Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
Once again we would seek to stir one another up regarding open air work. A national newspaper recently contained a letter asking where all the open air meetings had gone, especially regretting not hearing the singing of the old, favourite hymns.
National conditions today are very similar to those of Old Testament times when the prophets stood publicly in Jerusalem stressing the claims of God and the departure that was prevalent. Are we as faithful as they were?
Have our fellow townsfolk as clear an idea of the character of God as those who listened to Isaiah or Jeremiah? Is it made dear that He is holy and cannot tolerate sin, or do we portray a God of love only?
It is written concerning the Saviour that He fully revealed the Father, and this is what is required of each one of us.
Southern Scotland. After an interval of six years the Ayrshire tent was pitched in the coastal village of West Kilbride. During this interval three young brethren had been carrying on children's meetings with an occasional attempt to reach the adults.
From the start this summer things were difficult although the support from believers was tremendous. In addition to the normal organised support from assemblies in the area a Christian businessman ran his bus nightly from Stevenston. The evangelist, R. Walker, made many interesting contacts on the doorsteps. He discovered that there were some twenty genuine believers in the village and that there were one or two private Bible study groups. The village itself was largely indifferent to the Gospel until a special gathering was held for senior citizens. After that the older folk began to appear in greater numbers. No known professions were made but an interest was certainly aroused.
With thousands of visitors arriving in their town for the Open Golf Championship, the assembly at Troon, Ayrshire, felt that it had a responsibility to witness to them in the Gospel.
No form of witness was allowed on the golf course, but the believers were able to set up a bookstall for the sale of literature near the centre of the town. Although this did not bring the response that had been hoped for, many conversations were held with those who turned aside to look at the stall. Thus many heard who would not normally come under the sound of the Gospel.
The work with the Lanarkshire portable hall at Viewpark proved an uphill task. J. Aitken and J. Neilson were well received at their doors by the people, who are mainly Roman Catholic, until the priest spoke against them. After this a very different spirit prevailed. However a number of unsaved folk came to the meetings and a girl in her early teens professed to have been saved.
The second part of the season at Coalburn proved no less difficult. The assembly is composed of only a few believers. A real interest developed near the end of the meetings when quite a few unsaved and some backsliders attended. A neighbouring assembly is seeking to help in carrying on the work.
The Lanarkshire Van was in the care of D. Barnes. Looking back on his movements through the many villages in the upperward part of the shire it was felt that the season had been successful. Many open air meetings were held and a woman was led into the assurance of salvation through personal visitation.
Special children's meetings were held in Memorial Hall, Kilbarchan during the first two weeks of September. Up to seventy gathered nightly, and many useful contacts were made. The believers had previously tried to reach the youngsters on a neighbouring private estate but with little response. They were therefore full of joy when they saw over twenty-five children from this area listening to the Gospel preaching of D. Locke.
A series of ministry meetings has a stimulating effect on a company of believers. During the first week of September the Epistle to the Ephesiatis was expounded by A. Noble in Hebron Hall, Port Glasgow.
West Scotland. During the summer S. McKenzie always found a good number of children ready to listen to the Gospel, but the response from the adults was not so encouraging. In Ardrishaig and Lochgilphead small numbers attended, but in Furnace, Argyll, which is only a small village, there were several unsaved adults at each meeting. One girl of eleven professed to have accepted the Lord Jesus as Saviour. It is hoped to continue a weekly meeting in this village during the winter months.
Durham. The assembly at Felling, Gateshead, has been given much cause for encouragement. Some six months ago a young married woman sought fellowship with the believers, having been saved out of Roman Catholicism which still gripped her husband. Eventually he began to attend the assembly gatherings and after much thought was himself saved. They are now going on well, and are demonstrating the reality of their fellowship by their participation in the activities of the assembly.
Does each reader know the joy and privilege of being in assembly fellowship, truly united with other believers, sharing their joys and their troubles?
