Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
". . . into all the world", Mark 16. 15.
It is good to reflect often on the universal scope of the Christian message. In the commission of the Risen Lord to the disciples, we are made conscious of the boundlessness of the love of God for sinful men. In terms of space, these reports cover a very small part of the vast harvest field. Yet as we read of immigrants entering our land from Vietnam, it is good to be made aware of efforts to put God's Word into their hands. Perhaps we all need more of this outward-looking consciousness of need as we evangelize. We may go no further in distance than the limits of our own borders, but how much need lies at our very doorstep. May our response always be worthy of the Lord who has saved, sanctified and sent us.
Northern Ireland. Summer time gives opportunity for open-air work. Assemblies at CARNLOUGH ; Central Hall, BANGOR, Co. Down; and NEWCASTLE are again concentrating on reaching holiday-makers in the open-air. Each night good numbers hear the gospel. Past days have seen interesting conversions in these resorts. Pray that this year will see the same. At DERRY HUBBERT, Co. Armagh, S. McBride and W. Jennings had good interest as they preached in a portable hall. Blessing was experienced as W. Nesbitt worked in the Gospel Hall at BLEARY, Co. Armagh. At BALLYWALTER, a small seaside town, the assembly was encouraged as large numbers gathered in to Gospel meetings conducted by E. Wishart and S. Jennings. Encouragement was also given to Wilson Radcliffe and R. Jordan in an Orange Hall in the village of WARINGSFORD near Banbridge, Co. Down. A number were saved, and local interest was such that a decision was made to continue with a weekly Gospel meeting each Sunday evening. Let us pray for the BELFAST assemblies as they continue to provide for Scripture Texts on the cities' buses for another year. Giving has allowed for the number of buses to be increased. God's Word thus circulates in this troubled city.
Scotland. ORKNEY. From this northern part of the British Isles M. Browne sends news. With J. Hawthorne (Belfast) during April/May a preaching tour was made through the island of EDAY, and the whole of Orkney EAST MAINLAND. Sometimes they preached in hired community halls, and farms and cottages were visited with the good Word of God. In a school on EDAY good interest was shown in the message by pupils and staff. The assembly at WICK was visited for ministry meetings. Dunnet Head Lighthouse was visited. A long conversation was held with the principal lightkeeper, and in his home the claims of the Saviour were put both to him and to his wife. They need our prayers. At PAPA WESTRAY two weeks meetings were held in the assembly with Bobby Souter, who faithfully visited throughout the island with the Word of God.
News of blessing comes from GOU-ROCK assembly, Renfrew. A three weeks campaign—extended eventually by two extra weeks—was held with Jim Smyth of Livingstone during May/June. All the meetings were well attended. For three Sunday evenings, after-church rallies were held in an independent hall. Interest increased as time went by. Altogether 15 people of varying ages professed conversion. Some of these have since followed the Lord in baptism. The summer gospel work began with encouragements at WHITHORN, GARLIESTON, and WHAU-PHILL, Wigtownshire. Many listened with interest each night as the gospel was preached. From Lanarkshire comes news of work with John Spiers. Three weeks campaign was held at Forgewood assembly, MOTHERWELL. Another three weeks was held at SALSBURGH village assembly. Good contacts were made in each place through visitation. Fair numbers attended the meetings, but there were no known conversions. Both assemblies were helped in these efforts. Door-to-door work was done in the daytime in the uppermost villages of LANARKSHIRE by James Aitken for four weeks. Two further weeks were conducted in the BELLSHILL area. Much opposition to open-air preaching was experienced at CARSTAIRS Junction. A man was particularly abusive, but preaching was continued and a lady of 79, contacted through the mailing list of our brother, trusted Christ. How often Satan oversteps himself ! Good meetings were held when A. Aiken from Ireland visited DARVEL. Interested folk supported the work well. There is no assembly testimony in Darvel. One married lady trusted the Lord, and another couple were baptized during the meetings. In Fifeshire at MILN-ATHORP, meetings conducted by Robert McPheat saw an elderly couple, who attended open-air services last year, accept the Saviour. A young lady whose husband has been saved showed interest. At DUMFRIES a young man who lodges in the same house as J. Flett has accepted Christ.
The AYR Bible Readings this year were excellent. Speakers were A. Leckie and J. Riddle. The Bible Readings in 1 Timothy, and the ministry given on the minor prophets, were appreciated by a record number who attended. James Street Hall was too small, so a bigger meeting place was taken. Each evening the ministry meetings were fully attended.
