Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
I do not ask
That crowds so throng the gatherings
That standing room be at a price!
I only ask that as I voice His message
They may see Christ.
I do not ask
For ritual, pomp or pageant,
Or music such as wealth alone can buy;
I only pray that as I voice His message
He may be nigh.
I do not ask
That men may sound my praises, Or headlines spread my name abroad; I only pray that as I voice His message Hearts may find God.
From a news letter.
Eire.We begin this report with an interesting item of news. It concerns the National Bible Study Club which operates from Merrion Hall, Dublin. This Bible Correspondence School is designed to reach out to all parts of Ireland with the scriptures. Each month about 700 young people receive Bible study courses of various grades. Each new member receives a copy of John's Gospel with their first lesson, and a copy of each of the other gospels and eventually the New Testament as they progress with their lessons. All courses are free and all the outreach work is financed by gifts from the Lord's people. A team of 38 study leaders marks the children's lessons as they come in, and a relationship is sought with each child so that help can be given if they seek it. Recruitment takes place as the scholars recommend their friends. Some opposition is experienced. One school teacher told an eleven year old member that those who ran the work were "pagans", and that the Bibles supplied free to the children were some kind of "cover up". Yet there are many expressions of gratitude and some have written indicating their faith in the Lord Jesus. This is a profitable work.
We have news of Postal Sunday School from Bert Gray in Mountmellick. In June our brother was involved in a nasty car accident but escaped serious injury'. His wife also was in hospital for surgery. So there are difficulties but the work of P.S.S. progresses with news from time to time of the Lord's blessing. In the summer work at the Parklands Caravan Site, help has been provided and this important outreach continues. It is interesting to hear that the records of the children of P.S.S. have been transferred to another computer programme, thus making it possible to operate with reduced staff. Individual contact in this work is of paramount importance and there is encouragement as news comes through of how the lessons are being used of the Lord to spread the gospel and to build up believers. Prayer would be valued for work at Headquarters.
Northern Ireland. Meetings were conducted in Randalstown, Co. Antrim, by W. Bingham, who has been serving the Lord in Nova Scotia. The numbers coming in to hear the gospel preached were encouraging. Good interest was shown in meetings held with Sam McBridc in Altamackin, Co. Armagh. Meetings were held in the Gospel Tent near Banbridge, Co. Down, with Jim Hutchinson and Jim Allen. A good interest was shown by local folks during six weeks of meetings in a tent at Comber, Co. Down, a seaside resort town on the Antrim Coast; open air meetings were held and a number of local brethren assisted. During the month of July, Sam Jennings and Wesley Barr conducted open air work on the sea front at Bangor in connection with the Central Hall assembly. At Killaloo, Co. Londonderry, B. Smith and B. Glenden-ning saw local people come in while preaching in a portable hall. In the village of Caledon, Co. Tyrone, Jim Wishart and Reg Jordan laboured, seeking to win souls for Christ in this needy area. Harry Anderson and Roland Pickering preached in a portable hall at Carryduff, in connection with the assembly at Knockbracken. Tent meetings were held in Coleraine by Joe Milne and David Kane. Sam Patterson and Gilbert Stewart 'plod" on in the gospel, across the border in Co. Donegal at Cres-slough. This is a new and needy area. Prayer would be appreciated. Work continues outside Monaghan Town. Co. Monaghan, with Sam Maze and George McKinley preaching the gospel.
Scotland. Interesting features of news come from Tom Aitkcn in Forth. They tell of gospel activities during the summer months. The United Summer Campaign of the Ayrshire assemblies was held in Central Hall and Grand Hall, Kilmarnock, and was conducted for three weeks by Peter Brandon. In weeks prior to the campaign, some 37,000 handbills accompanied by a gospel tract were distributed in the town of Kilmarnock and the surrounding villages. Almost every night there were those who sought conversation with the evangelist. On the first night a young married person with a Catholic background, who had married a backslider wanted to decide for Christ. The impressive feature of the meetings was the large number of young people who attended. The Friday youth meetings were particularly encouraging. Many sought counsel and help and seriously considered salvation. A number of the young people definitely professed conversion. Altogether over thirty people made professions of faith in Christ.