The believers at Felling have also seen blessing among teenagers. Some five of these, lads in their middle teens, have accepted the Saviour and been baptized.
Somerset. The past summer has proved a really good season for the open air work at Ham Hill. This is a beauty spot where a large number of folk come by car especially on Lord's Day evenings. This affords a wonderful opportunity for Gospel witness, reaching people from a wide area. Hundreds have listened to the Word of the Gospel and to the hymns, whilst large numbers of tracts have been given out. Whilst there were no known cases of conversion, many who showed an interest were spoken to and no doubt the results will be seen in "that day".
"That day" Will reveal the Divine valuation of our life and service here on earth. We need to order our ways in the light of "that day", remembering that we have to do with an all-seeing One who searches out the motives and intentions, and does not give rewards on the basis of what appears on the surface.
South Wales. The Swansea and District Assemblies Camp was held at the start of the school holidays and was followed by a camp for the Postal Sunday School girls. Over the three weeks over a hundred young people, many not connected with any evangelical witness, were under the sound of the Gospel and of Christian teaching. A number professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The highlights of the camp for the P.S.S. scholars was the baptism in the sea at Llangennith of three young workers, a public witness to all of their willingness to be obedient followers of their Lord. Has each reader been obedient in this way?
The little assembly at Maesybont in Carmarthenshire celebrated the Lord's goodness during fifty years of Christian witness at the end of August. I Powell and F. A. Tatford ministered the Word to a large company gathered from a wide area.
Hampshire. The Lord has been pleased to bless the small assembly at Mill Road, Waterlooville. Two families have moved into the district recently and added needed strength to the testimony. There is a keen desire to reach the children of the locality and the Lord has blessed their efforts to this end. It is planned to restart the Sunday School.
There is a danger when a Sunday School is discontinued that it is never restarted, even though circumstances change. Such a work is not only profitable in that the young are instructed in the Word of God, thus laying a foundation upon which the Spirit of God can work, but also as a means of contact with the parents.
South West England. The Plymouth Postal Sunday School workers have been encouraged by the number of scholars increasing to nearly three hundred. Several pupils have written to tell of their conversion and a few have obeyed their Lord by their baptism.
The local Director of Education was approached for permission to contact school heads concerning the Postal School. He asked for an article to be written on the work which was then included in the monthly bulletin circulated to all schools. Through this entrance was obtained into a school for handicapped children and some of these are regularly completing the lessons.
A stand was taken at the Royal Cornwall Show where the work was brought to the notice of children from a very wide area, a number of whom have now completed the introductory lessons.
The believers at St. Austell themselves produce a magazine bimonthly which is delivered to over one thousand homes. Through reading this a young married woman caught a glimpse of the Saviour, realised her need of Him, and came along to the Hall. It was not long before she was saved, baptized and received into fellowship with the assembly. She has a teenage sister who is attending the Bible Class and Gospel Meeting, and the believers are much in prayer for her husband.
Southern Ireland. R. McAlister holds a Sunday School in a portable hall erected some years ago in the back garden of his Dublin home. Some forty youngsters from various backgrounds are collected. The streets of this city contain many young men who are desperately searching for something, they know not what. Often they will stand for a long while listening as eternal matters are brought to their notice.
The use of Bible Study courses continues to grow. A nun who was contacted last year has asked for over four hundred courses to be provided for her school.
Recent letters received by F. Pontin indicate how deep-rooted are Romanist errors, in spite of efforts to present evangelical truth in literature over many years. One man, aged over sixty, answered a question based on John 8 regarding freedom from the slavery of sin by the statement that this was achieved by "doing penance".
A. Gray together with helpers fitted out a caravan as a Bible Exhibition, the aim being to provide an attraction that would lead to contacts in towns not usually reached with the Gospel.
