Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
". . . that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain", Phil. 2. 16.
Amidst all the intensity of evangelical activity, the desires and deep involvement of the evangelists are often forgotten. The reaction of the crowds to the efforts made to reach them and win them for Christ are carefully noted. Heads are counted, and often we are critical if the numbers do not match our expectations. Sad to say we are very proficient in detecting and proclaiming where the Lord's servant may be "lacking" or "out of touch". Paul's great longing was that in the day of Christ he would be satisfied that his activities in the Lord's service would be shown to be worthwhile—his motives and methods would be vindicated. None of those who felt the influence of blessing that Paul's ministry brought knew the intense burden he carried in the secret place before the Lord. The "many tears "— the "care of all the churches"—all the earnest labour in prayer, that he might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Thus he often was the target for criticism and misunderstanding. As we read these reports, let us pray that the many prayers and deep longings for blessing, which are the portion of those who work with single-minded zeal for the glory of God and the blessing of men, may be abundantly answered.
Southern Ireland. Over the past year or so, John Flynn has been able to visit most of the assemblies in the Irish Republic, and it is interesting to be able to report on their work and progress. It is good to reflect on the Lord's goodness to His people in what was once a very strong and hostile Roman Catholic country and to see the measure of freedom enjoyed in evangelism. It will perhaps help us in our prayers to know of these facts. In DUBLIN the testimony dates back to the days of J. N. Darby. The city, which has one third of the Republic's population, is one of the most needy of modern mission fields. Merrion Hall assembly, with its depleted numbers in a large hall, maintains a faithful "down-town" witness. There is a warm fellowship there, and the varied activities are engaged in weekly. Prayer is needed that the Lord's work will grow and deepen. There are assemblies around at RATHMINES, SYDNEY, CRUMLIN. FAIRVIEW and DUN LAOGHAIRE. Dr. Geo. Macdonald, Bob McAllister and Colin Sheldon work for the Lord in the Dublin area. In Co. Donegal there are three assemblies. John Flynn and his wife had the joy of visiting the LETTER-KENNY assembly. Although this is small, it maintains a good testimony for the Lord. There are also testimonies at MAGHER-ACORRAN and LAGHEY. Gilbert Stewart and Sam Patterson saw quite a number saved in the tent meetings near Magheracorran. A visit was made to the assemblies in County Cork. The assembly in CORK City has suffered much during the years, and has much need of prayer at the present. Numbers are small. The weekly open-air meeting is carried on faithfully with help from brethren from other parts. Many Roman Catholics hear the word preached. Prayer is needed that there will be found godly leaders to carry on in future years. John Elwood lives and works for the Lord in this area. At SKIB-BEREEN there are a number of keen and active brethren, and a positive gospel testimony is carried on in the area. Here it is good to know of younger brethren and sisters growing up in the Lord. Albert Glass lives here and serves the Lord in the west of the county. He and his wife need our prayers.
Scotland. From the extreme north comes news of a visit to SHETLANDS for gospel meetings by Michael Browne. These were held in FAIR ISLE. Help was given by Gavin Sandison from Westray, a local Orkney farmer. Each home was visited. In most homes the word was read and explained, and there was an opportunity to pray with the folks. But a definite hardening of attitudes was noticed among the people, as the claims of the gospel upon their lives are being seen. God gave blessing in the meetings, and the power of God was felt each night. It seemed that many were spoken to, and there were tears in the eyes of some, but no professions. One man in his mid-40's spoke with the evangelists with great sincerity late into the evening—yet stopped short of calling upon the Lord for salvation. Pray for the Emmaus Courses which will be used as follow-up material.
Five weeks outreach with the FIFE assemblies were engaged in by Stewart McKenzie. In two villages, CROSSGATES and HILL OF BEATH, meetings were held in Community Centres. Attendances at the children's meetings were consistent, about 30-40 in each evening. A fair number of unsaved came in to the adult meetings. Two teenage girls found help: one, saved two years ago, making a fresh dedication to the Lord.
