Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized . . . and they continued stedfastly", Acts 2. 41 -42.
It is good to remind ourselves at times that evangelism is not an end in itself. It is but a means—a glorious means to an end. Sound and lasting work for the Lord is best done when we are sure what this end is. It is good to be able to report a number of cases of people, having been saved, obeying the Lord in baptism. It is obvious that early apostolic preaching contained much more than an invitation to come to the Saviour. There was, by intent, an emphatic presentation of the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ not only as Saviour but also as Lord. It was the apostle Paul's great joy to see his converts going on and standing fast in the faith. "Now we live", he could say, "if ye stand fast in the Lord", 1 Thess. 3.8. Let us pray that the effects of the many activities of the Lord's servants during the coming months may be rewarded by these permanent results.
Southern Ireland. There are many problems at present in this part of the country, but God is working. From Albert Gray we have news of Postal Sunday School Work. This year they celebrate their 21st anniversary of reaching young people with the message of God's Word. Commenced in a small way by those feeling a burden to give regular Bible teaching to children in rural areas of Ireland, there are now over 2000 children receiving lessons from four different centres. The work also extends to England and Wales. Since 1971, the Bible Educational Service has operated to print and distribute the lesson material. Also in this year, work commenced during the summer at Parklands Caravan Park, and this continued contact with children and parents has proved a tremendous blessing. Today, amidst difficulties, the work grows and there are encouragements. Albert Gray was able to share in the Exhibition Stand at the Agricultural Show at Dublin. There is difficulty in the work at present caused by the postal strike, but through an interview on a Radio programme our brother was able to invite P.S.S. pupils to collect their lessons from the stand. Many did this and new pupils were enrolled. One mother came to enrol her son and said that she was saved as a direct result of this work. Petrol shortages are making travel difficult. Journeys are necessary, as is the obtaining of fuel. Difficulty also arises because of the break with sterling by the Irish, leading to "unprecedented financial problems", amplified by the postal strike. Staff shortages have hampered progress as well. In the face of such problems workers seek for much prayer that the work will progress and prosper.
A report from H. Tickner tells of a time of blessing at the St. Patrick's Conference at CORK. The ministry given was helpful, and believers from Cork, Bandon, Skibbereen and Limerick gathered in good numbers. The ministry presented a challenge to those who gathered. During the following week, four believers were baptized and gathered at the Lord's table the following Lord's day. The father of two of those baptized and a young man and his wife gave a clear profession of faith in Christ during the meetings. It is good to hear that in South-West Ireland many young Catholics are being saved. It is a cause for praise that as soon as they are saved they seek to win others for Christ.
Northern Ireland. The Annual Conference in BELFAST was the biggest since the troubles began in 1996. The marked interest of believers in all the meetings for ministry and for reports of the Lord's work at home and abroad was of great encouragement to the conveners. There is also news of blessing in the mid-week meetings in several BELFAST assemblies, where large numbers of unsaved people are brought together each week. At Donegall Road Gospel Hall, R. Johnson and W. Eadie held a special gospel effort and saw encouraging results. Truly fruit is borne in troublous times.
At BANBRIDGE, J. Hawthorne and J. Martin enjoyed a good attendance and saw blessing at their meetings in the Gospel Hall. A long series of meetings was held at KILMORE by W. Nesbitt and T. W. Wright (Brazil), and some blessing was seen. At MULLAFERNGAHAN. A. Aicken and J. Flanagan were encouraged in their meetings. S. Thompson and J. Graham had good numbers in the Gospel Hall at GROWELL, Co. Down, and at the end of the meetings had the joy of baptizing eight young people. Six of these were from the assembly at BALLYNAHINCH where they had been previously saved.
Scotland. Stewart McKenzie reports on a three weeks campaign held in Holburn Hall, ABERDEEN. The meetings were well attended with unsaved coming in. Four were known to have trusted the Saviour—two teenagers, an elderly lady after a Senior Citizens meeting, and the daughter of a couple in the assembly. The weekly Senior Citizens meetings were especially well attended, and it is hoped to continue these gatherings each month.
