Gospel Work and other Activities
Stephen Baker, Manchester
ENGLAND: MIDLANDS AND SOUTH
Bethany Chapel, Lyme Regis
Last February we reported in this magazine the annual door to door calendar distribution in Lyme Regis. Last December, one door knocked for that purpose was a small residential care home for the elderly. They asked the believers to come back and sing some carols, which they did. Then they asked them to come each month and hold a thirty-minute service, which was done. This was a first for the assembly. Some residents are believers, and are thrilled by the visits. Most of the residents are reasonably alert mentally, and capable of understanding the short gospel messages. The staff either stay in for the whole service or are in and out and hear a part of the message. One local weekly paper produces a full page of reports about all the local care homes about once a quarter, and ‘Clarondene Home’, the one visited, usually makes mention of the assembly’s visits.
The local saints request prayer for:
1 The unsaved adults, usually two to ten of them (mostly elderly) who hear the gospel in the hall every Sunday. One lady seems to have put her trust in the Lord in her very simple way, but she is not very good at articulating things. The Lord knows!
2 The calendar distribution again this December, with the attendant doorstep conversations.
3 The preservation from Satanic attack upon the saints, to which they feel very vulnerable about , especially when there is so much to encourage.
Northampton Balloon Festival 2008
The John 3. 16 balloon sat on top of the “Green Pastures” tent at this event in August. The three assemblies, Osborne Road, Spencer Bridge Road and Emmaus Christian Fellowship, together with believers from all over the country witnessed to the crowds over the 3 days.
The organizers had granted a new plot which was a larger area but at the same cost as last year and this new plot was a blessing in many ways. Some 120,000 people are reckoned to have attended the event and up to 4,000 visited the tent. The displays were the same as last year based on ‘Freedom’ – ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed’, John 8. 36.
The Postal Bible School was promoted at Kids’ Corner, some 250 children taking part, 18 of whom applied for an Introductory Pack together with 2 adults requesting courses. Pray that they will continue, and come to faith in Christ.
A wide range of tracts and booklets were on display and available free of charge, and many were taken. This year there was a real increase in the quantity of foreign language literature given out, probably due to the increase in immigration into the area. The spread was from Polish and Lithuanian through Somali and Punjabi to Chinese. This year people were offered a copy of the book ‘Taming the Tiger’ as long as they promised to read it. This was done following experience at the Caerphilly’s ‘Big Cheese Festival’ earlier this year. Many people would accept the book, which gives a clear presentation of the gospel, whereas they would not readily accept a tract which, in their words, was a ‘God’ or ‘religious’ thing. Quite a number of the Army contingent and security guards, many of whom were Asian Muslims, accepted the book and were seen avidly reading it. One of the security staff, a Pakistani, even came to borrow a copy as he had left the one given to him in his locker and wanted to continue reading it.
Please continue to water the seed sown this year with your prayers and pray that we will clearly know God’s will with regard to participating in next year’s event.
Spencer Bridge Road Gospel Hall - Young People’s Weekend, August 2008.
The assembly convened the weekend and the theme for it was ‘The Responsibilities of the Redeemed’, a study in the book of Ruth. The speaker was Noel McMeekin of the Republic of Ireland. Some 70 to 80 young believers attended the 3 days along with many older ones and were presented with ministry that was encouraging, uplifting and very challenging. We were left in no doubt as to the need for each of us to assess our lives to see if we are facing up to our responsibilities as those saved by grace and the sacrifice of our Great Redeemer. Those present who were not saved were also faced with the claims of the gospel message. Pray that the ministry will have a real lasting effect in the lives of all the believers, especially the younger ones, as the demands of modern life presses in on them.
Gospel Work in a Prison by Howard Hughes of Northampton
I have been blessed throughout the last 12 months, with the tremendous privilege of taking the Gospel into a prison, which seems to have very little other evangelical witness. I have seen and shared the Gospel with nearly 100 different men, most of whom have been to the Bible class at the chapel, and some I have visited on the ‘wings’ where the cell blocks are. Each man has to choose to make an official application to come to the group. They come with a positive attitude, so there have been no real problems of discipline ( a bit different to the schools I’ve worked in! ) Of course, security is quite strict. I ‘draw’ keys which I collect as I go into the prison each week, and I am free to move around the prison. I arrive about lunchtime and set out free literature for the men to take. The Bible class has averaged about 8 or 9 men over the last couple of months. There is a big ‘turnover’ of inmates as some are only on remand, and are at this prison for just a few weeks.
