Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire", Rev. 20. 15.
Every account of the Lord's work is bound to be varied in content. A wide field of events is covered each time. It is also inevitable that there will be repetition—not of the actual events—but in the characteristics of the things that are done. Yet having said this, there are events that stand out as having some special appeal or challenge. There is one such in this report. A man, by his own request, is placed where he can hear the gospel being preached. Unknown to the preacher, he listens to the Word. He is desperately ill, and during the following night he dies. Could anything be more dramatic in terms of evangelism?
Such a happening raises many questions. For the man himself it was the final chance. Did he decide for Christ? The answer to this will never be known on earth. Only eternity will tell the final story. For the preacher, it was an unknown crisis in evangelism—a soul on the brink of eternity, hearing for the last time the sweet sounds of the good news of salvation. This fact brings home forcibly to us the unknown potentials of life and death in every audience that listens to the Word of God. Only God Himself knows the true extent of human need. But without doubt, an evangelist in this position would with deep concern ask himself, "Could not I have done more?". A solemn reflection indeed !
Here is an incident that brings a challenge to the thinking of all who are involved in seeking to win people for Christ. Do we believe in eternal punishment? Is it a deep conviction with us as we preach the gospel, that those who refuse Christ will be lost for ever ? Very searching questions, in the climate of much religious thought today! The above text, and the passage from which it is taken, reveal the inevitable consequences of rejecting the love of God and the Person of the Saviour. When heaven's final records reveal the names of all who have believed, none shall be able to question or affect their eternal security. Praise God for this! But if a name is not there—awful reality! There is no hope given, no second chance. What a sad picture! Perhaps the words of the Lord to Ezekiel make a fitting conclusion to these reflections. "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shall surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand", Ezek. 33. 8. May the Lord increase our love for the lost!
Northern Ireland. A number of interesting items are to hand from Jim Graham. At least two people were saved in ANTRIM, where Eric Wishart and Samuel Thompson held meetings. At the beginning of meetings held by Albert Aiken and John Beattie in BALLINECK, Co. Fermanagh, four professed faith in Christ. One was a man of 89 years, who thought he had plenty of time to settle things. Jim Hutchinson and T. McKelvey saw the Lord's hand at work at CLONKEEN, Co. Antrim. At C00KST0WN, a movement of the Spirit of God was felt as Jim Allen preached to a large number in the hall. Nine professed salvation, and there was a great sense of blessing among those in the assembly fellowship who gave their support to the meetings. The wholesome sense of the Lord at work—how wonderful this is! Jim Flanigan had gospel meetings in BALLYMONEY, after four weeks of ministry in various assemblies with good response. In DONACLONEY, near Lurgan, the hall was packed and several were saved as Jim Brown and Jack Lennox conducted meetings. Sam McBride saw something of the Lord's blessing in the gospel in ARMAGH City. The testimony is carried on steadily here, both in gospel and ministry, in spite of the troubles in the famous "murder triangle" so close at hand. At DRUMANESS, near Ballynahinch, Reg Jordan and Lindsay Hunter held four weeks meetings with good attendances. Reg. Jordan had meetings in GROWELL where the small assembly carries on a faithful testimony. Recently a young man has been saved—he attended meetings held here in 1979. Please pray for the rest of his family. Twenty weeks of gospel meetings were held by Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings at TIVACONAVEY, Co. Antrim. Many were saved during these meetings. They were followed by ministry and Bible readings, when the evangelists were joined by John Wills, formerly of Venezuela. At LONDONDERRY, Sam Patterson and Gilbert Stewart held meetings in the Gospel Hall. These were small, and the believers need encouragement. Our brethren work hard in this area and in the DONEGAL area of Eire, often in out of the way places, and God has blessed their faithfulness to His Word. David Kane had a good spell of gospel meetings in LIMAVADY.
Southern Ireland. A work of personal contact has been carried on by Robert and Joan McAllister on the Ballymun Housing Site, DUBLIN. For 131 years, door-to-door work has been done, and only one lady has been known to have trusted the Saviour. She needs prayer, as do her unsaved husband and family. Six months ago ten children were allowed to come to Sunday School—held in a small hall erected in the garden of this couple. This is work in very hard ground —let us remember them in prayer.