From the North comes interesting news. Frank Reid erected a portable hall in the village of ROSEMARKIE. Before the meetings ever commenced, more than fifty locals petitioned the council to have it removed. Sadly it was taken down and prayer is requested that further guidance may be given. Meetings have been held in a mobile hall at KYLE OF LOCHALSH by Ian Munro. Numbers were slow to begin with, but grew as time went on. This is a needy place. There is no assembly at INVERGORDON, although local believers have maintained a gospel witness there for many years. They were offered the use of the Community Hall in nearby SALTBURN for gospel services. It was decided to hold a service at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, and at the first a number of local residents were present.
T. Aitken sends reports from further south. In Glasgow and at CARLUKE, Peter Brandon had good meetings. In both places people came to Christ. At Carluke three converts asked for baptism. At STRUTHERHILL, Larkhall, John Spiers had good times with folks trusting the Saviour. At CHAPEL HALL, Jim Allen had a tough time. In spite of unsaved coming in, none were known to have responded. Visitation work was done by Jim Aitken in FORTH for three weeks. The weekly prayer and Bible Reading were turned into Gospel meetings. Prayer preceded each time. Much joy was brought to a young man, saved last year, when his mother accepted Christ. There have been baptisms recently at GRANGEMOUTH, LOW WATERS, HAMILTON and Greenview Hall, Glasgow. One man was contacted on his doorstep in the Carnwadrie district of GLASGOW by a worker who was saved in the Bible Class held in Barhinnie Prison. So it is that the good seed multiplies. Three have been baptized at ANNBANK. Two of these, a man of 73 years and a girl of 15, were the fruits of Robert McPheats' effort last winter at TARBOLTON. Preaching on this evening our brother had the joy of seeing two other young folks trust the Saviour. In an area visited (not named in the report), new ground was broken in evangelism. There are a number of young people from non-Christian homes in the assembly. These homes were visited by other young people, older brethren accompanying them. By this means, much prejudice has been broken down in the district.
North-East England. It is good to hear news of work in small assemblies. Over the past 1 2 months the little asembly at RAGWORTH, near Stockton-on-Tees, has engaged in visitation work in nearby homes with tracts and invitations to Gospel meetings. An open-air witness was held throughout last summer, and it is intended to hold the Gospel service outdoors during the summer months. At Christmas a special service was held for Senior Citizens with a good attendance. Our fellowship in prayer will be much appreciated.
Worth-West England. More news of baptisms! The Werneth assembly in OLDHAM recently held a special baptismal service when five young believers happily were baptized. Some of these came from non-Christian homes. Unsaved relatives came to the service. One girl had a long connection with ROCHDALE assembly which has recently closed. This was particularly encouraging for past members who now meet at Werneth. MANCHESTER village work begins its 78th season of outreach work, visiting villages with leaflets and engaging in open-air preaching on Saturday afternoons from May to September. Also preparation work is taking place for the Lancashire Gospel Tent 1979 campaign at HEY-WOOD. Evangelists Archie and David McMasters will be responsible for the effort during June. Much blessing has come through this means of evangelism each year, and in our prayers we can uphold those who will be working again.
Midlands. From Ivor Powell comes news of work in NORTHAMPTONSHIRE. A return visit was made to Duke Street Gospel Hall, NORTHAMPTON. Many good contacts were made in door-to-door visitations. A Jewess, who was previously contacted, was visited again. This was most encouraging as workers were invited into her home. She is in need of much prayer as she studies her Bible. She made the comment in conversation "Perhaps Jesus was the Messiah!" Pray that her blindness will be dispelled. Further, as the result of visitation, three women came to the women's meeting who had not previously been. At the children's mission during the second week, 93 children gathered and at the Sunday Prize-giving about 12 parents came. Also at the evening gospel meeting the hall was full, many coming who were the result of visitation work. Two men stayed behind for further help. Two short tent missions were held during March at SKELLOW, Yorks., and NEWMARKET, Suffolk. Both were encouraging times. Many children were reached and some parents attended the Prize-Giving service on the Sunday afternoons.
