Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
Introduction. "Let us rise up and build", Neh. 2.18; "but their nobles put not their necks to the work", 3.5.
There is an impression created by several of the reports sent in this time that if there were more workers more could be achieved. In Nehemiah's time he sought to build the walls and also to encourage others to strengthen their hands to the work. There was much to be done, and each pair of hands was needed. With some he failed—they lagged behind; there was no excuse for their indolence. It is obvious that in our land today opportunities are not lacking. The doors are wide open—even in such areas as Roman Catholic Ireland. What a tragic reflection on our evangelism if it is limited because of lack of workers. Not that believers are not there—they are not working. Every task evaded means either an added burden on those who are working faithfully or a work not done at all. And souls slip away from us without Christ—into eternity. What is our response?
Northern Ireland. Some interesting items of news come from Jim Graham, Belfast. Some fruitful meetings were held by J. Milne and D. Kane at DUNMURRY, and some came to Christ. Also at KINGS-BRIDGE Gospel Hall meetings were held by John Hawthorne. At some meetings held at Bloomfield assembly, BELFAST, by Albert McShane, some attended who have been the subject of much prayer. Work has been done in ANNALONG by Norman Turkington and Sam Ferguson.These needy places call for much prayer. Large numbers, however, gathered at DROMORE (Co. Down) to hear the Word preached by Tom McNeill and Norris Steward (Zambia). The notorious area of NORTH BELFAST in which the Adam Street assembly is situated is knowing something of the Lord's blessings. In some of the normal weekly meetings some have been saved. Eric Wishart and Leonard Mullen (Japan) have been working there. In a three week special effort at DUN-DONALD, conducted by Harry Andrews, there were those who accepted the Saviour.
Now for a special item which comes as a challenge to Sunday School workers. A brother who visits the prisons, to share the gospel with the prisoners, visited the notorious Crumlin Road jail. He had to wait for the prisoners to come in to him, and the first three to come brought a shock. Each of them were ex Sunday School scholars. They were all serving a minimum of 20 years for murder. It was a tragic interview and there were tears as they met. Many similar cases reflect the problems of those who have been caught up in the violent troubles, and this stresses the tremendous need for prayer and spiritual help. Sunday School workers—keep pressing on!
An item from Albert Gray about the three Postal Sunday Schools which operate in BELFAST, OMAGH and ENNISKILLEN respectively, and which operate in fellowship with local assemblies. Many young people who do not have any contact with church or Sunday School are doing the lessons. At the prize-giving meetings which are held each year the parents gather with the children, and profitable times are held. A meeting was held for Sunday School teachers at EN NISKILLEN. There was a good gathering, and several Sunday School teachers from County Fermanagh and County Tyrone joined with them. Albert Gray gave an outline on how the Postal Sunday School material could be used in Sunday School work. Helpful ministry was given by John Flynn (Ethiopia). It was felt that this was a very worthwhile gathering.
Southern Ireland. Some brief items on work in the South. At GEASHILL, a Mobile Hall was parked in a field for two weeks meetings, and visitation work conducted by John Flynn and Wesley Crawford. In this Catholic village there were contacts made and some interesting conversations. While no people came in from the village, messages were given for Christians and these were much appreciated. In connection with the work of Albert Gray and the Postal Sunday School, the gift of a Book Van has greatly extended the possibilities of contact. Various brethren have given help in this and the prize-givings held in the Republic during Nov./Dec. 1979 were especially good. Numbers attending were usually larger than before. Most children come with their parents, who are willing to travel distances to bring them. Good contacts have been made with the Mobile Unit, operated by R. McLuckie and J. Flynn at TREMORE, GALWAY and ACHILL in West Ireland. A most encouraging series of meetings was held in the mobile hall near CARLOW, by Albert Aiken and J. Hutchinson. Up to 50 packed into the hall, and at least one person came into assurance. The owners of the land were greatly encouraged—the response to the meetings was largely due to their testimony in the district. The annual St. Patrick's Day Conference at CORK proved to be a time of good fellowship and helpful ministry, shared by Robert McPheat, Leonard Mullan (Japan) and A. Shearman. The meetings extended over the weekend with the Conference held in a local school. Attendances were good, and it was satisfying to feel the evident interest in the ministry of the Word. A Bible reading on "Leadership", conducted by Robert McPheat, proved to be of great interest, and matters dealing with this need in assembly life today were considered. The need in the scattered assemblies in the South is very great. It is encouraging to hear of the interest among Roman Catholics for the Scriptures, and the doors seem to be opening widely. The Gideons are finding entrances into Convents and Schools which would have seemed impossible a short while ago. God is working and Catholics are coming to Christ. Let us remember them and the work in our prayers.
Scotland. The assembly in INVERN ESS has grown over the past years, and at the beginning of this year some of the believers had an exercise to move out to a developing area in the town to establish a new assembly. This was done with full commendation by the local assembly. Door-to-door visitation has given encouragement with a good response to the invitations, and quite a few locals gather in the gospel meetings. Prayer would be valued as it is recognized that Satan will be active to mar the harmony and blessing of this step of faith. The small assembly at WICK, the most northerly of assemblies, was encouraged when a young married woman was baptized. This was the first baptism for nearly 20 years. There is great need for prayer here, that God will strengthen the things that remain. Although Ian Munro was not able to visit STORNOWAY as planned last autumn, he was able to commence meetings in February. There was a very good response. Large companies of children and adults attended each night. It was encouraging to the small assembly to see the place filled. Some young people were saved, and there was a good interest shown by the adults. Tradition is strong here, and the need is for the people to break with these traditions and openly confess Christ as Saviour.
From KIRKMUIRHILL, Lanarkshire, comes news of an excellent mission held by John Spiers. First, among the believers, a profitable week of ministry meetings was held. Then there was a good rallying to the work for the two weeks gospel meetings that followed. Each night many came in, and some came to Christ. Two sisters were restored to the Lord, and one of them was baptized. The other had already been baptized. Both are now in assembly fellowship. Such was the interest that the meetings were extended for another week. This gives a good example of the right order in local church activity. If believers are in good spiritual health, then outreach work is bound to be powerful and effective. The one follows the other. Work has been done by Jim Aitken in CHIRNSIDE and MUSSELBURGH. Each Saturday morning a class has been held for the purpose of teaching young people principles of local church gatherings. Three young people have been saved recently at LARGS. This brings the total to about a dozen over the past two years. This infusion of young people into an assembly which has a majority of elderly believers is cause for
WIGTOWNSHIRE in the South West corner of Scotland is a small county with under 30,000 inhabitants. Young people often leave the district to seek work elsewhere, and so evangelical witness gradually grows weaker. On one of the housing estates at NEWTOWN STEWART, Mr. Gordon Hopeman had an encouraging campaign. A very good children's work has continued throughout the winter as a result. He also visited CREETOWN, having some most encouraging meetings there. Some were led to trust Christ. DUMFRIES is again in the news. After hearing the gospel over a period of some months, a lady of 72 years professed faith in the Saviour. Young people played an important part in this work by making transport available for her. Helpers together! Pray that she will enter into the full joy of salvation. The Friday Coffee Bar work has opened again and there are signs of blessing. Those who find it hard to break with enslavement to bad habits need very much prayer. They find it so hard to give them up. Only Christ can set them free.
North-East England. In February the assembly at HENDON, Sunderland, moved to a new hall not very far away from the old one. The final meeting in the old hall was attended by former Sunday School Scholars of many years ago, invited by an advertisement in the local press. There was a good attendance at the opening of the new hall. The speaker on both occasions was Stewart McKenzie of Furnace and it was good to see so many "locals" present. Since the opening, Tom Hill of Japan has had report and ministry meetings. Further meetings are planned with Stewart McKenzie. We can wish the assembly well in their new premises, and pray that the work will continue to extend and grow. The small assembly at NORMANBY, Teeside, had a week's campaign in March with Bob Loughborough of Grimsby, a former native of the area. The meetings were worthwhile and were held in the local Community Centre as the assembly has no hall of its own. Although this put a financial burden on the believers, many good contacts were made with parents and children. Forthcoming meetings were planned with Archie McMaster in April and also in July in conjunction with North-East Assembly Outreach. Prayer would be valued. A new building was opened in March at Maxwell Hall, SOUTH SHIELDS. R. Johnson of Leeds conducted the meetings—he had been in fellowship with the saints years before but had left the area. The hall was packed, and a challenging message was given as the effective witness of such an assembly amongst "neighbours" of the area.
North West England. From MANCHESTER comes news of young people's Bible Studies with Derick Bingham. These were so successful that it was decided to arrange another series on the Armour of God. These have been profitable and much appreciated. It is hoped that they will mark a development in the desire for sound Bible teaching on the part of these young people. At a youth rally held in the gospel hall at FARNWORTH on a Saturday evening three young people accepted Christ as Saviour after hearing a message on the Lord's coming. This gave encouragement to many. The winter Saturday ministry meetings held in various assemblies in the city were fairly well attended, nevertheless the presence of more young people would have been welcome. At BELLE VALE Chapel, LIVERPOOL, a weeks children's and young people's meetings were held with Willie Docherty. The children's meetings were full each night. The various adult and youth outreach meetings were interesting and there was a good response. These activities were encouraging in spite of the icy weather!
Midlands. A brief item of news comes from Ruth Bourne, regarding work among Asians in BIRMINGHAM. An elderly Bengali man who was saved earlier was baptized just before Christmas, and he is now in fellowship in a local assembly. There were many links in the chain to his conversion. It has been good to see him take his stand in the face of opposition. We can reflect on the cost to such converts when they openly identify themselves with a living Saviour. It is a challenge often to us!
