Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters", Isa. 32. 20.
Summer time gives opportunity for widespread open-air activities. Doubt may be felt as to its effectiveness in these days. James Aitken from Lanarkshire has been engaged in such work for some years and gives this testimony. "It has been my privilege to engage in open air witness for some years and in God's goodness to see both men and women saved. After instruction, these same people have been added to local assemblies. My policy has been to follow up open air witness by visiting the area of the meeting next day. Door to door contacts give opportunity to test reactions of listeners. To date this year there have been repeated expressions of gratitude for visits to outlying villages and large housing sites not normally reached with witness. A 38-year old man was led to the Saviour as a direct result of follow up work in an isolated village."
Is this a challenge to much of our apathy today? Let the words of our brother speak for themselves. "In these days of empty Gospel Halls we ought to be exploiting the wonderful possibilities of open air witness allied to personal contacts. God is glorified and sinners saved if we are still prepared to launch out into the deep."
Northern Ireland. At Albert bridge Road Gospel Hall, BELFAST, J. Grant and R. Jordan conducted gospel meetings for several weeks. Response was poor although many of the surrounding houses were visited with gospel literature. In this assembly, which has dwindled in numbers over the years, things proved difficult. Such gatherings need prayer. At DRUM-LOUGH, Co. Down, special gospel meetings were held for twelve weeks by D. Kane. This proved an encouraging time and some who had been the subject of many prayers came to the Lord. The small assembly at CARDY country district, Ardspeninsular, was much encouraged in a gospel effort recently, when each night the little hall was filled. J. Hawthorne and T. McNeill preached faithfully and blessing was enjoyed as a number professed faith in Christ and are making spiritual progress.
In DOLLINGSTOWN, Co. Armagh. 5 weeks meetings were held in the Gospel Hall by A. McShane and N. Turkington. The numbers were good although no visible fruit was reaped.
Open air meetings were held at PORT-STEWART HARBOUR, Co. Derry. A. Farrell (Japan) and others preached the gospel each night and good numbers listened. Many holiday makers thus heard the gospel. We can rejoice that amidst the unrest and strife, God is at work.
Scotland. It is not often we hear of portable halls but at HOLYTOWN S. McKenzie had an encouraging time with the Lanarkshire portable hall. Saints from the nearby assembly gave their support each week-night in the open air. The Lord gave blessing, and conversions were witnessed as the word was preached.
At BOTHWELL an interesting contact was made with an R.C. couple as J. Spiers gave help to the assembly in visiting. This contact continues.
Three weeks meetings at PETERHEAD with R. McPheat were rewarded with blessing. Among those saved was a woman who consulted a clergyman before making her decision for Christ only to find that he had never had such an experience and did not need it! She then contacted another minister friend who said that he had had the experience when he was 16 years old. Finally, on her way home, she knelt beside a litter bin in a lay-by and accepted Christ. How strong is the compulsion of the Holy Spirit's power. At BEITH our brother conducted the Ayrshire Tent and among those who came were Mormon workers visiting the town. A former Mormon was received into fellowship at GRANGEMOUTH and another was recently baptized at PEEBLES.
On the banks of the Clyde between HAMILTON and MOTHERWELL a large park was opened. Permission was granted to Roman Road assembly to hold open air meetings each Sunday. As a result of a suggestion by the director of the complex, a tent was erected for the Clyde fair week. J. Spiers, aided by the young people from Hamilton assembly missionary fellowship conducted a massive leaflet campaign. Many were contacted for the Saviour.
North England. For three weeks J. Smyth conducted special Gospel activities at Harehills Gospel Hall, LEEDS. The first week was spent in door to door visitation. Then for two weeks the gospel was preached each night. The preaching was described by an elderly lady, not saved, as "Old fashioned revival preaching". Altogether seven people made professions of faith. A variety of ages were among these, and fourof them were during the meetings and three of them since. The woman who cleans the hall was among those saved. Having prayed together, and worked together, the believers now rejoice together in God's blessing.