At HUCCLECOTE, Glos., ten house evangelistic meetings have been held in the vicinity of the assembly premises with encouraging effects. Roger Chilvers reports that altogether about 50 people have been contacted who had never been reached before. This means of outreach is proving effective, and is a useful means of sharing the gospel with others. At Easter, a number of those contacted came to special services with the assembly. At HUNTLEY, Glos., a needy village, preparation is in progress for the planned summer activities there. Prayer would be valued for these ventures.
London and Home Counties. News again from the London South-East Evangelistic Mobile Unit. For the Easter Outreach the unit joined forces with the RICHMOND Gospel Hall and visited the Plumstead area around the hall. "We were greatly thrilled", writes H. E. Johns, "when on Good Friday a worker brought a man back to the hall who later made a decision for Christ". He has since attended the hall with his two children. At WELLING many passed by the Unit, but two ladies stopped and in conversation it was found that the older lady had been out of touch with the Lord for 51 years. She showed interest. A worker had previously spoken to her and her daughter in door-to-door visitation. She desires to come back to the Lord but finds it difficult. Pray for her restoration. At BRIXTON there were three cases of Roman Catholics asking for literature. Especially interesting was a lady from Northern Ireland who asked for literature and wanted to know more about the gospel. In very wet weather there were interesting contacts made at CAMBER-WELL GREEN. Two ladies, listening from their flat window came down and asked for literature, because they wanted to know more. Pray for workers—more workers—and contacts made !
At WELLING Gospel Chapel, a vacation Bible School was held during the week of Easter for children and young people. Bible talks on the life of Joseph were given by Tom Bathgate. 80 gathered each day and on the closing Sunday meeting over 130 children and parents were present. While the Sunday School does not seem to gain permanently from this effort, it is a thrill to be able to teach the word freely to so many young people each year. About twelve assemblies have become involved each year in the South-East London Camps. Annually six or seven camps are held from late July through August. These have proved a great blessing, and over the years children have been saved and baptized and are now in happy fellowship. Prayer is much needed in the preparation work for these efforts to win the young for Christ. From J. Harrold, Hounslow, comes further news of work among the Asian people. At HOUNSLOW, on Easter Sunday the hall was nearly full for the family service. Several of the Asian contacts came. The Sunday School here is made up of about 75% Asian children. A neighbour named Gita listened to a Guyarti gospel tape and took it to her home for her husband to hear. This couple need much prayer. A Hindi night-school teacher is also very interested in this tape. She is very willing to talk about Christian matters. Also in May a special tea was held for Asians at the hall. A good number were present and a very interesting time was had with them. Our brother stresses the need again for love and care in this work, and would value continued fellowship in prayer.
South and West England. News from SWINDON of a Missionary week-end at WROUGHTON assembly when Robert Revie gave news of the work and its needs in Ethiopia. On the following Sunday evening a young man of 23 accepted Christ as Saviour. Altogether it was an encouraging weekend. Also in this assembly a girl of 15 has been baptized after waiting 12 months for her parents' consent. In the PARK assembly the Good Friday conference was well attended. J. Hadley, Cornwall, and J. Merson, Scotland, shared the ministry of the Word. Mr. Merson stood in as a last minute substitute at DEVIZES assembly conference where a good time was enjoyed.
Country conferences are very often more effective as a means of fellowship than similar gatherings in towns. At ROCKHAMPTON, Glos., where the comparatively small assembly held their conference, the hall was full to overflowing with loud speakers relaying the ministry to people outside the main hall. A. C. Gooding, Stowmarket and W. Craig, Glasgow, shared the ministry. The testimony in this small village in rural England has continued with God's blessing for 45 years—much to praise God for.
