Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." Rev. 3.8. In this short message to the Phila-delphian church, we can see two important features of evangelism. There is divine sovreignty, the design to open the ways for the saving purpose of God to move forward. But there is also human opportunity, doors that are open to reach those who are lost in sin. How wonderful when these coincide in our awareness of the importance of evangelism. As we give this first report in the New Year, may the Lord give us a renewal of vision to see every possibility of winning men for Christ.
Northern Ireland.From J. Graham in Belfast comes news which indicates that the gospel continues to go forth all over the six counties and Donegal with encouragement in the salvation of souls. At Broughshane in Co. Antrim, the Lord gave a spell of very fruitful meetings when people were saved and believers greatly encouraged. The preachers were Albert Aiken and Archie McClean. Meetings were held with Albert Aiken in the hall at Antrim town and Archie McClean and Tom McNeill held meetings in the hall at Ballinaloob, outside Ballymena. The assembly at Cambridge Avenue, Ballymena, held some gospel meetings with Albert McShane and John Wallace, a local businessman and overseer in the assembly, and a number of unsaved attended each night. In Co. Armagh, the Annual Lurgan Conference was very large with the Bible Readings conducted by D. Hinton, A. McShane, J. Gamble and S. McBride. Outside Lurgan at Blackers Hill, A. Mitchell and R. Redpath preached in a portable hall. Close to the border at Keady, J. Thompson and J. McCann saw good interest in a ten week spell in a Gospel Tent, with a young boy professing salvation. In Co. Down, outside Belfast the Knockbracken assembly have been trying to get a work going at Carryduff, a fast growing suburb of the city. They held one week of children's meetings with Alan Wilson which proved encouraging. The assembly at Banbridge also held a week's children's meetings with George Hall.
Eric Wishart and his nephew Jim Wishart of Armagh, preached at Wallace Avenue Hall, Lisburn. At Growell Hall, not far from Lisburn, Harry Andrews saw good numbers come into gospel meetings, and at Portavogie, Sam Ferguson and Norman Turkington laboured in the gospel. In Co. Fermanagh, so much in the news due to the awful massacre at Enniskil-len, Bill Armstrong, and Reg Jordan found it difficult to gain an interest at a portable hall in Churchill about 12 miles from Enniskillen. Across the border in Donegal, Sam Patterson and Gilbert Stewart preached at Muff and also at Letterkenny. In Co. Derry, Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings saw blessing after nine weeks at Ballyronan. Many listened to the gospel for the first time. In Coleraine, N. Coulter with brethren from the assembly, preached in an unoccupied house and at Upperlands, B. Glendinning and B. Smyth in a portable hall. One lady was saved in a spell of nine weeks' meetings in Limavady and numbers increased as Jim Brown and Jack Lennox preached the Word. In Belfast city, at Clarawood Estate, one lady professed salvation when Roland Pickering held special meetings. At Parkgate, drug addicts and alcoholics were present when Bob Eadie and Jim Kells preached and God gave blessing in salvation.
Eire.It is good to have an increase of news from this part of the world. David Stevens writes regarding the Word Alive exhibition which was erected in Cruises Hotel, Limerick. Almost 500 people visited the exhibition during the three weeks it was there. In conversations about the great importance of the scriptures, it was felt that there was a hunger to know God on the part of some. This confirmed the belief that the visit of the exhibition to Ireland was most timely. News of the small assembly at Bray, Co. Wicklow, comes from Sam and Betty Bargewell. It is now over a year since a few local believers, holding to New Testament Christian principles, commenced a second assembly (Dargle Gospel Centre - temporary name), in the town of Bray that has a population of 30,000 people. The group of believers will eventually be gathering in the new Gospel Hall yet to be built on the south side of the town. The assembly's present temporary accommodation is located on the opposite side of the town, which is not the ideal position for the company concerned. It was with gratitude that it was possible to sponsor local young people to attend Bible Camps for the ninth year in succession. Forty young people, aged 8-15 years, attended camps at Drogheda, (45 miles from Bray) and their behaviour was good and some made professions of faith in Christ. The work of "prayer partners" and all who made this possible was much appreciated. Limerick city centre witnesses at least three open air meetings each week. It is good to know that this is just one of a number of towns around the country where the gospel is regularly heard in the streets.
From the National Bible Study Club comes encouraging news that through this work a further number of children have indicated that they have come to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. One 13 year old girl wrote "I have just learnt that it does not matter how bad I have been in the past, Jesus is waiting with open arms to forgive and welcome me into His family if I am truly sorry, and He promises he will never again remember my sin".
