A MUCH-loved Ammanford churchman who had spoken frankly about his battle with cancer has died.

Pastor Eifion Watkins, co-founder of Ammanford Bible Church, passed away peacefully in his sleep early on Sunday after being diagnosed with bile duct cancer just over three years ago.

In a 2011 interview with the Guardian, Pastor Watkins revealed the challenges of dealing with a terminal illness and the hope that he gained from his faith.

"Despite his illness, he never complained, never lost faith and had complete peace that his life was in God’s hands," said a spokesman for ABC Church. " He was always so grateful to the family, surgeons, doctors and nurses that cared for his needs. "In recent weeks as his health deteriorated he would discuss freely with everyone he met the peace that he possessed, that he was ready to cross over when the time came, and that he knew that his life was safe in the arms of the Lord."

A Senior Pastor of the church since it was planted as a new church in Ammanford in 1995, Pastor Watkins was a larger than life character whose passion to see people’s lives changed for the good fuelled ABC’s steady growth over the years.

His vision to purchase and renovate the former West End guesthouse in 1999 and turn it into a church centre saw it fulfil an active role in the Ammanford community. Today, over 500 people a week go through the doors of the church.

ABC Lead Pastor Phylip Morgan said: “Eifion was always open to change and welcomed new ways and methods. Indeed, he’s the only 80-year-old I know that’s on Facebook!

"The legacy that he leaves is breathtaking – a strong church built on a sure foundation with a clear vision for the future and the part we have to play in God’s purpose for our role in west Wales.

"The impact that he has made on so many lives has became so prominent in the last few days as countless messages and stories of been received by the church, friends and family.

"What many forget is that Eifion was over 60 years old when God called him to plant this church. Most people that I know of that age would prefer a quiet life."

The funeral is at ABC Church, 90 Wind Street, on Saturday (February 15) at 1pm.

More information and condolences can be found on the church facebook page at www.facebook.com/AmmanfordBibleChurch