Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
‘Serve now the Lord’
‘How late is it?’ was the title of a series of ministry meetings at Inverkeithingy Fife, taken by G. Anderson, reminding us that the time for laying up treasure in heaven may be very brief. The reports which follow tell of ways in which some of God’s children are seeking to redeem the time, seeking to make the glory of the Saviour more widely known. May we each be exercised to make sure that we are shouldering our personal responsibility in this matter.
‘Serve Him in sincerity’
In common with many other large towns, Aberdeen has a number of very large post-war housing estates, which constitute a perpetual challenge to the believer who has a desire to herald forth the Gospel. Some of the brethren in that city have used a tent for some ten weeks this summer to reach the large estate at Mastrick, carrying on the work begun last year. An average of three hundred children gathered nightly, some of whom said that they had trusted the Saviour. Of the adults who came from time to time, one man and his wife professed faith in Christ. In order to keep in touch with the younger ones, it is planned to hold three weeknight meetings in schools in the vicinity during the winter.
‘Serve Him with a perfect heart’
There are so many ways in which the younger generation can be contacted and taught the Word of God, yet we are so prone to continue in one path only and never give serious thought to the subject.
The believers who meet at Datchet, Buckinghamshire, were exercised about the possibility of making use of part of the school summer vacation to reach the children in a profitable way. This resulted in a Holiday Bible School being held for 2 1/2 hours each morning for a week in August, any child in the village being free to come. Part of the time the children spent together included a short period of games in the local recreation ground. Most of the time, however, was devoted to Bible instruction, doing both written work on their lessons and handicrafts, for which purposes they were divided into three age groups. The handicrafts were all related to the lessons, the theme for the week being ‘Travel’.
Datchet is but a large village, not a town, yet up to sixty youngsters between the ages of five and twelve became most enthusiastic. Only one third of these attended the assembly Sunday School, this in itself making the effort worth while.
This venture was undertaken with some trepidation, as none of the workers had any previous experience in work of this kind. Real sacrifices in time and money were called for, some giving a week of their annual holiday to this work. All became physically exhausted but were greatly encouraged, learning many useful lessons concerning this type of activity.
To count success in terms of visible results is both misleading and unwise, especially in children’s work, but an impression will have been made on these young lives which will not be effaced easily.
The next school holidays are not far away, and so now is the time to plan for the young ones in your neighbourhood who would welcome such a class.
‘Serve Him in truth’
J. Grant was responsible for the open air work this year in the popular seaside town of Bangor, Co. Down. Whilst this type of work is not easy it is very important, and the following incident, related by a missionary home on furlough, should be an encouragement to all.
Before leaving Belfast for the mission field this missionary had been engaged regularly in open air work. One particular evening it was raining and the party had almost decided not to go out that night. However, seeing a few folk passing by, they decided that if others could venture forth in the rain they could also. Arriving at the place for the meeting there was only one person in sight - a man huddled against the door of a public house. The rain continued while the three young men preached, seeming rather foolish to the thoughts of the natural man. Years later, however, when this missionary was home on furlough, he was stopped on one of the city streets and asked if he was one of those who had preached that night in the rain. The inquirer then said that he was the man who had sheltered in the door and that he had been saved that very night as a result of the preaching.
Such an incident should stimulate all assemblies to be active in open air witness. Believers by the seaside have exceptional opportunities in this sphere, and at Helensburgh such a meeting is held on the promenade each Lord’s Day. Attendances were very good this year, many joining in the hymn singing and listening to the message.
‘Serve Him only’
The closing night of the Ayrshire tent campaign at Newmilns was a memorable occasion. One backslider sought restoration, one person professed to trust the Saviour whilst a third revealed that she had been saved earlier in the campaign.
The tent was then moved to Monkton, R. Walker again being responsible. Although the villagers were very friendly to the evangelist as he called on them in their homes, it was only during the last fortnight that they came to the tent in goodly numbers.
At a time when some believers question the value of tent work, those in Ayrshire rejoice that over the years there have been small but steady additions to the assemblies resulting from this activity. This may be due to the fact that the various assemblies in the county take an active part in the work, sharing the responsibility for the open air testimony. The result is that a place like Monkton, where there is no assembly, has been thoroughly evangelised this summer and at the same time a good nucleus has been provided for the tent meeting, enabling strangers to attend without feeling conspicuous.
The Fifeshire tent was damaged by high gales during the earlier part of the year, so the later meetings were held in Blairhall Gospel Hall. An interest was aroused in the village and attendances were good right from the start. A few professed faith in the Lord Jesus, and it is hoped that some will be added to the assembly as a result. Here again young folk from the surrounding assemblies gave good support to the meetings.
‘Serve Him with all your heart’
We make no apology for stressing once again the great need for consecutive Bible instruction. The assemblies in the Swansea district arranged a week of united ministry meetings in George Street Hall when J. Hunter took as his subject the life of Jacob. Night after night the hall was filled and all were encouraged to see young men and women showing a real thirst for the Word.
‘Serve the Lord with fear’
A small band of workers took the North West London Mobile Unit to the Barnstaple area of Devon for a fortnight in August. Visits were made to about a dozen villages and hamlets besides the towns of Barnstaple and Bideford. In the main, good attention was given to the spoken word, both by adults and young people. Many openings occurred for personal work during the door-to-door visiting, while at Woolacombe believers on holiday joined in the testimony in the open air. Considerable quantities of gospel literature were distributed, and it is trusted that these will counteract the false notions so keenly propagated by various cults and lead the readers to a true knowledge of the Saviour.
‘Serve the Lord with gladness’
We have referred in the last two issues to the special Gospel Literature effort made in Eire this summer. For the last two weeks a team of brethren was in Co. Waterford; they were able to hold open-air meetings on the promenade at Tramore each evening after visiting the adjacent countryside during the day. An unusual number of personal talks were held during and after these meetings, some young men showing themselves very ready for discussion and asking many thoughtful questions.
The response to the summer’s work has been encouraging, especially in the west. Gaelic scriptures were sold in the Irish speaking areas, and even the most isolated parts received a call - some islands were reached on foot at low tide.
It is hoped, if the Lord will, to arrange a similar campaign next summer. Now is the time for young brethren to give this important matter serious consideration as to whether their Master would have them assist in this effort to spread His fame abroad.
‘Serve Him and cleave unto Him’
Taking the Gospel from door to door is still the only way of ensuring that all the inhabitants of any given area are brought face to face both with the claims of a holy God and with the full provision that has been made in the person of the Saviour. A. Glass has continued this work in Eire, visiting many lonely islands off the west coast. In the north of Scotland the whole of Caithness and part of Sutherland have been covered by W. Mclnroy during the last few years. In between these extremes there are large areas where the news of the Gospel is not heard, where souls are waiting for some believer to hear the call.
The summer of 1963 saw R. Clayton pitch a tent at Downham Market, Norfolk, and spend his time proclaiming the Gospel of the glory of Christ. Supported at various times by other brethren he had the joy of seeing both young and old confess faith in the Saviour. He then acquired a large furniture removal van and during last winter converted it into a mobile mission hall, which, with seating for thirty, has on occasions held over forty. Visits this summer have been made to Broughton in Huntingdonshire, Downham Market, Cranworth, Foxley, and Bawdeswell, all in Norfolk. Blessing has again been seen among different age groups, and it is planned to continue using the hall during the winter months. There is surely scope for such mobile halls in many other parts of the country.
In Co. Donegal believers from Strabane have assisted S. Lewis in holding meetings in a barn in a lonely and backward district. They have been encouraged by the number of unsaved attending, particularly on the Lord’s Day evenings. Attendances on past occasions had not been favourable, but this response has led to the possibility of the portable hall being erected there for further meetings.
‘Him only shalt thou serve’
The number of assemblies in different counties varies considerably. Lanarkshire is particularly favoured as there are some sixty-six within its borders. Yet even in this shire there are scores of villages where there is no testimony and the Gospel van is used to take the message of salvation to these unreached parts. D. Cameron was in charge this summer when some fifty-one villages were visited. Great help and encouragement was given to the evangelist by the many brethren and sisters who came by car to the various centres. Much interest was shown but the presence of the enemy of souls was experienced.
‘With good will doing service’
An energetic work has been carried on from the assembly meeting at Merrion Hall, Dublin, for some twelve months past whereby every home in about nineteen counties in Eire has been circulated by post with Gospel literature together with a reply card which entitles the applicant to free copies of the Scriptures. Envelopes for this great task are addressed by believers in various parts of Great Britain and Ireland, and great encouragement has been given through the contacts made.
‘Go ye, serve the Lord’
Summer camps have again proved to be a time of reaping among young ones who come regularly under the sound of the Gospel during the remainder of the year.
The Fife Assemblies Bible Class Camp was held at Blairgowrie, and the majority of the 160 campers were unsaved. The preaching of the Gospel each evening resulted in the salvation of a dozen or more of these young folk, while ministry each morning on the Philippian Epistle proved a help to the young believers present. On the Lord’s Day evenings the town hall was hired for a Gospel meeting. While only a handful of local people came, one of them was a businessman who was so much impressed that on three evenings he came to the Gospel meeting in the camp. He was left under a deep conviction of sin.
The assemblies in the West Country held three camps. Among the boys at Polzeath it was noteworthy how the testimonies of the tent leaders proved an effective witness to this year’s campers. In the girls’ camp at Ilfracombe it was especially pleasing to note the way in which the Christian girls responded to the ministry of the Word.
As the centres of so many towns are being redeveloped, so the sites for the erection of tents disappear. The opportunity was taken in Belfast of using such a site for the last time, and for seven weeks H. S. Paisley preached to a large congregation, for on many nights the tent was filled to capacity. Unsaved people from all walks of life attended and over twenty professed to have trusted in the Saviour.
‘Fervent in spirit’
In an attempt to meet the needs of young believers during the summer months a special Summer Youth Rally was held at Olivet Hall, Falkirk, at 4.30 p.m. one Saturday afternoon. An address on evangelism was followed by tea and a time of helpful discussion on this subject. Afterwards an open air testimony was held in the market place where there was a fine hearing. This profitable way of spending a Saturday was felt to have met with a very favourable reception.
‘Serving the Lord’
H. Burness spent the whole summer in holding tent meetings in the Aberdeenshire village of Mintlaw, where there is a small assembly. Despite many visits to the homes the work has been very hard, the people being very reticent about anything outside of the ‘Auld Kirk’, although the majority of them rarely pass through its doors. He was able to evangelise many of the neighbouring villages, being assisted by bands of young men from the assembly at Peterhead.
The North Staffordshire Tent was pitched in a public park at Kidsgrove for part of the summer and good numbers of young folk came nightly for five weeks. Several of the older ones among them professed faith in the Lord Jesus. At different times there were more than fifty unsaved folk present, and there were many openings for the evangelists to read the Word and pray in various homes.
In Devon there was a time of real encouragement for D. Pierce in the village of Coleford. More than once the tent proved to be too small for the congregation, as good numbers of local residents came. One man took a definite stand for the Lord and is steadily progressing spiritually. Not far from this village, at Crediton, the evangelist was able to address five hundred teenagers in a secondary modern school.