Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
Two workers visited the villages on the borders of Perthshire and Stirlingshire this summer. On enquiry they were told that the residents had neither heard the Gospel preached nor received Gospel literature during the last sixty years.
How sad, we probably think. Yet this does not only apply to villages in the north, but homes in all parts of the land. Moreover it is an indictment against the people of God that such a state of affairs should exist. When we stand before our Master, to give an account for what we have done with the Gospel entrusted to us, no excuses will be accepted. Do we really care for the glory of our Saviour?
Open Air Work. A man was sleeping rough under the arches of a London station. He listened for a long time to the Gospel told forth by a team of workers with a mobile unit. He then left to go to a public house to drink, but came under some strange compulsion and could not drink, and did not even take his change before leaving. He had been handed a tract before leaving the open air, and that very night he surrendered to the claims of a risen Christ.
So often it is being left to the ones and twos to maintain such a witness before thousands. Are we afraid to share in a little measure the scoffing that our Saviour endured? Or what ails us spiritually that we are prepared to dodge our responsibility?
London. During July the Gospel was ministered at Mayow Road Hall, Sydenham, by J. Smyth. Homes were visited and contacts made, and as a result people from the district, including a group of teenagers, attended the meetings regularly.
One young man, a Roman Catholic, seemed quite interested, but was distracted by his friends. One lady, brought by friends from a neighbouring assembly, made a profession of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. Another lady, who had been attending the Gospel meetings at Sydenham for some time, made an open confession of her faith.
Another man, contacted during the visitation work, was in the first stages of becoming a Jehovah's Witness. After conversation he asked for and was given a Bible, which he promised to read. He also said he would destroy all the literature left by the servants of the Evil One. He has since attended the meetings twice.
Open air meetings were held each night and all were encouraged by the number of folk who opened their windows and doors in order to listen. Further encouragement came from the number of believers from other assemblies, some distance away, who attended the meetings regularly and brought unsaved folk with them.
Cornwall. J. Hadley worked with a tent in the St. Austell area for three weeks during June. The small assembly gave active support and was encouraged when a young married woman was saved. The following week a young married man took the same step of placing faith in a crucified Saviour.
The ensuing three weeks were spent at Bude where there were many difficulties. The children's meeting brought in eighty each evening, and it is proposed to continue this. However the brother who is caring for this work lives at a distance and is meeting all kinds of difficulties.
At Saltash the evangelist was joined by R. Wood and M. Browne. Each day commenced with a prayer meeting, and meetings for women, senior citizens, children and adults were held in the tent. During the second week the Scriptures were read and teaching given each morning. On the last night of the tent, at the request of the local assembly, the principles of gathering as set forth in the New Testament were expounded. Many came in and conversations continued until midnight. It was evident that such teaching was new to a number of those present.
There is no evangelical witness in the town of Wadebridge. When the tent was pitched there some eighty children came each evening, while a few adults showed progressive interest as time went on. A young girl, suffering pain from an injured leg, persuaded her mother to take her to the tent. There she found peace and happiness through acceptance of the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Her mother, an alcoholic, is still seeking a solution to her problem, but only the Saviour can give this.
Essex. About sixty girls attended the first week of the Essex Christian Camps at Lound, near Lowestoft, early in August, followed by a similar number of boys the next week.
Each week saw a number professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and showing a clear appreciation of their commitment. A number of others who had been converted earlier were helped in their spiritual growth and some of these were concerned about baptism. Others were challenged by the Gospel message whilst, sad to relate, some seemed indifferent to its claims.
The mixed weather brought a wonderful experience of the Lord's care and keeping power. During a severe thunderstorm in the early hours of one morning during the boys' week, a bell tent was struck by lightning. This tore the canvas and shattered the tent pole. The five lads in the tent and the tent officer were all severely shaken, but the only injuries were surface burns which cleared up in a few days. Normally the medical help is given by individuals with a training in first aid, but this year one of the helpers was a hospital doctor.
In this tent there were two fifteen year old lads who had been indifferent, even almost hostile, to the Gospel, and somewhat uncooperative in other ways. This occurrence spoke to them very definitely, and both were converted on the following evening, one with tears of repentance.
Many from this and other such camps return to unbelieving homes, and should be the continual subject of our prayers.
Northern Ireland. At Kilkeel, a fishing village in Co. Down, gospel meetings conducted by J. Brown and J. Lennox continued nightly for nine weeks in a portable hall. Attendances were good and God was pleased to give some encouragement. There was much rejoicing in one home where within twenty-four hours three members of the family professed to have accepted the Saviour.
A. McShane and N. Turkington preached in a tent at Mount Joy, a few miles from Omagh. The meetings were well supported by the assemblies around and continued nightly for two months. Several people stated that they had been saved as a result of the meetings.