It is sad to hear that the office was broken into in Merrion Hall, Dublin. A senseless mess of things was made and the computer was destroyed. Children's names and addresses and records are kept on this machine. Satan seemed to triumph but the Lord overruled and a similar machine was made available for use until a replacement was found. How much prayer is needed in these situations.
Scotland.From the South West of Scotland J. Anderson sends us news. John Campbell worked with the Knightswood assembly in September. The meetings, scheduled to last for two weeks were extended to three. Each night children and adult meetings were held and good numbers of children attended with a nice handful of adults. The Sunday School, which had lapsed for several years has now been revived. Visitation work gave good contacts and the assembly was quickened by the effort.
Alistair Young had a month of children's meetings in the county of Renfrewshire. The first week in October with the small assembly in Port Glasgow, two weeks in Greenock and then one week in Bridge of Weir. In Dunbartonshire, after much preparation, the Helensburgh assembly held an effort with John Spiers. Literature was distributed round the town several times and a weekly Coffee Morning was commenced to interest local people to become familiar with the meeting place. The first week saw a series of special nights, each calculated to reach a different group from within the town. This was followed for the second week and third Sunday by straight Bible talks. This second week was given an extra boost by several scores of young folks of the Ayrshire Gospel Outreach spending the weekend in the town. Many contacts were made, many homes visited, many human problems being encountered and various contacts being followed up.
During last year's Ayrshire Gospel Outreach campaign in Ardrossan with Roland Pickering, the brethren "discovered" a district of the town in which they had never previously worked. The outcome was that during October Robert Revie erected his portable hall and conducted nightly meetings with children and adults. Good numbers of children came and a few adults, including a backslider. One man professed faith in Christ. Two weeks of meetings were conducted by Joe Baxter in Dreghorn. There was encouragement as a number of local people, including Christians who were not in fellowship, attended the meetings. Some have come back since the campaign ended. Meetings were also held in Elim Hall, Kilmarnock.
The Largs assembly has had a happy year. This included an effort with Peter Brandon at which nine people professed conversion. The baptistry' has been opened several times. The weekly family service is now so large that they are having to think of extending the hall or finding larger accommodation.
North West England.Gerald Bourne tells us that with the onset of winter months, Saturday ministry meetings are in progress. In Manchester itself meetings are held in the Central Hall, city centre, each second Saturday of the month and in local assembly halls in Cheetham, Wythenshaw and Mauldeth Road on other Saturdays. A good interest among young people is maintained in these meetings. Also throughout Lancashire, similar gatherings are held in various assemblies. It is now some years since the Manchester and District Sunday School Camp convenors decided to provide continuity meetings for young people who attended summer camps. Fortnightly a meeting is arranged on Friday evenings during winter months on set subjects, this year's session being on "Women of the Bible". Full meetings have been reported. The emphasis is on Bible teaching and apart from a few choruses to begin with, and also a testimony, the meetings take the form of ministry. It is felt that these gatherings meet a need among young professing Christians from a variety of backgrounds and at different stages of spiritual growth. A fair number of unsaved regularly gather.
We have an encouraging report regarding the work at Hebron Hall, Walter Street, Brierfield, Lanes. It is interesting to hear that the commencement of the work in this place was reported in our series, "How it began", (Jan.-Feb. 1955). The work started with three young men and their wives and a few sisters in February 1949. As numbers grew and larger premises were needed, a plot of land was purchased at Walter Street, Brierfield. An R.A.F. hut was purchased for £150, dismantled, and transported to Brierfield. So it was that in 1958 brethren erected the hut. This work of faith was honoured and many have been saved, baptised and received into assembly fellowship and the spiritual health and well-being of the assembly is now established.
This year a decision was reached to build an extension in artificial stone, and the original timber walls were also replaced with this. The main purpose of the extension is to provide additional space for the Sunday School and young people activities. The overall facilities of the hall have been developed. Total value of the building for insurance is £220,000. God has been faithful through the giving of His people and many answered prayers can be registered. How good to read of a growing work - we pray that God will richly bless and that many shall further be saved through the testimony.
Midlands.Two brief items from this area. From Charlton Road Gospel Hall, Birmingham, comes news of the son of one of the elders publicly confessing his Lord by being baptised. The hall was filled to capacity and the Lord's blessing was experienced as His Word was faithfully preached to unsaved who were present.
