Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
We would express our thanks to those brethren who collect the reports that appear in this section. At the same time readers are reminded that the Lord's servants who are referred to are in no way responsible to the Committee of Precious Seed; also that the inclusion of any particular item is not to be taken as necessarily indicating that the Committee recommends adoption of the methods employed.
On Bank Holiday Monday in September a company of nearly three hundred gathered at Pamber Heath, Hampshire, to listen to the ministry of the Word by J. Burns and G. Harrison. Both spoke from the letters to Timothy, dealing both with the personal life of the believer and with the truth of gathering to the Name of the Lord. The presence of so many young believers emphasises the need to cater for the spiritual needs of the Lord's people on the occasion of public holidays.
Open air witness is one of the means that are available to reach folk with the Gospel whether they come to indoor meetings or not.
In the city of Aberdeen such a testimony has been maintained on the main street on Saturday evenings, and interesting contacts have been made among the many who have listened. In the Torry district similar meetings have been held on Lord's Day evenings on a new housing estate. In Dumfriesshire believers from Lockerbie have held good midweek meetings in outlying villages, and the best times for years were had on the esplanade at Helensburgh. One young brother preached on the same street where he was saved two years ago. Whitecrook in Clydebank was visited twice, the first time for years, and the attention was good.
At Babbacombe, Devon, believers were able to preach on the downs for one hour on Lord's Day evenings, and during the good weather many stood and listened.
Is there an open-air witness in your locality?
North-East Scotland. The summer months were well occupied as in several parts efforts were made to reach the unsaved.
H. Burness had two pitches with his tent; the first part of the season was spent at Alford and the latter at Kemnay, and at both the children's work was encouraging but not much interest was shown by the adults. Aberdeenshire has many such places inland where the Gospel is seldom preached.
In the neighbouring county of Kincardine there is only one small assembly, that at Inverbervie. Two brethren from Aberdeen, E. Taylor and A. Little, gave help during a fortnight in September, the former being responsible for the work among the young and the latter seeking to reach the adults. In Banff, the third county of this area, S. Stewart and J. Gordon spent many weeks at Findochty. The interest was good and they met with a ready response, some blessing being seen.
Southern Scotland. The Ayrshire tent remained at Tarbolton for the second half of the season, interest remaining good. On the last night three women and one man trusted the Saviour, and the Lord's Day after the tent was dismantled two teenagers took the same step.
C. Barwick and J. Ritchie continued with a portable hall at Eastriggs, Dumfriesshire, for several weeks. Interest increased and it pleased the Lord to save at least three souls, and in addition the work among the young was most encouraging.
The summer work finished in Wigtownshire in August, and some interesting open air services were held, a good hearing being obtained in Leswalt. The evangelist, J. Burns, was well received at the doors, and also had the joy of seeing many openly listen as the Gospel was told forth in the open air.
In Lanarkshire the work carried on for over 60 years in a tent is now undertaken in a comfortable portable hall seating upwards of 120. While every facility is provided it does not lend itself to being erected easily and readily, and should not be shifted more than twice a year.
This year the work started in a village where there has been an assembly for over a century, but owing to the closure of coal mines in the area the company has been reduced in number. There were good attendances of unsaved and two young women professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The hall was then moved to a needy area of Wishaw and five of the assemblies in the district had fellowship in supporting the evangelist, R. Walker. One young man and a number of children made professions of faith. Work has continued in the Gospel on Lord's Day evenings, one local assembly being responsible. Children's meetings are held twice weekly.
Staffordshire. Considerable difficulty was experienced in finding a site for the county tent in Stoke. The use of a car park was obtained eventually for the period of the works holiday, but this was only the central fortnight of the month originally planned. One week was therefore given over to visitation and the week after the campaign some meetings for children were held in the Gospel Hall in Stoke. This latter effort introduced quite a number to the hall and some have continued at the Sunday School. At Clayton the site was good, well situated among many houses.
Some opposition was encountered in the tracting as well as some good reception, but in general there was apathy. Nor was it possible to carry out as much door to door work as desired because of the shortage of workers. Attendances of young folk were fair, it being apparent that there was an extreme ignorance of the Word of God.