A Campaign was conducted by Stewart McKenzie at Gourock. This was scheduled lo last for three weeks, but because of interest shown was extended for a further two. In all about nine conversions were seen. A husband and wife were saved on separate evenings. An interesting case was that of a seaman from Gilbert Island, who came in to three meetings while his ship was in Greenock. A woman was saved whose son was converted a year ago, and a local man who came in every night for the extra two weeks. Also three teenagers and a twelve year old girl confessed Christ. On the final night, two young men were baptised and there was much cause for rejoicing. Praise the Lord for His power. The theme of the Campaign was "Christ is the Answer".
We have news of the Lanarkshire Gospel Work, Newmains Campaign. The evangelist was Robert Revie and it was a memorable series of meetings. The first night set a pattern for interest shown, and this was maintained throughout. On the final night there were probably more unsaved present than on any other occasion. Robert Revie worked hard, visited wisely and preached faithfully. Many doors were opened to him and valuable contacts were made. Believers locally and from further afield gave good support. The times of prayer and the open air meetings were seasons of joy and blessing. Many unsaved heard the gospel. The children's meetings had an average attendance of about 40, and the interest was good. There were three definite professions—an elderly lady and two 15 year old girls. To God be the glory!
The Renfrewshire work was conducted in the new Gospel Hall, in Bishopston, by Jim Allen. Following the Largs Bible Readings, Donald Gillies conducted a work in Berth, Ayrshire, where the assembly is very small. A man, whose sister had recently found Christ, professed salvation. Don Gillies then joined Roy Marshall in a tent at Rosyth, Fife. There is no assembly here and the going is hard. Don then joined John Burns in a tent campaign in Brechin, Angus, where the assembly has closed down. James Aitken has conducted his regular work in the Lanarkshire villages, especially in the upper ward. Daytime work on the doorsteps was usually completed with evening open air meetings. The Wigtownshire work was centred in the Gospel Hall, Stranraer, where John Stubbs had a month's meetings in June. After spending a few weeks in the Cumbrian Gospel Van, David Locke joined George Forbes in village work with a tent, covering some mid-Scotland villages.
North West England. The report from Gerald Bourne this time highlights perhaps a great need for the church to be aware of—that of praying for the "powers that be". The report tells us that it became apparent early in the year that the now left-wing controlled council of Manchester was not going to allow the Lancashire Gospel Tent to be pitched in a Manchester Park as in previous years. Efforts to find alternate sites in the Withington area of the City proved fruitless and the conveners were forced to look elsewhere. A late invitation to pitch the tent at Weaverham, Cheshire, was accepted, and a completely different attitude by the local council was experienced. A very choice site in the centre of the village was allocated and one of the councillors attended some of the meetings. John Spiers of Motherwell preached the Word faithfully, assisted by Alistair Young and John Skingley who shared the young people's work. Strangers were present each evening, and one young man made a clear profession of faith in Christ. Two children stayed behind after a children's meeting and trusted the Lord Jesus. The children's meetings averaged 50 each evening and the young people's meetings were marked by good order and attention. The tent was moved to Kcw, near Stourport, and Frank Lonney and John Skingley preached the Word during July.
North East England. The Annual Week of Special Children's Meetings was held at Wylam assembly. The speaker was a local brother, L. McMasters of North Shields. The nightly attendance averaged 35. Many parents attended on the Sunday night. The seed of the Word of God was faithfully sown. This village assembly has seen five people baptised in recent months on three separate occasions. The Annual Conference was held at Scunthorpe's and was a well attended occasion. J. Last and R. Sherman gave the ministry and a challenging word was given.
