Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them". Mark 16. 20.
The beginning of a new year gives opportunity for reflection as we consider the challenge that service for the Lord brings. Looking back, we seek to assess the value of that which has been done, and also the lessons we can learn from the various activities. Looking forward we anticipate the opportunities which will present themselves in the coming days. The resurrection of Christ heralded new possibilities for the disciples. As they met with Him after the glorious first day, they eventually heard His great commission, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature". Mark 16. 15. This was a new directive, sending them out into fields as yet unknown. But they "went forth". Christianity from the first was a forward looking movement. The pathway to tread was set in the service of the Master. Their pursuits were bound up in doing His bidding. So as they went forth they preached the gospel, and no one was excluded from the range of their contacts. Yet most precious of all, the promise of the presence of the risen Lord was a reality and His power was the dynamic of their work. No wonder such great things were done after Pentecost.
During 1984 we were able to report consistently on the work of the Lord in the British Isles and we are much indebted to those who provide reports, and also to those who collate them and send them in. The addresses of some of the brethren responsible for various areas are given. Please make use of them. It will be noticed that some areas are not covered. It would be good to receive reports from these parts of assembly activities. The aim of the report section is at least twofold. To put on record what God is doing in this generation through His many faithful servants. Also, we wish to stimulate prayer so that the work may increase and the Word of God be spread abroad. So we say as we contemplate another year, "Maranatha; the Lord comes". Let us make sure that as many as possible of this generation hear His Word.
Northern Ireland. Reports are sent in regularly concerning the work in the troubled North. These are faithfully sent in by J. Graham, 48, Beechgrove Drive, BELFAST BTG ONW. Items reporting assembly work and testimony will be gladly accepted. A. Aitken had a spell of gospel witness at the Glenburn assembly, BELFAST. God gave blessing as some were saved. At the Ballyhackamorc assembly. BELFAST, Roland Pickering held a series of meetings for four weeks and saw the Lord's hand in blessing. In the Dundonald assembly. BELFAST, Sam Jennings had the joy of seeing people saved in a short series of gospel meetings. At the Cregagh Street Hall. BELFAST, good numbers came in to hear the message faithfully preached by Tom McNeile. A series of ministry meetings on the "Letters to the Seven Churches" was given by Tom Allen in the assembly at NEWTOWNBREDA. In the town of ANTRIM, encouraging numbers attended meetings conducted by Jim Flannigan. Norman Crawford (U.S.A.) saw good numbers attending gospel meetings and some blessings at Cambridge Avenue Hall, BALLYMENA. A series of meetings lasting nine weeks was conducted by Sam McBride at KILKEEL and there were some conversions. Meetings were held at Ebenezer Hall, BANGOR, by Albert McShane and John Hawthorne and in the village of DRUMANESS, a gospel effort conducted by Harry Andrews and Roland Pickering was encouraging in that a good number of people from round about came in to hear the message. In an Orange Hall at SHERRYGROOM, it was encouraging to G. McKinley and B. Glendinning to see a number of young people attending the services. In meetings held at GORTADE, Co. Derry, by Eric Wishart, the numbers were good and some people were saved. While conducting meetings at CARNCUI -LAGH in Co. Antrim, Eric Wishart and Archie McClean had the joy of seeing two elderly ladies and a girl of 7 years old profess faith in the Lord Jesus. No age limits when dealing with the power of the gospel! At LAGHEY, Co. Donegal, J. Brown and Jack Lennox held some meetings. This is the first series of gospel meetings held in the hall for 25 years although meetings have been held in the area at different times. Gilbert Stewart and Sam Patterson continue to spread the good news at ST. JOHNSTONE and it is good lo see a number of young people coming in. It was interesting to hear from Edward Jaminson again of the work of Deep Sea Evangelism. Each month 1,500 bags containing Christian literature go out from BELFAST, CORK and LONDON to various parts of the world. These are swept away and picked up on the shores of other countries. Someone sent in from the West Coast of Africa expressing appreciation for the bag which he found near his home. He requested a Bible Course. A young Moroccan sent a letter with a photo of himself, requesting a Bible Course in French. And a number of requests for scriptures have come in from Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries. Let us pray for this unusual method of spreading the gospel.
Scotland. The news from the North is sent in by Robert Eyres, 21, Wyvis Crescent, Conon Bridge, DINGWALL IV7 8B2. News of assembly activities will be welcomed. At DINGWALL the weekly children's work has commenced and numbers are encouraging. A local brother, Jimmy Webb, runs the meetings with the help of other brethren and sisters. He has just returned from Orkney where he has had a long association with the assemblies there. From ORKNEY comes news of the conversion of a woman in a small meeting in ST. MARGRETS HOPE. She came along to children's meetings which our brother initiated and then Frank Reid held gospel meetings, where she came to the Lord. Her family needs prayer. In the INVERNESS area the assemblies are active among old and young alike. Assemblies at CULLODEN and AVOCH have begun their winter programme. At Avoch, weekly Bible reading are in Hebrews and there are ministry meetings at Culloden.
