In a Devon Coastal Town (Seaton)
“But, Monty, we have asked twice for the room and they have refused it, what is the use of asking again ?” Two young men, who had been demobbed after the first world war, were discussing the possibility of starting some evangelistic meetings in their home-town, Seaton, the most easterly of the county's watering-places, very near to the Dorset border. The need for this was urgent, and was in the mind of both of them independently- The great difficulty was a convenient meeting-place. There was only one suitable for the purpose, and the foregoing conversation explains what was happening. Monty was for asking a third time, which he did, and the owners rented it to them ! Other Christians gave evidence of their interest, and it was felt that ,i meeting for praise: and prayer would be an appropriate start. Then it was discovered I hat there were no lighting arrangements. This difficulty was overcome by a brother loaning two motor headlamps. In I hose days they were acetylene, and as the little company gathered round in the unshielded glare of these strange lights, they looked very ghostlike. However, their prayers were real and substantial and there were indications that they meant business. As numbers and interest increased, it was decided to commence some Bible study as a preparation for some regular gospel effort. When these gospel-meetings were started on Sunday evenings the room was crowded, and very soon the Lord set His seal on the work as souls were saved. The believers were keen and enthusiastic, and it was no uncommon sight to see eight or nine brethren on their knees in a little ante-room before the service pleading for blessing. From such a small and humble beginning it was a privilege to witness these stirring scenes, and it was an effort to keep humble through it all.
A problem soon presented itself. What was to be done with these new converts ? They had to be instructed from the Scriptures as to their faith and conduct. They needed help and every encouragement to live a consistent and godly life. They discovered that baptism followed faith in Christ, and they gladly obeyed in this matter. The gathering grew in spiritual power and New Testament order, and there was a. desire to remember the Lord's death in the breaking of bread. About 20 believers gathered for the latter purpose, and as this remembrance was renewed week by week, they were like " days of heaven upon the earth." This company of believers recognized its obligation to make Christ as Saviour known in the locality in which God had placed them, and in the summer months went to the sea-front to witness for the Lord. This caused quite a stir, and the devil raised opposition— some subtle, some open—but it was a great blessing to the Christians. History proves that the persecuted Church is kept purer in life and doctrine than the Church that is indolent. Live fish enjoy swimming against the stream.
The boys and girls were not forgotten, and a Sunday School was started. Numbers were not huge, but there was fruit for God as some of these children were converted.
After two happy years in this room, the way opened up to secure a very convenient site for a permanent place of worship and service. This came in an unexpected and remarkable way and, looking back over the years, the Hand of God can plainly be traced. guiding and working for His people. An old workshop on the site was reconditioned and the work transferred from the hired room. It was a great day when the place of meeting was altered, but a brother prayed. " If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence." It is a good prayer to pray. God continued to save souls. and the assembly grew. It soon became evident that a larger hall was needed, and after much prayer the work was started, There were about 38 in fellowship at this time, and looking to God to supply the need, and seeking to do I heir own part they went forward. The cost of site, renovations, building, furnishing, etc., was about £2,600. This was a big sum in those days, and a daring move to make, but. if faith is not daring it is no faith at all, and God delights to honour it. With sacrificial giving and splendid help from other assemblies, the whole cost was cleared in just over 10 years.
The new hall was opened with much rejoicing in March, 1927, and for over a Quarter of a century has been the scene of active Christian witness. At one time there were 70 in fellowship, and for the last 10 years there have been about 60. The meetings, already mentioned, continue together with a Bible-class, women's meeting and other activities. A bi-annual Missionary Conference has stimulated interest and prayer in the Lord's work in the " regions beyond." David's words sum it all up, " For all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee."