How It Began
To show what can be done by prayerful enterprise we give from time to time (under the heading “How it Began”) stories of how work in various places started. This time we trace a flourishing work back to an open-air Sunday School in a London park.
TEN YEARS’ WORK ON A LONDON HOUSING ESTATE
The London County Council Estate at Dagenham now has a Gospel Hall within its area, and the hearts of many believers were cheered at the opening meeting on Saturday, 27th October. The Hall, situated in Lillechurch Road, was filled and very encouraging ministry was given by Messrs. A. Fallaize, J. B. Watson and S. Rowland Reed.
This work for the Lord had its commencement early in 1942, when two sisters made a tracting expedition on the estate; the children at once became interested, so these sisters, with two other helpers, asked permission to hold an open-air class in the Park. Thus the Park Sunday School came into being in April of that year. The approach of autumn raised new problems, and the school of over 50 moved to a private house for the winter. When in the park, the school was mustered near an air-raid shelter in readiness for quick action should warnings be sounded, but only once was school prevented—when flying bombs were very troublesome.
Efforts were made to obtain the use of a pavilion, a schoolroom, an empty shop, an unused estate office and a barn, all without success, so the ‘to and fro’ movement continued for 31/2 years; meanwhile the school grew apace and a settled centre became imperative. Prayer-partners were increasing, however, and in October, 1945, permission was given to use the Public Library, and this continued for six years.
While the Sunday School was being consolidated, mothers in the area became interested and, at their wish, a Women’s Meeting was begun in September, 1943, first in a private house, then from July, 1946, also at the Library, though only 18 chairs could be at their disposal there.
By this time the original workers had asked the assembly at Chadwell Heath to take over the care of this work, which was willingly done and a few brethren were thus added to the workers.
Application for a site for a permanent building was made in 1946. This was obtained but followed by many difficulties over plans, three separate Authorities having to be met. Additional troubles arose concerning the building itself and it seemed as though the site would not be built upon, but on the lines of Acts 12. 5 liberty came and now a local assembly functions, the Women’s Meeting and Sunday School are thriving, and Gospel work has begun. Now, too, the fruit of the memorable visit of Mr. Stan. Ford, with his large tent, in the summer is being steadily gathered up.