Midlands. News came from Ivor Powell, concerning a work over the past year on the Grange Estate, Daventry. During school term time a children's meeting is held in the Community Hall between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Numbers have fluctuated but it has been a great joy to teach these children the truths of the scripture. A monthly Family Service, held in the same building, has proved most encouraging. This takes place on the last Sunday evening of the month at 6.30 p.m., and the numbers have varied between 70 and 125. Adults and parents of the children gather, and good proportions of these are unsaved. There has been a recent breakthrough when a young man sought counsel and another man spoke of trusting Christ in Birmingham. So it is that many contacts are made on the Estate and a monthly visitation with Christian literature has maintained these. A band of 14 people visited the village of Flore. The homes in the village were visited by workers in twos, and gospel tracts were left with some interesting chats ensuing. An invitation was given for people to join an open air meeting in the centre of the village and a good hearing was experienced. A second meeting was held in front of a row of old folk's bungalows, and their faces were seen at the windows as they listened with real appreciation. A message was given at a Barbecue near Market Harborough - an annual event. A good number gathered and the presence and power of the Lord was felt as a quiet hush fell on the crowd as the message was given. Some came for counselling afterwards.
A return visit was made to the village of Blunham, near Bedford. Several Coffee Mornings were arranged and there was good interest as the message was given at these informal gatherings. Several asked for booklets and expressed their gratitude. In Northamptonshire, Ivor Powell has had the joy of speaking at seven school assemblies during the past months and the doors are open for return visits. Praise God that such opportunities abound!
A local Conference at Broadwas, Worcs., was well attended and good, practical ministry was given by A. Maunder and R. Hill. This is an annual event in this small country assembly. Meetings with Albert Leckie were held at Crowle and Redditch, Worcs. These were good meetings and at Redditch a young Christian girl was baptised. The Christian Witness Tent was erected again at the Three Counties Show Ground, Malvern. While the numbers passing through the tent were smaller than usual, some interesting contacts were made and one lady made a definite profession of conversion. Numbers of children this year were small and this affected the well-being of the Postal Sunday School cause. Some lessons were taken and at least eight have been returned to the office completed.
Avon & Somerset. Brief items of news came from Robert Greenman. At Yate, a child from the Sunday School went home and got her parents to read the Bible. One of them was a Roman Catholic. Through this they came to the meetings and eventually trusted the Lord and have been baptised. Which of us can measure both the influence of a little child and the power of God's Word? The village assembly at Rock-hampton continues to give a positive evangelical witness. During the summer months the open air meeting takes place on Sunday afternoons in the surrounding villages. Short, clear messages are given and it is good to hear that the people listen to the Word. The monthly Sunday evening meeting in a hired hall at Thornbury continues. Just a few unsaved come in, usually as the result of personal invitation rather than the door to door visitation. A lady who has recently been bereaved comes in at times. Sadly she feels that salvation by simple faith is too simple - she needs to do something. Only the Lord can open her eyes.
London Area. Brief items of news come from the South East London Mobile Unit. They speak both of encouragements and disappointments with lack of support at times. At the Strand, good contacts were made, including two American visitors, Christians who were greatly encouraged. Besides those who heard the Word, many tracts were distributed and about twenty spoke with workers. About 1000 homes were visited at Barnehurst and many were spoken to about Christ. The Unit was not available for Plumstead, but the workers gathered in the front of Richmond Hall and held an open air meeting. Afterwards about 200 homes were visited. Prayer support is needed.
The South West Unit reports on much activity and many contacts made through preaching and distribution of the Word. On a fine cold night at Crystal Palace, many tracts were handed out and two were contacted. The one was a young lad, just out of prison, and he was given a suitable tract which he promised to read. Another lad who had been in the country three months, had a deep spiritual talk. A fine evening at Argyle Street saw few people about. But three young men came up to argue on the scriptures regarding violence. They refused to listen when a testimony was given. At Henry Irving Statue, on a fine night, some good conversations were enjoyed. A young man, recently converted, spoke of his problems of loneliness. Another young man who was a Communist talked for a while. At West Croydon a very encouraging witness was given and a good number of folk heard the Word while many tracts were distributed. So the good seed is faithfully sown.
