Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord." Romans 16.12. Some characters find but one mention in scripture, yet this for a particular reason. This beloved Christian lady is remembered for salutation on account of energetic work for the Lord. Such a commendation is significant as we consider the apathy and lack of zeal which blights much of our testimony today. One report stresses this fact. Not hostility or violent opposition but careless indifference is the problem of the hour. We may well enquire diligently as to how we can deal with such a spiritual malady. Maybe we can stir ourselves by reading of those who were on fire with zeal for their Lord. It is recorded of Epaphras that he "laboured fervently" in prayer— that he had a great zeal for the Colossians and others. Of Epaphroditus, Paul could say that he was near to death in his longings and labours for the saints. Do we feel that this burning spirit is lacking in much service for the Lord? Let us guard against a lukewarmness that is bred of indolence and indifference. Let us follow the example of the One of whom it is was said, "The zeal of thine house has eaten me up".
Northern Ireland. We have a number of items from Jim Graham in Belfast. Gospel meetings were conducted by Eric Wishart in the Clarawood Estate in association with Ballyhachamore assembly. God gave blessing in these meetings in this area of Belfast, and at least two professed faith in Christ. Following this effort, Eric Wishart conducted meetings in the Orange Hall outside the village of Kells, near Bal-lymena. Roland Pickering and Harry Andrews preached the gospel in a portable hall at Carryduff, a fast growing suburb of Belfast. These meetings were arranged by brethren from the Knockabracken assembly and they were well attended. At least one man professed to have accepted Christ as Saviour. The Whitehouse assembly arranged special tent meetings on a large housing estate at Rathcoole. Tommy Wright (Brazil), and George McKinley preached the Word and also reached out to get people from the area in. The tent was very badly damaged by storms during the meetings but this problem was soon overcome. A series of meetings for preaching the gospel was held in a tent, just outside Belfast at Derriaghy, and Robert Eadie and Bill Bingham (Canada) were the evangelists. The numbers attending were encouraging and two were known to have professed faith in Christ with others showing interest. It was good here to find the concern of some to be saved. Meetings were held by Bob Eadie and Denis Williamson at Ballynahinch Junction, outside Ballyna-hinch, and encouragement was given as two professed to be saved. Bob Eadie has now left his full employment and will be seeking to give himself fully to preaching the gospel. May the Lord bless him in this step.
In the village of Kcllyleagh on the County Down coast, the assembly is very small. As the result of exercise a special effort was held here by Sammy Maze and prayer would be valued for the testimony. Albert Aiken conducted meetings in the Gospel Hall, Ballywatermoy, outside Bally-mena. From the commencement the interest was good and in the preaching of the Word the help of the Lord was felt. Some came into the hall for the first time including two Roman Catholics, both of whom expressed a desire for salvation. There was great expectancy of blessing here. Further north, outside Coleraine, Co. Derry, David Kane and Joe Milne (Venezuela) had an encouraging spell of gospel meetings in a tent. At Derrylea, Co. Tyrone, A. McShane and D. Gilliland had some encouraging gospel meetings in a tent. At Portadown, Co. Armagh, also in a tent, Sam Ferguson and Norman Turkington held some meetings. Five weeks meetings were conducted in a portable hall at Dun-drum, Co. Down. Stanley Haigh and Reg. Jordan were the evangelists and the interest was good.
Jim Allen and Jim Hutchinson enjoyed a good spell of meetings in the Gospel Hall at Banbridge, Co. Down. Large numbers came together to hear the gospel preached, and the interest shown was good. Quite a number responded to the challenge of the Word and accepted Christ as Saviour. Special meetings were conducted at Bethes-da Hall, Belfast Road, Bangor, Co. Down. Harry Andrews conducted the meetings for preaching the gospel and great interest was shown. It was evident that God blessed the Word and four people were known to accept Christ as Saviour. All the praise and the glory belongs to Him. So needy Ireland continues to hear the Word of God amid all the chaos and confusion, the sin and sorrow. Pray that light shall dawn into many lives.
Scotland. We have brief news from Tom Aitken in Forth. Peter Brandon came back to Ayrshire again after the fruitful mission at Kilmarnock. The meetings increased until every night the hall was filled. Even better than this, there were those who came through for the Lord. An Irish nurse who is doing a good work in Ochletree, met up with a lady who was saved at Kilmarnock and her sister was saved at Glengarnock. Also among those saved was a sixteen year old girl from Stevenston. It is good to hear that the summer work was not greatly affected by the weather. Despite the poor summer only two of the open air rallies on Saturday afternoons were spoiled. Jim Aitken worked on, and not many of his open air meetings had to be cancelled. So the Word was faithfully preached as opportunities came along. Tom Affleck was able to conduct four good efforts among young people and children during the summer months. Some professed faith in Christ and lives were changed by the gospel.
North West England. We have some interesting news from Gerald Bourne in Manchester. Manchester & District Sunday School's Camp changed their venue this year and instead of going to Scotland visited the Lake District. More outdoor activities and pursuits were possible and this gave more opportunities for leaders and campers to mix. There were discussions enjoyed and many questions asked. There were 117 campers under canvas and 40 leaders including Tom Bathgate the camp evangelist. 25 campers made professions of faith in Christ and these present a big challenge to prayer for the future. The Camp Christian fellowship which was conducted by Tony Renshaw, was conducted more along the lines of discussion, and it was considered that the week was a time of much blessing. During the winter months, fortnightly meetings based on Peter's Epistles will be held in the Manchester City Centre as a follow-up work with Bible teaching.
During the month of July the Lancashire Gospel Tent was pitched in Kew, a district of Southport, where a gospel testimony has been for sometime. Frank Lonney preached the gospel each evening and John Skingley concentrated on the young people's work. Essentially a pioneer work, much effort was made in visitation and some response from strangers was seen. The children's and youth meetings were very encouraging. The Manchester Village Workers visited towns and villages around the city during the summer months. Tracts were distributed with a coupon enclosed offering a copy of the Emmaus Course, "What the Bible Teaches" to those who were interested. About 20 applications have been received and some have gone on to further courses. These sound scriptural courses demand a search of the Word of God and it is prayed that through this means many will find the Saviour.
Midlands. S. Mountstevens sends a report on the Leicester Assemblies' boys' camp. 39 boys spent the week at camp and the Lord was pleased to use His Word in blessing to them. Seven boys came for counsel. One of them "counted the cost" of discipleship and could not decide to take the step of faith needed to follow the Lord. He needs prayer that he will be saved. There was an interesting work done in the life of a 14 year old boy who was soundly saved. He walked round the camp the next morning asking for Bible study and the following three days saw him enjoying three daily sessions of study of the Word. It was a thrilling thing to see his growth in the Lord. A "quaint quote" is in how he described a church. "It ain't the building, its the people in it; and if the people ain't in it, it ain't the church".
The assembly at Quarry Lane, North- field, Birmingham, were encouraged with a week of children's meetings conducted by their own brethren. Each evening there were 30-40 children present and a good interest was shown in the messages given. The effort proved rewarding in that some of the children became scholars in the Sunday School. At Foxlydiate Gospel Hall, Red-ditch, the annual conference was well attended. The ministry was given by A. Leckie and J. Sinclair; ii proved to be stimulating and challenging and was appreciated by all who came.
Ivor Cooper, Warwick, tells of a two week Tent Mission at Brailes in Warwickshire. Local Christians gave help and great opportunities came for witness in the schools and community generally as well as the meetings in the tent. A number of adults and young people professed faith in Christ during the mission. The Lord also answered prayer in practical ways, especially concerning the security of the site and even the sun coming out at the right time. In the Warwickshire Camp, covering children, young people and older teenagers in three weeks of camp, blessing was seen and there were conversions. The young people were encouraged to witness to the Lord in their families and communities. "Living Words" was the name given to the tent erected as a witness at the Town & County Festival at Stoneleigh over the August Bank Holiday week-end. Well over 6000 people passed through the tent. Many contacts were made with both adults and children and requests for more literature have been daily received since. Prayer follows these activities that many shall find Christ.
It is good to hear of a venture of witness from the assembly at Moreton-in-Marsh -this for the second year running. On September 7th, a visit was made to the annual one day show. A stand was erected in the busy covered shopping area with the help of Ken Brighton and Marcus Olliffe. A large amount of Christian literature was distributed to a record number of people. The Book Stall was kept very busy. Workers were very encouraged by the many contacts made and with some heart-to-heart conversations with individuals passing by. It was felt that this gospel witness was well worthwhile, and seemed to make a greater impact than last year.
The Worcestershire Camp Out for 1985 was again held at Strete, Dartmouth. The numbers were smaller but it proved to be a camp marked by the Lord's blessing. There was a good sense of the Lord's presence as Paul Young sought to share the Word with the campers. At least three were saved but significantly, nearly all sought spiritual counsel and help at some time during the camp. Inclement weather did not dampen the spirits of the young people and they returned home praising the Lord for answered prayer in the good time enjoyed.
