Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" Rom. 12.11
As we begin another year in reporting the work of the Lord, the above brief, terse exhortation of Paul's could come as a challenge to all of us. In a Christian paper recently the following appeared; "Exiled Russian evangelist Georgi Vins has warned British Christians that their indifference could cost them their freedom". This man who has seen suffering in Soviet prisons was amazed at the casual approach to faith he met in this land. It is a state of things we are all too familiar with in assembly life and witness. Apathy kills-Luke warmness stifles enthusiasm-casual unconcern destroys effectiveness in testimony.
In the light of this how relevant are the words of this verse. It is in the Lord's business that we should never flag in our zeal, we should never be slack in earnestness. We should be fervent, aglow in our spirits, on fire to serve as bondslaves of the Lord that we love-who so loved us. Maybe our commitment is lacking because our faith costs so little. We need to be stirred in our spirits, as Paul was when he saw idolatry at Athens. Acts 17.15.
We are grateful to all who faithfully commit themselves to gathering reports for the magazine. We pray that 1987 will be indeed a year of reaping precious fruit for the Master, in the service of all who labour for Him.
Northern Ireland.Some interesting items come again from Jim Graham in Belfast. Gospel meetings were held by Albert McShane in the Newtownbreda Hall, Belfast. The gospel was preached by David Kane in Shankhill Road Hall, and Harry Andrew preached in Fortwilliam Hall. In a home in the Newtownards Road area, Bob Eadie and Donald Armstrong held Gospel meetings. How good it is to hear of these activities in the troubled Belfast area.
Blessing was seen at Ahoghill, Co. Antrim, when Jim Brown and Jack Lennox preached the Word. At Ballymena also there was blessing as Eric Wishart and Archie McClean laboured. Archie Carew had a fruitful time as he worked in Lisburn (Wallace Avenue). Souls were saved and a number were baptised. In four of the main schools in the area, he was able to share the gospel and was well received. The Word was ministered at Ballyclare by Tom Bent-ley and at Glengormley by A. M. S. Gooding.
At Clare (near Market Hall), Co. Armagh, encouraging numbers attended meetings held with John Hawthorne and Tom McNeile. This was so also at Clonroot (Nr. Armagh City), where the speakers were G. Marshall and A. Davidson. A large number gathered for the Lurgan Conference. Profitable ministry was given by J. Allen, T. Bentley and J. Riddle with A. McShane conducting the Bible Readings. At Ebenezer Hall, Bangor, Co. Down, W. J. Nesbitt saw blessing. At Dromore, where S. McBride preached the gospel, large numbers were seen each night. Good numbers also attended meetings in Portavo-gie conducted by J. Thompson and J. McCann. Six weeks gospel meetings were conducted by Denis Williams at Druma-ness and John Spiers held three weeks meetings at Ballywillwill. Believers at Lisburn (Plantation), opened their new hall with a week of profitable ministry by A. McShane. Well attended and profitable conferences were held at Bethesda (Bangor), and Ballymacashon. G. McKinley and B. Glendinning preached the Word at Martry, near Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone, and T. Bentley visited Cookstown assembly for a profitable week of ministry. Nine weeks of gospel activity were conducted with B. Glendinning and B. Smyth at Kildoag (near Clauoy), Co. Londonderry. Conferences for ministry have taken place in Co. Fermanagh at Currien and Enniskiilen.
Eire. A brief note comes of an encouraging four weeks of meetings with Gilbert Stewart and Sam Patterson at Bandon, Co. Cork.
Scotland. Itis good to have items of news concerning work in Ayr and Lanarks, sent in by Jim Anderson, Ayr. Robert Revie spends most of his time in Ayrshire with his portable hall. For three weeks he pitched in the town of Saltcoats where in spite of much hard work the assembly has been getting smaller. The school in the estate where the hall was erected was wide open to Robert, and good children's meetings were held in the portable hall. A number of local people attended the meetings which culminated in a good parents night and a big Senior Citizens' night held in Bethany Hall. One woman professed conversion. After a week or two outside the county, Robert moved his hall to the small village of Crosshill, in the Girvan Valley. Two youngish men have recently been saved and are anxious to have something done for God in the district. The Ayrshire Gospel Outreach autumn weekend was held here, so it is prayed that there will be something to work on, something to follow up.
