Gospel Work and other Activities
Stephen Baker, Manchester
ENGLAND: MIDLANDS AND SOUTH
Cheltenham and Gloucester
The believers in Cheltenham and Gloucester report that their winter series of Saturday rallies were really encouraging. Excellent ministry was given by all the speakers during the session and the numbers present at the meetings exceeded previous years. The Bible Teaching Conference in October and the Missionary Conference in January reflected an exceptional interest from the local believers.
The second Combined Cheltenham and Gloucester Easter Conference was very well attended. It showed that when everything is geared towards the edifying of the saints and the glory of the Lord the result is that the believers’ hearts are gladdened and their spirits raised to go forward in the work of the Lord. This is encouraging as New Testament church testimony is weak in Gloucestershire.
The organizers of the conferences and meetings would like to thank all the believers who attended from many areas surrounding Gloucestershire for their support and fellowship during the year. They look forward to renewing fellowship during the 2009/10 series of Saturday meetings and conferences, in the will of God.
London Young People’s Day
London Young People’s Day was intended as an annual event when it was inaugurated at Bermondsey Gospel Hall in October 2008. Positive feedback saw the second event being held just six months later, in April 2009. It is a whole day of very practical Bible teaching arranged for young people by young people. At the latest event John Salisbury of Northampton used the Epistle of James to explore handling temptation, knowing God’s will and effective prayer. The event drew over one hundred and twenty young people from across the south of England. Many who attended the previous event brought new folk along. As the Gospel Hall only has one hundred chairs, the conveners are considering a larger venue if the event continues to flourish.
During the free time in the afternoon, the young folk people took advantage of a two-hour sightseeing trip that had been arranged on a chartered opentopped bus around central London in glorious sunshine. A good time of fellowship was deeply appreciated.
Recordings of the event are available on the web site www.bermondseygospel- hall.org.uk under April 2009 LYPD on the audio page.
Spencer Bridge Road, Northampton
At the beginning of March, the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition returned to Spencer Bridge Road Gospel Hall, Northampton, for its sixth visit. The visit had been eagerly anticipated by the many schools who had expressed interest in attending. As early as the previous December one school had even arranged its own transport to ensure their children could attend.
Over one thousand children were conducted around the displays and as always gave their full attention to the presentation of the gospel message. This year more of the teachers and helpers, sixty or so, went around with the groups. It would be interesting to ask how many weeks it would take your assembly to reach that many people with the gospel! As always, the teachers were impressed with what the children had learned in such a short time, based on the enthusiastic responses to the quiz.
BBC Radio Northampton covered the event again, this time coming to visit it and were given the opportunity of interviewing a local headmistress who was extremely positive about the exhibition ‘experience’.
The number of visitors coming in ‘off the street’ was disappointing but there were some pleasant surprises in store. A pastor from a Pentecostal fellowship phoned to ask if he could bring a children’s group to see the exhibition. His daughter had visited with her school and enthused about it so much that he had been persuaded to arrange the visit. They came, and the next day he phoned again to ask if his congregation could visit, which they did. Their warmth and appreciation for the exhibition were a real encouragement. Members from another Pentecostal fellowship came, one young lady more than once, expressing great interest in the displays. During the visits of both these groups the opportunity was taken in various conversations to ‘teach the way of God more perfectly’.
PLEASE PRAY for all who attended and for the organizers of the exhibition that they may be given health and strength to continue in this great service for God’s people.
For two weeks at the end of April/beginning of May special children’s meetings were held with David Raggett as the speaker. Invitations were distributed around the doors and via the schools in the locality and several prayer meetings held to pray for the meetings and the children who would attend.
Although numbers are not the biggest issue, the response to the invitations was disappointing. The few new children who came did so mainly as a result of word of mouth invites from friends. Some twenty or so children and teenagers attended each evening. Their behaviour was very good and they paid attention as the gospel message was faithfully presented. David showed great enthusiasm and stamina over the seventy-five minutes of the meeting. The children learned a gospel verse and gospel facts each evening and these were well remembered at the parents’ evening at the end of the event. Numbers of parents attending the evening were disappointing, maybe reflecting ‘the spirit of the age’ with little interest in spiritual matters concerning themselves or their children.
On the Saturday evening a ‘Teen Night’ was organized which allowed time for activities, food and a gospel message. Attendance here was encouraging, especially as this was a relatively new venture for the assembly and this will be repeated in the future. Please pray for the seed sown in these young hearts.
For over four years the assembly at Harrogate has annually hosted two or three Bible study days per year, specifically aimed at younger believers (although older saints are very welcome!). The average attendance of young folk has been eighty to ninety with approx three hundred to three hundred and fifty attending overall. A number of brethren have kindly given their time on a Saturday to speak. They covered a range of subjects which were particularly aimed at stimulating and challenging younger Christians. The most recent one was held on 30th May when Brian Dunning took three sessions on ’The Reliability of Scripture’, giving sound advice on defending the authority of the Bible to unbelieving friends. The aim of the day was not only to give appropriate Bible teaching but to encourage fellowship between young believers, some of whom may come from small assem-blies and may not have opportunities to meet regularly with other Christians. Thanks must also be given to brethren and sisters from various parts who have made great efforts in providing transport, as well as to the saints in Harrogate for providing the catering (nobody needs to go away hungry!). The next day planned is 31st October 2009 and if anyone is interested in details contact Paul Richardson at Richardson.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schools in Manchester area
David Raggett continues to get real encouragement from having so many opportunities to spread the good seed of the gospel in schools. There was tremendous interest in the run-up to Easter with Easter assemblies and workshops. Since last September, David has been teaching foundational, and vital, teaching on ‘Creation’ in school assemblies – up to eighteen lessons in all – and these will continue to the end of July, God willing. This has been a real opportunity especially with all that has been presented in the media and still is being propounded, regarding Darwin and evolutionism! Please pray that the teaching that has been given - the good seed of the word of God - will be remembered and blessed of the Lord in days to come. Several teachers have also been challenged; and we look to the Lord to continue to speak to them in His grace and power and to bring them to Himself, as only He can.
In June, David ran two weeks of full days with his Bible Exhibition in various schools. Years five and six each visited the exhibition for a full day. That equalled about five hours of so of teaching on the importance, message and relevance of the Bible; it was a great opportunity. The children are always very attentive and interested and each child received a gospel booklet at the end to take home, and many do read them. Please pray that there will be a harvest for the Lord’s glory as a result of the sowing of the seed in this way.
The Christians from Bakewell Gospel Hall and the surrounding fellowships would value your prayers for the planned outreach at the Bakewell Show in August. This will be the thirtieth year of outreach where people are offered refreshments and free literature about Christianity, including promotional leaflets for the Postal Bible School. In past years this has been a great way of contacting many of the visitors to the show. The local saints hope that this August many more will stop to chat, take literature and Bibles, and, ultimately, be saved.
Mayfield Gospel Hall
At the end of April and the beginning of May, Ainslie Patterson and Leslie Craig shared in four weeks of gospel work in fellowship with the assembly in Mayfield. The first week was aimed at children and it was encouraging, not only to see a good number coming along, but also the good attention given to the word of God. Over the three weeks that followed the preachers and the local saints were delighted to see a good number of unbelievers coming under the sound of the gospel. After listening to the gospel being preached and then speaking with some of the believers, one young man in his thirties later confessed that he had trusted the Lord as he returned home. In spite of the general apathy and disinterest that Ainslie and Leslie met as they visited people at their homes they were encouraged to have the opportunity to engage in a few good conversations. Please continue to pray that the seed sown through the efforts of the assembly will eventually bear much fruit to the glory of God.
The assembly at Culloden, near Inverness, arranged a special Gospel Weekend at the end of March 2009. Stephen Clegg, from Killamarsh, spoke on ‘God’s Power in Prison’. He preached the gospel using stories of real-life conversions to illustrate how God saves and changes lives. It was encouraging to see a number of visitors from the locality attending. The climax of the weekend was a special meeting in the community centre in the village of Avoch, on the Black Isle, north of Inverness.
In May 2009, the Celt Street assembly in Inverness arranged a Creation Conference with Ian Campbell of Newcastle. A testimony and report meeting was held on Friday evening, then on Saturday, in four shorter sessions, Ian explored creation themes, and used digital projector slides very effectively. Again, the second part of the last session ‘Fearfully and Wonderfully Made’ was held in the Avoch community centre on Lord’s Day evening.
On both occasions in Avoch, around twenty visitors from the village were present. For some time the small assembly there has held similar special meetings periodically and the response from the local community has been excellent. The believers in Avoch appreciate the support they receive from neighbouring assemblies. Further meetings are planned and prayer would be appreciated for this form of outreach, and for the work done in Inverness and Culloden.
Wendell Webb of Cork writes to thank believers for prayer fellowship with him in the work for the Lord in Armenia. He says, that it is deeply appreciated by him and by the saints in Armenia. The work is expanding in Armenia but life is most difficult for the saints because of the effect of the world economic crisis. Unemployment is a big problem amongst the believers. In the countryside the unemployment rate is about eighty percent, and somewhat less in the cities. There is no state aid so the saints depend on their families working abroad either in Russia or the USA and on the little help received from the local believers. The practical fellowship of saints in the UK is therefore most helpful.
There has been great progress in the work even since Wendell’s last visit in November/December 2008. There are currently two assemblies – one in Yerevan, the capital, and the other in Gyumri, the second city. Both assemblies have an outreach work. The brethren have for the past three years travelled from Yerevan to a little village called Dvin (a distance of forty kilometres) to preach the gospel in a house which has been made available for this work. Since then, about twenty-eight folk have been saved and most attend the two meetings held each week, i.e., the Lord’s Day and the mid-week meeting on Wednesday.
A few weeks ago, while visiting in the village, Wendell went into a home in which there was a young widow of about twenty-four years of age waniting to speak about getting saved, Having heard the gospel just recently, God’s way of salvation was further explained to her and she immediately repented of her sin. Wendell and the local saints ‘went on their way rejoicing’. When they next met her she too was rejoicing in the Lord. Do pray for this girl; her name is Eveta.
A sum of money has been paid as a deposit on an unfinished house in the village to secure a dedicated property for the purpose of gospel outreach. As the work is expanding with more attending the meetings, it was thought better to have a separate building, and hopefully one day soon an assembly will be established. Do pray for two brethren who are showing leadership qualities; one called Yasha and the other called Argam, that they will be preserved. Unemployment is a big problem and with no income these men are tempted to go to Russia to earn a living. That creates its own problems as work there is also hard to find. Wendell believes that Satan wants them out of the village as it is obvious the Lord has His hand upon these brethren and the area in which they live.
Toros Pilibosian is the only assembly missionary in Armenia. He is currently busy translating two books, one entitled Assembly Gatherings and the other, by John Ritchie, The Second coming of our Lord Jesus. These should be a good help and will add to the small number of books available in the Armenian language which are suitable for the saints.
The intention (God willing) in Gyumri is to build a small ‘centre’ to replace the ‘soup kitchen’ where gospel meetings are held every Friday. Wendell was there to preach the gospel on April 3rd 2009 and he was thrilled to have almost thirty unsaved people present; this is the case each week. This outreach from the assembly commenced six years ago, and some of those saved are now in assembly fellowship. The giving of the free soup finished about six months ago but the people still come to hear the gospel! It proves they were not just coming for the food! This ‘soup kitchen’ was operated by an NGO, but they have now left and allowed the meetings to continue. The local saints hope to recommence the ‘soup kitchen’ in the new building, if the Lord will, as the present building will not be available much longer.
It is encouraging to see a good number of young people coming to the meetings. There is a young man called Hrach who was saved about two years ago in the meetings held by the Yerevan assembly. He is going through a difficult time since he commenced university. Please pray that he will be preserved, as he showed good promise and there is great potential in this young life. Pray for Christig in Gyumri. She had been attracted to the things of the world and left the meeting in 2007 but is now coming back to all the meetings, and bringing her unsaved father with her. Her mother was saved and has been in fellowship for the last three years.
Wendell writes, ‘Again, sincere thanks for your love and fellowship with me in the gospel; the Lord has given me a love for the people in Armenia’. I do appreciate the fellowship of the Lord’s people with me in this exercise. I came home very much encouraged, yet with burdens for the saints and the work there, so much to give thanks to the Lord for and to continue to pray for’.
Franklin McIlroy from Bostwana writes, ‘It is hard to believe we are almost half way through 2009! The winter is now here and although during the day it is still very pleasant (can be up to 30 degrees), the evenings are much cooler. The rainy season is over, so it will probably be October before we see any more rain. The grass is dying off, so there is plenty of dust around.
The gospel meetings continue twice weekly at Leina Hall and are well supported by the local believers. We have tracted the area quite a number of times with invitations but not many come to hear the word of God. We have been encouraged as over the past three to four weeks a group of about six to eight teenage boys have come (usually arriving half-way through the meeting) from around the Hall and so we pray that what they have heard may be used of the Spirit to work in their hearts. Remember Mothusi and especially Kedibonye in your prayers; they lived opposite our old house last year. They came to the meeting in December for the first time. Since then, usually they come on a Sunday morning and also on a Tuesday night. One Lord’s Day at Leina Hall, I was preaching on ‘Saved’ and from the platform I noticed the lady, Kedibonye, was disturbed a little. The following Lord’s Day as I was preaching, again I could see a couple of times that tears had filled her eyes and so I would ask you to earnestly pray for her that the Spirit of God will convict her of her sin and that she may not rest until she finds true peace in Christ. The other couple of neighbours come quite often and there are usually a few teenagers who also come each Tuesday evening. The Saturday morning children’s meeting continues each week with around one hundred and fifty to two hundred coming, ranging from the age of four to thirteen years old.
