Gospel Work And Other Activities

Colin Hutchinson

GENERAL

ARCHIVE

In the 70s, F. F. Bruce was instrumental in founding a Christian Brethren Archive in John Rylands University Library at Manchester. Through the work of Dr David Brady on the Library staff, the Archive has grown well (see the website at http://rylibweb.man.ac.uk/data2/spcoll/cba/). It now has over 8,000 volumes and 400 boxes of material relating to Brethren history. This is very valuable for historical study and a stream of excellent books, whose authors have used the collection, is now being published. Good history can add a vital dimension to our understanding before the Lord of the current situation of assemblies.

The Library is at this moment in the process of appointing a new archivist to succeed David Brady. It is desirable that this should be someone with a knowledge of, and interest in, Brethren history. Please tell anyone who may have the right qualifications that the post will shortly be advertised. It will be a 2 to 3 day a week position on the University Library pay scales. It would suit someone who wishes to be free for part of the time for research and writing. Further details from the Director of the Library Services (William G Simpson, John Rylands University Library, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PP [bill.simpson@man.ac.uk]).

Church records, as well as individual diaries, etc, are invaluable for historical research. Non-historians would be surprised about what is of use to historians! So do not bin them. Ensure that church records, as well as the papers of individuals, are deposited with the CBA.

SHARE AFRICA

SHAREAfrica is an initiative resulting from the knowledge that many of our fellowbelievers in sub-Saharan Africa are suffering in conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation. These countries are among the poorest on earth, and the continuing cycle of famine and disease has inevitably affected many of the saints living in various regions throughout the area. After researching the missionary and medical activities supported by the assemblies, a need was identified for an organisation that would focus primarily on humanitarian and subsistence projects to help the many indigenous believers caught up in the crisis. The SHAREAfrica initiative therefore, commenced in December 2002 with the purpose of developing a process capable of identifying and reporting the need, and also providing an infrastructure for delivering the appropriate provisions and services.

What is SHAREAfrica. It is an assembly based work, administered by assembly believers and based on Scriptural principles and exhortations. It is also a registered organisation operating in accordance with the UK laws that govern Companies and Charities. A fundamental element includes establishing organisations with the African countries to take responsibility for the incountry operations. In Zambia for example a sister organisation called SHAREZambia has been set up by experienced brethren from the assemblies in Lusaka. These brethren are indigenous believers who have a considerable knowledge of the conditions on the ground. One is a full-time worker commended from the Lillanda assembly, and others have years of experience administering sizeable development agency projects across the country. These dear brethren are well aware of the needs among their fellow-believers and are extremely grateful for the opportunity to take on this responsibility. Their involvement has been invaluable in getting things moving rapidly. Their ability to assess and identify requirements in accordance with local Government and UN guidelines has meant that balanced food supplies are now being delivered regularly to pockets of believers affected by the famine in regions west of Lusaka.

How does it operate? SHARE’s strategy is to operate through projects that are defined and administered through these in-country organisations. Each project is agreed and supported by SHAREAfrica and provisions are raised to meet the defined need. Each project has an objective and a lifecycle, so they do not become endless commitments, but rather are focused on providing compassionate aid to precise situations with measurable results. At this time the food shortage is the priority. So far we have been most encouraged by the commitment and support of everyone involved, and we are happy to report the success of these early projects. The gratitude shown by the believers cannot be expressed in words.

Spiritual basis. Many of us in the Western world have some appreciation of the serious scale of poverty affecting a great cross section of the population in sub-Saharan Africa. Young and old, educated and illiterate, are trapped in a hopeless situation with nothing to cling to but their faith. Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians that ‘God shall supply all your need’ is a promise they hold on to – that promise however is normally met through the conviction and compassionate generosity of others who are prepared to give a little of their surplus to meet the basic needs of others. This Christian ethic of ‘equality’ is a founding principle upon which the work of SHAREAfrica is based.

To summarize, here are three extracts from SHAREAfrica’s charter.

