Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
'But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer', 1 Pet. 4. 7.
It is true concerning every generation of Christians, that it is no light matter to be involved in the testimony of the Gospel. There are issues at stake that affect the furthest extents of human destiny. Its aims arc not focussed on mere material values of life, but on the vital spiritual and eternal well-being of man. And it is essentially a message relevant for the times in each successive age. Thus Peter strikes the note of imminence in this word, calling for considered, clear, sound-minded behaviour. Especially is this necessary in view of the need for vigilance in prayer. May we catch the tone of these words and continually be on our guard against carelessness and apathy in the things of God.
A detailed report of activities in the North, comes from Jim Graham, Belfast. There is news of meetings in the Belfast area. At Cregagh Street, J. Thompson and B. Currie had the joy of seeing four people saved. At Donegall Road, R. McLuckie worked very hard in getting strangers into the hall; one young lady was saved and the believers were encouraged. At Edenderry, J, Martin and W. Jennings saw some come in from the village to hear the gospel. Our brother Martin was involved in a car accident during the meetings. The Belfast Christmas conference was again very well attended, being a one day conference this year. The Bible readings were conducted by J. Hunter and W. J. Nesbitt with ministry by S. Jennings, W. Craig, J. Hunter and J. Wishart. The Cregagh Street Christmas Conference saw the hall full, with ministry by W. Craig, J. Hunter, D. Kane and B. Currie. The Bethesda, assembly had three weeks' meetings with R. Pickering and believers were greatly encouraged. At Ballyhay, near Donaghadee, W. J. Nesbitt had one week's ministry in well attended meetings. Good interest was shown at Gransha, in gospel meetings conducted by S. McBride and A. Davidson. In the little town of Crossgar, some interesting contacts were made in a spell of Gospel meetings with T. Bentley and J. Palmer. At Ballymagarrick, the assembly enjoyed one week's ministry with J. Hay.
At Clonroot, Co. Armagh, A. McShane and D. Gilliland held a series of meetings. One week of ministry meetings was conducted near the border at Drumnacanver, with J. Hawthorne and T. McNeill. At Birches, W. J. Nesbitt had two weeks' of bible readings in the Ephesian epistle. The assembly was greatly encouraged with converts from a previous gospel effort at Derryhubert showing good interest. These are now in assembly fellowship. At Carncullagh, Co. Antrim, J. G. Hutchinson and A. Aiken saw a number of people saved. At Burnside, W. J. Nesbirt followed his recent fruitful gospel effort with two weeks' ministry. This resulted in six obeying the Lord in baptism (four from one family), and brought into fellowship. This represented a 75% numerical increase and has given much joy to the believers. Mr. Nesbitt also had two weeks' ministry meetings at Ballyclare.
At Beragh, Co. Tyrone, meetings were conducted in a portable hall by G. McKinley and B. Glendinning. The interest shown was most encouraging and there were some who were saved. At Dungannon, where the gospel hall was burned down during a gospel meeting, a new hall has been built, and it is hoped to hold gospel meetings there on the first Lord's Day of each month. At Cookstown, ]. Flanigan had one week of ministry. In Co. Londonderry, at Lisachrin, J. Lennox and J. Brown saw one young man saved. The assembly at Magherafelt had J. Harrison for two weeks of well attended and profitable ministry on prophetic subjects. There was a well attended conference at Ballymacashon with practical ministry by J. E. Fairfield, S. Ferguson, j. Harrison, J. G. Hulchinson, J. Hawthorne and J. Bewes. Also at Buckna, the conference was well attended with ministry by a number of different brethren.
It is good to hear again, from a newsletter from E. Jaminson, of various means of evangelism in Belfast. Hundreds of homes are contacted each week through Words of Comfort, with news of bereavement taken from various local journals. Expressions of appreciation are received from many who receive them, and indications of how words from scripture help in times of sorrow. The telephone ministry still registers 40-60 calls per day, bringing the message of the gospel into many homes. So many needs are expressed, from battered wives, problems in families with children, times of tragedy and bereavement or just feelings of depression and loneliness. Again the requests for prayer reveal the deep need for the word of God in so many lives today. The printing and publishing ministry makes available the gospel through literature in English and Spanish, and widespread demands come in for such literature. The work of hospital visitation among civilians and members of the security services touch situations of appalling need and open up many avenues for sharing the gospel with the sick and needy. Such work calls for constant prayer.
It is good to pick out a few items of news from a prayer letter received from David and Kay Stevens in Limerick. One of the highlights of the year is the December Holiday Club held by the Shannon believers and in connection with this there is a reaching out to many families. In November, at Mallow Street Hall, Bobby was one of eight baptised. Over one hundred gathered to hear them testify to God's work of grace in their lives. They need prayer that they may be kept. Open air preaching continues. This can be tough work in freezing conditions such as one night in November when David and two others stood and preached to just one man who stood to listen. Help has been requested for use of a sketch-board from four brethren who have been preaching on the streets of Clonmel for some time.
In Co. Donegal, G. Stewart and S. Patterson continue to plod on for the Lord at Gartin, near Letterkenny in a mobile hall. D. Lowry and N. Coulter preached for a number of weeks in the home of a believer.
News from Jim Anderson of the Lord's work in the West. There are a number of assemblies in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, but only one in the Hebrides. It is gratifying to hear that these Western Isles had a bit more interest shown in their people's spiritual well-being during the past year. In addition to Robert Eadie's gospel effort in Lewis, evangelists George Meikle, Dan Gillies and Koy Marshall visited Mull. A family of: three break bread here and are glad of visits from the Lord's people. Over 2000 homes were reached with gospel literature including the town of Tobermory.
It was Robert Revie's intention to have meetings in the village of Monkton, near Prestwick during December, but it proved impossible to find a site for his portable hall and the village hall was booked for every night of the week. He finally was able to hold children's meetings from 4-5p.m. nightly in the village hall, and he also engaged in visitation during the daytime and made some interesting contacts. Evangelist James Aitken has been very unwell, but this has not prevented him engaging in one interesting aspect of his work for the Lord in Western Scotland. He writes, 'the mailing work means that 100 homes each month have the gospel sent to them. News of my illness has brought out some positive response from some who had not formerly indicated faith in Christ'.
Tom Penny's tracting of the entire town of Ayr, with a population of 50,000 people, which commenced on Boxing Day 1987, was successfully completed in November. Each tract had his 'phone number and this led a widower just bereaved to phone for help. He then indicated his desire to attend a gospel meeting. November saw the baptism of six believers at Coatdyke, Airdrie, and on the same night one was baptised at Hope Hall, Baillieston. There were three baptised in the assembly at Tillicoultry. Two young women and one older one took this step of obedience to the Lord. Having had an encouraging time in door to door visitation in Clydebank, Joe Baxter proceeded to have three weeks' gospel meetings in the Miller Street Gospel Hall, the first campaign of this nature for many years. The meetings were encouraging as each night strangers were present. Unfortunately, as seems often the case these days, there were no known results.
From a newsletter from George Forbes, there is news of much children's activity during 198K. With news of children's meetings, camp work, and children's campaigns in various places, he speaks of times of joy as young people trusted in the Saviour. School visits were evidence of the many opportunities to give the gospel to many thousands of children at assembly time. Our brother has now been in full time service for the Lord for six years, and this has taken the form mainly of door to door visitation, tent work, school visits and children's meetings.
North West England The Greater Manchester New Year Conference was held on January 2nd in Mount Chapel. The ministry was shared by W. Craig and J. Rogers. The conference opened with ministry on 1. Thessalonians 4, concerning the Lord's coming. A Bible Reading followed, conducted by W. Craig, and this dealt with Christian conduct and the development of Christian character in the light of the Lord's coming, 1 John 3. There were about 150 present and although the time did not allow a full treatment of the chapter, some very practical aspects were dealt with and many expressed appreciation for the help given. Ministry in the evening session was given by both brethren and was both challenging and choice. About 200 attended this session and the convenors were encouraged by the interest shown. This gathering proved to be a good start for the new year.
