he didn’t want to talk about his, but I certainly don’t mind talking about mine, warts and all.  All of this done under the guise of what a wonderful family we are. 
The one question I found myself asking so often was ‘does it matter what sort of person evangelises and runs a Christian centre?’  If we are all imperfect and God uses imperfect people, surely it doesn’t?  I came to know the answer as yes, it does matter - if that person doesn’t trust God in their own lives and uses Him for their own purposes, then it certainly does matter.  That is indeed a very serious matter in the kingdom of God.
There was much more that I will not go into detail about here but God brought me to a place of speaking to Roy Godwin about my experience of him and it seemed for a time things got better.  And then worse…. Sadly, my confidence was eroded to the extent that I just got up and left at the end of the June conference 2016.  I wrote in a letter my reasons for doing so and received a letter back from Roy which confirmed for me beyond doubt what this person is capable of. I was greatly saddened and 
upset to see the lies that he had written about me.   I wonder why if I was so bad at my job he had not mentioned it whilst I was there?  I am quite sure that a man of integrity and who had reached adulthood in Christ, would have come to speak to me personally on the subject. 
You may be wondering why I believe my experience is necessary to be brought into the light …. And no, it is not because I am bitter or unforgiving, but rather because I am extremely concerned about how people are led to believe something without understanding fully whence it comes.  We so often take people at face value and believe in them!  I have many times in the past visited a conference and thought how amazing somebody is without looking at who the person really is.  It is so important that we seek Jesus directly as it is He who will heal us and guide us – we must not seek Him through others and we must certainly test what we see and hear.  Worse still, is how easily we are hoodwinked when we want desperately to believe in something, how we can easily kid ourselves that something will be different or change if we just go along with it for a while.  Worse still again, when we see things that are not quite right but ignore them because we have managed to idolise or glorify that person in some way.  Sadly, I was guilty of these things too and wanted to believe that we were a family.  However, families share their lives, their hearts, their feelings and their desires… - that was not my experience of Roy and Daphne Godwin.   I find that very sad as I ponder on how different things could be.
I know that I am a lone voice here and this, of course, is my word against his.  But, I am comforted in the knowledge that God knows and reminds me in Psalm 23: ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’

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When I wrote about Roy Godwin recently I did not question his personal sincerity, only his determinedly errant and frankly dangerous theological departures. But as the full extent of the problems at Ffald-y-Brenin under his Executive Directorship comes to light, it becomes clear that his sincerity is indeed all too questionable, his much-praised public persona sadly proving to be just an elaborate front and part of the carefully created illusion of sanctity and sanctuary that is Ffald-y-Brenin.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, 
and if there be any praise, think on these things."
(Philippians 4:8)

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POSTSCRIPT 

This month, 14/15 March 2017, Ffald-y-Brenin is holding a Conference on 'A NEW MONASTICISM.' Part of the blurb reads:

"The Desert Fathers and early monastic communities became powerful sources of renewal for local churches again and again."

The truth of the matter is that these, rather than being sources of renewal, were in fact fountainheads of apostasy! Please see: