Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
“Stir up the gift of God”
These reports are not intended simply to provide interesting reading, but to stimulate prayer and exercise as to our individual responsibility to make known the news of a Saviour. Time quickly passes, for it only seems a little while since we were reporting on the work done last summer. Now is the time to be planning for the coming summer - the time is short.
The work of the Spirit
We do well to remind ourselves that the work of salvation is a divine work, and that while it pleases God to use men and women as channels this is not a necessity. Evidence that the Holy Spirit is still working in the hearts of men without human aid has been experienced in the small assembly of believers which meets in the Causeway Chapel, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.
A young Irish bus driver, who left his Christian home in Belfast about five years ago, became concerned with the realities of eternal life in October last. He besought God that His Spirit would not cease to strive with him, yet nothing seemed to happen for about two months during which he read the book, “The Shadow of the Almighty”, borrowed from a local library. Then at the beginning of December, whilst driving a bus, he meditated on some of the Scriptures he had learnt in days gone by, and as he pondered over John 5. 24 light dawned and he was saved.
The following Lord’s Day he visited the assembly and a week later asked to be baptized. This led the way for other young people and the assembly rejoiced to see six of these obeying their Lord in baptism. Two were teenage girls from the Sunday School, the others being children of believers who had been hesitating for some time over this step. The hall was well filled on the occasion of the baptismal service, the many unsaved present including the wife and mother-in-law of the bus driver.
The blessing that this assembly has received should encourage all those who seek to teach and distribute the pure Word of God. It is also a fitting moment to ask all readers if they are the possessors of eternal life through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as their own Saviour.
To obey their Lord in passing through the waters of baptism is a privilege granted to all believers. The assembly at Bethesda Hall, Whitchurch., Cardiff, had the joy of baptising seven young people and receiving them into fellowship, in addition to one young man who came from a neighbouring assembly. All these were either children of parents in fellowship or scholars from the Sunday School. One young sister had been the subject of much prayer as her parents had for some time refused to allow her to be baptised. When asked what she would like for her birthday she repeated her request and this time permission was granted. Things are certainly changed by prayer.
Have all our readers who know the forgiveness of their sins obeyed their Saviour by being baptised? As is often said, ah unbaptised believer is not contemplated in the New Testament.
Gospel efforts in Northern Ireland
The result of persistent prayer was also evident during a spell of Gospel meetings held by the assembly at Ahorey, near the town of Portadown, Co. Armagh. Believers were much encouraged at the interest that was shown from start to finish as the Gospel was told forth by D. Craig and R. Jordan. A number professed faith in the Lord Jesus including three members of one family.
The first special Gospel meetings for many years were held by the little country assembly at Lisacrin, Co. Derry, the responsibility being undertaken by J. Martin and T. McNeill. Believers from other small assemblies in the area took a good interest and the hall was well filled nightly for over three months. God was pleased to bless the preaching of the Word and there were professions of faith in the Lord Jesus, including some who had no previous connection with the assembly.
Support from neighbouring assemblies was also forthcoming during meetings held by T. McKelvey and J. Brown at Crosskeys, Co. Antrim. During the course of several weeks a number spoke of accepting the Saviour, including one man who was well over seventy years of age.
A children’s meeting in Cardiff
Declining numbers at children’s meetings are often treated as inevitable. This is not the right approach, as was proved at Llandaff North, Cardiff, where the weeknight meeting for the younger ones had declined until only about twelve children were attending. This was the cause of much concern, and after bringing the matter before the Lord the younger brethren and sisters made an all-out effort to bring the children in. A list was prepared of all the schools in the area of the hall and bold, attractive invitation cards were printed. The young people were divided into groups of two or three, and each group was allotted a school. Standing at the school gates at the end of afternoon school the invitations were handed out as the children went home. The result was that about sixty children came to the following meeting. That was in October last, and two months later that number had more than doubled. The hall is now full to capacity every week and there have been a number of professions of salvation.
Recently a married couple in the Lord moved from Lancashire to the little Shetland Island of Brissay, just across the harbour from Lerwick. Although they had only been saved for about three years they had a deep exercise concerning the need for a Gospel testimony on the isle, which had known no such witness for many years. The use of the village hall was obtained on alternate Lord’s Day evenings for an afterchurch service and the attendance and interest shown have been most encouraging. With such an example how do we stand as regards the needs of the area in which we live? The fact that there is no Gospel hall to which we can invite folk does not excuse us from evangelical effort.