Scotland. We have plenty of news from Scotland. Well attended gospel meetings were held in Bay View Gospel Hall, STORNOWAY, by George Campbell who served the Lord for 23 years in Newfoundland. A powerful sense of Gods blessing was enjoyed. Two ladies accepted Christ as Saviour. One of these had been attending the morning meeting for six months, and after one meeting broke down in tears and found her way to the Saviour. There was great rejoicing ! During the past six months, the work in North Scotland has received two setbacks. Sandy Stewart of Hopeman and Ian Munro of Invergordon, who have laboured fulltime in these areas for about twenty years, have returned to find secular employment. Both our brethren would value prayer. The small assembly at WICK has sustained a further loss—one of the four remaining brethren has been called Home. Let us also remember them as we pray. The assembly at FORRES, which has maintained a faithful witness for many years, had a touch of encouragement when an ex-Roman Catholic, converted a few years ago, returned to be baptized. His mother and Roman Catholic friend were present to witness this public testimony. Ian Munro reports on the continuance of Postal Sunday School work in the area of Invergordon. The summer camp will, D.V., be held this year at FINDOCHTY. Our brother also continues in the work of printing tracts, etc., for free distribution, and would value our prayers. Stewart McKenzie reports on a return to GLENLUCE for the baptism of a young man saved during meetings held during last summer. This conversion was unknown at the time. In PEEBLES, John Spiers has engaged in visitation work for about two months. This is a hard border town, but many good contacts have been made and believers have been much encouraged. It is good to feel the "walls of iron" giving way to the power of the Spirit of God. At STEWARTON, Robert Revie found work in a portable hall very hard going. But at PATNA, where a special effort was made last autumn, five have been baptized. There are less than 12 in fellowship here, but 30 attend the midweek meeting. This is a happy situation. We are quite often reminded that tract distribution still has great value in evangelism. A man called to see his parents, and while there he picked up a tract that had been handed in. As he read it, God spoke to him, and in attending gospel meetings he was eventually saved. He is now baptized and in fellowship. In Porch Hall, GLASGOW, a weekly Senior Citizens meeting has also become a meeting for unemployed men. About 160 attend weekly—only 20 of these are women. There are many needs represented, and much cause for prayer. A daughter of a member of this assembly was travelling on a bus, when she was accosted by a woman under the influence of drink. She took her address, and through visiting, she was saved. She has since been baptized and received into assembly fellowship. Jim Aitken, who conducts a very faithful work of correspondence evangelism, reports of blessing in the LANARK assembly. Over fifteen months, twelve have been baptized, and ten of these are now in fellowship. A Senior Citizens meeting held each week has proved a very fruitful field. Through it there have been conversions and baptisms, with some added to the assembly. On the housing estate where this hall stands, a real impact has been made on the people round about. Through our brother's correspondence work (about 100 letters go out each month with visits in between) six have made professions of faith during the past year. Fellowship in prayer would be valued. Two Aitken brothers have held gospel meetings in LAURIESTON, near Falkirk. There is a Friday Bible Class in the young offenders institution at DUMFRIES, conducted by some from the assembly and joined by other believers. About 30 attend, and there is a good interest shown. T. McDonald supplies Emmaus Courses, and through this work over the years upward of 20 lads have been saved. Three of these have been lads doing life sentences for murder. Two have been transferred to adult prison, but contact is maintained and they go on with the Lord.
North West England. In MAN
CHESTER, Saturday night ministry meetings, held in various local assemblies, have been very well attended, with appreciation of the helpful ministry given. The Friday night fortnightly meetings, held by Derick Bingham in the centre of the city, were renewed in February. Numbers are good and the meetings are appreciated by a wide range of ages—although the main aim is to reach young believers.
Midlands. The work on Netherfield Chapel, the new hall being built on the vast housing complex at MILTON KEYNES, continues. Substantial progress has been made, albeit rather slow. After delays of supplies in some directions, planning of the final stage in this project is taking shape. The needs in this new, growing city are immeasurable. The building of this place for testimony makes great demands, and prayer is sought that financial needs will be met and that a lasting spiritual work shall be done. In SYSTON, Leics., John Baker held encouraging gospel meetings. There was a full hall for the children's prizegiving meeting. A Senior Citizens' tea brought about 60 together, and there was a good hearing for the message given. A young married couple, saved four months earlier, attended each evening and literally drank in the Word. They were baptized on the final night. Homes were visited, and a number of folk showed interest. Two interesting items come from Wiltshire. Philip Lambert tells of a SWINDON assembly that started regular "follow-up" meetings, following a special mission. The numbers have gradually increased, and most of those who trusted the Saviour are going on well. Regular visits are made by Philip Lambert to Wiltshire's only prison. Particular difficulty is experienced in speaking to 120 inmates who attend. It would be easier to speak on a one-to-one basis. Yet in spite of the difficulties, the Lord is obviously speaking to some, and over 20 have asked for a copy of "Journey into Life".