The Annual Worcester Postal Sunday School Rally was held at Stourport-on-Severn. It was an interesting rally but disappointing in numbers. A ride was enjoyed on the Severn Valley Railway and after tea at the Civic Centre, Roger Chilvers gave a challenging gospel message. Much prayer is needed for Postal Sunday School work in this area.
Somerset. John Brett from Swindon sends in news of Camp work. A Camp was held at Cheddar with David Willcox and during the first week 70 campers were under canvas. During the second week there were about 90. It was an encouragement to the assembly at Cheddar when all the camp came in to the breaking of bread. An explanation of the service was given, and the scriptural meaning of the feast was shown and all proved helpful to the young people. After the meeting two girls sought the Lord for salvation. All the campers attended the evening gospel service and the camp leader took tie service. On the second Sunday of the Camp, a married couple who had been helpers during the first week were baptised by David Willcox at Burnham. They were joined by one of the young men from camp, who had asked for baptism. His parents and many of his family and also some of the campers joined together for this joyful event. The days of the camp were full with early leaders' prayer meetings, quiet times and morning Bible Study for the campers in which David Willcox shared with them the practical truths of the Word. The day was then left open for various expenditures of energy, and it ended with evening Bible Study conducted by Howard Coles of Coleford, who dealt with practical truth from Genesis. Blessing was seen as 16 young people made professions of faith in Christ. The report concludes by saying that this was a camp where young people were sought, taught and also encouraged to witness themselves.
London. Brief news is to hand from the Evangelistic Mobile Units. The South West Unit tells of their annual tour, based at the Rest Gospel Hall, Three Cups/Punnets Town, Sussex, during a week in August. This is a very small assembly and a scattered population, but the Lord confirmed that the plan to visit was of Himself. The team totalled seven, and various daily activities were engaged in. A Holiday Bible Club was arranged for each morning. A wet and windy Monday saw only four children gathering, although many local homes had been visited. The numbers increased each day and Friday saw 25 children and 10 parents attending the prize-giving. Visitation of the homes in the area, a visit to Hailsham which is locally known as the Sin City, and a visit to Battle, were among the various activities of the week and there was always sense of the Lord's blessing. Bible Studies in John's First Epistle gave opportunity for times of fellowship together. A number of good personal contacts were made. On the Saturday the Epsom Borough Show was visited, and there was good opportunity to speak to boys and girls who had taken part in the quiz.
The South East Unit has been active, and workers speak of the way in which the Lord has encouraged in the work in spite of difficulties. On several occasions the fellowship and help of local companies of the Lord's people have been much enjoyed. The Trafalgar Square witness in June saw a greater response. The music and singing of the Richmand Gospel Hall Ensemble was well received. A group of punk rockers occupied the chairs for the whole time and as they were spoken to they seemed interested. In co-operation with the local assembly, a number of homes were visited in Lewisham. Some contacts were made with people who had in earlier years attended Loampit Gospel Hall. The team conducted the International Rally after tea, and some attended who had not been in before. At Gravesend a team of ten went out to witness, and were supported by more members of the Sugwell assembly. Localised literature was used and some 1000 houses were visited during the afternoon. Tea and a time of fellowship followed, and the hospitality given here and on other occasions elsewhere was much appreciated.
Dorset. News comes from J. Harman of the work in Weymouth. The annual activities among Foreign Students brought this year some problems. Last year it was remarkable for the number who professed commitment to Christ. Due to the shortage of helpers the preparation period this year did not go as smoothly as previously. Also the outreach team was smaller than ever known, thus restricting the work. In spite of this, workers had an excellent time in the classrooms, getting to know the students through conversations, singing, etc. The major problem was in the work of the Coffee Bar, and because of a misunderstanding the first few nights were very difficult. However, when things had been sorted out the foreign students came in, 30-40 each evening. Considerable interest was shown by a French speaking Canadian couple and also contact was made with an Asian family who were on holiday. A large quantity of German Christian literature was distributed and some of the German students seemed to be greatly challenged. There was clear evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in individual lives and prayer now follows that the seed sown will by God's power produce a harvest for His glory.
The Open Air meetings on the sands suffered this year because of weather conditions. Most of the Sunday evening meetings had to be cancelled and in this sense it was a disappointing season. But on the few occasions when the meetings were held, interest was shown and many tracts were distributed and conversations were enjoyed with several passers by. Commenting on the conditions of evangelism, our brother says that there is not so much hostility and opposition to the gospel, as attitudes of indifference and complete apathy. What a challenge this is to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord", lest this apathy gets at us and kills our witness for the Lord.