C. Goldfinch was able to make a large number of contacts in both areas, but numbers inside the tent were not large. Nevertheless on every occasion except one there were unsaved present. A middle aged man attended almost every night at Clayton, and an older man did the same at Stoke.
Republic of Ireland. J. Tait and D. Stevens were able to take the literature trailer to many cattle fairs and, although the sales were not big, the display provoked many conversations. Last May they moved to Co. Leix and were able to give help in the small assembly at Portarlington.
A. Barker arrived in Sligo last March having been commended from Essex. So far the work has been very much a matter of consolidating, gaining the confidence of the few believers in the area and attempting to lead them along in respect to church truth. There is a maintained interest in the Bible Readings and Gospel meetings held on alternate Lord's Days, and there are indications that there is a desire amongst some to see a local testimony functioning in the locality. Some time ago he was put into touch with a 19 year old youth who had been saved through hearing Gospel broadcasts. Although he lives 10 miles away he is collected and taken to the meetings, always accompanied by either his mother or uncle, both of whom are unsaved.
Camps. During the past summer to an increasing extent hundreds of young people have been to camp in south-west England, not only from local counties but from as far away as the South-East and the Midlands. Camp frequently proves to be the climax of the year's work and is a fruitful source of conversions. We do well to remember those who return to homes where no sympathy exists for the cause of Christ. Cases are known where young folk are forbidden to resume attendance at assembly meetings and where some have been met with a blank refusal when asking to be baptised. We may be encouraged as to the keeping power of our Saviour when we remember that some who today assist in camp work were themselves won for the Saviour in similar summer ventures.
As an example of camp work in the north, Port Glasgow camp was held at Perth, with two ex-missionaries responsible for the spiritual side of the holiday. Over twenty youngsters brought their problems to these brethren, some concerned with their soul's salvation, others with various spiritual problems.
Personal work. Each of us needs to be reminded of our responsibility towards those among whom we spend a large part of our days. The following report should serve this purpose.
Almost ten years ago a brother was sent to a hospital in Eire for treatment following a temporary loss of memory. Part of his treatment was occupational therapy, the making of various kinds of articles, and he concentrated on cane work. He began to instruct other patients in the making of various types of baskets, etc., and on discharge from the hospital agreed to continue there as a voluntary instructor. This has provided many opportunities for talking to individual patients on spiritual matters and for the distribution of Gospel literature. An invitation was received to visit a convent and instruct the nuns in cane work, and not only was literature taken but he was invited to return and tell them of his conversion. By such means he has been able to present the Saviour to persons of all classesj professions and religious persuasions.
Northern Ireland. T. Rea, who was for many years a missionary in Central Africa, and R. L. Jordan had special Gospel meetings in a tent pitched in a rural district of Co. Down called Woodgrange. They continued nightly for five weeks and a number of the local folk showed interest and attended regularly as well as believers from assemblies some miles away. While no professions of salvation were made known, it was felt that God had spoken;
T. McKelevy has on several occasions visited the assembly meeting at Mullafernaghan in the same county and seen the hand of God made manifest. On his last visit he was accompanied by J. G. Hutchinson and they continued together for almost ten weeks of Gospel preaching in the hall in this country district. It proved to be a time of further blessing and God worked to the salvation of quite a number, among them several young men and women who had been long prayed for. The assembly was much encouraged; moreover the "branches ran over the wall", as was recorded of Joseph, and some who came from a distance also told of being saved at these meetings.
From an assembly point of view Gospel work in the little town of Gilford, Co. Armagh, has been most difficult over the years. Despite this A. McShane and N. Turkington pitched a tent mere and told forth the Gospel. Yet once again the local folk showed little interest although a number heard the way of salvation.
In the same county W. Nesbitt and D. Cane held tent meetings near to Markethill. Here again the work was difficult although attendances were quite good.
J. G. Hutchinsbri had a week of well attended ministry meetings in Limavady taking up some of the characters in the Old Testament.