North-West England. The Lancashire Gospel Tent was pitched at HEYWOOD, Manchester. Evangelists David and Archie McMasters conducted the campaign. In both adult and children's meetings there was a good response. Though no definite results can be recorded, a good interest was created. A small group of Christians who came out of Methodism about 14 years ago and commenced an Evangelical Church in the district, gave the Tent good support. Originally, the group went part-way to establishing assembly practice, but not fully. Due to the presence of the Tent and contact with the McMaster brothers, there appears to be deep exercise among the group regarding their present position. We can remember them in our prayers.
Midlands Area. At ASTON, Birmingham, Stewart McKenzie conducted a fortnight's campaign. The campaign was held to mark the opening of a new hall there. Blessing was experienced in that three trusted in Christ for salvation—a woman, a teenage lad and a 9 year old boy. A conference was held on Saturday June 9th to mark the opening of the new hall at Park Lane. Ministry was given by D. Clapham and Stewart McKenzie. A good number gathered for the occasion. The goodness of God was recounted, and a spirit of praise prevailed throughout. In 1963 the County Council gave news that they would be building a motor expressway which would go through the hall then being used. In 1967 a compulsory purchase order for the premises was made. During these uncertain years the saints had many proofs of the Lord's undertaking and guidance. In 1970 temporary accommodation was provided, and for nine years the assembly gathered there. This was provided free of charge. Many committed Christians became involved in the various sides of the building work, planning etc. The Lord's faithfulness and the faithfulness of His people joined together to further a testimony which began in Aston, Birmingham, as far back as 1860. Since moving into the new building two women, saved at a previous campaign, have been baptized and received into fellowship. We join together to pray that the Lord will continue to bless His work in this locality.
News comes to hand of a campaign at HUNTLEY, Glos. Some older children made professions here, although there was no sign of a breakthrough with the adults. But there was great encouragement from adults converted since work was done there three summers ago. These are not only going on with the Lord, but were among the hardest workers of the campaign. The time was a great blessing to them. At the Three Counties Agricultural Show, MALVERN, Worcs., "The Way" Christian Witness Tent was erected. The weather was fine and thousands of people passed through the tent during the three days of the show. There was a sense of close fellowship among all who worked together. Cups of tea were supplied free and many interesting conversations were enjoyed—some revealed deep concern for spiritual help. The Postal Sunday School section of the tent was encouraging, and some 500 children received an Introductory Lesson from workers at the table. The display material and bookstall gave a good means of testimony to the many who passed by.
During the month of June the assembly at BEARWOOD, SMETHWICK, celebrated its centenary. Records kept regarding this assembly show that as far back as 1880 there were those who met together to break bread. The life of the assembly here has not escaped the world's impact, but in spite of difficulties and opposition believers have gone forward in faith, and the work of the assembly has grown with the Lord's blessing. The celebrations were held from the 17th to the 24th June, and included special efforts in the various aspects of the work of the assembly. Two special Gospel meetings and two meetings- for Ministry were held. At the second of the Gospel meetings the Mayor and Mayoress of Sandwell attended, and the local press gave a feature page to the history of the assembly. Thus in different ways the goodness of the Lord was recorded, and thanksgiving and praise were given to God for His blessing over so many years.
From DUDLEY West Midlands we have news of a tent campaign in the park conducted by Norman Mellish and David Richards. This proved a blessing in many ways. The local assembly worked together, and it gave a great stimulus to their testimony. Before the campaign a girl of sixteen came to Christ, and during the first week "of the campaign a married woman accepted the Saviour. The children's meetings were also very well attended. Many who came remarked on the powerful preaching of the gospel, and although the number of adults was small to begin with, the interest grew and eventually many heard the gospel.
London and South-East. A Holiday Club for children was held at Hare Street Gospel Hall, HARLOW, during the early part of the year. Each evening about 100 children attended, and the week concluded with a parents' night. Many unsaved parents heard the gospel at this meeting. The theme of the venture was "The Great Voyage of Discovery". Many of the children are continuing to come to the various activities at the hall. There is much follow-up work to be done.
A successful campaign was held by R. Whitton at Eastbrook Hall, WALTHAM ABBEY. Despite bad weather, good numbers attended each evening. A Senior Citizen's gathering produced good interest, and on the final evening of the campaign the hall was packed to capacity. A sad note —there has been no response so far to further invitations to Sunday School and Gospel Meetings. Prayer is needed for a breakthrough.
