Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"When thy son asketh thee .... Thou shalt say" Exodus 13.14.
The above sentence highlights the importance that was placed by Israel on teaching children the Word of God. The significance of the great events and traditions of the nation were fed to the minds of children from their earliest days. How vital this was for survival! It is not without significance that in this report, there has been much reported concerning children's work, and teaching them the scriptures. Evangelism in the schools is wonderfully possible, Instructions through the post is a contemporary answer to dwindling Sunday Schools. In our homes and families how important it is to teach carefully to growing minds the unchanging truths of the Word. The need for the "family altar" in every home was never greater. "From a child", says Paul to Timothy, "thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation", 2 Tim. 3.15. Let us not fail in this important feature of Testimony. Let us see that succeeding generations know the Lord, and understand His Word.
Northern Ireland.The report from Jim Graham, Belfast, tells us that there has been encouraging blessing in the gospel in a number of places. At Moorfields, Co. Antrim, J. Martin and W. Jennings saw people saved in meetings held in a portable hall. In another portable hall at Kilwaugh-ter, meetings conducted by R. Mclliwaine (Nova Scotia) and T. McNeill were well attended and there was blessing. In a very difficult area at Ballycastlc, E. Wishart saw good numbers with some unsaved attending to hear the gospel. J. Lennox and J. Brown had encouraging attendances in a Sunday School hall at Kilnock, near Ran-dalstown. There was good interest and evident blessing in Armagh City with J. Ferguson and N. Turkington. People were saved in well attended meetings conducted by J. Thompson and J. Hawthorne at Plantation assembly, Lisburn. At Moira, Dr. Spence who practises medicine in the area conducted a series of gospel meetings. This is a needy and hard place and he was ably assisted by J. E. Fairfield of Venezuela and A. Davidson. On the coast at Anna-long, R. Eadie and D. Williamson had a good interest in a series of meetings. At Coleraine in Co. Londonderry, W. J. Nes-bitt was encouraged by good numbers attending each night. In Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, there were a number saved in meetings held by Albert Aiken. Many locals attended and the assembly was greatly cheered. After twelve weeks of meetings at Martley, G. McKinley and B. Glendin-ning were encouraged to see some saved.
There has been quite a lot of activity in the Belfast area. What a contrast the preaching of the gospel presents to the doctrines of destruction being advocated by so many in this sad city. At Glenburn Hall, J. May saw good numbers gathering each night for four weeks of gospel preaching. In Castlereagh Hall, S. Jennings and J. Flani-gan preached the Word with the aid of a chart on the Book of Revelation. After sustained visitation work in the district of Dunmurry, D. Kane and D. Morgan (Wales) saw a good response with some seeking salvation. In a recent report it was stated that Ormeau Road Hall had been damaged by a petrol bomb and that believers were concerned as to the future of the work in this area. They have now been able to agree to the purchase of another hall in the Shanmills area of the city. This is quite convenient to their present location and there is no evangelical work carried on there at present. They would value prayer regarding finding a suitable purchaser for the old hall.
We have a brief note on the Annual Postal Sunday School Prizegivings which are held in various parts. In the Monaghan-Cavan area at five different centres children gathered to receive their prizes. Altogether 900-1000 parents and children came together and they heard the gospel faithfully presented by George Hall and Nowel McMeekin.
Eire.In Co. Donegal, G. Stewart and S. Patterson used their portable hall for meetings in Church town. At Burnfoot, where they held five weeks meetings, they had the joy of seeing a young couple baptised and received into fellowship in the Letterkenny assembly.
We have brief news from Dublin of the on-going work of the National Bible Study Club. In reviewing 12 months of this work there was cause for encouragement as the numbers of children studying has remained steady with a number of additional contacts being made. A number of children write in showing an understanding of the way of salvation. There are also some adults who study Emmaus Courses. In correspondence some share their problems, and wisdom is needed in answering letters. Each contact reveals the Lord's hand as efforts are made only to contact the children. The number of adults, though small, continued to grow and God's blessing has been seen in this area of the club's ministry.
An up-date letter on Postal Sunday School work from Bert & Wendy Gray in Mountmellick, speaks of about 1300 lessons regularly sent out each month to pupils throughout Eire, and a great number of lessons have also been sent out to other Postal Sunday Schools, children's workers etc. There has also been an increase in circulation of the quarterly gospel paper, "Life Lines" and many thousands of Gospel tracts which have been printed have been distributed throughout the country. Looking back over the past 12 months there has been much joy and blessing in the Prizegiving meetings, P.S.S. Camps, children's work at Parklands and Courtdown caravan parks and involvement with G.L.O. teams in Wexford. It is good to reflect that over the past 16 years thousands of girls and boys have attended meetings and only eternity will reveal the result of this sowing of the good seed of the Word of God.