We begin with a quiz on the previous week’s scriptures and we have a ‘hangman’ style text which they have to work out, one letter at a time, as they answer the questions. Sometimes the questions provoke more questions! Then we have discussion and teaching as we read round the scriptures. Some men are not good readers and will just listen, but all are free to raise questions and most do. We begin at 2 pm every Tuesday, and we finish at 4.30 pm, when the men go back to their cells for ‘lock down’ time. They are next allowed out of their cells at teatime which is about 6 pm. This week was fairly typical: B often adds his thoughts to the group discussion time. He doesn’t seem to understand that salvation is not turning over a new leaf and doing your best. His comments give me opportunity to stress again the need for whole-hearted repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone. H has got his friend N to come this week; they are both Roman Catholic traveller lads. They don’t read but they manage to listen with interest as I share the gospel, making reference to it being useless to ask a priest to forgive our sins.
O is back for the second week. I had a lot of time to talk to him last week because my class was cancelled, (due to a ‘Gospel Band’ performing in the chapel) and he turned up unexpectedly from healthcare. He is a quiet, politely spoken, Roman Catholic lad, and you would not guess he had been involved in drugs and selfharming, because of problems from his childhood. He seems to have turned the corner in his thinking and feels that this, his first time in prison, has helped him get his life sorted out. I listened to him opening up about his life’s problems and was able to share the gospel with him. Like last week, he is joined by R, another interested soul. This week R listens intently as I talk of the Saviour’s all powerful sacrifice, and there is no sin which He cannot forgive.
S, another Roman Catholic, spoke to me in passing. He was not happy that he had been taken off my list, for a few weeks, by the Roman Catholic chaplain! (This chaplain has just started a Bible study for Roman Catholics twice a week!) I am very grateful to the Salvation Army chaplain who reinstated S to my group. S is an intelligent man and listens quietly. Since I have been here, the imam has also begun two mornings a week of Koranic studies on the wings!
Please pray that we will continue to have the liberty to present the gospel truth. The Light will then take care of the darkness!
S.E. London Missions Fellowship Day June 2008
(the following are extracts from a report of the Conference - there were other interesting items but space precludes us from including more detail)
A good crowd were assembled once more for the S.E. London Missions Fellowship Day to hear the accounts of those who have been serving the Lord. The first session was introduced by our brother Robert Revie who had laboured in Ethiopia. He described it as a country surrounded by problems in neighbouring countries and said that Ethiopia was like an ‘Island of Christianity in a sea of Islam’.
He gave encouraging details of how the thirty assemblies of believers that had existed in 1993 had multiplied to three hundred and were now engaged in commending and supporting over one hundred local evangelists!
We heard of one believer who attended the Koranic School and was given a page torn from a Bible to use as a bookmark. It just ‘happened’ to be a page from Genesis 12 where he read of Abraham and Isaac. This sparked his interest and it was further encouraged when he heard a Christian message on the radio beamed in from Lebanon. After being convicted of his need for salvation he became a believer, was baptized and now preaches in the same town where before he had preached in the mosques.
Another convert (son of a witch doctor) was brought to the Lord by first having a dream telling him to travel over the mountains to visit his brother who had a ‘Book’ which he needed to read. Needless to say, this was a Bible and eventually this led to his conversion. He is actively engaged in church planting and there are now between sixty and one hundred assemblies in that mountain region.
