Tuesday, October 9, 2012

U.K. Student and U.S. Wife Face Visa Obstacles


Fourth-year Scotch-Welsh student Rob Dykes and his American wife Ashley are facing a visa dilemma as they prepare to return to Wales following Rob's expected graduation from Greenville Seminary next spring.

Rob's vision for some years has been to become part of a revival in highly secularized Wales. In 2009, Rob researched the 1904-05 Welsh Revival, was deeply moved, and has felt the Lord calling him to serve in Wales ever since. Both Rob and Ashley say they want to see God move mightily in Wales again and have prayed to that end for several years. Now Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Cardiff has extended an offer for a two-year internship.

Having met and married in South Carolina during Rob's studies at GPTS, they now face a difficult situation stemming from visa requirements complicated by their financial situation. As of July 2012, a visa stipulation has restricted Ashley’s access to the United Kingdom unless Rob’s income exceeds an annual £18,600 ($28,980).

Immanuel is a relatively small church and lacks the resources to fund the internship, but the church has pledged to help raise $57,960 in contributions from God's people. The time-frame is critical: Rob’s student visa expires May 2013, and Ashley’s visa must be applied for in March 2013 to avoid her potential separation from Rob when he must return to the UK as his visa expires.

"Immanuel, on behalf of Rob and Ashley, would certainly value your prayer and financial support as we endeavour to honour Christ in a land which has forsaken her remarkable Christian heritage," the church says on a web site describing the situation.

Welsh Flag
"Wales, often called the ‘Land of Revivals,’ is moving away from the Light that once shone so brightly and is worshiping at a new alter; the alter of secularism. Britain was described by the Pope on his recent visit as becoming 'aggressively secular' while the church sleeps. The enemy is busy sowing tares among the wheat and nothing short of an outpouring of the Spirit from on high will uproot Satan’s tares and save our land from becoming spiritually barren," the church says.

"However, what is true of Wales today was also true in 1904 before our Sovereign God, in His grace and mercy, showed His mighty power by shaking this little land and gathering over a tenth of its population to himself through faith in Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Oh that the Lord would revive us again!"

Caerphilly Castle (near Immanuel church)
Rob, 26, was born and raised in Scotland but moved with his Christian family to Wales when he was 17. In addition to his status as a student at GPTS, he has served on the staff as the seminary's graphic designer. Ashley (nee Stair) was born in Greenville and has lived there her entire life. Although raised in a Christian home under the sound of the gospel, she did not come to the Lord until the age of 19. Rob and Ashley were married in November 2010. They are members of Faith Free Presbyterian Church in Greenville, where they met. During the summer of 2012, Rob served locally as an intern at Fulton Presbyterian Church (PCA), where he was able to gain experience in preaching and teaching.

Greenville Seminary has a Foreign Internships Fund account to support students like Rob. If you wish to make a contribution, send a check to Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, with "Foreign Internships" written on the memo line or in an accompanying note. (Tax laws to not allow donors to receive a tax consideration if specific individuals are named in a donation.)

For more information and ways to help, visit the Gospel 2 Wales web site.