The news from the South is sent to us by Tom Aitken, 50, Cloglands, Forth, Lanark ML1 8EH. News of the Lord's work will be valued. Robert Revic has a great burden for the needs of Ayrshire. Despite his first portable hall being accidentally destroyed by fire, he has constructed another and the Lord has blessed his ministry in various parts of the country. A young man who was wonderfully saved two years ago through our brother's ministry joined the small assembly at RANKINSTON. Through this man's keenness, Robert Revie took his hall there recently and a woman was led to Christ. Roy Marshall had meetings in ARMADALE during the month of October. A number of locals attended these meetings, but despite faithful preaching no one came to the Lord. John Spiers has conducted two efforts in Lanarkshire. At WISHAW, good meetings were held with believers giving good support. One woman came to know the Lord. A feature of this conversion which should give encouragement to Sunday School workers, was that a Sunday School teacher who showed interest and kindness to her children asked her to attend the meetings through which she was saved. At BISHOPBRIGGS, the mission saw blessing from its beginning. Before the mission many young folks met for prayer and then conducted door to door visitation. Blessing came, with many attending the meetings and power was experienced in the preaching. About ten professed faith in Christ, among them a Roman Catholic nurse and a police sergeant and his wife. Half way through the mission a baptism was held, and before a large company, thirteen believers were baptised.
We have news of a five-week campaign held in the gospel hall at DEANS, Livingstone, with Jim Smyth as the evangelist. Special prayer meetings had been held since January 1984. There was a sense of the Lord's blessing from the start and our brother had complete liberty in preaching the gospel. Most evenings there were 10-15 unsaved in at the meetings. Three women were saved—two of them had never been in to the hall before. One was baptised on the final evening together with her Christian husband who had been saved for ten years and never seen the truth of baptism. A young girl, who was saved but lacked assurance was confirmed in her faith. Five of the local folk said that they felt that God was speaking to them, and they would like to come to the Sunday evening meetings. Stewart McKenzie reports that in a gospel campaign in GLASGOW a married woman and a young man trusted in Christ for salvation, and on the final Sunday of the meetings a young man was baptised.
North East England. The news from this area is supplied by John Tinkler, 8, The Gables, Widdrington, MORPETH, Northumberland NE61 5QY. Communications regarding assembly activities would be welcome. The assembly, at CONSETT, Co. Durham, held a week's children's meetings at half-term. I. Campbell conducted these and the morning sessions took the form of various activities. The evenings were given over to "Explorers Club" and the average attendance was forty. On the final Sunday evening prize-giving, a good number of parents attended with the children. We have late news of a girls' camp conducted by the Teesside Christian Camps. This was held at CARTINGTON, Nr. Rothbury, in July 1984. 31 girls attended with 13 leaders and a good time was enjoyed. The camp for the girls was conducted by Ruth Morrison who is a Chief Inspector of the Police in Lancaster. The camp proved to be a time of blessing for all. Much prayer is being made concerning the future of these girls camps. The small nucleus of leaders are much exercised in this matter.
North West England. We have news from S. Mountstevens of activities in LIVERPOOL. At David Street, about 275 children gathered in the evenings to hear the word spoken. A minority of them caused some behaviour problems, but it was believed that the Lord spoke to them. Several boys were counselled after making enquiries. One little girl said one evening that she had accepted the Saviour but then the next night came back to say that she had changed her mind. Apparently her mother had dissuaded her saying she was too young. Who can tell the extent of sincerity even in a little child. At the HUYTON assembly, good numbers attended for a week of meetings. About 8 or 9 teenagers were bent on destroying the work but by the end of the week the Lord had quietened their hearts and they were prepared to listen. The assembly here has suffered much through theft and damage yet God is working. Our brother Mountstevens had a great burden for children's work. He says, "one ponders the problems and prospects of children's work. The problem is insufficient workers, yet 'the harvest is plenteous, the labourers few'. Children are impressionable and the humanist teachers are shouting when God's people are dumb as far as children arc concerned". Searching comments—do they challenge us?
From the assembly at SHREWSBURY comes a note that John Slingley, who is in fellowship with them there, has relinquished his position with Child Evangelism Fellowship, having been responsible for Shropshire lor lour years. He hopes to continue in full time outreach work among children and has the commendation of the elders at the Gospel Hall, SHREWSBURY. He will be available for children's meetings.