Statement of Intent To support Christians living in impoverished communities in Africa by channelling goods, funds and services through SHARE’s approved network of Christian assemblies. The primary focus is to believers, while endeavouring to assist other community members at the discretion of SHARE.

Scriptural Objective To SHARE material provisions and resources in the spirit of the New Testament teaching.

Project Objectives To alleviate hunger and abject poverty among believers.

Projects are reported in SHAREAfrica’s news bulletins and are available through their website shareafrica.com Information can also be obtained by writing to SHAREAfrica, P.O. Box 401, Harrogate, HG2 9WZ.

BIBLE DISTRIBUTION WORK

Around the summer of 2001, Steve and Judy Buckeridge felt a burden before the Lord to contact people with the gospel by means of the internet. During a visit to the USA they saw a false cult advertising on TV offering a copy of the cult’s bible. This experience inspired them to explore means whereby they could offer a free Bible to anyone who would like to receive it.

To begin with they advertised on the internet and the first Bible was sent out in October 2001. The work has continued to grow. At the time of writing this report, a total of eight hundred bibles have been distributed and one hundred and forty five of these have been requested in the locality of the gospel hall in Datchet, England.

In addition to the internet Steve and Judy place advertisements in local newspapers, village notice boards, the local library and newsagents’ windows. As a result requests for Bibles are received on a daily basis.

Bibles requested locally are delivered by hand, thus giving the opportunity to make personal contact and give the person an invitation to the gospel meeting. When requests are received from other parts of the UK, they are either sent by post or via someone from a local assembly near to the person requesting the Bible.

Some requests have been received from  

Islamic countries where copies of the  scriptures are not readily available. In addition to this some months ago, a Bible was given to the village library in Datchet and a request was received from a Newcastle school for a Bible to place in their library. Anyone wishing further information on this work can contact Steve and Judy on 01753- 542481, email address judisteve@yahoo.co.uk There is also a website www.datchetchapel.org

ENGLAND

Gospel meetings and children’s meetings were held in New Bradwell, Milton Keynes in February with Robert Plant for two weeks. A good time was had with the children but it was harder to get adults to attend.

An open-air meeting was held in Oxford in the month of April with Bicester and Wallingford assemblies joining together. Good numbers of tracts were distributed and a good number of brethren shared in the preaching.

Two weeks of gospel meetings were held in Hildenborough, Kent when Norman Mellish preached the gospel. A large number of invitations were distributed and some unsaved attended the meetings.

Bicester assembly is in process of tracting the whole of Bicester (12,000 homes) on a monthly basis. Four people have come to the gospel meeting so far as a direct result – one on a regular basis.

Hanslope Gospel Hall (near Milton Keynes) was packed to capacity for the baptism of Mahlon Dawkins a young man saved in recent months. A few unsaved were present and the gospel was faithfully preached by David Bandy.

Keith Bullock reports on the open-air work and recent contacts made in Chester and Leeds. ‘There were 1000s of tracts given out along with other literature. Please pray especially for a young man who was contacted in Leeds. It was a very disturbing encounter. He is a Jehovah’ Witness but having doubts about some of their teaching. We spoke at length to him and he was beginning to grasp some of the things we were saying. We were just about to place helpful literature in his hand when literally at that moment a married couple from the Kingdom Hall ‘just happened’ to be going into the shop. They greeted him and a long conversation took place about what we had been saying to him. This couple began to undo what we had told him and the seed seemed to have been snatched away. He refused to receive the literature. We sensed this was probably out of fear of what these two might say, or even do. Please pray for this man. The enemy was so obviously at work. The timing was amazing!