News comes in from "Tell Yorkshire" evangelism. A continuous feature of the summer work is the village outreach team. This team consists of young men from the assemblies in the West Riding of Yorkshire who go out on Saturdays to the villages round about where there is no established testimony. As a result of this work a Sunday School has been started at CROFTON near Wakefield and is going well.
East Anglia. A two weeks' gospel campaign was held by A. Carew and R. Clare on the needy Chalkstone Estate at HAVERHILL. The campaign was well directed and supported by the local assembly. Numbers of children attending were encouraging but, as so often, adults were few. The Lord gave blessing in that two girls professed faith in Christ.
London and Home Counties. At Mill Lane Chapel, CHESHUNT, the Young People's work was furthered during the autumn and winter by special Gospel Rallies. J. Riddle reports that, after discussion with elders, it was decided to arrange for these rallies to take place monthly with a view primarily to reaching young folks attending secondary school. Through careful choice of hymns and choruses, the atmosphere was bright and appealing but there was a definite emphasis on the relevant preaching of the gospel and the consistent teaching of the Scriptures. The attention throughout was good and, though beginnings were small, there was an overall average attendance of forty. Assemblies from WALTHAM ABBEY, WARE, and Hare St., ST. ALBANS gave good support. A Bible competition between the four groups of Y.P. attending not only provided keen contests but led to evident increased knowledge of the Scriptures. Further Rallies are being planned, and there is much prayer that a reaping time may eventually come.
From the heart of LONDON comes news of the first Jubi lee Year Ral ly of the London and Home Counties Mobile Unit. On July 18th, a dry day gave every opportunity to gather at Nelson's Column, Trafalgar Square. Workers from the various units preached in the open air between 6 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. to a passing congregation of about 1,000 people. Many of them were overseas visitors. Some joined in the hymn singing and workers mingled with the crowds to distribute tracts and talk with any who showed interest. It was felt that perhaps a greater evidence of prayer and activity from surrounding assemblies would have given more force to the testimony.
SouthWales. Postal Sunday School is in the news again. A united P.S.S. Report Meeting was held at the Heath Gospel Hall, CARDIFF on June 4th. Reports of the work were given by workers from Cardiff, Plymouth, Swansea and Worcester. The work in Cardiff has been going on for about two and a half years. News was given of planned coverage of surrounding counties by means of distribution work on alternate Saturdays throughout the year. Also through Prize Givings the means have been found to contact both parents and children. PLYMOUTH workers have arranged some good "get-togethers", the most recent in a farm at TRURO. Through erecting a stand in Plymouth shopping centre, about one hundred children joined P.S.S. Boarders from a Roman Catholic School for boys were among the keenest pupils. SWANSEA reported progress in a work started twelve years ago. It has proved to be a self-propagating work; pupils have become teachers marking the lessons. Many other young people have been helped further by Camp Work. Also the enjoyment of times of concentrated Bible Study has been made possible through special week-end Camps. WORCESTER was able to report on direct contact with schools in the area through taking morning assembly and offering lessons to the children. A reminder was given of the needs involved in the writing of the lessons, so that in each lesson clear and definite teaching is given. Challenging ministry was given at both sessions from the life of Nehemiah by K. Rudge of St. Austell.
In the small Welsh village of NANT-GARW (pronounced: Nantgaroo) three weeks of Gospel activity took place. With D. Richards and John Baker, each home was visited, open air meetings were held, and meetings for children were held in the Gospel Hall. Some people came in for the first time and numbers were encouraging. Visits were made to an old people's home and a caravan site. Senior citizens came in good numbers to a supper in the village hall, and coffee mornings in different homes brought useful contacts. On the final evening came the joy of one woman coming to Christ. Such activity in a needy area calls for much prayer.
At LOUGHER, near to the place where the 1904 Welsh Revival began, a three weeks Gospel Tent effort was conducted by N. Mellish and David Richards. The local assembly at Jireh Gospel Hall arranged this. Good attendances were enjoyed at the children's meetings and unsaved were seen at the adult meetings. One young man was greatly troubled.