From DORSET comes news of preparation work for the summer campaigns. Stephen Gillham has plans for an indoor campaign at LYME REGIS. There will also be an opportunity for a tent mission at WYKE REGIS. Permission for a playing-field site has been granted. This is near a large council estate with a great need for evangelism. At STURMINSTER NEWTON, where there is a small but active assembly, there will D.V. be a mission for the third time. Prayer is sought for a commencement of permanent work in STALBRIDGE nearby. Again permission has been granted for open-air witness on the sands at WEYMOUTH during the summer months. Prayer is sought for all these activities as they will take place in the will of the Lord. Stephen Gillham speaks of encouragements during the winter months in children's work, family services and in visiting work in some places. During the spring our brother has had the opportunity to speak at eight Senior Citizens gatherings in various places in the Dorset County. In all there has been a good interest shown. At DORCHESTER there was a full hall for the Annual Adventure Time Club Prize Giving. Parents and children from all over Dorset met for the occasion. At WEST MOORS the hall was packed for "Opportunity 79", when again young people from all over the county met to consider how they could be involved in the Lord's work during the coming year.
South Wales. Several brief items of news are to hand from Wales. The small assembly at Jireh Gospel Hall, LOUGHOR, was encouraged by ministry given by W. E. Davies (Bahamas). Some local folk from the village attended. A baptismal service at TREBOETH Gospel Hall, SWANSEA, saw six young men obey the Lord in baptism. A series of gospel meetings is being conducted by Norman Mellish at the Gospel Hall, FFORESTFACH. News comes from Frank Lonney. of weekly meetings held at CAERSWS, Mid-Wales, during the autumn and winter of last year to keep contact with children reached during the summer and also to build up teenagers who have accepted Christ. This work has its difficulties and needs much prayer. Also a door-to-door work has been done in the SMALL RHONDDA VALLEY, and about 2000 Luke's Gospels have been given away with as many gospel booklets. Good conversations were held with some of the people. There is no assembly in this valley. At BRECON, the Wednesday children's meetings continue with over 30 attending each time. David* and Lois Roberts, who have the main burden of this work, need much prayer. At ABERGAVENNY, a Gospel campaign was held with J. Smyth of London. There was great joy when two people professed faith in Christ. There has also been a request for baptism from two young people. Let us rejoice with them in their time of blessing. The annual Missionary Conference at Newport was well attended this year. Reports were given by G. Jones (Rhodesia), J. Jones (India) and J. Hadley (Cornwall). Ministry was given by J. Spiers from Scotland.
Devon and Cornwall. The town, of BUDE is a needy place with no assembly testimony. John Hadley has engaged in door-to-door visitations in the town and surrounding villages. He is waiting upon the Lord for a regular opening to preach the gospel there once a month in a hired hall. Much prayer is needed. The small testimony of WHITSTONE continues and it is hoped to erect the tent there in July. Earnest prayer is sought by J. Hadley regarding a tent mission at either LISK-EARD or ST. CLEER for two weeks in June/July. There is no evangelical witness in these places, and there is a deep exercise concerning hiring a hall in each place for a regular gospel witness. Let us join them in their prayers. Difficulties and delays held up progress at BODMIN with regard to the new building. Costs are soaring, and there is a wide gap between cash in hand and estimated costs of the building. The saints are not daunted and are looking to God for His guidance. He is still the God of miracles!
Helpful booklets are distributed by the elders to young people in the BODMIN assembly. One has been reprinted for their use, and a copy has been sent to us. "The Young Christian and the Lord's Table "; it may be obtained for distribution from J. Hadley, Ebenezer, Midway Road, Bodmin, Cornwall at 10p a copy (14p postage for 5 copies; 24p postage for 10 copies, at June postal rates).
To end the report there comes a call again for exercise concerning the needy county of CORNWALL. About 67% of the people in the county live west of TRURO. John Hadley, as he works there, says that the field could provide a rich harvest of precious souls. The ground is hard, the people often difficult to reach. Prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit are essentially needed in Cornwall!