Open Hands Open Heart
Baptist minister's personal and challenging account of letting go and learning to give generously from the heart
Open Hands Open Heart
By Ifor Williams
Reviewed by Rob James
We get to know people in all sorts of ways - by reputation, via social media or even by old fashioned telephone for example. But the best way is to meet the person concerned; spending time with them listening to “what makes them tick” and the hopes and dreams they entertain for the future.
If you want to get to know Ifor Williams, however, you need do no more than to read his deeply personal yet powerfully challenging book Open Hands Open Heart. Ifor is former dairyman-come-Baptist minister, and is currently Rural Missioner for the Baptist Union of Wales. The book is his first real plunge in the world of print media, and it has to be said that he has set himself a very high standard if he intends producing anything else in the future.
Ben Davies Senior Pastor of Bracknell Baptist/Baptist Family/Kerith Community Church puts it well when he writes “This book is a must read; the personal story of Ifor Williams who led a Baptist Church which became increasingly generous through a journey of faithful obedience over 20 years. Brimming with Bible passages interspersed with amazing anecdotes the book reads like a modern day Acts of the Apostles. The book's message if received with faith and applied, will prove to be a thrilling life changer. What God did for Ifor, his family and the church he led, can be done in us. God has no favourites”.
Keith Tondeur OBE says something similar when he writes “When Ifor wrote to me and asked me to look at his book I did not expect to be completely ‘blown away’ – nor to read it through in one go!”
“I have never met Ifor,” continues the former President of Christian money education charity Credit Action, "but soon felt I was getting to know him as I read through his book”
“This book is about letting go and learning to give generously from the heart. Letting go of whatever of whoever is more important in your life than Jesus”, says Ifor. God, he suggests, with abundant Biblical evidence, is a generous God who wants “to take our clenched fist and gently open our fingers one by one, helping us to let go so that we ultimately achieve His goal of making us like Himself."
In a readable yet profoundly challenging way, Ifor takes the reader on a journey signposted in such a way that en route we are reminded of the God who gives: the God who miraculously gave him a house: our innate tendency to want to hang on to what we have, and the sobering truth that authentic Christian worship always involves sacrifice.
The Revd Elfed Godding, National Director of the Evangelical Alliance in Wales, has grasped that this is a core message of the book. “Ifor has poured his life experience into this book” he says. “The thoughtful blending of his and (wfie) Penny’s journey of faith and ministry, together with an excellent use of Scripture, makes his book both inspiring and informative. The honesty with which Ifor deals with this aspect of worship will inspire his readers to greater diligence in sacrificial giving”.
This reviewer can only agree. Open Hands Open Heart has arisen from two basic convictions: the Bible reveals the heart of God, and we discover His goodness and faithfulness when we step out in faith to do His will. Ifor makes this abundantly clear in the most personal way and his challenge deserves to be widely embraced. I hope and pray that will prove the case.
Rob James is a Baptist pastor and Church and Media Consultant at the Evangelical Alliance Wales
Open hands, open heart - Baptist minister Ifor Williams has written a much-praised book on giving. He explains how it came about