South West England. We have news of interesting contacts with The Verne Prison, PORTLAND. Members of Male Voice Praise accepted an invitation to help in practicing hymns for the prison Sunday Service. Following the practice there is an opportunity given for discussion, and also for personal conversation on a one-to-one basis. A good relationship has been established, and two members of the choir have responded to the request to become official prison visitors, and this gives the privilege to see the men in their own rooms without supervision. Emmaus Bible School Courses are provided free of charge for the prisoners, and about 18 men are working on them. The long sentence prisoners have proved the most responsive. Backsliders have been restored, some have been converted and a number are seeking the Lord. H. A. Humphreys says that he has found it necessary to visit each Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and even then cannot cover ail those who express the desire to be visited. The need is great here—about 12 visit the prison with religious connections, but only four are evangelical men. This report comes from J. Harman of Weymouth, and prayer is sought for the work.
Recent missions held by Stephen Gill-ham at SWANAGE and WINTON, Bournemouth, have enabled regular children's meetings to be commenced. Follow-up work and visits have been encouraging, and the work is being maintained as the interest grows. In response to a request from the believers in CHARMINSTER, the Council have granted permission for the erection of a tent on a large housing estate. Prayer and preparation is in progress for the campaign which is due to start in summer months. Stephen Gillham has received permission to visit a large school in PARKSTONE. Bournemouth, six times a year. This means speaking to 500 pupils for 45 minutes each visit. A "great door and effectual" is opened. This school visitation work is most encouraging. In 1980. 50 different schools were visited and during the Christmas period. 30 schools were visited in 2', weeks with the special Christmas message. Such is the freedom at present for youth evangelism. Let us pray for these young lives. News of WESSEX Postal Sunday School comes from SALISBURY. The work began in October. 1980, and is going on steadily. Philip Lambert has contacted children, and to date there are 37 regular members. The lessons are graded and obtained from the Bible Education Services in Ireland. A keen interest is shown, and already letters of appreciation have been received from the children. Prayer would be valued for the well-being of this enterprise.
South Wales. News from John Baker concerning house-to-house visitation in the TREDEGAR area. This relates to parts of the town that the assembly does not normally cover. A gospel and tract, with an invitation to apply for a Bible Course, was given to those who answered the door. Many interesting conversations were held and it is good to report on some of the contacts. They illustrate the way in which this work often operates. One woman related an interesting incident. During a tent campaign in Tredegar the previous year, her father, who was very ill. and lived opposite the tent, asked her to sit him by the open window to hear what was preached. He listened well—the next morning he was found dead in his bed. Did he believe the message ? We can only say that he was without excuse, but what a solemn encounter this proved to be! At another house, the father and son listened intently as eternity was discussed. Another incident occurred after John Baker had braved a ferocious looking dog. A man invited him into the house to talk. His wife had died two years ago, and he was seeking to bring up the children. The gospel was given, and eventually the man requested a Bible Course and other helpful literature, and this has been sent. Pray for this man and his family. A man who had been with our brother during his National Service in 1952 was contacted in his home. A good talk on spiritual things took place. Some good contacts were also made with ex-Servicemen in British Legion Flats. Here, then, is a variety of contacts—each important in its own way and representative of many more. How vital the opportunities—how desperate the need! Four other villages, where there is no assembly testimony, will be visited. Let us pray for this work.
News from the Foreign Field.
Assemblies in EGYPT. It is interesting to gather a little news regarding the assemblies in EGYPT, following a visit made by John Flynn, who has served the Lord for many years in Ethiopia. Assembly testimony commenced in Egypt in 1928, and there are now some 26 assemblies of varying sizes. There are four Egyptian brethren who are serving the Lord in full-time service. The visit was at the invitation of the Egyptian brethren. There were four weeks of busy contacts with various meetings. At a three-day conference in ASSUIT about 360 gathered in the largest annual conference held by the assemblies. Morning and evening Bible Study sessions were held with a good sense of blessing. Here, as in other places, our brother was able to minister the word through an interpreter. At MALLANY some good hospitality was enjoyed in the believers homes, and it was a joy to have such a warm experience of fellowship. The attendance at the meetings was encouraging. Five days were spent at TEMA, further south in Upper Egypt. Here again the fellowship was great, and the meetings held in the Gospel Hall were well attended. In HELIOPOLIS, a suburb of Cairo, encouraging times were enjoyed in MANOUF, MASAKIN and MONTAZA assemblies. The warm Christian fellowship could not be easily forgotten. Four days fellowship were enjoyed in the two assemblies in ALEXANDRIA, and attendances at the ministry meetings were encouraging. These are just a few examples, given from actual contact, of assembly life in this ancient country. The desire for the Word is tremendous, and the fellowship is warm—often shaming at times the apathy in our land. Let us pray for our brethren.