Midlands. News from the Swindon area, covering Wiltshire and parts of Somerset are sent in by John Brett, 35, Maskcleync Way, Wroughton, Swindon, Wilts SN4 9HP. It would be good to hear of more assembly activities in this area and they can be sent to this address. The main news this time concerns Autumn conferences and beginning of winter Ministry Meetings. At WROUGHTON, R. Hill and J. Hunter shared the ministry and there were over 100 at each session, although a number had travelled many miles to the Conference. At Hesters Way, CHELTENHAM, J. Baker and D. West shared the Conference and the attendance and interest was good. At NEWBURY, S. Emery and B. Osborne were together for ministry and again the conference was well attended. At WROUGHTON, Swindon, ministry on The Offerings was given by N. Mellish. At Florence Street, and Wroughton, SWINDON and at Calne, Saturday evening ministry meetings are well under way. It is good to be able to report on the provision of helpful "spiritual food" for believers during these difficult times. At PENHILL assembly in SWINDON, encouraging children's meetings were conducted by Phil Lambert. Reports on children's missions are also sent by Phil Lambert at CINDER-FORD, Glos., and Florence Street, SWINDON. A common factor of all these was the good behaviour and responsiveness of the children in stark contrast to previous years when the behaviour was disruptive and there was vandalism in some of these places. Praise is due to the Lord for answered prayer. It was a privilege to see some of the children trust the Lord Jesus Christ. In all of these places the adult meetings as well as the children's meetings were well attended. Also during this time much time was spent in door to door visitation and over 3,000 gospels were given away.
The assembly at Cranham Drive, WORCESTER, is continuing in the testimony at the Warndon Estate and some blessing has been seen. On three occasions the baptistry has been opened and young people have been baptised. On the occasion of a Senior Citizens' tea, about 55 people from the estate were brought in and the power of the Lord was very present as the gospel was presented in words and in song. At least two who were in for the first time spoke of being moved by the message. It is good to see at least twenty every Sunday evening coming in to the family service from the surrounding houses. There is a very great need.
London Area. Items of news of the Lord's work in this area are sent in from time to time by H. E. Johns, 935, East Rochester Way, Sidcup, Kent DA 15 8TF and communications about assembly activities would be valued. There was blessing at the South East London Christian Camp held at CHIDDINGLY, Sussex. Numbers were fewer but some young people were saved. At Welling, a two weeks' children's campaign was conducted by Tom Bathgate. Numbers attending were encouraging. We can trust that the Word memorised will be hidden in the hearts of these young folks. A children's half-term holiday club was held at Richmond Gospel Hall, PLUMSTEAD. There were good numbers, as large as the number of workers could adequately cope with, and Derek Bingham was responsible for teaching the Word.
The work of the South East London Evangelistic Unit is in the news again. At BR1XTON, a "Reggae" Concert was being held in Brockwell Park while the witness was being held. Hundreds of people poured out of the nearby station and as they went to the park were able to hear the message. Many received tracts and some showed interest. On another occasion here, many people received literature, and a lady from Guyana came back for more after reading a tract. After the Unit had closed down, a West Indian knocked at the door. He had read a tract entitled "Success", and it was possible to explain to him God's way of salvation. At ALDWYCH, the Unit was parked opposite crowds queuing to enter the cinema. Many were "punks" and some of them came over from time to time to ask workers what they were preaching. It was good to explain the way of salvation to some of them. Other Christians made themselves known and were encouraged. At WEALD, with the help of other workers, practically the whole village was visited with tracts. It was good to meet other Christians in the village who attended a local evangelical church and who were witnessing to Christ. We are reminded of the difficulties in manning the Unit as four drivers or their dependents have been ill, and of the other workers one feels his age and another has gone to university. So much wisdom is needed for the future and prayer is asked that the work will continue.
South & West England. News for this area is sent to us regularly by J. Harman, 9 Orion Road, WEYMOUTH, Dorset DT4 8LG, and items reporting assembly work will be welcomed. Looking back lo 1984, the WEYMOUTH summer schools outreach to foreign students was a rewarding effort. It was a hectic time with very many contacts and numerous personal conversations. At the end of the season five students made personal commitments to Christ (four from Germany and one from Spain). Two others seemed very near to the kingdom. These are being followed up by letter and it is hoped to receive news of their conversion. This work needs much follow up in prayer. In WEYMOUTH district there are signs of increasing interest among young people and there are increases in numbers for teenagers and Bible Classes. This is encouraging. At Bethany Hall a meeting for over 60's was held. About 90 sat down to tea followed by an evening service. This work is most fruitful and many hear the gospel. An opportunity was given for brethren to visit BOVINGTON Camp, Dorset. A gospel film was shown and two army sergeants who are believers gave their full support. It is hoped that this visit will lead to more regular opportunities for reaching these men with the gospel. Opportunities are still given for the WEYMOUTH Male Choir to visit Portland prison. Although there is a certain amount of opposition from certain members of the staff, it was possible to use a Christian video and it was well received by the men. Usually they see videos of a vastly different type and very little concern is shown for their spiritual welfare. Much prayer is needed that hardened hearts will be softened by the love of Christ.