There has not been a lot of Gospel preaching in the town of Dungiven in Co. Derry or in the district around, it all being considered a difficult area. However J. Thompson and S. Ferguson took a tent and preached nightly for several weeks. Homes were visited and tracts given away, but little fruit was seen as a result.
Kilria is a small town in Co. Derry where there is no assembly. J. Martin and T. McNeill pitched a tent just outside the town and the Gospel was sounded forth each night for two months. Numbers were good, the assemblies around gave their support and the Lord was pleased to give some blessing.
E. Wishart and M. Wishart held a series of fairly well attended Gospel meetings in the village of Clough in Co. Antrim. The assembly there, although rather small in numbers, likes to keep going on with the Gospel. On this occasion the believers were really encouraged as a number professed faith in Christ as Saviour, some having been the subject of many prayers. During the winter months the assembly have over one hundred children at their weekly children's meeting.
Southern Scotland. There is a tremendous need for the children in our villages and estates to have the opportunity of being taught the Scriptures, whether there is an assembly in the locality or not.
Sisters in fellowship with the believers at Dumfries have for some years maintained such witnesses in the villages where their employment as district nurses has taken them. Much blessing has been seen and some have gone on to serve the Lord. May this stimulate each reader to consider the needs of the young in their own neighbourhood.
The Lanarkshire portable hall work met with considerable opposition in the village of Braidwood. Despite this quite a number came to listen to the Gospel preached by D. Barnes.
The work with the shire Van was profitable, many contacts being made by J. Aitken. A lad of eighteen was saved at Netherburn, and his father is now very interested.
At Glenbuni, Ayrshire, two married couples and a man were baptized. These were believers from an evangelical church at Kilmarnock who had been taught the truth of baptism by a workmate at Prestwick Airport. Are we as concerned that those who are saved, but do not gather in the scriptural way, should be taught the way of God more perfectly?
Earlier this summer D. Locke held meetings in Selkirk for six weeks. Sad to say few unsaved folk came in but the little hall was filled with children at each meeting. However the Gospel was preached in the open air and literature was well received.
Northern Scotland. Earlier in the summer J. Hay and J. Campbell were in Doune. The work with the boys and girls proved encouraging with up to seventy children attending, a good proportion of whom were consistent. The Parents' Night brought in almost forty of the local parents. The response from the adults of the village was disappointing with very few coming to the meetings.
One or two of those in Errol who seemed to be bright spiritually have proved a heartbreak to the workers. On the brighter side they were encouraged when one woman from Errol was received into the fellowship of the assembly at Perth. The Lord has been speaking to others in the area with regard to baptism and these are the subject of much prayer.
Wales. Conveners of the Swansea and District Sunday School and the Postal Sunday School Camps were encouraged by the interest of the young people in the study of the Scriptures. Several made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus.
Gospel meetings conducted by S. Ford at Maesybont were well attended and at least one man made a decision to accept Christ as Saviour.
Many readers will remember that two years ago the Gospel Hall at Pantyfiynnon, Ammanford, was destroyed by fire. The believers have cause for thanksgiving in that a new permanent brick building is nearing completion. God has been faithful in providing all.
Republic of Ireland. A. Gray states that the past summer has been, without doubt, the most encouraging during die eighteen years that he has been in the south.
In the towns of Mountmellick and Portarlington Bible Weeks were held which involved the use of two caravans. One of these was fitted up to display Bibles and Gospel literature. This proved an attraction to many and presented those who looked after it with a number of opportunities for personal witness. The second caravan was a mobile hall, in which children's meetings were held each afternoon followed by a teenager and adult meeting at night. On a number of occasions over fifty children were present. While numbers in the evening were less, on some nights all those who were interested could not get in and the windows were opened so that those outside could hear. Most of those attending were Roman Catholics, including some who trusted the Lord.
The Postal Sunday School camp was again held in a caravan park in Co. Wexford, during August. From early July children's meetings were held each week from Monday to Friday with seldom less than fifty and often close to a hundred young people present.
A number of families have got into the habit of returning to this site each year for their holidays so as to attend the meetings. On one occasion this summer, when newcomers tried to disrupt the meeting, several Catholic families rallied to the support of the workers. Those who tried to disrupt were told that it was the desire of the majority that the meetings should continue.
Postal Sunday School. The Plymouth Postal School started about six years ago as a follow-up to a hospital Sunday School. The work has grown over the years and has recently taken a marked turn for the good.
Two dozen believers helped to man a stand at the Royal Cornwall Show where five hundred youngsters asked to join the school. To date over seventy-five completed lessons have been returned by these new scholars.
Over the years several children have written telling of their trust in the Lord as Saviour, and others linked with assemblies have told of their obedience to their Lord in baptism.
Yet there is still much land, both in Cornwall and elsewhere, to be possessed.