One particular highlight in the work of encouraging others in open-air work was a visit to Ash Vale Evangelical Church, in Hampshire. Here we conducted a seminar on Open-air work on the Saturday morning, followed by an open-air meeting in the afternoon in Farnborough. There were about twenty-five folk, many of them young people, from Ash Vale and other assemblies. Interestingly we had a lot of opposition from Mormons who were out in force. Everyone seemed really pleased and challenged by the day. Pray for this group as they seek to go out on a regular basis into Farnborough, Aldershot and Camberley. We are hoping to do a similar thing in Bognor Regis at the end of this month. Pray that more and more will catch the vision for this type of outreach.

For the visit to two schools in Cross Hills, Yorkshire we used the Life and Times of Christ Exhibition. People from the local Evangelical Church made all the arrangements and helped out with the exhibition. Around 550 children where spoken to. We had a great reception. One teacher in particular was bowled over by the whole thing. He was even more delighted when we offered to do his assembly for him! The door is open for future work’.

Bournemouth. This year’s week of Bible Studies at Drummond Gospel Hall Bournemouth has again given much encouragement both to the conveners and to those attending, and each year has produced increasing numbers. The conversational Bible Readings were led each morning by Jack Hay covering the last three chapters of Luke’s Gospel, and the evening ministry on the subject of five women featured in the life of David. This proved to be a fruitful field of study. It is anticipated God willing, that these meetings will continue next year from May 31st to June 4th, led by our brother Jim Baker from Hamilton. For further details please contact Mr Alex Wiseman on 01202-859179.

Northampton. For two and a half weeks the believers at Spencer Bridge Road Gospel Hall, Northampton, had the privilege of working with the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition for the third time. Some 1,100 plus children were shown around the display and the vast majority of them paid great attention to what they saw and were told. Some ninety teachers and classroom assistants also attended, most joining the children’s groups as they went around. Comments from the teachers were all very positive regarding the displays, the impact on the children and often themselves. For example one teacher wrote, ‘Excellent – a brilliant learning experience’, and another, ‘It was surreal watching my streetwise lads getting excited because they knew the answers to a Bible Quiz’. On visiting the schools weeks later, the children still remembered what they learnt, to the surprise and delight of the teachers.

A significant benefit was derived this time from having two of the brethren drive hired minibuses to transport the school parties. Many good conversations were had with the teachers and children during these trips. One boy said, ‘I knew Jesus died but I didn’t know why He died and that it involved me’.

Many of the sixteen schools (forty-four classes) that attended said they were looking forward to the return of the exhibition. Please continue to pray for those who attended that what they saw and heard will be a link in the chain that brings them to salvation and also that, in His sovereign will, this means of preaching the Gospel will be available for years to come.

Falmouth. Ken Rudge reports that they are now well into the first year of seeking to keep open the assembly witness in Falmouth, Cornwall. The Lord has encouraged them to feel that He has the purpose to restart an assembly in the building at Trevethan and that they need to be patient in prayer to allow Him to do the work and not look for quick results. The consistent attendance and support by the assemblies in the mid and west end of the county has been a great encouragement. The meetings have averaged between thirty to forty attending each time. Some families have come too and this gives a chance to involve the children in the programme. They have had several ask to be kept informed of events from Falmouth and though they have not seen some of them it does indicate an interest. A group of breakaway Methodist Christians are using the Hall for weekly nurture course sessions. Some of them came to one of the Saturday meetings. They constantly appeal to believers in the town to indicate their interest and some come on a regular basis to the meetings and this is a great help. Largely the responsibility of the meetings is shared between the assemblies in Truro, Camborne and St Austell.

A distribution of literature of between 500 and 1000 leaflets is made around the area every time there is a meeting. This is very important aspect of the work as it is the only real means of meeting the people and making them aware of what is intended to do. This is always the Wednesday before the Saturday meeting. The team of helpers has always been small on these occasions, sometimes only two. This greatly limits what is able to be done.

The assembly in Solihull ran an ‘Elements’ course to introduce unsaved people to the basics of the Bible and the Gospel. Each evening nine personally invited guests gathered and the time began with a finger buffet supper. After a short welcome and introduction Ivor Cooper developed the evening topic in an interesting and thought-provoking manner with a multimedia presentation. Those attending were then given the opportunity to dig a little deeper as the topic was discussed in a non-threatening open and friendly environment.