Some interesting news from the south ! John Spiers was greatly encouraged by the effort at NEW CUMNOCK, where the Lords hand was seen in blessing. The support from the Ayrshire assemblies was tremendous. This made it easy for local folk to come in without feeling conspicuous. Five came to know the Saviour, and two were baptized on the final night. John Spiers also had the joy of leading a young married man to Christ in his home town of FORTH. This man had visited a believer's home very much the worse for drink. He was seeking help for a shipwrecked life and his marriage was breaking up. Before the day ended he was gloriously saved—praise the Lord! The next week his wife heard John Clunas preach at BOTHWELL, and she too gave her life to Christ. Here is good news indeed of the Lord's power to save. They are now both baptized and in fellowship. The mission at BOTHWELL was good with another lady confessing Christ, and some good contacts in the homes of people visited. Pray much for this mission, as more results could follow. James Aitken has continued in door-to-door work in the villages of Lanarkshire. Local believers have joined the evening open-air preaching. The task has been by no means easy, but there has been great encouragement in the desire of young believers and young married couples to become really involved in the systematic study of the Word. This augurs well for the future of the assemblies. Two Dutch ladies have been visiting the Jews in the Glasgow area for the past two months, seeking to interest them in the New Testament. They have put 794 Hebrew-English New Testaments into the homes of the Jewish community. Pray that eyes may be open to see the realities found in Christ. The Renfrewshire Gospel Campaign had a three week effort in the Gospel Hall at KILMALCOLM with Jim Smith of Livingstone. Each evening the meetings were fairly well attended, and a few professed faith in Christ. The Sunday evening after-church rallies, held in a village hall, were excellent meetings. A case of great need was encountered—a man who is an alcoholic was brought in by a brother from LIN WOOD. He attends the meetings there. Pray that he will find release, and faith in Christ. Since the meetings a lady has been baptized and received into fellowship.
North-West England. There is news of the commencement of the Lancashire Tent Work. The tent was pitched at ECCLES, and C. Goldfinch and John Burns were the evangelists. The ground was well prepared by visitation work. The district had been twice visited with 5000 leaflets, and the response was encouraging. 80 children attended the first children's meeting, and 40-50 teenagers were at the youth meeting. Prayer is much needed that the results will be lasting. The Merseyside Tent Crusade got under way at WAVETREE Play Ground, LIVERPOOL, with Derrick Bingham conducting a three week's campaign. Conditions were very wet and stormy, yet despite this, the meetings were well attended, and over 600 gathered for the final evening. It is believed that many were helped and felt the Lord's blessing. During the time a number of local schools were visited, and over 1000 children were spoken to. The children's meetings were very well attended.
Midlands. A lively campaign can be the only way to describe one held at Allesley Park, COVENTRY, by Bob Tel-ford. A "black museum" of missiles thrown at the tent was collected. These included beer cans, stones, and clods of earth. Threats that the tent would be burnt down and cut to ribbons were made. Despite the distractions and threats, the work has gone ahead and through prayer and the presence of God's people everything remains intact, and children and young people have come to know the Saviour. The number of children attending has been 180 plus. There is still much to pray for as the devil seeks to withstand the work of the Lord. A witness tent was erected at the Three Counties Show at MALVERN. Thousands of people passed through the tent during the three days of the Show. Various exhibits and displays gave in different forms their message which was linked to the theme of God's Power in Action. Many conversations were possible with people as they sat down in the refreshment section to drink a cup of tea. Roger Chilvers and other evangelists were fully engaged in personal evangelism and one 17 year old man confessed Christ. For Postal Sunday School it was a fruitful time. Over 400 children received their introductory lesson, and there have already been a number who have sent them in completed. There have also been those who have asked for follow-up literature. Thus much was done to point people to Christ. Let us pray that definite conversions will follow. The WORCESTER Postal Sunday School are planning school contacts during the autumn, using the bi-centenary of the work of Robert Raikes as a lead-in to the message. Prayer would be valued.
South-East England. News is to hand of a children's mission held in the MARGATE assembly by S. Mountstevens. Over two weeks the Lord's blessing was enjoyed, especially when the team who were working realized that 50% of the children attending were non-Sunday School goers. Over 90 children gathered, and the Sunday School has increased as a result of the mission—there are now about 100 children on the register. Much encouragement was felt, and the work goes on amidst much prayer. At CLIFTON -VILLE, S. Mountstevens says that it was a great joy to work with young believers, some of them recently converted and baptized. This sense of "team spirit" gives much cause for praise to God.
News from the villages. A boy of 10 has been remarkably converted. He is from a non-Christian home and had never attended a place of worship, but he was concerned when he read a poster with a Christian message. Brought in to a follow-up meeting, he trusted the Saviour for himself. He needs much prayer—comes to Sunday School—but his parents are suggesting that he needs psychiatric treatment. A man was spoken to at length by a Christian carrying a banner. He spoke flippantly about eternal things. His surprise was that anyone could bother with him in view of his attitude to the Lord who loved him. While the conversation was going on, a professional photographer took great care to see that the incident was "filmed". God has many "servants".