Bert Gray and Stephen Gillam each shared about the beginnings of the Postal Bible School and the extension of that work to become Bible Educational Services. It was so encouraging to hear how the work started by reaching out into the rural areas of Catholic Ireland and the Emmaus Bible Course for children being sent out initially to just one girl. As time moved on, the number of children studying the courses increased, and eventually all the Emmaus materials had been used, so courses were then obtained from New Zealand. By now interest was sparked in the UK and before long it spread to other parts of the world. This was when it was decided that the name needed to be changed to Bible Educational Services, and the courses were now produced by the organization itself. Translating into other languages always poses local problems as ideas and concepts that are expressed in English do not translate readily into other cultures and need careful refining for the meaning to be retained. Equally the use of crosswords, word searches and the like have to be rethought! The first country to translate the course for use was Korea in 1996, and since then it has been translated into many Eastern European languages. We were challenged to pray that the Polish children here in the UK could be reached with these courses and come to a living faith in the Lord as a result. Currently any translation is a major task as it involves six hundred lessons! Some further statistics were interesting; There are seventy-seven distribution centres in Romania. Three hundred students are studying in the Ukraine in Ukrainian and six thousand in Russian. In Russia a further three thousand study the courses. It is estimated that currently there are thirty-two thousand lessons being used per month! Discussions are underway in India as well as some East African countries about the feasibility of starting BES there.
Pray for lasting fruit from these initiatives, for the web site under construction so that the lessons can be made available in a number of languages.
Following on from the last report the Lancashire Gospel Tent continued in the Platt Fields Park, Manchester, for a further three weeks. Interest from unbelievers was maintained with a few in most nights if not every night. Support from the saints was good but perhaps not as good as on past occasions. However, as known to us, the Lord was pleased to bless in the salvation of two souls at the beginning of the fifth and final week. This was a great joy and encouragement to everyone particularly to the Lord’s servant Roly Pickering. Both of them had been attending their respective gospel meetings off and on for some time and, where ‘one’ has sown the precious seed of the word of God, others were privileged to reap the harvest.
The assembly in Lossiemouth had two weeks’ gospel meetings at the beginning of March with Stephen Baker. Seven unbelievers came over the fortnight, some on numerous occasions, also some young in the faith and some backsliders. A few home visits were made. The local believers had arranged for Stephen to go into the two local primary schools at Lossiemouth and one in Hopeman. The Hopeman Head Teacher invited Stephen to address every class in the school over one school day. One school Head sent a letter of appreciation and all of the schools invited Stephen to go back and spend some more time with them in November 2008 (it has been arranged for Stephen to spend one day in each school) – all of this was an encouragement to the local saints.
The assembly at Forres had a week of meetings with Ainslie Paterson at the beginning of April, beginning with a ‘Friends and Neighbours’ night. The theme was ‘Favourite Hymns’, with five wellknown hymns chosen for the basis of the gospel message. The story behind the hymn and the a little information about its writer was given each night. Personal hand-written invitations resulted in a number of people coming, including some who have never been in the hall before. Since then the assembly has been greatly encouraged as one sister has been restored to the Lord, and two brethren received into fellowship; in addition to this two more brethren have been baptized. This theme and approach was used again as the basis of three gospel meetings in August in the village of Burghead where there is no assembly. Again there was a good response from the villagers, with around two dozen attending. One woman requested to be informed of further meetings in the area, and some further contacts were made on the doors. Continue to pray for the seed sown.
Fife and Tayside
In March the assembly at Innerleven, Methil, had two weeks of meetings with Stephen Grant preaching the gospel. Some unsaved folk were present each night to listen to a clear presentation of the way of salvation. Some people came several times. Children’s meetings were held each evening and these were quite well attended. Visits to a local primary school went well and were appreciated by the teaching staff.
In St. Andrews on a sunny Lord’s Day afternoon in June a young man who was saved a few months before was baptized in the sea. Thirty believers came along to witness the baptism. Some townsfolk and visitors also came along. This was a great encouragement to the few believers trying to promote the assembly testimony in St. Andrews. Regular meetings are held every week in the Gospel Hall, on Lord’s Day evenings for gospel preaching and on Thursday evenings for Bible teaching. Good numbers attend.
For two weeks in May, Robert Plant took a series of children’s meetings in a public hall in a large housing estate on the west side of Perth and in Bridge of Earn. These were very well attended - it was good to see the good attention and good behaviour of the children as the scriptures were taught and memorized. Robert was able to visit several schools in the city and in nearby towns to take a number of school assemblies.