Scotland.Some interesting items of news come to hand from Jim Anderson in Ayr. Peter Brandon conducted a week's ministry meetings in Maddiston, Stirling. The subject centred around Church truth, especially with the young people in mind. Unsaved folk came in and a woman and a man trusted the Saviour. They both later confessed the Lord openly in baptism. Alistair Young has found an open door in North Ayrshire Schools for Real Life correspondence courses. Last year he found that the heads of the Primary Schools in Glengarnock and Kilburnic were willing to allow him to make these courses available to scholars and to let him have them back for correction. The head of Beith Primary School was also willing to allow this spiritual service but clerical pressure was put on her to stop it. Openings have come in two primary schools in Saltcoats and 100 youngsters have already enrolled. A return visit was made to Newmilns by our brother for a weeks children's meetings. Numbers reached the 90 mark. Such is the interest among the parents of children attending the Sunday School that a family night is held monthly producing a packed hall each time. Alistair's meetings concluded with such a service.
The assembly at Muirhead, Lanarks, has seen much encouragement in recent years from regular Gospel Campaigns. This year the evangelist was Robert Revie and the attendance was good. A ten year old boy professed conversion during the first week. His mother who is in fellowship at Linwood brought him. His father has been recently restored to the Lord. On one night some 40 unsaved were present and although at times it was wet and cold, unsaved folk came in.
Interesting news comes from "Real Life" Centre, Longriggend, Airdrie, concerning work done through Postal Sunday School and Bible Lessons. The main thrust of this work is at Glenochil detention centre and Young Offenders Institution. A two hour Bible Class on Sunday afternoons includes the distribution and collection of some hundreds of Bible Lessons which are studied and completed by the prisoners during the week. The behind the scenes activity involves writing, printing and collating the Lessons, then the correcting of the lessons, issuing of Certificates and the answering of many questions that are asked. These are then delivered back to the prisoners. A similar situation applies to Young Offenders Institution on Friday evenings. Resulting from this, a Thursday Bible Study is held here in response to a request from a number of prisoners who have given clear evidence of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have recently been granted permission for a Wednesday prayer meeting. Postal work is heavy and Bible Lessons are also distributed in schools. Alex Allen and his wife are heavily involved in this work and, with those who share the burden, would value prayer.
North West England.From Gerald Bourne we have reports of work in the Manchester area. March brought to conclusion another winter session in the various assemblies of Greater Manchester Saturday evening ministry meetings. There is an opportunity in these meetings to hear the Word of God ministered nearly every Saturday. Good numbers have gathered and ministry covering a wide area of scriptures has been appreciated. Similar gatherings have been enjoyed in Warring-ton, Blackburn and Preston.
Friday night is Bible Night has continued in the Central Hall, Manchester. This meeting is an extension of the Sunday School Camp Christian fellowship. Approximately 100 young people gathered to hear ministry dealing with a wide scope of practical subjects. An interesting happening highlights the presence of many young people at the gatherings. Two Methodist ladies, occupied in another part of the building, stood and watched as so many of them were leaving. "Whatever have they all been doing?" they asked. "Bible study", was the answer and were heard to say, "Wait until we tell the minister about this on Sunday". May the Lord continue to deepen His work in these young lives.
The Annual Week-end Conference in connection with the monthly Bible studies at Astley Bridge was held at Meadowcroft, Bowness-on-Windermere. The subject was "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit". This proved to be a profitable exercise and the ministry was given by H. Cooper, S. Emery and T. Renshaw. The work of the Holy Spirit in the assembly, the believer and in the Lord Jesus was covered. There was much joy when considering the Holy Spirit in bearing witness to Christ and glorifying Him. Many were challenged by things stated by the scriptures. It was felt that the assemblies represented will benefit by the wholesome teaching that was given.
An interesting report comes from Elim Hall, Mill Hill, Blackburn. This small assembly - 24 in fellowship - has a strong Sunday School of about 40 children and a mid-week Youth Group of about 30. The Lord has blessed in recent years with conversions among the young, and during the past two years, four young people have been baptised and brought into fellowship. After much exercise in prayer it was decided to hold a Young Believers Study Conference. The programme consisted of morning study session with talk and discussion, then after lunch, an afternoon leisure time followed by tea and an evening time for talk and discussion. The response was good with about 103 young people attending with adults. The venture was approached with some trepidation and prayer. Prayer was answered and there was a real sense of the Lord's presence during the day. The people travelled from far and near to gather for this occasion and it is prayed that desire for the Word of God will be permanently increased.