Vietnamese refugees have already been in the news in this country. At HOUNSLOW about 75 of them have been placed in an old Catholic College. J. Harrold reports on immediate contacts with these folk. About 80 books and booklets in their own tongue were placed in their hands. "It was really lovely to be able to meet these charming and friendly people who were very pleased to receive these Scripture Gift Mission items"—so writes our brother. Many of these folks are bewildered, sad and lonely. They represent yet another challenge to our prayers. The distribution of tracts and gospel literature continues with many thousands of items being placed in the hands of needy people in many parts of the country.
Encouraging news of the work at MARGATE comes from S. Mountstevens. Following a recent baptismal service, a young teenage girl came under deep conviction of sin and eventually accepted Christ as Saviour. Her home conditions are difficult and she needs much care and prayer. Another teenage girl became concerned about baptism, and another service is due to take place. The Sunday School is also increasing as the children bring their friends. Around the KENT villages blessing has been in evidence. At WORTH, 3 lads were counselled after a follow-up meeting one of them was genuinely moved, and prayed that the Lord would help him. Here we have some causes for praise.
Southern Counties. A brief item of news from COPNER tells of much blessing over the past two years with increasing numbers. Four young people obeyed the Lord in baptism during July. There is a spirit of .thankfulness to God for His blessing.
There are about 30 assemblies in the county of DORSET, and some are numerically small. Over the years a faithful witness has been maintained in spite of difficulties, and the doors are still very much open and the work continues. Such gatherings need prayer, as trends often lead to the decrease of active strength. One of these assemblies, HAMWORTHY, celebrated its silver jubilee this year. The assembly looked back over twenty-five years of testimony, and marked the occasion with special events. Recently a special service was held for the Royal Marines, their wives and families. There is a good women's work here although numbers are few and the people are mostly elderly. Each week an active Bible Class for teenagers is held and is well attended.
The tent Crusade at WYKE REGIS conducted by Stephen Gillham was encouraging, For the whole of the 2| weeks the weather was- fine, and a good crowd of children consistently attended. On the final night the tent was full with a number of parents and their friends coming in from the estate. There was little real response from the adults, but strangers came in to the Family Service and Senior Citizens' meetings. At long last the local council has made a definite offer of land for a building on the TRICKETT'S CROSS ESTATE. Prayer is asked for guidance as the next steps are taken towards development. The special Summer School's Outreach to foreign students in WEYMOUTH carries on. Many methods are used to reach them. Street witness teams are out regularly; coffee bars and barbecues are held; international student evenings and visits to local language schools all play their part in the programme. This annual effort presents a wonderful opportunity to reach youth from many countries with the gospel. The believers from the small assembly at MERRIOTT visit a favourite picnic area at HAM HILL each Sunday evening with a mobile unit. Many gather at this spot, and there is a general willingness to listen to the gospel and accept literature.
At MELKSHAM three days were spent with the Mobile Christian Exhibition Unit. David Prosser, Bruce and Grace Anderson made few contacts because the site and the weather were poor. There is hope that this equipment may prove useful in future work. There was plenty of rain at the BATH and WEST Show this year. The Mobile Exhibition was set up in the marquee, and evangelists and local believers worked together making many thousands of contacts with literature and conversation. Cups of tea were served, and many were willing to sit and talk about spiritual things.
South Wales. From Bruce Anderson comes news of the conversion of a man aged 20 who was contacted at the Witness Stand at Monmouth market. After the contact was made, he was introduced to the believers at WYESHAM assembly, and one of the elders there eventually had the joy of leading him to Christ. Since the event he has given evidence of a hanger in his life but he needs prayer. News from John Baker and Frank Lonney of tent work at WATTS-TOWN, Little Rhondda Valley. There are no assemblies in this valley, and only three assemblies in the larger Rhondda. Think about it—a population of 90,000 people— 30 in assembly fellowship! Over the past 18 months, every door in Little Rhondda has been "knocked on", and leaflets and a Gospel of Luke left behind. John Baker calls it the "Valley of Vandalism"—such is the destruction caused in this way. But as the tent was pitched not a finger was laid upon it—praise God for His protection. The children's meetings were well attended, and adults also came in. Assembly support was good. A schoolmaster attended on several occasions and seemed deeply moved. On one night he brought his wife with him. This is a desperately needy area, and evangelism is much needed.
Reports from TREDEGAR ; Devon and Cornwall : ASHBURTON, FALMOUTH, LISKEARD, are held over to the next issue owing to lack of space.