The S.W. Wales Evangelistic Mobile Unit has been active visiting different areas with the Christian message, including visits to the resorts on the GOWER Coast.
Some good contacts were made at Urdd Eisteddfod (pronounced: eerth) among Welsh speaking young people. Gospel literature in Welsh and English was distributed.
Devon and Cornwall. Sometimes unusual centres for Gospel Campaigns are made use of. This was so at DARTMOUTH when D. Pierce and A. Thurston conducted a crusade from the bandstand in the Royal Avenue Gardens. For three weeks meetings were held daily, except Saturdays, for children and adults. Good numbers stopped to listen and also engage in conversation. Two men and two girls trusted the Saviour. One of the men visiting the town had seen his wife trust Christ earlier this year and they have linked up with an assembly in Coventry. Other evidences of the Lord's blessing were seen.
At BURRINGTON, D. Pierce is working with the Gospel Tent and the attendance here has been fair with quite a few of the "locals" coming in. The assembly here is very small. Excellent children's meetings have been held. The Lord is working in some of these young lives and some of the adults have shown interest.
J. Hadley spent three weeks with the Gospel Tent in WHITSTONE. In this small village, one family has maintained a Sunday School and breaking of bread in their home. Good contacts were made although attendance at the meetings was small. All the villages north of BUDE were visited with literature and open air meetings were held. The young people from SALT-ASH assembly gave good assistance.
J. Hadley purposes, D.V., to hold five weeks meetings with children. Bible School will be held in the mornings of the last three weeks. Several young believers were baptized in the tent on the second Lord's Day evening. Regarding the small testimony in BODMIN, prayer is sought concerning a bid to buy some land in the town from the council for a new building.
Encouragement was felt at ST. AUSTELL recently, when two young men, children of an ex-exclusive family, were baptized after a Gospel meeting. A young couple from the assembly will be accompanying an elderly sister, Mrs. Mansfield, when she makes a three weeks visit to Tobago, the place of her previous labours for the Lord.
The Royal Agriculture Show at WADEBRIDGE was a very damp affair this year. Heavy rain caused much concern. But the Postal Sunday School workers refused to be discouraged and at their stand many contacts with children were made. Interesting conversations also took place and the whole effort was felt to be worthwhile.
South-West England. There is no assembly at WOOTTON BASSETT. News comes in of a first tent mission held there by P. Lambert. The 150-seater marquee was erected in a field near to the High Street. Caravans and tents housed the team of twelve workers for the four weeks mission. Numbers of children began in a small way, but by the end of the mission had increased to 120. Through the medium of family services, after-church Rallies on Sundays and film-nights many unsaved folk were contacted. Not ail the activity was linked with the tent. Each day team members were busy, and every home in the town was visited with literature. One thousand John's gospels were distributed to people who' were interested. Many people were prepared to listen as workers told them of a positive faith for the times. One most encouraging feature is a local desire to continue the work in this locality where there is no assembly. Already arrangements are being made for autumn follow up activities in a community centre. From BATH comes news of Christian witness at the Royal Bath and West Show. At a marquee, 60' x 40", various features of witness were provided. Some 12,000 people came in, and while not everybody stayed, contacts were rewarding. Discussions took place with workers and vital matters relating to spiritual needs in life today. 'Phone in sessions were popular and useful. R. Scott-Cook, P. Lambert and others have proved how effective this method could be in leading to later discussions in other parts of the tent. An interesting contact was made by G. Loader with a man who had Bible Training and worked with one of Britain's best known evangelists. He had lost his way spiritually and needs much prayer. Contacts with children was the lot of D. Willcox, and balloons, flags, badges and colouring books with texts were distributed to many. In-depth conversations with people from the army contingent opposite proved interesting to C. Holmes. Many heard—let us pray that the Word will be effective.
This report shows how varied are the ways of presenting the message of Christ to the people. Many evangelists carry the tremendous burden of seeking to win souls in our desperately needy society today. Let us engage in consistent prayer.