At the other Hall, at Malela Ward in Serowe, there are a number of unsaved who come every Lord’s Day to the gospel meeting including the mother of a teenage boy who professed salvation last year and the mother of the girl, Ofentse, who trusted Christ in April this year. There are also two ladies in their twenties who are studying in the teaching college and they come almost every Lord’s Day while they are at college. Others come now and again and we are thankful that people still come want to hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Adult men don’t often frequent the Hall to hear the gospel and so to see a man coming to the meeting is encouraging. At Easter we had our annual conference in Serowe in the tent and two brethren from Scotland, Bill Stevely and Ian Grant, were with us for the ministry of the word. The picture on page 28 shows the gospel meeting on the Lord’s Day morning when around four hundred and fifty people were present. Quite a few of unsaved attended, including an older man who brought seven of his friends. We trust that the Lord will continue to bless His word to all who were present.
I continue to speak on a regular basis in the gospel in Setswana although I certainly feel my limitations. Each message is prepared on paper before being checked over. Although I can speak a little in the gospel in Setswana, I have a long way to go before being confident in the language. At the moment, it is still very difficult to understand even a little of what a local brother is saying when he is preaching the gospel in Setswana. I value your prayers as I try to make progress in this. This picture shows some of the teenagers who regularly attend the gospel meeting (Bible class) on a Lord’s Day afternoon at 4 pm. It was a joy to hear of two teenage girls professing faith in our Lord Jesus Christ earlier this year. Each week, I continue to preach at four of the secondary schools in Serowe. As full assemblies are held only on Mondays and Fridays, this limits the number of schools we can attend. Although peaking time is limited to five minutes, we are thankful for this opportunity to tell them about the word of God and the way of salvation. Along with about two thousand teenagers, around one hundred and twenty teachers listen to the message being preached. I have also preached at the senior secondary school in Serowe where there are another two thousand four hundred teenagers aged sixteen to eighteen. However, because of the problem of time, I have had to leave this for a while. Please pray that the door may open to perhaps go on a monthly basis to preach the gospel at that school as around one hundred and fifty teachers also heard the gospel each week.
Each Friday morning I visit the local hospital to distribute tracts to the outpatients and also around the wards. Last week, around six hundred people received a tract in Setswana and also in English (some of the staff, along with Zimbabweans, cannot read Setswana and many of the locals prefer to read English rather than Setswana). It is a real joy to see so many reading the tracts as they wait to see the doctor. One lady who has a food stall outside the front door of the hospital told me last week that she really enjoys reading the tracts each week. Another member of staff had requested a Bible and when I gave her a Setswana New Testament, she kissed it and danced with joy. Please pray that the written word of God may bear much fruit.
The printing of literature continues with around one hundred and twenty thousand tracts printed this year. We have now managed to print all the gospel tracts in two colours of ink rather than one colour as was done previously. We are in the process of putting all the tracts onto a computer template for printing rather than printing from a master photocopy. We have just completed the typesetting for the booklet Vital Questions by Clifford Law, both in English and Setswana, and hope to have them printed in full colour in Gaborone, the capital, in the next couple of weeks. We plan to print at least ten thousand copies for gospel outreach distribution. We also have managed to have printed a large selection of fullcolour gospel texts both in Setswana and English in A4-A6 sizes which will be available for Sunday school work, Postal Bible lesson work, etc. The Postal Bible lessons continue to be sent out all over Botswana with many young and older people learning about the word of God and the way of salvation. Last week, I noticed a lesson which had come from a village about six hundred kilometres from Serowe. We look to the Lord to bless the sowing of the seed.
Our children, Joshua, Bethany, James and Matthew have settled well in Botswana. Joshua and Bethany have recommenced at the International School near Palapye (forty-five kilometres away). At the beginning of this year, Jenny commenced teaching Joshua, Bethany and James in English during Sunday School in English because they are not picking up the language. Another Zimbabwean girl who doesn’t understand Setswana has joined the class. Please continue to pray for our children as they are not able to understand anything in the gospel meetings each week and we are very conscious of this.
We take this opportunity to thank all who have remembered us in prayer. We value this, and appreciate your interest for us in the work of the Lord here in Botswana. May the Lord richly bless and keep you until He comes’.