South and West. There is some interesting news of children's work from Phillip Lambert. At STUCKTON, a small village on the edge of the New Forest, a good number of children came each night. Following the mission, a boy who had become a Christian asked for a chorus to be sung at the funeral of his elder brother who had been tragically killed. Please pray for this lad and his family. A number of encouraging coffee mornings were held, and unsaved were always present. A mission at HAMWORTHY, Poole, was useful with good children's meetings. Prayer is needed for families contacted for the first time and young people who were saved. BRADFORD-on-AVON was revisited when a good number of children attended. A regular work has recommenced here, and prayer is needed. Opportunities came at SHEPTON MALLET during the Royal Bath and West Show. The occasion gave valuable openings to share the Word of God with visitors. Good conversations were held with people seeking definite spiritual help. At BROUGHTON GIFFORD, a small village and very barren spiritually, a first tent mission took place. Most of the 75 children attending had no previous knowledge of the Bible. It was a joy to be able to teach them systematically the Word of God for the three weeks of the Crusade. Here is a pointed quotation from the report. "I feel it is essential that we spend much time in teaching children the Word of God as it is not taught in many schools or in many homes today. Well over 70% of children who attended our children's meetings have no Sunday School or Church connections, and their ignorance of the scriptures continues to stagger me." Here in these words is a challenge to our approach to children's work.
We have some news of work among overseas students in WEYMOUTH. 3000 will be gathering for language studies, and local churches have made some useful contacts. The first evening Rally held for them was attended by about 70. These included Swedes, Norwegians, some German sailors, and a few foreign tourists. This gives a good opportunity to distribute God's Word in their native tongue. Pray for those young people who give their time to this important work, that understanding and courage will be given. A 2£ weeks tent campaign was held by Stephen Gillham at CHICKERELL (Weymouth). Good numbers of children gathered each night. The weather was very wet, yet somehow at the times of the meetings the rain stopped and the children were not hindered. Quite a number of adults and senior citizens came in to the adult meetings. The final night saw nearly 200 people in, including parents and friends. It is hoped that the village Sunday Schools will reap the benefits of the campaigns.
South Wales. Encouraging reports were given at the annual meeting of the South and West Wales Evangelistic Mobile Unit. The Unit, as always, is being used to help small assemblies in the area, and to proclaim the gospel in many villages in South Wales. It was a happy gathering and ministry was given by Bryan Jenkins of Newport. A team from the Jireh Gospel Hall, LOUGHOR, have developed an open-air Sunday School during summer months, and this has been used to reach parents and children in the housing estates around the hall. Excellent contacts are regularly made by a faithful band of workers who hold an open-air witness weekly in the centre of SWANSEA.
John Baker and Frank Lonney had an encouraging time at TREDEGAR. It was good to see the number of people in each evening and the Lord's blessing was felt. A dispensational chart was used by Frank Lonney in his gospel preaching. Although rather unusual, the believers expressed their appreciation . A girl, who is a case of spina bifida, and 19 years old, was wonderfully saved. A Christian brought her in and later the "bringer" rang to say that her friend wanted to talk. As the call was responded to, she was led to Christ. Pray for her progress in the things of the Lord. At LUDLOW, on the borders, John Baker and Frank Lonney erected a tent on the Sandpits estate—the first time that this estate has been evangelized in this way. 90-100 children gathered each night —some of them were very unruly. But there was a sense of the Lord's blessing throughout. The adult response was poor, but contacts were made through door-to-door visitation. A Portakabin is now on a site which the believers from the assembly have purchased. The hall, which is in the centre of the town, has been sold and the assembly will meet here regularly until a permanent building can be built. The assembly is very small but with great courage and faith—they believe God is going to do great things here. Pray for them—there is the danger that they will encounter hostility and vandalism as they seek to establish a permanent testimony.
Devon. News of various activities from Tony Blackburn. At TORQUAY an address was given on the second coming of Christ. After the meeting a Roman Catholic on his first visit to the hall said that he had asked the Saviour into his life. He had been invited to tea by folk in the assembly before coming to the meeting. Also a French student of 19 years had a conversation, and it is believed that she was saved. Two cases that will need much prayer!
Cornwall. An interesting item of news from ST. AUSTELL. A young man of 22 was brought by his sister to the gospel meetings, and listened to the message consistently. Eventually he was saved. Then one Sunday afternoon he confessed Christ publicly by being baptized in the sea. This gave great cause for rejoicing to the assembly. Afterwards a parents' evening was held with the children giving items, and Paul Hocking of Cardiff giving a clear gospel message. The hall was packed, and there was great encouragement in this work. Remember in prayer a Postal Sunday School Camp at Fowey with Paul Hocking as the padre. About 37 scholars and 15 workers attended. A baptism was held in the river Fowey on Bodmin Moor, A young believer confessed Christ publicly in this way. How significant these public acts of confession are. Perhaps we lose a lot by conducting our baptisms indoors. This gives food for thought. A witness stand was erected by Postal Sunday School at the Royal Cornwall Show. There was a very good interest. Gospel Recordings were given away to about 550 people and about 120 children were enrolled in Postal Sunday School. Some of their lessons have been returned completed. Also at SALTASH May Day celebrations, a similar stand was erected and there was a very good response. The building project at BODMIN goes ahead with the contract now ready for signing. It is hoped that, in the will of the Lord, the building will be completed by May/June 1981. Let us remember John Hadley and the workers there in our prayers.