London Area. From TOTTENHAM, London, comes news of work among children on the Broadwater Farm Estate by John Frost. This has been described as a concrete jungle of flats and houses which provides homes for 900 families. It is a breeding ground for violence and wickedness of all description. Crimes of murder, rape, robbery and vandalism are reported almost weekly. Each Friday evening a meeting is held in a school on the edge of the estate, and children gather for an hour of Bible stories, quizzes, singing, etc. New faces as well as the old ones are seen every week. Three of the older girls are receiving Bibles. Many stories of privation, want and cruelty can be told of children who know little if anything about settled home life. This estate has been described as a stronghold of Satan. Prayer is asked for the inhabitants, the parents and their children, and the two school caretakers who are most helpful with the use of the school. A young man met at Harringay Show has been visited by John Frost. He has known mental problems, and has been under the influence in turn of Spirit Healers, Jehovah's Witnesses and Roman Catholics. He is quite open to the gospel and a very able London City Missioner now visits him to read the Scriptures and pray with him. Please pray that he may be led to a clear acceptance of Christ.
South Wales. At Blue Street Gospel Hall, CARMARTHEN, a brief visit from Stan Ford gave great encouragement. Each night the hall was full. Many strangers came in, and one young man professed faith in Christ. In the area of FFOREST-FACH, John Baker engaged in door-to-door work and conducted a series of children's meetings. An interesting item of news comes from Bruce and Grace Anderson concerning work in connection with a Disabled Christian Fellowship. A meeting is being held monthly in the Community Centre, BETTWS, NEWPORT. The meeting is small, but it is hoped that it will lead to evangelism and pastoral visitation. There are needs with this work, such as cars to carry the folks to and from the meetings, and much prayer and fellowship is needed.
News comes from Frank Lonney of follow-up work in TREDEGAR with John Baker. One young person has been saved and baptized, and others have been helped in various ways. Some are now attending the monthly ministry meeting of the assembly. Frank Lonney had the joy of baptizing three at BARGOED Gospel Hall—a young couple who are showing great interest in spiritual things, and an older sister who really rejoiced in this step of obedience. An opportunity was thrown open to any who would like to take the step, and to the great joy of the company another sister came forward to be baptized. Throughout the winter, door-to-door work has been done in MERTHYR Gospel Hall vicinity. Interest has been good but few have come in. One teenager showed interest.
Cornwall. In the County of Cornwall there are eight assemblies. These are scattered throughout the county and form a small but potential testimony to assembly life and work. We are able to give news of each of them in this report. BODMIN is a steadily growing assembly with 30 in fellowship. The main feature of news here is that the builder is ready to build the new hall. God's hand has been seen in providing for the work, and the saints are trusting for the balance of finance. Prayer is asked for John Hadley who works in fellowship with all the assemblies, and also for the various outreach activities in and around the town. There is a cause for praise for a growing Sunday School work. The furthest west of these assemblies is CARBIS BAY. In a small assembly of 14 there is cause for encouragement. Sunday School and a Tuesday evening children's meeting at which 40-50 gather give great hope for future work. Workers are in short supply. A pianist and song-leader is needed. Also the building project is in abeyance—they need a hall of their own. Points for prayer! There are now 28 in fellowship at FALMOUTH. A new room and office has been added to the hall, and other developments are planned when funds become available. The young people's work is the main outreach. "If we had more teachers, we could no doubt draw more children". Week-night teenagers' and women's work go well. We can pray for an increase.
Although NEWQUAY is a popular resort, there are just 1 6 in fellowship there. But there is a note of praise for the women's meeting and growing Sunday School work. There are plans for extending the young people's activities—20 meet each week in Good News Club. Prayer is asked that some Christian families will join with them. There is a flourishing Sunday School work at TRURO where there are 28 in fellowship. During the year, three young people and a married couple have been baptized. There is also a young people's meeting on a Friday with about 20 attending. The young people also visit an Old People's Home bimonthly for a testimony. Prayer is asked for the extension of the work, and also that the young people will be fully established in the faith. The largest assembly is at SALTASH with about 50 in fellowship. Here the young people's activities thrive. Summer open-air meetings are held each Sunday at the water side. Well attended Senior Citizen's meetings are held at times. Prayer is asked that conversions may be seen in the work. At WHITSTONE a small assembly of 8 gather. While the work is not spectacular, prayer is asked that the Sunday School will continue to grow. ST. AUSTELL has 31 in fellowship. Here there is good outreach work carried on with solid assembly participation. 1200 assembly-produced magazines are delivered around the hall each quarter. Sunday School and Bible Class continue to prosper with many new contacts being made. The many activities call for much prayer that the Lord Jesus shall be glorified.