North East England
In this report we look back to the 1988 Yorkshire Assemblies Sunday School Camp. This campannually brings together over 200 boys and girls from 10 years old up to teenagers. Some 20-30 alder teens, who are believers, act as tent leaders and another 50 or so adults assume responsibility for both the spiritual and material 'feeding' and all the attendant needs of the 'mini village' of 300 people. The camp lasts for a week and has been a source of blessing to many assemblies. Morning and evening rallies are addressed by young men involved in the work and many campers have been saved over the years. During the 1988 camp, three were saved and one teenager enquired about baptism. A consistent note of challenge was sounded in the meetings as to the need of full commitment and many were counselled. The size of the camp leads trustees of the work to seek a permanent home for the work and prayer is requested that the Lord will see fit to meet this need.
From Ivor Powell comes news of school assemblies taken during the Christmas period. Pupils listened to the message with deep interest as the meaning of Christmas was explained. One headmaster came afterwards and said; 'We could do with more of this evangelistic approach'. On another occasion a teacher said; 'Thank you for the message this morning'. She was herself a Christian. Some head-teachers have said they would like a visit at least once a term. How much the good seed of the word of God needs the watering of our prayers.
It is good to have two items of news from the assembly at Chester Road, Rugby. Looking back to October last, a Holiday Bible Club was held in the hall with John Skingley. The children numbered about 60 with morning and afternoon activities, and the interest shown was good. On the prize-giving night the hall was full, with parents and friends attending. The number of parents present was more than before experienced. A special Christmas Service was held on Christmas Eve at 11.00 p.m. This was a gospel service and there was about 40 present including some unsaved. Ivor Cooper gave the message and the interest was encouraging.
The assembly at Cranham Drive, Warndon, Worcester, had much to praise God for during the Christmas season. Just before Christmas they had the joy of seeing a young woman come out brightly for the Lord. She had had very little contact with church until she began to bring two senior folks with whom she had friendship to the gospel meeting. It was one night after the meeting that she was brought to the Lord. It has been refreshing to witness her ready response to the scriptures and she has been baptised and is now in assembly fellowship. Her husband comes with her at times and much prayer is that he will come to the Saviour soon. The Carol Services for the Play Group and Sunday School were held on two consecutive Sundays and it was satisfying to see the hall really packed for both occasions. Many parents and friends of the children, from the surrounding estate gathered. The children participated and a good, clear gospel message was given each time. It is good to know how valuable these special occasions are at different seasons of the year and they bring many contacts with people from the surroundings, people who are in desperate need of the Saviour.
S. Mountstevens writes of a children's effort for 10 days in his own small assembly at New Brad well. Around 15-18 children attended and 12 of these continue attending a Wednesday evening meeting. None of the children will attend Sunday School, but every contact is a cause for gratitude. A follow up to the Baldock tent effort revealed an unwillingness of the parents to allow those who previously showed interest to attend the gospel hall. There are two girls who made professions of faith who especially need prayer.
From Philip Lambert, who labours for the Lord in this county and its surroundings, news is to hand. The assembly at Kenton worked hard in preparation for the mission there and this proved to be a blessing. About 80 children, most of them Asian, attended each evening. One father said that his son could come as long as he did not learn anything-he came regularly. There were some who trusted the Saviour and they need prayer. Local schools were visited, where despite the predominance of Moslem and Sikh children, the headmaster requested a return visit. At Wokingham, the assembly Holiday Bible Club was held at October half-term and about 150 children were contacted, eleven of these saying that they had trusted the Saviour. Many parents attended the family nights and on the following Sunday there were 15 additional children in the Covenanters and Juco classes and four parents attended the service for adults for the first time. The local schools were visited before the club and the headmistress requested a follow up visit. Visitation work in the Berkshire villages goes on and an endeavour is made to visit as many of the small villages leaving a John's gospel in every house.
A special report is to hand from Stephen Gillham, regarding school visitation work in the county. Work continues in Dorset on a regular basis and many schools are visited at least once or twice each term. Particular emphasis is given to visiting schools prior to the Easter and Christmas holidays. Stephen gave four and a half weeks wholly to school's visitation in the days leading up to Christmas. The aim was to again visit as many schools as possible to bring to children, who normally fall into the age group of 5-13 years, the Christian meaning of the Christmas message. This gives a unique opportunity of contact with the schools.
In all during 1988 it was possible to visit 63 schools and approximately 13,000 children were spoken to. In each school a period of 40 minutes was given to speak to the whole school. In every school that was visited this year there was encouragement in the rapt attention that was shown to all that was done. It was particularly encouraging that in the majority of the schools all the staff were present on these occasions. A number of letters have been received from the head-teachers expressing appreciation of the visits and there will be follow up times in a large majority of these schools during the Spring term.
