Cross Hands Impact 242
Cross Hands is a small town near the picturesque Black Mountains in Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales. The area faces inequalities and socio-economic disadvantages, with 33.8% of households in Carmarthenshire living in poverty.* The area has been identified by the local council as a major ‘Growth Zone’. There are plans for future investments in housing, employment and commercial land use, but, while this sounds promising for the future, there is real need in the local community now. Cross Hands Impact 242 is the Centre of Mission where Church Army works in partnership with the Diocese of St Davids to reach third and fourth generation unchurched members of the community. The aim is to have a positive impact on them by showing them God’s love in practical and meaningful ways. Esther Lockley is the Lead Evangelist at Cross Hands Impact 242.
Cross Hands has a mixed demographic. Good access to Bristol and Swansea means there are a lot of new build houses, which attract professionals, but there are also people who have lived here their entire lives, along with many generations of their family. There is a real spiritual poverty in the town, with many people, old and young, from all kinds of backgrounds who don’t engage with church. There is deprivation here, too. The area is an ex-mining community, so people have been hit hard by changes in the local economy and the current cost of living crisis. We are trying to respond to a whole host of different needs. In the past few weeks, I have had people approach me asking for help because they have a family to feed and only have a pack of sausages to last them until next week. We hand out crisis bags to people who are really struggling and living on the breadline.
It is a desperate situation for these people, but it gives us the chance to be able to connect with them. We are building up trust, and they are starting to understand that we are here to support them. We have been able to pray with some people and invite them to services on Sundays when we eat together. It becomes more than just about food — it’s about filling their spiritual hunger, too.
Being an evangelist in this community is challenging. We have worked hard to host events only to be disappointed with the turnout. Also, a lot of people don’t speak English, so it’s sometimes been difficult for me to make connections. But we are determined to keep going and trust in God. Engaging with local schools has been especially tough. All of them were reluctant to get involved with us, so I prayed on it, doing prayer walks round the area, and we had a breakthrough with one school agreeing to let us do an assembly. Incredibly, Michelle (Cross Hands Pioneer Evangelist) and I now have relationships with all the local primary schools, where we share the Good News of Jesus in both English and Welsh languages.
We are starting to make a difference, and we are building relationships. But it takes time, and it needs to be sustainable. God is at work here, and we are getting to know the community and listening to what they need. We want to help people practically and spiritually, see them come to know Jesus and create positive change.
*Carmarthenshire County Council – Cyngor Sir Gar