The essential truths presented were: (i) The character of God, (ii) The nature of mankind, (iii) The Person of Jesus, (iv) The cross and why Christ died, Man’s response to Christ’s death. Over the period of the studies only one person dropped out and the response from those who attended was most encouraging. One particularly encouraging aspect of the work was the number of guests attending who had initially been contacted through the weekly Family Service. The key aim of the Elements exercise is to build relationships with people and encourage them to explore the vital truths of God’s salvation and God’s word.

CUMBRIA David Locke reports from Cumbria that the market at Keswick, whilst being quite quiet, has produced some good contacts. One man contacted was Polish and expressed an interest in receiving a Bible in his native tongue. This is being followed up and it is hoped that this particular man will be able to read it and through reading of the scriptures might come to belief in Christ. In Silloth David had a good conversation with a teenage girl who was very interested in eternal things.

Pray for the work of the Cumbria Gospel Outreach as they, with the evangelists are setting stalls in the various towns. Pray that this will result in souls being saved.

NORTHERN IRELAND

COUNTY LONDONDERRY AND COUNTY DONEGAL Stephen Boskett

reports from Belfast. In recent months we have endeavoured to contact sailors in the port of Belfast, bringing the gospel to them and giving out some gospel literature. We have also visited Portadown in an effort to reach Philipinos with the gospel. Quite a number of these people work in various restaurants and we have therefore visited some of them and distributed gospel literature to them. Pray that God will bless this work in the salvation of souls.

Opening of New Gospel Hall at Aughrim. For the Christian Assembly at Aughrim, Castledawson, Co Londonderry, N. Ireland, Saturday 5th April 2003 was an historic day with the opening of the new Gospel Hall to the glory of God. Over 450 members and guests packed the hall with many travelling from England, Scotland, Shetland Islands and all corners of Ireland.

During the summer of 1911, two

Evangelists, Mr. Joseph Stewart and Mr. John McKnight, conducted gospel meetings in a tent close to where the new hall is built. One year later the first hall was built on a site across the road. Since then steady progress and much blessing has been experienced. Two members of the assembly, Mr. Roland Pickering and Mr. Uel Finlay have been commended to the full time service of the Lord’s work.

Currently there are various activities at Aughrim including the Lord’s Supper, Sunday School, Gospel and Prayer Meetings, Bible Study, Youth and Missionary work.

The day ended with many guests viewing the new hall, which has been completed to the highest specification and meets the rising needs of the Christian Assembly at Aughrim.

To facilitate the locals who were unable to attend the opening of the new hall on April 5th, a Friends and Fellowship Meeting was convened on Sunday 27th April. There were approximately 300 present, including many unsaved. The gospel was faithfully presented by Mr Joe Kelso from Lisburn. Pray that the word spoken will have an effect on many who were present from all sections of the community.

Ministry for Europe Trust. On Saturday 24th May over fifty believers from twelve assemblies met at Ballylintagh to put 25,000 gospel folders into envelopes. This is part of the ongoing work of the Ministry for Europe Trust whose aim is to put gospel literature into every home in Northern Ireland. Already the counties of Antrim, Down and Fermanagh have been contacted in this way with approximately 1,300 people responding by using the Freepost facility to request further help. Numbers of these respondents have been visited and all are being written to on a three monthly basis. It is now the turn of County Londonderry. The 25000 folders will be delivered by the post office to every home in the city of Londonderry, the rest of the county will receive folders in due course.

J. Martin and W. Martin have seen blessing during meetings in Ballymaconely Old School House outside Kilrea. The area has been well visited and souls have been saved.

COUNTY ANTRIM W. Fenton and I.

McClean conducted meetings in a portable hall at Ahoghill. The meetings were well attended and two professed to be saved. At Burnside (near Templepatrick) O. Irasuk and J. Meekin preached the gospel for 6 weeks, good numbers attended and some professed salvation.