Midlands. From different parts of the Midlands we have some brief items of news. The Annual Missionary Conference at Cheltenham, Hesters Way assembly was well attended. Reports on Japan and Eastern Europe were given by L. Mullan and R. Brind, and these were both stimulating and encouraging. A good sense of the Lord's blessing was felt in these meetings. On a later evening, Mark and Shirley Davies from Zambia visited the meeting. Mark gave a challenging report of the work highlighting the need to grasp every opportunity to reach out and present Christ to the people. Shirley Davies also gave a stimulating report to a gathering of sisters. One encouraging part of the work here is the continual and consistent visitation work. Each Lord's Day after the morning meeting, leaflets prepared by the assembly are distributed in houses around the hall and the positive results have been seen in those who come into the gospel meetings, mums and toddlers' group, Sunday School and weekly children's Happy Hour. There is great encouragement among the believers.
At Broadwas, Worcs., a man had been baptised. He is the product of a contact with one of the brothers who was out distributing in the area. He began reading his Bible and in a short time had read the New Testament through. The great joy came when he eventually was saved and desired to give testimony to his faith in baptism. His family are not believers.
At Crowle the Annual Conference was well attended with helpful ministry given by A. Leckie and J. Glenville. The work on the new hall is moving steadily forward and there is evidence of the Lord's faithfulness in the supplying of needs as they arise. Although a small assembly, there has been encouragement as different ones have come in to the gospel meeting.
At Worcester the third anniversary of moving to the Warndon Estate was celebrated in a conference when a good number gathered together. Stimulating and challenging ministry was given by Gordon Probert, Cardiff, and the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in many tokens of blessing were remembered with thanksgiving.
At Bicester, over in the East Midlands, S. Mountstevens reports on four weeks of meetings with the children. An average of 50 attended each night and the behaviour was excellent as many new faces were seen during the time. A mother showed interest as she came each night with her two children. On prizegiving evening, 15 parents attended, 12 of them never having attended the Hall before. Prayer is now that some of these children and parents may find the Saviour. At New Bradwell there is some encouragement. Each Wednesday evening about 20 children gather with one of the mothers. One lad has shown interest in the gospel meeting.
Dorset.A report on work in Schools by Steven Gillham is interesting. A request was sent out to nearly 100 schools, mainly First and Middle, asking if it would be possible to take a Christmas assembly for approx. 45 minutes. The response was most encouraging and during one month 66 schools were visited throughout the county, reaching some 12,500 children with the gospel. There was a good interest with a welcome given and a warm reception from both teachers and children was shown. The Lord very wonderfully answered prayer regarding the extensive travelling needed and also in every way. Another encouraging feature was that over two thirds of the schools requested a return visit during the next six months for a normal school assembly. These opportunities are proving most useful and effective, not only as a reminder of the first visit, but also to build on what has been given and in a further way to teach the Word of God.
Reflecting on the needs and opportunities in the Schools, our brother says that it is a tremendous strain to keep contact in a regular way with such a large number of schools. He says that all the effort is worthwhile but it is particularly sad that there is no one in the county who is continuing the work in the Senior Schools. Although there are far less opportunities in these, there certainly would be many openings for someone to visit Senior Schools, to share in Christian Unions and R.E. Lessons and some School assemblies. Some Middle School are not open to Stephen, but generally the County of Dorset is very receptive to Schools Visits by an evangelist. What a challenge! A wide open door - we shall pray for this work.
South Wales.Don Roberts sends news from Cardiff. There was encouragement at Caerau Gospel Hall as a young woman was baptised and brought into fellowship, and a young man has also been converted. There are now 18 in fellowship here and the small assembly is growing. A married couple who have been saved for some time have been baptised and brought into fellowship in the small assembly at Pencoed. There are now 11 in fellowship and this assembly is seeing some growth. There is good news from Plassey Street Gospel hall, Penarth, where two young men have been baptised and brought into fellowship. In the assembly at Llanrumney, Ivor and Phylis Jenkins were commended to the Lord's work in February. They will be assisting with the use of Counties Bible Exhibition and also be involved in the work at Bishopswood in the Blackdown Hills. May the Lord richly bless them in their service.