There is a spate of activity to report in the county. Jim Hutchinson and Albert Aiken, Ulster, had meetings in Bute Hall, Prestwick with the full support and cooperation of the other assembly in the town in Glenburn. The two assemblies covered the town with leaflet visitation and then joined with Glenburns' own effort which followed. Jack May was the evangelist here. While quite a number of strangers came in to Bute Hall there was no known result, although one woman professed salvation on her way home from the Coffee Morning, the week before the campaign began. The Coffee Morning effort began when Jim Hutchinson was in Prestwick many years ago and has continued fortnightly ever since. Up to 100 people attend, many of them not belonging to any assembly. There is no doubt that other people were blessed during this effort. Jack May's activities at Glenburn coincided with another campaign conducted by Reg Jordan, Ulster, at Tar-bolton. This was the first effort in the new Gospel Hall in this village.
In Lanarks, the Bellshill assembly has a special effort every year. It alternates between the assembly hall and an outreach hall in a housing estate in the town. This year's campaign was held in the assembly hall with Jim Smyth. Excellent times were experienced on the doorsteps and there was a good interest in the meetings. An 18 year old son of believers professed conversion as did an older couple. A young couple who had just had a new baby came on three nights and indicated that they would come back to the hall. A brother from a Baptist Church was so interested in the preacher that he brought friends regularly. James Aitken had an effort in Carluke where an elderly lady professed to be saved. Another attended almost every night but made no decision. Brethren from Hamilton rallied round to decorate the assembly hall in Carfin, a strongly Catholic village where the assembly is now very small through the believers moving away from the village.
From Philip Prior comes news of activities in Fife. He says how much the assemblies need prayer for the strengthening of the testimony and the things that remain. The small assembly at St. Andrews continue their outreach work to the University students. All students matriculating this year received tracts, and heard the Gospel preached in the open air at the Pier Walk. In addition an open air testimony is held each Saturday morning in the Market Place. Joe Baxter, recently commended to the work of the Lord, intends to engage in tracting and door to door work in the Tayport area. The assembly at Hospital Hill, Dunfermline, held a week of prayer meetings before their annual conference. The excellent ministry at the conference and the subsequent week of meetings with Jim Allen (Belfast) were a much appreciated consequence. The assembly at In-verkeithing also had a week of ministry meetings following their conference, when John Stubbs gave much appreciated ministry.
The Fife Assemblies Gospel Outreach Work focussed in the town of Lochgelly. During this time the gospel was faithfully preached by John Campbell and Jack Hay in the Gospel Hall, Buller Street. Throughout the five weeks there was a good response from the children, and while their behaviour was difficult at times, many listened well to the Bible lessons. Not many adults from the town came in, but a considerable number of unsaved were in each night, these being brought in by Christian friends. Many good contacts were made at the doors in visitation work where brethren were assisted by Hugh Keirs from Cowdenbeath. There are several of these contacts which merit follow up, and prayer is needed that some of these will come through for the Lord.
From W. Mowatt we have news of work in the more Northerly Districts. At Cullen, Jack Hay dealt with truths fundamental to the constitution, order and testimony of the local assembly during two weeks of ministry. The meetings were very well attended with a good number of young people each night. The clear presentation of truth was both instructing and challenging. There have been positive results from the ministry, with one young brother received into fellowship. In Moray shire, the winter sessions of ministry meetings continue. These occasions provide needed ministry and also stimulate fellowship among assemblies.
From Stornaway, news tells of the small assembly holding a gospel effort extending over nine weeks, when the message was faithfully presented by John Stubbs and Bob Eadie. Attendance was good and a husband and wife professed salvation. Others who attended continue to come to the weekly gospel meeting.
North West England.We have a report from G. Bourne, giving news of the Lancashire Gospel Tent which was pitched in Wythenshaw Park, Manchester. The evangelists were David Dixon from Norfolk, originally commended from the Wythenshaw assembly, and Tony Renshaw who was commended to full time work for the Lord. During the period, 14 primary schools were visited and opportunity to speak at School assemblies was given. The reluctance of parents of children to allow them too far out of their sight made the children's tent meetings a failure. However they were moved to the assembly at Brown-wood Hall and upward of 40 children attended, making a successful series. The Friday night Youth rallies were encouraging as many gathered to listen attentively to testimonies and messages given by young believers. All was not lost with the tent work. It was turned into a "Rest Tent" on one of the Sundays when special events were being staged in the Park. This gave a good staff of workers opportunity to talk and distribute literature. Many interesting conversations took place during the campaign and very much prayer accompanied the efforts.
North East England.News from Derek Taylor, Tyneside, reports on the Annual Missionary Week-end for Tyneside, Tees-side and Wearside. A good variety of work was represented in the reports given by J. Jardine and G. Orr, Brazil, Barry Haigh from Zambia, A. Clarke from Thailand, C. Sheldon, Rep. of Ireland and N. Lane on behalf of Medical Missionary News. The reports were not only full of interest, but challenging to the believers who gathered. Barry Haigh spent the Lord's Day with the Forest Hall assembly and a special feature arranged was a "Fellowship Tea" with the missionary. Sunday School scholars and villagers were invited and one has attended regularly since. This small company of believers has been much encouraged.
At North Shields once each month a Coffee Morning is held. From 10.15 a.m. to 10.45 a.m. about 35 gather in the schoolroom for coffee and biscuits. Then until about 11.25 there is some communal hymn singing winding up with a short epilogue. This proves useful in introducing strangers to the atmosphere of the hall and it is prayed that they will be led to think on eternal things. It is encouraging to see how readily literature is desired and taken away. Two items of news comes from Pallion Road Gospel Hall. The annual Sunday School Summer Camp was held at Broom-ley Grange, Stocksfield, a county mansion run by the Boys Brigade. The responsibility for morning discussion groups (Bible Heroes), and evening gospel sessions (Mark 1 & 2) was shared by Camp Leaders and two local brethren. There was much happy fellowship and good humour enjoyed. Four children professed to be saved and one wished to be restored to the Lord. Also at Pallion Road a children's gospel campaign was held. All the schools in the area were visited, head teachers being supplied with posters and leaflets to give to the children. All the homes in the area were visited with leaflets, yet numbers were the lowest of any campaign, averaging 75 instead of about the previous 160. But the meetings were good with the children enjoying them and showing great interest.
Avon.News from Robert Greenman regarding work at Bethany Hall, Filton, Bristol. When this assembly was formed about 30 years ago, in a suburban housing area, there was good work among the children and young people. However as their work caused believers to move away, numbers declined leaving mainly older believers. About 15 years ago the children's work ceased. It is therefore a great joy to the believers that this winter it has been possible to begin mid-week children's meetings again. A total of 32 different children have attended with about 18 to 20 regulars. These are mostly brought by their parents. The believers are prayerfully planning for activities to extend the work. From Rockhampton comes news of work with young people through Camp, Postal Sunday School lessons and attending a midweek children's meetings at Thornbury. Four of these have professed faith in the Lord Jesus. A further outcome of the work was the baptism and reception into fellowship of three young people from families in the assembly.
Wiltshire.News from S. Mountstevens tells of an encouraging series of children's meetings at the Park Gospel Hall, Swindon. Numbers grew over the two weeks, and believers were encouraged as contacts were made with children who lived round the hall, many of these children being between 3-6 years old. On a previous visit two girls professed salvation and both were back again. One of them regularly attends meetings. The other has a problem with Roman Catholic parents who cannot understand why she wants to attend such meetings. Barriers were broken down with the parents and a good number attended the prizegiving. An instance of this was seen in the man who lives adjacent to the hall. During the last visit he objected to the singing saying that it disturbed him. This time his children came regularly and his wife came to the prizegivings. How good to see that children can act as a medium in removing barriers. They can create contacts. Special meetings for Senior Citizens were held and this brought a good response. Open air meetings on a regular basis in several areas have given local believers some good and useful contacts.
London Area.We have news of the Trafalgar Square Rally of the London Mobile Units. There was a good interest shown in the messages proclaimed. Hundreds of tracts were distributed and a greater number of people were willing to speak to counsellors than for a number of years. There was a general feeling of encouragement at the response, although there were no definite conversions during the Rally.
Peter Brandon was the evangelist in a two weeks Crusade at Welling Gospel Chapel. Heart searching messages were given to Christians, calling for repentance and cleansing of the life from sin. A number responded to the message and spoke to the evangelist after some of the meetings. Some who came forward needed assurance of salvation and two teenagers professed faith in Christ. The crusade had been well publicised. 900 homes were visited and 2000 leaflets were handed out in the Shopping Centre and at the Station. Some response was shown as leaflets were received but the issues of life are with the Lord.
Hampshire.We have news of a children's campaign held at the Gospel Hall, Inglis Road, Southsea. Much prayer, preparation and publicity preceded the effort and schools were contacted as well as a notice in the local press. Extensive coverage was given in house to house visitation and this brought results. A number of young mothers attended the meetings and some children professed faith in the Saviour. Interest was keen and attendances good- there was much rejoicing.
South of England.News from Jim Har-man tells of blessing at Tricketts Cross. Since the opening of Turnberry Chapel earlier in the year, there has been progress and blessing. There have been conversions among young and old. A regular Sunday morning Family Service and a Songs of Praise service in the evening have seen increased interest and people from the estate are coming in. At Swanage, Stephen Gillham had a good mission with increasing numbers of children attending. The local schools cooperated in spreading the news of the meetings and this was a great help. The parents also showed a great interest and there was a packed hall for the final family service. The Lord has manifestly been working in Swanage and Stephen Gillham hopes to keep in touch on a regular basis. The mission held at Drummond Hall, Boscombe, has resulted in an increase in the Sunday School and believers are encouraged.