A large tent has been erected at Lambeg (Lisburn) on the outskirts of the city to hold gospel meetings. This is a united effort with support from the assemblies in Lisburn, Derriaghy and Dunmurry. The preachers are M. Radcliffe (Scotland) and J. Procopia (Canada). Pray for this work.

COUNTY ARMAGH R. Watterson (Brazil) and his son-in-law Marco (full time Brazilian worker) have had a number of very interesting and appreciated reports throughout the County. L. Wells (New Brunswick) has given some profitable ministry in a number of local assemblies.

COUNTY DOWN C. Davidson and W. Fenton had two weeks of gospel meetings in a public hall at Millisle over the Easter period, endeavouring to meet locals and the influx of people caravanning in this seaside town. Good numbers attended and some blessing was experienced.

WALES

The assembly at Treboeth has been greatly encouraged at the increasing activity amongst the young people. During Easter a young lad of 14 was baptised in front of a packed hall. In May a group of 30 young people went away on a weekend Camp where they received teaching from Steve Treseder. At the moment the assembly is busy preparing for a Holiday Camp for children, which will be taking place during the summer.

The small assembly at Maesybont has been further encouraged by a brother who followed the Lord through the waters of baptism. The baptism took place in their baptistery outside the hall, and the two dozen present were a big encouragement both to the assembly and to the brother baptized.

The assemblies at Trimsaran, Tycoes and Treboeth have been thrilled by the regular number of unsaved present in gospel meetings and other forms of outreach. This is a consequence of diligent and consistent work in the neighbourhood. In Tycroes, for example, good numbers continue to attend the monthly Friends and Neighbours Hour. Furthermore, an excellent reception has been established in the monthly visitation of the school assembly, which has resulted in an increase in numbers attending the children’s meetings.

The fellowship at Jireh Evangelical Church, Loughor were thrilled to be taking away a group of young people for the very first time on a weekend camp. The weekend was designed to enhance and consolidate relationships being built in the thriving weekly youth group. Please pray for this work.

Veteran brother Wilf Beale celebrated his 99th birthday in July and was delighted recently to meet and converse with two ladies saved in the 1946 Tent Campaign in Swansea when the late Stan Ford was the speaker. This serves to illustrate that the result of the seed we sow may not be known until much later in life.

CARDIFF Keith Bullock reports: The Pilgrims Progress Exhibition was used for the first time recently, in three Cardiff schools. The Christian head of the first school took a video of the whole thing and has offered to send his comments to help in the way it is presented, and how it would best fit into the school curriculum. The other two schools also expressed their gratitude and have requested further visits. There are still a few additions and refinements to be made, but basically the exhibition is now up and running. The next time it will be used is September at Hemsworth, when it is hoped to visit seven schools. This will be a busy time. Appreciation is expressed for the support from Ebenezer Gospel Hall and the use of the missionary home.

Ladybank. The assembly in Ladybank was greatly encouraged recently when a young sister was baptized. The sister concerned first came to Sunday School and Bible class before trusting Christ at Summer Camp. The hall was packed with people of all ages and good attention was paid to the preaching of the gospel and some teaching on baptism.

The large group of young people attending is a tribute to those who work in the local assembly making children and youth work their priority. A good number of young people have been saved through this work and prayer is needed for their continued spiritual development and growth.

Kinross. Each Friday evening the Christians from the local assembly hire the games hall in the High School for some games and activities. A time is set aside for the preaching of the gospel and the respect given to this is encouraging. Most of the teenagers attending are from unsaved homes with little or no spiritual background and it is hoped that the contacts made will yet profess faith in Christ.

Glenrothes. Brother Craig Munro of Ballingry conducted some gospel meetings in a local centre. During the meetings, unsaved were present and heard the gospel faithfully and powerfully preached. There were some who heard and seemed to be under the convicting power of the Spirit of God. Pray for fruit in this work.