Stephen Gillham comments that the Government's new Education Reform Bill is demanding a Christian content in school assemblies and it is likely that the door into many schools is going to be more open than it has ever been before. As many opportunities as can be undertaken have been presented and the Lord has provided Margaret Powell to see to all the administration involved in the school work and to help as necessary. Without this help it would have been impossible to maintain the visits to the schools during 1988, which has given opportunity to take something like 200 assemblies. How vitally important it is that such as undertake this method of reaching the children of our generation, should be constantly in our prayers. How long will the doors stay open?
Reports from D. Roberts tell of activities in the Cardiff area. The conference at Deri Gospel Hall saw good numbers gathering to listen to ministry from A. M. S. Gooding and Fred Epps. A. M S. Gooding continued with ministry meetings from Monday to Thursday. The annual missionary week-end was held at Llandaff North Gospel Hall. There was a capacity attendance and reports were given by S. Burditt and H. Reid. The ministry was given by Michael Stephens. The assembly here continues to see blessing-a young man was recently converted.
The Mid-Glamorgan Bible Readings have recommenced. These are held monthly at Bridgend and the subject for consideration will be the Epistle to Titus. November saw the sixtieth Anniversary of the work at Rumney Gospel Hall. The work started through tracting and open air meetings by the brethren from Adamsdown Gospel Hall. Blessing has been seen at Rhiwbina when a young lady confessed the Lord in baptism. The annual conference at Nantgarw brought a full hall and the ministry was given by A. Leckie and W. Banks. A. Leckie continued during the ensuing week. The word given on the Wednesday evening was to be the last our brother would give for he was called home the following morning while staying in the home of two local believers. It is good to pay tribute to a servant of the Lord who for many years was a source of great blessing to the saints in the consistent teaching and preaching of the word. His presence among the assemblies will be very greatly missed. It was fitting that he should be 'in harness' to the last. We thank God for his memory. There is news of many gatherings over the Christmas time, all of which gave good opportunity to share the gospel with the unsaved.
News from W. Beale of work in North and West Wales. The believers at the Gospel Hall, Rhos, worked together in the village of Llangollen and were much encouraged in a special effort led by Peter Brandon. Every home in the village was visited with an invitation to the meetings. After a slow start the people began to attend the meetings, amongst whom was the parish priest. A married couple trusted the Saviour. At the Swansea United Conference, Roy Hill and Stephen Gillham gave helpful ministry and Stephen Gillham had good meetings in the Gospel Hall at Neath. He was able to visit several schools. At the United Missionary Conference in Swansea, Dr. Edward Short and Norman Brown (S.G.M.) were the speakers and gave reports of the Lord's work.
In the village of Trimsaran, Peter Brandon saw blessing as most evenings there were those unsaved who heard the message. Stan Ford conducted gospel meetings in the Gospel Hall at Fforestfach and also in the Evangelistic Hall at Llanelli, and there were those who trusted the Saviour.
Special Carol services were held in many of the assemblies, and as the children and parents gathered there was much evidence of interest as the Christmas message was given. Young people from the assemblies held a successful open air witness in the Swansea city centre. Some good contacts were made.
Two items of news come from J. Powell in Plymouth, A Carol Service was held in the Drama Hall of Lipson Comprehensive School at Plymouth. Some 120 children and parents attended the occasion. This made the change of venue worthwhile-the Hall at West Hill could not have contained them. A family of three were baptised at Wolseley Gospel Hall, the mother, eldest daughter and a son. This proved how the Lord blesses faithful work in Sunday School and youth camps. The mother and son walked a considerable distance to remember the Lord on the following Sunday.
Brief items of news of the Lord's work in the county! At Truro, two young people were converted in a full hall. These had no Christian connections and this was a cause of great praise to the Lord. The New Year fellowship meeting at Truro saw a packed hall and good ministry was given by Stan Ford and Philip Lemon. At St. Austell, the Carol Service was a time of blessing. The hall was full to capacity with parents and children attending in good numbers. At Camborne, Stan Ford held special meetings, and 6 professed faith in Christ.