The possibility of cottage meetings should not be overlooked. The areas outwith Lerwick are served with the Gospel in this way, and on the West Mainland well attended meetings have been held by L. Randall. People who live at a distance from a hall often take advantage of such gatherings to hear the Word of God ministered.
Seasonal meetings in Burnbank
The old fashioned Sunday School soiree is still proving very popular and many reports tell of the parents being present as well as younger ones and so hearing the Gospel once a year. In Burnbank, Lanarkshire, there were parents unto the third and fourth generations, who, although happy to send their children to Sunday School, are not themselves normally found under the sound of the Gospel.
The younger brethren and sisters from this assembly paid their annual visit to the local lodging house at Christmas when the men were given a good meal. The response was encouraging as many listened as the Gospel was announced in word and song. The brethren visit this lodging house once a month and, while it is a difficult work, there have been evidences of blessing during recent months. Some of the men have come to the meetings in the hall, while in the lodging house itself two have recently professed to have received the Saviour.
Blessing in Ayrshire
D. Cameron spent five weeks in Drongan, the first two of which were given over to the children, as many as one hundred and fifty being crowded into the tent. Adults were harder to contact except where they were brought along by believers. The blessing came to the Bible Class, two members of which were baptised on the closing night in addition to two who came to know the Lord as their Saviour.
Two assemblies, at Prestwick and Ardrossan, have halls which are situated in or near the centre of their respective towns. Advantage has been taken of this to arrange special late night meetings on Lord’s Days to which they have succeeded in attracting a number of teenagers.
The Irish Republic
Eire is the strongest bastion of the Roman Catholic Church in the western world, writes one worker, the Irish Roman Catholic being a most ardent supporter of his church and a most zealous propagator of his faith. In this setting Communism is making little headway; only the Word of God can make any impact.
The infrequency nowadays of physical attack upon the Gospel preacher indicates the spirit of enquiry that is spreading across this land. Half the houses in the Republic have now been reached with the Gospel through the post and over six thousand requests have been received for the four gospels. Several hundred teenagers in Catholic homes are studying the Word of God for the first time, and their answers to the questions show that they are truly searching the Scriptures.
An automatic telephone answering system was installed in Merrion Hall, Dublin, in October of last year. The caller hears a one and a half minute pointed Gospel message with an invitation to write to a given address for further information. Announcements in the press draw the attention of the public to this service and already over ten thousand calls have been received.
The distribution of the Word
The work of Gospel Literature Distribution in Eire last summer included a team of sisters for the first time. Over the end of last year small groups of both brethren and sisters, working independently, revisited the scene of the labours in Galway to encourage those with whom contact had been made.
Invariably it was found that previous calls were remembered. Many were reading the Scriptures that they had purchased during the summer and readily bought scripture calendars. In some cases the priest had ordered the books to be burned or torn up, yet in spite of this further copies were bought in more than one home. Many gave time to talk over and listen to the simple message of the Gospel. New areas were also touched where, although the people were very poor, the Word of Life was purchased. The workers were encouraged when, not realising that a certain house had been visited the previous day, they found that all the family had gathered round the fireside the night before to read the Gospels. Even as regards the weather the Lord overruled, as this never caused the work to be held up.
Now the need is for young brethren and sisters in assembly fellowship who will devote part of their holiday this coming summer to this task. They will be accommodated in caravans and tents in teams of about eight under the leadership of an experienced worker. All manner of receptions may be experienced. One worker took to his heels when an irate man went for water to “baptise” his heathen caller. Another two made a hasty exit when a farmer threatened to charge them, wielding a pitchfork. On the other hand some workers were entertained to tea. The vital matter is that many heard for the first time the testimony of someone who had experienced the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All brethren who feel that the Lord would have them engage in this service should write without delay to D. Gilpin, 116 Princetown Road, Bangor, Co. Down. Sisters should contact Miss J. Giff, 34A Fenian Street, Dublin 2.
Old Testament teaching
We have made mention in previous issues of the need for teaching on such subjects as the tabernacle, without an understanding of which no real grasp can be obtained of, for instance, the Epistle to the Hebrews. Ministry on this subject by W. Park at Alexandria, Dunbarton, produced a growing interest.
The Levitical offerings fall into this category - many believers are unaware of the varied aspects they portray of the work of the Saviour.