For two weeks in June special meetings were conducted by Martin Hunter and Norman Coulter in a Community Centre. Over two thousand invites were distributed, entitled Reaching Others in the Community. Both brethren faithfully knocked doors and gave personal invitations to the meetings. Several people came to the meetings and showed a real interest. These contacts are being followed up. Children from the community attended each night and were able to recite ‘John 3. 16’ by the end of the meetings. Some who were prohibited by their parents from coming to the meetings stood outside where they received booklets and were told of the Saviour. Most felt that the hand of God was on the meetings but that Satan was also ready to snatch away the ‘Good Seed’ the minute it was sown.
Summer Tent Work: Dan Gillies and Phil Kennedy (Fort William) were encouraged when unsaved folks were present each night at the tent which was pitched for two weeks in July at Caol, Fort William (pop 3,500). Two local men attended almost every night. One Roman Catholic woman refused to accept that she was a sinner, choosing rather to trust in her ‘baptism’ as an infant. The few children attending the children’s meetings were very enthusiastic – it was a joy to hear them recite their memory verse each night. Several parents came to the prizegiving. The weather was good and over one thousand doors were knocked, resulting in some good discussions. Believers on holiday gave valuable help and support.
Kirkconnel, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire (pop 2,500), had gospel meetings with Dan Gillies. One couple in their early twenties attended virtually every night with their baby. They had never heard the gospel before and have since attended the weekly gospel meeting in Kirkconnel. Please pray for their salvation.
The ‘summer week’ with the children in Edzell Woods, Angus (pop 450), was most encouraging. Despite the daily threat of rain, the weather held, and numbers doubled from last year. Over forty children and teenagers attended with one or two parents. Some of the Luthermuir believers helped. Praise God for the preservation of the tent and caravan throughout the summer and for the many who heard the gospel.
Tract Distribution: Over the summer months many thousands of gospel tracts have been distributed, handed to passersby and put into many homes. Also some believers have taken the opportunity to reach areas where less of this work is done. Among them, and for continued prayer, are the island of Arran in the Clyde, west coast communities around Ullapool, and Speyside around Kingussie, Granton on Spey and further north at Cromdale. We continue to pray that these leaflets will not be discarded but that their message will be heeded and many convicted of their need of Christ as Saviour. Remember too the need for tract distribution in the cities and large towns of our land where so many live and die without Christ – hard work and perseverance is needed to bring the gospel to these communities, some of them beset by social problems and addictions which are difficult to address.
Camps and Clubs: Give thanks for the protection, help and blessing experienced at the many camps for young people held at Faskally House and throughout the country during July and early August. Several children professed faith in Christ, and young believers were challenged to greater commitment to Christ, some going home and being baptized. Pray also that God will bless His word brought to many other children in their own localities at Holiday Clubs arranged by assemblies during different weeks of their summer holidays.
Alan and Ann Stapely are thankful for the Lord’s help and for the prayers and interest of the Lord’s people which have enabled them to continue the extensive work at Faskally House, Pitlochry, as described in the last issue of the magazine. However, they ask readers to note that they are in salaried employment, and any gifts should be made to Faskally Christian Trust.
Scottish Postal Sunday School: The postal work carried on for many years by our late brother Arthur Pollard has now been resumed using material produced each month by Bible Educational Services for the different age groups. The administration is being done by Mrs. Christine Pollard and a few committed sisters, with a network of markers to process the materials each month. Please pray that this work will continue to impact many lives, for the salvation of souls and the spiritual growth of believers.
Update from the Sangkhim Canaan School (SCS)
On 15 August 2008 SCS bought a vacant plot of land, 5.15 hectares. This about the size of six football fields and is able to accommodate the kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. The Lord had led the Board to this plot after viewing many plots and substantial negotiations with the sellers. Land prices in Cambodia are rising very rapidly. The Board managed to get a price below the current market price. A deposit was paid for the land and the balance has to be paid by the middle of November 2008. The Board is looking to the Lord to supply the need.
In the meantime the Board have leased a small property to start the kindergarten. Enrolment of students will start in early 2009. The kindergarten school will commence in this property and God willing it will be used for 3 years until the new school building is built. There is a threeyear construction plan.
Many Christians in Kampong Chnang are glad that a Christian school will be coming to their province. Many are keen to send their children to the school. The Board have interviewed some Christian applicants for teaching posts, a security guard, a cleaner and an administrator for the school. Please continue to pray that the right staff will be found.