At Bethany Gospel Hall, Filton, Bristol, a sequel to eighteen months literature distribution, including a week's visit from Frank Lonney, was seen in a great improvement in the work among young people. The start of the new season of children's meetings has seen attendances of over fifty children, and parents who fetch them speak enthusiastically of when they as children also attended. As the children's work was revived last year after a long time, so this season has seen the revival of a meeting for teenagers with an attendance of about seven so far. The believers, mostly elderly, are heartily encouraged to see the increased interest, and are following the work with prayer.
Dorset.From J. Harman comes some interesting reports. After an encouraging time at Camp, Stephen Gillham has had three busy missions at Yeovil, Weymouth and Wareham. During Camp about 300 attended and thirty young people were counselled most of whom accepted Christ as their Saviour. The mission at Yeovil was for adults and children. Besides the meetings, several schools were visited and there was a good response with intense interest.
At Bethany, Weymouth, the meetings were for children and were held during the spell of bad weather and damaging winds. The attendance was small but those who came attended regularly, were very keen to learn the scriptures and showed great interest. We believe a good work of grace was done in their hearts. Here again several schools were visited and there is a willingness for Stephen to keep on conducting morning assemblies. At Wareham a Bible School was held each day, and this consisted of a two hour session at which about forty children were contacted. The first gathering was a family service when the hall was packed with parents and children - very encouraging.
One unusual way of presenting the gospel was seen in Portland Prison. A film was shown of the beauties of the Scottish Highlands and the musical theme throughout was based on "When I survey the wondrous cross". This was received with deep interest and one young man asked for spiritual help and eventually committed his life to the Lord.
South East England.A brief item from S. Mountstevens concerning a week spent with the children at Wcstcliff-on-Sea. This brought with it joy and a little discouragement. Children were reluctant to come in. But the encouragement was the response of the parents on the last day. Eighteen children attended the meetings and there was joy when eight parents and relatives came to the prize giving and heard the Word of God. One little girl was keen to come but her mother was openly antagonistic to the meetings and stopped her coming. It was sad to see the little one just standing on the door step at the prize giving, just longing to come inside.
South Wales.A variety of items concerning work in the Cardiff area have been sent by Don Roberts, Cardiff. Further news concerning the summer Sunday School Camps show that the numbers were 45 boys and 65 girls. There were those who found the Saviour and also those who rededicated their lives to Christ. The Senior Camp was in the form of a Holiday Conference and was held in the surroundings of a large, old independent school in Devon. 91 persons were present including 50 young people. Many spoke of receiving spiritual help.
The Annual Missionary Conference was held in Cardiff and reports were given by missionaries from a variety of countries. The assembly at Cadooxton saw blessing when a lady and a girl were saved. The believers at Dinas Powys had the joy of seeing two young people baptised and received into fellowship. The assembly at Bethesda, Rhiwbina, had encouragement at their Annnual Conference when the two speakers were S. Emery and Paul Young.
Blessing continues at Llandaff North. On one occasion a lady was baptised, being saved as a direct result of a testimony being given at one of the Cardiff Rallies gospel meetings. On another occasion a young man and a young lady were baptised when over 100 people were gathered in. Some unsaved had never been in before. At Llanishen, three believers were baptised giving great encouragement, and at Leck-with two were saved at the Annual Sunday School prize giving.
An occasion for much praise to God was the celebration of 60 years testimony at Minster Gospel Hall and ministry was given by Doug Barnett and Alan Nute. At Ely conference the only speaker was John Page of Northampton and he continued with meetings from Monday to Thursday with some delightful studies in Ephesians. At the assembly in Rumney a Holiday Bible Club was held during half term and each day over 100 children gathered. The venture concluded with a parents' evening on the Sunday. It was good to see the hall full and a good opportunity to preach the gospel. At the same assembly three ladies have been saved through the senior citizen's meeting held on Tuesday evenings.
A preachers' conference was conducted by Stan Ford at Canton and about thirty gathered to study many aspects of preaching with him. Many said how much help was received. At the evening Christian Rally, Stan Ford spoke to about 140 gathered together, (mostly young people). The Cardiff Rallies have had a most encouraging start this season, numbers mostly above 100. Many young people have been willing to stay behind for a talk over a cup of tea. One of the Rallies took the form of a week-end house-party at Boverton, Friday to Sunday, and was conducted by Roger Brind. It was encouraging to see 70 young people join together.
W. Beale sends a number of interesting items. Meetings were conducted for children and adults at the Gospel Hall, Fforestfach. Paul Young conducted meetings for children and adults in Castleton Chapel, Mumbles and at Ebenezer Gospel Hall, Heol y Gors. The assembly in the mining village of Trimsaran arranged a series of children's meetings using speakers from their own assembly. Fruit from the work of Postal Sunday School was seen when a young woman commenced P.S.S. studies and became a Christian. She was then baptised and added to the fellowship at Blue Street Gospel Hall, Carmarthen.
The open air witness by young people from Neath Gospel Hall continues in a strategic position in the town centre and many useful contacts are made. Some young men who were Mormons and listened to the message were asked if they had eternal life, but sadly they had no answer.
Prayer is needed for the small assembly at Maesteg, Mid-Glamorgan, as it has been necessary to demolish their old building. Construction has begun on a new building and the cost will be around £100,000. This is a major step of faith and the Lord seems to have set a seal of approval on the project for in the past year people have been saved and added to the assembly and a backsliding couple have been restored to the joy of the Lord. The South Wales Mobile Unit has had excellent opportunities for witness at Porthcawl and in the area surrounding Treboeth Gospel Hall, Swansea.
Cornwall.We have a number of reports from the county, some of them covering activities during the summer of 1987. John Hadley raised the gospel tent at the Royal Cornwall Show for three days of witness. There was an exhibition called "Heavens Above", a Christian bookstall, a Gideon Bible Exhibition and a Cornwall P.S.S. Stand with a Quiz. A small team of earnest workers supported our brother and many hundreds of people, both young and old went through the tent. The gospel was presented in personal conversation and Christian literature. For 3 weeks John Hadley pitched the tent in the town of Tintagel. A few scattered believers gathered to its witness and the Lord opened up the opportunity to hold an open air witness outside the King Arthur Museum in the centre of the town. Good children's meetings were held, but few adults came, in spite of the constant door to door visitation. The tent was then pitched at the village of Delabole. This place proved extremely hard to the gospel and despite some encouragement from the children, the adult meetings were poorly attended. Again the gospel was faithfully preached, believers contacted and door to door visitation maintained.
Besides itinerant ministry in his gospel van in the North Cornwall villages, Stan Burdett erected a tent for gospel preaching during the summer months. The first visit was to the small village of Tregaddick in which last year he had tent meetings. Further contacts were made with the children and a few adults. Following this the tent was pitched over the border into Devon at Northill, a sparsely populated part of the county. The witness was faithfully given and contacts were made. These brethren would value prayer regarding future testimony and also for the small assemblies of Bodmin and Whitstone with which they are linked.
Once again the Cornwall Postal Sunday School Camp was held in the Primary School at Fowey. Peter Smith, Teign-mouth, was responsible for the ministry and the preaching of the gospel. Over the years several young people from Methodist backgrounds have been converted and then through the study of the scriptures at camp have come to see the truth of believers' baptism. It was a real thrill to see over 120 people witness the baptism of two young men in the sea during one evening of the camp. Three fishermen on the beach had a grandstand view and also a good hearing of the message. As a result of this event, a young man asked for baptism. The assemblies of Truro, Falmouth, St. Austell and Bodmin have joined together again to hold monthly gospel meetings for youth. Both of the meetings in October and November were full to overflowing and the gospel was soundly preached to attentive young people. On the Lord's Day following the October rally, elders at St. Austell were able to lead a young woman to Christ. She had been brought under conviction through the youth meeting.
There have been well attended conferences throughout the county. At Falmouth, R. Wood and K. Rudge ministered, and G. Davies, E. Parmenter and P. Lemon at Truro, C. Lacey and R. Hill ministered at St. Austell and R. McPheat at Saltash. The ministry was edifying and gave encouragement to all who gathered.
Guernsey.The Channel Isles do not figure very often in our news. We have an item of news of work that has been going on for years among deaf people. Special interest has been shown by a band of Christians in seeking them with the gospel and several means have been employed in this work with good effect.
Isle of Man.Harold Tickner, London, writes that it was good to visit the assembly at Onchan, Douglas. The Lord blessed the Word in the meetings, and two brothers confessed the Lord Jesus as Saviour, a great encouragement to all. The assembly has 16 in fellowship but has maintained a faithful witness for 60 years. They meet in rented accommodation which has much restricted their outreach activities. But the Lord has taken note of their need and a new Gospel Hall is well on the way to completion. They hope then, under the Lord's guidance, to be able to launch out in greater witness. Here is an item for prayer from a part not often heard of.