From W. Beale comes news of activities with the South Wales Mobile Unit. Several of the local assemblies in Swansea and district are making good use of the Unit in announcing their meetings and proclaiming the gospel message. In the weekly open air meeting held in Swansea City Centre many excellent contacts have been made, even among some Asian folk who are delighted to receive gospel literature in their own language. A young man who had listened on many occasions, trusted the Saviour. There is already a transformation in his dress and character.
In the Gospel Hall in Trimsaran, Dyfed, preparatory meetings for a gospel campaign were being conducted by Peter Brandon. On the first evening several interested folk from the village attended, and as the numbers seemed to increase it was decided to turn it into a gospel effort . Two ladies eventually professed faith in Christ. While Peter Brandon was at Treboeth Gospel Hall, Swansea a man came out and confessed his trust in Christ. Five who have trusted the Saviour over the past months have been baptised. The believers at Heol-y-Gors, Swansea have been encouraged in the salvation of a lady of 84 and also in the conversion of a young man now attending the meetings, who was led to the Lord by a believer in their fellowship. W. Beale remarks that these conversions should inspire us to get down to earnest and effectual prayer, for God is still on the throne and the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation.
In the small assembly at Craig-y-rhacca, three weeks meetings for children and two for adults were conducted with John Baker, Peter Smith and Paul Young. Peter Smith was encouraged in the children's meetings as the numbers averaged about 60 each evening. Three teenagers and some children made professions of faith in Christ. During the three weeks, 800 houses were visited in door to door work and some good contacts were made.
Devon.News from John Powell. At Wolseley Gospel Hall, Plymouth, the annual Postal Sunday School Report Meeting saw about 40 gathered together. Reports from the Cornwall and Teignbridge branches were also read. An encouraging word from Stuart Dan brought the meeting to a close. This was followed by a time of fellowship over refreshments. The Lord is continuing to bless P.S.S. activities in the Plymouth area. An outreach activity around Ashburton produced a few more children willing to join. John Powell remarks that it is good to share with others the exercise of praying for, and writing to fellow believers in Russian Prison Camps. The need is very great and it would be good if more could be involved in this activity. Phrases and scripture verses in Russian can be passed on to any who are interested as well as some addresses.
The believers at Bitton Park, Teign-mouth, had a great joy recently when a young man confessed the Lord publicly in baptism. He was first contacted some time ago in a coffee morning. News also comes from the outreach at Coleman Avenue. Each month children of the Sunday School and the parents join together in a family service, "Family Focus". This has proved a useful activity with about 12 parents gathering in numbers averaging about 65. The Teignbridge Postal Sunday School goes along slowly, with about 19 doing the lessons regularly. As the Teignbridge village work gets under way, it is hoped to highlight P.S.S. in these needy places. Brethren would value prayer.
Cornwall.The assemblies in Truro, St. Austell, Bodmin and Falmouth are seeking to work in fellowship with each other by holding monthly gospel meetings directed at reaching mainly younger people. There is a fervent desire among young believers to interest others and to witness to them about the Saviour. Elders in these assemblies will be seeking prayerfully for spiritual wisdom needed to guide this outreach in a godly way, and to counsel any who profess Christ as Saviour.
Good news from St. Austell regarding their desire to purchase the property adjacent to the hall. They now, with thanksgiving to the Lord for His goodness have found the way open to purchase this and they hope to begin work on the much needed car park. A very profitable weekend of ministry was enjoyed with G. B. Fyfe, culminating in a baptism of four believers during the gospel meeting.
There are three interesting items concerning Cornwall Postal Sunday School. One concerns a visit to Denston, a small Suffolk village by K. Rudge and a surprising contact with Cornwall P.S.S. children. A couple who live 7 miles away hold weekly meetings for about 15 children in then-home and use Cornwall P.S.S. lessons. At a tea laid on at the hall and then at the gospel meeting, they all attended. The second item concerns three young girls who have shown a deepening interest in the things of God over a number of years. They have attended P.S.S. Camps almost every year. Last year they were challenged about baptism and asked the local Methodist minister if they could be baptised. He was not helpful. Their desire is undiminished and they are determined to trust that the Lord will open the way. Thirdly, an early Camp Reunion this year enabled a good crowd to gather at St. Austell for fellowship and the meeting of teachers and pupils. It was a real thrill to have about 100 people, all connected with P.S.S. gather together. Workers, campers, pupils and parents enjoyed a good tea and after some good singing etc., listened well to a gospel message. New contacts were made - old ones were renewed.