South Wales. Reports come regularly concerning work in the "Valleys" from W. Beale, "Avalon" 3, Railway Terrace, Fforestfach, Swansea, and all items concerning local assembly work will be welcome. It is good to report that the evangelist Stan Ford is still active in the Lord's work after his illness. He visited the South Wales area where he first conducted meetings in 1946. At LOUGHOR meetings were held, and a young lady and a senior citizen professed to be saved. Visits were also made to NEATH. SWANSEA, CARMARTHEN and PEN-Y-GROES. Children's and adult meetings were conducted and the Lord gave blessing. At LLANHLLI, meetings were conducted by John Burns. Paul Young reports on a Bible Exhibition held at Porthcawl. This was on display for one week and over 500 people came in, with many opportunities for conversation. Paul spoke at an open air baptismal service held on the sea front. A young lady from TONDU assembly was baptised in the sea. Many holiday makers stopped to watch and listen. At MAESTEG a Good News holiday club was held. Numbers were about 40 and each morning a good time was enjoyed with the children. Encouragement has come with the re-commencement of Sunday School, Good News Club and Youth meetings at Maesteg.
Devon. We arc receiving regular reports from Peter Smith, "Beth Shalom", 49 Pennyacre Road. TEIGNMOUTH, South Devon TQ14 8LB. Reports on local assembly activities will be welcome. BUDLEIGH SALTERTON has an assembly of 24-25 and a week's children's meetings was conducted here by Peter Smith. The number of children reached 30. Two girls, sisters, professed salvation and have joined the Sunday School with three others. On four afternoons, door to door work was carried out with distribution of tracts. Monthly ministry meetings are to be held D.V. during the next few months. Bitton Park Road Gospel Hall, TEIGNMOUTH, have an outreach hall on a council estate. The family service held on Sunday evening was changed to 3.30 in the afternoon. This proved profitable and about seven people from the district have since come in. A week's children's meetings was held in October when over 50 children attended. Blessing was felt and the Sunday School has increased as a result. The hall here celebrated 33 years of witness and at a special gospel meeting to mark this, the Sunday School and some parents were present. Three local schools were visited and a favourable reception was given. At CHAG-FORD on Dartmoor a children's mission was held in Ebenezer Gospel Hall by Peter Smith with a view to enlarging the Sunday School. Numbers were small but the atmosphere was happy and challenging. Door to door visitation was undertaken in this and two other villages. The assembly at TOTNES had the joy recently of baptising a young man.
Cornwall. One or two items of interest are to hand from this county. At TRURO, special meetings with the aid of a Dispensational Chart were conducted by J. Harrison and were well attended. The Annual Missionary Conference was held at BODMIN. Reports were given by Roy Wood and Michael Brown. The work in Angola and latest visits to the Continent were covered respectively. Numbers were small but the interest was good. The work at SALTASH continues with various activities in gospel work. The Senior Citizens meeting is well attended, with 70-80 gathering for tea followed by the gospel meeting. Door to door work gives many contacts. The Sunday School is about 60 strong and the meetings during the week for children and young people arc well attended.
Special Item. A note is to hand regarding the Famine Disaster in Ethiopia from John Flynn who is in retirement in Ireland. He says that as they were engaged in famine relief work in the Wollo Province, they are fully conversant with involvement in such work and can appreciate the necessary backing up in prayer and support which is essential for such relief programmes. He feels that the injunction to do good to all men means that help has to be extended even to those who are not Christians. Our brother and his wife have been challenged to help in some positive way. The burden of Ethiopia is still much on their hearts. They have offered to go to Ethiopia for about one year to give help in some practical way. Three objectives are stated:
a. To help financially believers in Wollo Province and in Addis Ababa.
b. To initiate or assist in a feeding program me in the famine area.
c. To consider some development project which would benefit the future of the country.
The doctor has okayed our brother's health with some restrictions. We have previously had reports from John 1-lynn both on the work in the South of Ireland and Ethiopia and we shall follow him with our prayers in this venture of faith.