It was taken first of all to Tullamore, Co. Offaly, and set up in a crowded market square. This was amazing in itself, for when the workers arrived the square was packed with vehicles. The caravan was kept open throughout the day until eleven o'clock at night. During the first two days over two hundred folk entered and looked around, mainly young people. Several Bibles were sold and many filled in forms asking for Bible courses.
The young people were amazingly ready to discuss spiritual matters. They showed a real interest in the Bible and the Gospel as presented therein. There was a desire to be able to understand the Bible, and many profitable conversations ensued as a result. A few nuns entered and showed interest in the exhibits. On the whole older folk showed little interest.
The caravan was subsequently moved to Portarlington and again there was a good reception.
Would such a Bible exhibition prove a means of contact with unsaved souls in your locality?
Camps. The summer is past again with its many camps in various parts of the country. Some eighty campers went from Hebron Hall, Port Glasgow, to Kirkcudbrightshire with R. Cairns and A. Carew to minister to their spiritual needs. Four young people were saved as a result.
Such occasions not only give opportunities for the preaching of the Gospel and the teaching of the Word of God, but also allow the manner of life that pleases God to be demonstrated. Especially is this true regarding the Lord's Day, the observance of which is now nationally ignored. What care therefore, needs to be taken to set a good example to others, letting them see that it is a day to be set aside for God, and not to be used for pleasure or business.
Northern Ireland. J. Hawthorne and S. McBride held encouraging Gospel meetings for nine weeks in a tent at Castlederg, a small town near the border. Good numbers attended in spite of the bombs and shootings that are quite common in the area.
A. McShane and N. Turkington commenced Gospel meetings in a tent near the Birches, about four miles from Portadown. After a short time the tent was blown down and damaged, so the meetings were continued in a portable hall. God was pleased to bless the preaching of the Gospel and a number professed salvation including two youths from one family.
At Cloughey in Co. Down Gospel meetings were taken by J. K. Duff and E. Wishart in a portable hall in the village. Fair numbers came and some spoke of haying been saved.
J. Brown, assisted by holiday visitors and local brethren, held open air meetings nightly for two weeks on the sea front at Ballycastle, in north Antrim. Although it has always proved difficult to reach the townspeople there with the Gospel, on this occasion many hundreds of Gospel tracts were distributed and quite a number were prepared to talk about spiritual matters.
There has not been much Gospel preaching in the Dungiven area in Co. Deny. Recently W. Nesbitt and D. Kane erected a tent near Feeney, not far from Dungiven town. Numbers were good and the meetings continued for two months, a little blessing being seen.
Ministry of the Word. There is a great need for the consecutive ministry of the Word of God, the exposition of the great truths of Scripture that develop from Genesis to Revelation. Believers are growing up who have never been taught the scriptural position concerning the gathering of God's people and what is expected of them. Young believers are sent out into a sinful world without being prepared for the errors which will confront them. The elder brethren in every assembly are responsible to ensure that the flock is properly fed with Divine food.
We need grounding in the truth, and this does not come by haphazard teaching, but by consecutive instruction.
GOOD WORDS FROM THE PAST
It is those who are led by the Spirit who are real children of God. And what a blessing! Children of God! This is no vain title. It is to enjoy the love of the Father - it is to be assured of His favour. It is to be accepted in the Beloved. It is to be able to trust ourselves (without the thought that He is imputing to us our sins from which Christ has washed us) to the goodness, to the fatherly affection, of God. The Holy Spirit dwells in the children. He can do so since they are washed in the blood of Christ. He gives them the full assurance that they are the children of God. This is then, Christian life. Washed from our sins in the blood of Jesus, the Spirit that dwells in us leads us by spiritual affections, and at the same time gives us the perfect assurance that we are children of God. j. n. darby
O blessed conquest, to lose all things and to gain Christ. Make Him your only, your best-loved. Look into those depths of loveliness, sweetness, beauty, excellence that are in Christ, and ye shall cry down the whole world and the glory of it. If I should tell you what I have found in Christ you could scarcely believe it. samuel Rutherford.