Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Watch and pray." As this report goes to press, there is much need to listen to the words of the Saviour to His disciples. Many evils, inspired by Satan, complicate the work of the Lord's servants. Especially is there sustained attack from the cults of error, bringing confusion and misunderstanding often times. Let us not only pray, essential though this is. but watch for ourselves and for those who are in the frontline of the battle that a clear, uncompromising testimony to the truth may be given in our land.
Northern Ireland. This report comes to you at a time of great tension in Northern Ireland. However, we are pleased that the Lords work continues unhindered, in various parts of the province." So writes Jim Graham as he sends items of news to us. Eric Wishart had the joy of seeing some accept Christ in Cregagh Street, BELFAST. In the hall at ROSLEA, Co. Fermanagh, right on the Republican border, John Hawthorne and R. Fulton held meetings. This area is notorious for shootings, and believers need much of our prayers. At STRABANE, Co. Tyrone, another place noted for terrorist violence and destruction, J. Martin and W. Jennings held gospel meetings, and ask for our prayers. Albert Aiken and Gordon Wallace had six weeks in BALLYKEEL, Co. Down, and saw some saved. At Adam Street Hall, BELFAST, Samuel Thompson and Jim Graham held two weeks meetings. This area has been a scene of rioting, and while the meetings were in progress, a policeman was shot in the neck in the next street. In spite of all this there was a good interest, and prayer continues that salvation may come to these people. We can end these items with words from our brother which reflect the sad state of need. "We take no part in the political tug-of-war going on around us in the province, but it does affect the conditions under which the gospel is preached, and the continued prayers of the saints on the mainland are greatly valued, that God will overthrow the devices of wicked men and bring about a measure of peace."
North East England. We have some interesting news this time of activities in the North East. The assembly at WALLSEND, held a two weeks campaign with Stewart McKenzie of Furnace, Argyll. About 1200 homes were posted with campaign letters. Following this, each home was visited with a personal invitation. It was clearly stated that there was no connection with Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses. This proved a big help in visitation work. Could this be one of the reasons the assemblies see so few "outsiders" coming in. Because of lack of personal contact, they are mistaken for one of those "peculiar sects". Adult and children's meetings, coffee mornings and a Sunday Senior Citizens tea were organized. Some good contacts were made through the coffee mornings One mother now brings her children to Sunday School, and stays with them for the lesson. Another young couple now attend the gospel meeting. A 17-year-old girl made a profession on the first Sunday evening. One or two others seemed quite moved. Prayer is requested that a permanent work will be seen. At NORTH SHIELDS the assembly has moved to a larger building—a disused Methodist Church that has required a great deal of renovation—much of it done by the local believers. The official opening was very well attended. Encouraging words were given by brethren who have been associated with the assembly for many years. These were followed by ministry. Much improved facilities are now available for assembly activities. A Good Friday service was held by the Sunday School and it was well attended, some strangers coming in. Pray for this new venture of faith. About sixteen months ago, one or two believers in WHITLEY BAY felt concerned about reaching local teenagers. A Friday coffee bar evening was begun in the hall. This grew until the hall was packed. The small band of workers found difficulty with the energetic teenagers, and help from other assemblies was-appreciated. Patience and love have gradually won their way—one or two young people have been definitely saved. Some began to attend the gospel meeting, and one Sunday saw 50 teenagers present. How important this work is yet how increasingly difficult. We must pray for those who have the vision and will to do this work. The Easter week-end TYNESIDE Conference was held in NEWCASTLE. J. Dickson, Troon; R. L. Dawes, Westcliffe; J. Campbell, Perth, all gave practical ministry. At JARROW a boy, the son of a couple in assembly fellowship, was saved as J. Campbell preached one Sunday evening. This was the cause of much praise to the Lord. The North East Assemblies Outreach would value prayer as they plan their August activities in the will of the Lord.
North West. There is a joyful note to hand regarding MANCHESTER village work. Believers from local assemblies engage in this work from May to September each year. Isolated places are visited each Saturday afternoon. J. Robinson—71 years of age—speaks of the encouragement they receive from the Lord to go out to reach needy people with the gospel. Both children and adults are contacted for the Lord. This work has been maintained in the faithfulness of God for over 60 years—pray that it may continue. A brief note for our prayers from ST. ANNES-ON-SEA. The assembly here is moving from rented premises to Queensway Chapel where they have had an outreach for a number of years on a council estate on the edge of the town. This will now become the centre of their worship and witness, and it is with much prayer that they will develop the work.
Midlands. We have news of an interesting venture at DERBY. Mr. and Mrs. Mansfield saw the need to provide a Christian Family Home for handicapped persons. After five years of prayer, planning, preparation and God's provision, the exercise found realisation. "The Gables" a large late Victorian house in Burton Road, Derby, was acquired. The costs of extensive alterations have been met in the main with donations from the Lord's people, and the Home has been registered as a charity. The aim is to provide a Christian home for believers who by reason of physical or mental handicap, are unable to maintain homes of their own. Twelve would be the full complement including the Home parents. "The Gables" is not a nursing home. Here, in the International Year for Disabled People, is a practical expression of help for those who have these kinds of need. We can pray that the Lord will richly bless this work. A few Christians from the Foxhill and Stapleford assemblies, NOTTINGHAM, have begun a Sunday School on a large Housing Estate in the Top Valley of Nottingham. Numbers have ranged between 60 and 80. Several parents bring their children, and Family Services are planned to reach them as well. This is a work with great potential needing much prayer. Ivor Powell writes of a time of blessing in CAMBRIDGE. Early morning prayer meetings were times of blessing, and the believers spoke of times of spiritual renewal during the campaign. Family Services, a Senior Citizens Tea and a Friendship Supper evening were attended by a good number of unsaved folk. Many asked for booklets, and a husband, wife and daughter were counselled. It was felt that God was truly working. At WORCESTER, Mother's Day was used as an opportunity for special outreach. The time of the gospel service was altered to 4.30 p.m. The children and their parents attended in good numbers, and a timely message was given. A bunch of flowers for "mother" and a cup of tea afterwards gave opportunities for conversation, and the interest shown made the effort worthwhile. The country assembly of ROCKHAMPTON, small in numbers, held their Annual Conference at THORNBURY. The speakers were A. M. S. Gooding and David West. About 200 gathered and a time of profitable ministry was enjoyed. It was a time of encouragement.
From the assembly in WALLINGFORD, Oxon comes a report of a gospel Tent Campaign. Much door-to-door visitation was done by evangelist Ron Smith. Gospel meetings were held in the tent each evening for two weeks. Much indifference and apathy was experienced bringing some disappointment, but the support from local assemblies was much appreciated. Teenage youth caused trouble in some of the meetings, but two spoken to were obviously moved. Children's meetings were held, and a girl and boy made professions of faith in Christ. It is hoped to continue with Friday night children's meetings. Most afternoons, the gospel was preached in the open-air. Prayer continues for further blessing.
London Area. News to hand of the SOUTH EAST LONDON Mobile Unit. For over thirty years there have been twice annual rallies, run in connection with the London and Home Counties assemblies organized by the Mobile Units. During these rallies, thousands have heard the gospel preached and the Lord has graciously saved some. At a recent rally, a young Iranian lady listened during the meeting. Afterwards, through counselling, she was led to Christ. Her confession was that Islamic faith never brought her true peace or satisfaction. Let us pray for the rallies being planned later in the year. One or two other items of news are interesting. At DEPTFORD, activities were confined to tracting and personal work. One young lady said that she had been a believer while she was at school, but had since lost her faith. She accepted literature. Pray for her! The Annual Report Meeting was held at Brook Lane assembly, where slides were shown of the work and a message was given on 2 Corinthians 2. At the STRAND, many tracts were given away, though some were just thrown on the ground. One man returned to the Lord and prayed with the workers. Another family of five, (the wife a Catholic) showed great interest.
South East England. Brief items of news from S. Mountstevens. In RAMS-GATE, the Sunday School work strengthens with about 80 children attending. Many parents were at the prize-giving, and there is a good interest. Up to 30 young people gather each week at our brother's home and the interest is encouraging. During the Easter period, at a mission in WAINSCOTT, blessing was enjoyed. After one meeting, five children asked how they could become Christians. Two of these were truly saved. S. Mountstevens has obtained a caravanette with a view to Mobile Evangelism in the area. Prayer would be valued for the widening of the work.