Update from the Canaan Technical School (CTS)
Mr. Lay Sothea has been appointed as the Curriculum Manager. He has re-organised the curriculum. He also introduced a new course on Office Skills. It covers practical topics such as how to write a career resume, completing a job application, letter writing skills, telephone skills, time management and workplace protocols.
There are now one hundred and twenty-six students in CTS in the following classes: Computer (twenty-five students), General English (seventy-three students) and Office Skills (twenty-eight students).
From Monday to Thursday about eightythree students will attend the Bible Class taken by Mr. Somon. This lasts for one hour.
Pray for the salvation of these students.
(The following information has been provided by Andrew Griffiths of Eastbourne – Andrew is happy to provide assemblies and individuals with more information if required)
PLACES OF WORSHIP AND CHARITY REGISTRATION
Under the Charities Act 2006, registered places of worship are no longer excluded from the requirement to register as a charity. All such churches will be required to register with the Charity Commission if their annual income exceeds £5,000.
From 1 October 2008, however, only those churches belonging to mainstream denominations (and these would not include assemblies) or those with income in excess of £100,000 per year, are required to register with the Charity Commission. In view of the many applications expected, the Charity Commission is not likely to deal with the initial applications for registration before 2009 at the earliest.
Those assemblies with income under £100,000 per year will not need to consider registration with the Charity Commission until at least 2012. Nearer that time the Charity Commission will issue further guidance.
Where an assembly receives a large gift or legacy causing the annual income to exceed £100,000, it is possible to apply to the Charity Commission for a written determination that registration is not required. In the first instance the Charity Commission will normally only require registration where the income is regularly over £100,000 per year.
Voluntary registration with the Charity Commission is not expected to be generally available until 2010.
Where registration is necessary the appropriate registration forms can be downloaded from the Charity Commission website (www.charity-commission.gov.uk). This website also provides very helpful guidance and answers to frequently asked questions.
All assemblies are required to provide annual accounts and, in due course, these will have to be filed with the Charity Commission. Such accounts may have to be independently examined or audited, the requirements being dependent on the gross income per year:
1. Gross income not exceeding £10,000 per year – no requirement for independent examination or audit.
2. Gross income between £10,000 and £100,000 per year – accounts must be subject to outside scrutiny or independent examination/audit if preferred.
3. Gross income between £100,000 and £250,000 and total assets not exceeding £2.8 million – accounts must be subject to outside scrutiny or independent examination/audit if preferred.
4. Gross income between £250,000 and £500,000 and total assets not exceeding £2.8 million – accounts must be independently examined by a suitably qualified person or audited if preferred.
5. Income in excess of £500,000 or gross assets exceeding £2.8 million and gross income exceeding £100,000 – accounts must be audited by a registered auditor.
Even when assemblies are not registered with the Charity Commission, it is possible for them to register with HM Revenue and Customs and be entitled to Gift Aid benefits. Under Gift Aid £0.28 is repaid to the assembly for every £1.00 donated under the Gift Aid scheme but the donor must certify that he/she is a taxpayer and pays tax equal to the tax recovered by the assembly under Gift Aid – if the donor is not such a taxpayer he/she will have to pay to the Revenue the tax reclaimed by the assembly.
Please note that, whilst the tax is repaid by HM Revenue and Customs, it is only possible because the donor has first paid the tax, i.e., the tax was originally the income of the donor. This is not a question of the Revenue funding assemblies or Christian work.
There are very strict procedures for the operation of Gift Aid schemes but once set up these are not difficult to maintain.
It is also possible for donors to make Gift Aid donations to ‘umbrella organisations’ like Lord’s Work Trust or Echoes of Service, these organisations reclaiming the tax and remitting it to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Reducing Energy Costs – advice and shared experience requested
The believers who meet in the Gospel Hall, John St, Shrewsbury are having a think about how they can save on their fuel bills. They do not have gas on site, and their electric bill was over £1000 last year and for the first quarter this year it was over £500. To have gas mains and a central heating system installed would be prohibitive at the moment.
Enquiries were made about solar power or a wind generator and the assembly are investigating the possibility. There must be many assemblies in a similar position and so the believers in Shewsbury wondered if there any others who have gone down this route.