South East England. Up to date items have been sent in by Sid Mountstevens. At Whitstable, Kent, the fifth year of a week of children's meetings brought the highest numbers ever. Almost 50 filled the assembly hall and several parents came. A sister has laboured faithfully with children here, although there have been many difficulties through shortage of brethren. She was thrilled with the response. Then within a few weeks she was taken to be with the Lord. The children will miss her kindness and work for them. A third visit was made to Uxbridge to work among the children. A sense of the Lord's presence was experienced and several girls asked for help and understandings in the things of God. On the last evening four girls were spoken to and each made a profession of faith in Christ. One of them, a girl of 12, was in tears during the last two meetings, and her profession seemed genuine. She has a Roman Catholic background. Children and parents attended the gospel meetings and on the prizegiving night the attendance was good. At Higham, Kent, a ten day effort was launched with the tent. Most evenings were futt, iargely due to parents bringing their children in. It was felt that a relationship is becoming established with parents here, and the Wainscott assembly follows up these children on a regular basis. Although the weather was poor, and this affected the numbers at the prizegiving night, the attendance of the children was good. Some have been added to the Friday Classes held in a local home.
Dorset. A brief note regarding work in this county. Stephen Gillham conducted the summer camps at Sturminster Marshall and the interest and numbers were good. Some of the campers come from quite a distance, the result of Stephen's visits to other assemblies. Workers are looking to Lord for blessing. Open air work continued this summer at Weymouth, and although the weather has been poor on some Sundays, good interest has been shown as the Word has been preached. It is good to hear that building work has begun on the needy estate at Tricketts Cross. This is encouraging news.
South Wales. Paul Young is still active in South Wales, seeking to spread the gospel. He speaks of discouragements but also of some compensations of blessing. He tells of three encouragements which came through blessing on the Word. He spoke at an evangelistic meeting in the University of Wales. The Lord's presence was very much felt. Three months later news came of a young man having trusted Christ at this meeting. A service was conducted by Paul in Loughor Gospel Hall. This was broadcast on Swansea Sound the following Sunday, and shortly afterwards news came of a lady who knelt by her radio and trusted Christ. Finally a teenage girl who was converted at a Postal Sunday School Camp last summer was baptized. Her growth is encouraging and her witness in the Christian Union at school is clear.
A campaign was conducted at Maesteg. It was good that all the assembly members become involved in this effort. All turned out to visit door to door and were fully involved in running the Campaign. Unsaved adults were present at each meeting and it was felt that many were under conviction. Four teachers from the local Infants School came to the meetings. Over 40 gospels of John were taken and one man, saved in February, asked for baptism. He is going on well with the Lord.
From W. Beale items come in. The workers of the Swansea and District Assemblies Scripture Study Test for children were encouraged with the increased interest shown in the studies by 9 local assemblies. Here is a good way of teaching the children the scriptures, and this effort together with the work of the Postal Sunday School is reaching many. The presentation of the Certificates brought the parents to a most successful meeting in the City Centre. Excellent reports of the activities of the South West Wales Mobile Unit were given at their annual General Meeting when Paul Young gave ministry.
Devon and Cornwall. News from Peter Smith tells of evangelism in these needy areas. The village work in the Teignbridge area of Devon continued this year. Support is varied but 14 villages were visited with tracts and only one visit had to be cancelled because of bad weather. Two interesting contacts are worth recording. Some good conversation was enjoyed with an unemployed man. And a 17 year old girl talked for over an hour on spiritual matters. Many needs are touched with this work.
At the Royal Cornwall Show John Had- ley erected his gospel tent and a witness to Christ was established. The theme was "The Voice of the Sea", and was related to the gospel. Various displays of Christian activities were represented, including Cornwall Postal Sunday School. Some 350 school children and young people passed through the tent along with many adults. Good contacts were made and many tracts distributed. Two places were visited with Tent Missions. At Wadebridge, local circumstances caused the numbers of children attending the meetings to be small. The adults from the locality came in but the greatest encouragement came in a friendship built with three young men. At first antagonistic, they eventually attended the meetings and also came on to Camel-ford. At Camelford there was a good interest from local Christians and locals came in. Interest and numbers among the children was good and the Youth Nights averaged some 75 during the mission. At both places good contacts were made in door to door visitation. Thus the work of the Lord goes on in many places - let us be faithful in prayer!