Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
"None shall appear before me empty". Exodus 23. 15.
All the males in Israel were commanded to appear before the Lord some three times a year to present to Him those things that spoke of the perfections of the Lord Jesus Christ. None was to appear with empty hands.
Yet how often brethren come to remember the Lord on a Lord's Day morning and remain dumb, they have come empty handed. How this must grieve the heart of our God and Father. We can choose a hymn, we can read Scriptures, but to lead the assembly in thanksgiving as our hearts are touched by the Holy Spirit is beyond us.
These remarks are prompted by a letter from a brother who has been in happy fellowship with a small seaside assembly in the southwest for over thirty years. Over that period many believers have gathered there on holiday, and these visits were looked forward to as visiting brethren led the assembly with 'full hands'. As the years pass the visitors still come in goodly numbers, friendly and gracious believers, but how rare it is these days for a visiting brother to lead the assembly. The local believers miss this priestly ministry, and how our God must sorrow that His redeemed people have apparently so little appreciation of the work and worth of the Saviour.
We can, of course, only be on holiday what we are in the assembly at home. This dearth is widespread and we need to be very much exercised about the matter. We are robbing our Lord of the honour which is His due.
South Wales. At one time a large assembly gathered in the coal mining village of Llanharan but numbers have declined until only five elderly believers are in fellowship. Several young brethren were exercised about the matter and during last winter the interior of the large hall received a complete facelift. At the same time some involved in this work were contemplating an outreach with the Gospel in the locality, centred in true scriptural fashion on the local assembly.
A notice of the services was placed in every home together with an Easter tract a week prior to the meetings. Following the Easter Conference five brethren spent nine days of their holidays in the locality from 10 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. Posters were displayed in shop windows, an advertisement placed in the local press and each house visited personally. A radio broadcast also announced the meetings. Street meetings were held while trading was in progress and this was effective in bringing folk to their doors. A single decker bus was borrowed from the assembly at Port Talbot to convey children from the housing estates, and numbers reached over one hundred and sixty.
The Gospel was preached nightly to adults, and as many as thirty unsaved folk were present in audiences that reached one hundred and seventy. A teenage girl was converted and three children professed faith in Christ.
Now, as a result, unsaved folk visit the Gospel meeting, a Sunday School has started and also weeknight meetings for youngsters. Many of these are doing Emmaus courses. A monthly visit to all the homes in the lqcality is purposed. Four believers have since expressed a concern about baptism.
What has been done in Llanharan can be carried out elsewhere if we only had a burden for the unsaved and for the glory of our God.
West Wales. From time to time we have reported on Gospel efforts in the Pembroke Dock area. We are glad to be able to report that for the past year believers have been gathering to the Name of their Lord in a small building at 22 Bush Street. During the summer of last year a baptism in the river aroused local interest in the work, and another such act of obedience is imminent. During the period of the electricity cuts the building was filled each night during special meetings for children. Recently a regular meeting has been started for senior citizens.
Birmingham. The three weeks crusade conducted by P. Brandon at Birchfield Gospel Hall, Aston, in April was a time of rich blessing. The middle section of the Sunday School, numbering some one hundred and thirty, listened attentively and helped in a remarkable way in bringing their parents to the Gospel meetings. Over thirty came forward for counselling; one, a district nurse, having tried for years to find peace among the Jehovah's Witnesses, accepted the Saviour and now is a joy to behold. Another was the aged father of a believer. Yet there was a tragic note of warning to every reader; a retired professional footballer, seriously ill, came one night with his wife who was an. alcoholic and listened to the Gospel. A week later he committed suicide and his wife was admitted to hospital with gas poisoning.
This will be the 2ist year of the Birmingham Sunday School Camps, but it could also be the last. For the past eighteen years they have used the excellent facilities of a campsite at Exmouth which will not be available after this year. So a new site is being sought which has tents or buildings which could accommodate up to two hundred boys and girls with their leaders. Coming from the Midlands a site near the sea is necessary for one week in August.
The aims of the workers have always been spiritual as well as recreational. Over the years many have professed to accept the Saviour, and have gone on to take an active part in their local assembly, some even going farther afield in the Lord's service. Any information would be welcomed by R. B. Walton, 60 High Street, Solihull Lodge, Shirley, Solihull, Warwickshire. Tel. 021 474 2768.
Southern Scotland. A score of folk of all ages were converted during a mission taken by J. Clunas in Victoria Hall, Glasgow. On the final night twelve were baptized and others have indicated their desire to please their Lord in this way. Prior to the mission a young lady from the area met the evangelist at Millport and he pointed her to Christ.
J. Aitken saw some saved at the new assembly at Annan, while some teenagers from there were saved at a camp at Machermore.
A young man in his early twenties, an inveterate gambler, who more than once gambled all his pay away before going home, was saved at Forth. He was invited to the meeting on the Lord's Day evening when J. Hunter was speaking, and came on his own on the Monday. On the Tuesday evening, as J. Hunter was reading the words of the second hymn, this young man walked up to the front and before a hall filled with folk said that he wanted to be saved right then. He has since given joy by being baptized and received into the fellowship of the local assembly.
F. Whitmore preached at Dumfries for two weeks. Strangers were present nearly every night and on the last evening one woman professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was also a baptismal meeting when four young believers were immersed.
J. Smyth was at Bo'ness, West Lothian, for four weeks in the spring. Under the sound of old fashioned hell-fire Gospel preaching twelve people professed faith in Christ, from a girl and a boy of nine to an old man of eighty-six. Some literally trembled to die and backsliders were touched. Every night unsaved folk were present, and the believers from Shieldhill, Falkirk, swelled the numbers with a busload, mostly unsaved, on a few occasions. Three of these professed salvation. Nearly two hundred were in the hall for the last meeting.
The effects are still being felt. A boy of nine, convicted during the campaign, has since been saved, and a young girl is under conviction. The believers are concerned to continue the tracting and open air witness started for the campaign.
Republic of Ireland. The Bible Exhibition Unit has proved effective as it moves from town to town. In the city of Kilkenny scores were contacted in the open air and access was obtained to a Catholic School and to Colleges. In one week films were shown to over seven hundred students. All these were over sixteen years of age, some being in training for the priesthood. One young man was met who had come to know the Lord Jesus as Saviour without any human instrumentality.
The assembly at Portarlington is one of the smallest in Ireland and the only one in the centre part of the country. There are only seven in fellowship although others attend from time to time. Each month a family service is held for families in the Midlands who receive the Postal Sunday School lessons. The believers have been much encouraged by an average attendance of about fifty. The hall is ideally situated for outreach work with the Gospel and there are facilities for a team engaged in this way. A. Gray would be happy to hear from anyone able to help in this way.
Shetland Islands. To accommodate the expansion in the Sunday School the believers have extended Ebenezer Hall, Lerwick. The proportion of young believers in fellowship remains as high as ever, and the Lord has richly blessed them.