An item of news comes regarding H.M. Prison, Isle of Wight. John Stewart had arranged to conduct a special mission in Parkhurst prison but at the last minute this was postponed by the authorities. It is now planned for later in 1987 and prayer is definitely sought for the effort. There is quite an interest in the Camp Hill prison and our brother is glad of the opportunities given to visit the prisoners.
South Wales.An interesting report comes from W. Beale, Swansea. At Trimsaran, a mining village outside Llanelli, a three weeks gospel campaign was conducted by John Baker. Interest was aroused in the village, and many came to hear the gospel preached. At the same time a special effort was being conducted at the Evangelistic Hall, Llanelli by Peter Brandon. One feature of the campaign was a procession of witness round the town, surrounded by many young people from the area. This aroused interest and gave opportunity for personal contacts. Robert McLuckie, Belfast, held meetings in Swansea, visiting Philip Street, Manselton, George Street and Fforestfach. Unsaved attended the meetings and a dear aged man of 81 trusted the Saviour.
Winter activities have proceeded well in the Swansea area. A programme of monthly visits to Eventide Homes is shared by seven of the assemblies. Stephen Gillham held successful childrens and adults meetings in the Gospel Hall, Neath. The United Missionary Meetings held at George Street Gospel Hall, Swansea, were well attended. Martin Baker, Eastern Europe, and Dr. Peter Coates, late of Zaire, gave interesting reports and Ray Fenn gave the ministry of the Word.
From Cardiff, Don Roberts sends us several items of news. The tract band comprising 10-20 young people, continues the good work of spreading the Word of God on Saturdays each fortnight. This evangelism continues throughout the whole year. Formed in January 1985, there have been about 50,000 tracts distributed with encouraging response. It is good to hear of the commendation of Alison Stanley to the work of the Lord in Marseilles. She was commended jointly from Leckwith Gospel Hall and Manvers Hall, Bath. May the Lord bless her in her work for Him. The work at Llandaff North is still growing and flourishing with three teenagers recently confessing the Lord. Two ladies, the one 74 and the other 84 have been baptised. This has given great joy to the assembly. Since the recent campaign at Caerau, believers are still being encouraged and a young sister has been baptised and received into fellowship.
In mid-October the full Bible Exhibition was set up at Adamsdown Gospel Hall. Contact was made with about 40 people who would otherwise never have entered the building. The last week-end of October was devoted to a Cardiff Christian Rally Camp at South Wales Camp, Boverton. 70 attended and ministry was given by Roger Brind and Dr. J. Lennox. The subject was "What shall this man do"?, and there were conducted discussions. Many felt that this venture should become a regular part of the Rally programme.
Devon.News from John Powell, Plymouth, tells of a meeting of Postal Sunday School teachers and prayer partners held at Wolseley Gospel Hall, Plymouth. This proved to be a worthwhile venture. Peter Smith and others from the Teignmouth were also very welcome visitors. An informal discussion took place followed by a short message by Andrew Bellchamber, and a well prepared tea rounded off the occasion. The assembly at Whitleigh held their conference in November, and the ministry of Desmond Gahan was greatly appreciated. The conversion of a man followed by his baptism has given the believers who met at West Hill Gospel Hall, Plymouth, great encouragement and cause for praise to the Lord. This has been followed by an open confession of faith by a girl in the Bible Class. She said that she accepted the Saviour when attending this year's summer camp.
A 2 week's mission was held at Coleman Avenue Gospel Hall, the outreach activity of Bitton Park, Teignmouth. Peter Smith joined the assembly for a week of childrens and adult meetings. 1500 homes were circulated with leaflets, then a follow up of 1000 homes were contacted. Sadly only one from the area came in, she it is believed is saved. Two girls professed salvation and others were counselled. So again the "Good Seed" was sown and interesting contacts were made on the doors.
A thanksgiving meeting was held to mark the end of the 36th season of Christian Village Workers in Teignbridge. 25 gathered from five assemblies to share in the reports and an encouraging word to workers was given by John Baker. Over a 5 month period, 32 villages were visited as planned. There was an average of 5 workers per week, 3200 tracts and gospels were distributed and 20 open air meetings held. Also literature introducing Teignbridge Postal Sunday School was distributed. We pray that God will bless His Word.