South Wales. From Frank Lonney comes news of further activity in LUD-LOW. Last summer, tent work was carried out on the large building estate where it is hoped to build a hall. Now for a month, follow-up work was carried out. The whole area was tracted again. Some new contacts were made, and some promised to come along to the gospel meeting. It was good to see some of the young believers going on to help the small assembly, and to encourage them in the things of God. The new building is at damp course level—there is much to be done. Pray for them. At George Street Gospel Hall, SWANSEA, Bryan Jenkins conducted a series of children's meetings. Contacts made with many of the parents were encouraging at the closing meeting. Several local schools were visited, and morning assemblies were conducted. At TREBOETH, Swansea, Ivor Powell conducted a brief mission. The meetings were mainly for adults and a good number of unsaved came in. On the Wednesday evening, 24 lads came in. They listened well to a talk on the second coming of Christ. About ten returned the following evening and showed good interest. It was good to meet a lady who had been saved about 7 years ago on the opening night of a mission. Since then her daughter has been saved, baptized and is in fellowship, and her son is also a Christian. She is very burdened for her unsaved husband. Here are matters for our prayers. Castleton Chapel, MUMBLES, and George Street Gospel Hall, SWANSEA, celebrated together their 100 years of testimony to the Lord, Special meetings, well attended, were held in May, conducted by Alan Nute and W. Craig. The history of each assembly is interesting. It was in April 1881, that a small company of believers met together in Southend, Mumbles, in a place known as the Mission Room. Many were saved and baptized. The first baptisms took place in the sea. Later the baptistry was installed, and so frequent were the baptisms that the Water Board were worried—they sought recompense for the excessive use of water! In 1903, the present chapel was built. At the same time as Mumbles assembly began, a work began at George Street, Swansea. Five Christians gathered in an upstairs room at the back of Hollybush House. Gradually the whole building was taken over and the work has continued to develop through its various stages until today. Several missionaries have been commended to the field from George Street, and over the years much work for the Lord has been accomplished. It was fitting that the two companies of believers should join together to celebrate the faithfulness of the Lord, and to praise Him for His goodness over 100 years of testimony.
Cornwall. The local assembly at SALTASH, and the workers of CORNWALL Postal Sunday School, stood side-by-side in the High Street of the town for the May-Day fair. The assembly had a display of its activities with plenty of leaflets inviting to various meetings. The P.S.S. had a small Bible Quiz, and gave away sample lessons and about 100 gospel recordings to young people. Bibles were sold and copies of John's Gospel were given to passers-by. The day was wet, cold and windy, but the Lord gave grace to stick it out and to give this positive witness to the people. The P.S.S. was also represented at a local Carnival fete at LANIVET, near BODMIN. Weather conditions were similar, and the fete was held in the Church Hall. This meant being tightly packed together with other stalls but it also made the Stand more accessible. Good contacts were made with about 35 children, and some good conversations with parents were enjoyed. The New Hall in BODMIN was opened in May with much thanksgiving to the Lord. This was in itself a testimony to His faithfulness. The afternoon and evening were spent in opportunities to inspect the building and also for ministry, reports and prayer. We can wish our brethren well in the establishment of this new centre of witness, and pray for Gods blessing afresh on the work in Cornwall.
News from the Foreign Field.
Michael Browne writes regarding a tour of assemblies in INDIA, made by invitation of the Indian brethren. This meant a visit to nine Indian States, preaching in all about 150 times. "It came as a considerable surprise", he says, "to see the extent and size of assembly work in this continent." There are approximately 1000 assemblies, mostly concentrated in the South. Significantly, there are over 200 commended workers—native believers in the work. The All India Conference of Workers in MADRAS was the biggest ever held. 180 commended workers and elders gathered to consider the Word, and to give reports. It proved to be a week of strategic ministry to a group of brethren who largely form the leadership of the assemblies throughout India. We can only touch briefly on a work which is so extensive. A visit to BANGALORE gave opportunity to speak at crowded gospel meetings, about 500 being present. There are over 300 assemblies in KERALA State, and the conventions were marked by large gatherings. Various places were visited with good attendances and times of blessing. At KOTARRAKARO, 1500 attended the meetings. IN JABALAPUR fellowship in speaking was enjoyed with Jim Rowberry and Alex—converted in prison while awaiting the death sentence. A visit to the jail gave opportunity to preach to about 130 prisoners in the prison chapel. The most vigorous and fastest growing assembly work is in the southern part of ANDHRA PRADESH. During the past 45 years in the general area of Andhra, a wholly indigenous work has sprung up, resulting in about 200 assemblies being established. These assemblies have an aggressive gospel outreach, are growing fast (26 were baptized while visiting), and are composed largely of poor country labourers. Having nothing, they possess all things. In preaching in various places, sometimes three times a day, our brother found that numbers were very large. A brief summary indeed of much that is going on. The devil is active—let us pray for them. Perhaps their enthusiasm is a rebuke to much of our apathy.