Devon. We have news of special family services, held by the assembly in Seaton. Each Sunday morning during July and August these were arranged, and attendances were good with good interest shown. Holiday makers came in, and the local believers were encouraged by the response. During the past months there has been a considerable interest shown, and the assembly is growing, with a good spirit of fellowship in evidence.
We have details of the Christian village work in the Teignbridge district. Support was small, mainly consisting of four workers from Teignmouth with some good support from three young men of Totnes. There was also one week of help from the Chagford and Cockwood assemblies. This is felt to be an important effort to reach out to the villages of Teignbridge with the gospel of Christ. It was challenging to have one of the founder members of this work, now in his nineties who cannot walk very well, join on occasions for the open air meetings. Each week a clear witness was given in one or more of the villages. Three important contacts stand out and call for prayer. A young man at Chudleigh, an elderly man in Ilsington and a 16 year-old girl in Whiddon Down who conversed for an hour with a worker.
At Bitton Park Gospel Hall, Teign- mouth, a Report Meeting was held to mark the first anniversary of the commendation of Peter and Elaine Smith to the Lord's work in Devon. It was a happy occasion, attended by about 120 believers from some 13 assemblies. Our brother was able to tell something of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness during this year and also of some of the ways in which the gospel had been shared with people. The occasion was used also for Ken Rudge to minister the Word and a challenging word was given. There was a sense of encouragement by all who gathered and the need of this and surrounding Counties was emphasised.
John Powell sends news of the work of the Plymouth Christian Camps held this summer at the new site at Menadue, Tintagel. Our brother comments that we often sing, "there shall be showers of blessing", and this as far as the rain was concerned was true, but it could also be said for spiritual things as the Lord poured out His blessing. Four weeks of camping were held. They began with Senior Camp and young Christians were instructed and challenged by John Hadley. This was followed by three weeks of Junior Camps and the final one was the largest that had ever been held with over 100 children attending. To God be the glory for the number of children who made professions of faith in Christ, and included in these were over 25 during the last week. Peter Brandon led the Camp for two weeks and gave much help in his ministry, and John Mansfield gave valued help in the final week. These arc times of much spiritual opportunity in dealing with young lives, and it was good to hear that some of the older children had re-dedicated their lives to Christ. Follow-up work continues.
Cornwall. We have news of tent work during summer months. John Hadley erected his tent in three different towns, Wadebridge, Camelford and Bodmin. In all these places, those without Christ heard the gospel faithfully preached. The seed was sown through tracts and door to door visitation. Peter Smith was responsible for the children's meetings in each witness, and a good interest was shown by the children who came into the tent. There were problems and pressures, yet many wonderful opportunities to present Christ as the only Saviour. The work was very hard at Bodmin with cases of vandalism to the tent and theft causing much trouble. There is so much need for prayer surrounding this method of evangelism in these dangerous and unreasonable times. Stan Ford saw blessing in meetings held for adults at Truro. Good numbers came in each evening. One young man from a Christian home, who had turned away from the things of the Lord, came into the meeting in a remarkable way. Having begun, he eventually attended every night and gave in to accept Christ as Saviour with tears. It was so much felt that this was indeed a work of the Spirit of God. There was another young man who also came to the Lord. Praise God for His power to save.
Foreign Item. Philip Dalling tells of a visit that he made to Poland with Michael Browne. He says that 14 new assemblies have commenced in this country during the past 4 years and he gives quite thrilling news of a visit to one of them. This assembly in Silesia commenced with 16 in fellowship some 3 years ago. Earlier this year when the numbers had reached 82, it divided happily so that another could be commenced in a nearby town. Those remaining are able to maintain at least monthly visits to 14 preaching points, one 375 miles distant. Others in the assembly cover villages within a 200 mile radius, with weekly distribution of Scriptures and Christian literature. Two baptismal services in the municipal swimming pool have been held this year and 14 candidates are to be baptised shortly. While visiting the prayer and ministry meeting it was learned that there were two men present who had been saved that week, and that a sister who had been saved just 2 years had offered to take 4 suitcases of Bibles etc., to a place 100 miles away for door to door visitation. It was good to hear also of one professional man willing to go full time into this rapidly developing work for the Lord. The assembly also has a keen and energetic interest in missionary work. We can praise God for this example of the work of the Lord in a Communist land.