Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation", 2 Cor. 6. 2.
This oft-repeated text of Scripture expresses, among other things, the apostles sense of urgency in presenting the claims of the gospel. It is interesting to notice that in the A.V. the "is" in both cases is in italics. The thrust of the thought—the connection with the Old Testament quotation—throws the weight of implication on "now". Notice the twice repeated, "behold".
Two incidents reported regarding evangelism, brought this Scripture to mind. One, the contact with a girl 10 years old in Margate; the other a lady of 83 years in Cheltenham. Both, we are able to record with rejoicing, accepted Christ as Saviour. But how different the circumstances! For the girl of but ten years, all fresh and new. Five weeks at Sunday School, hearing of Jesus and His love, and she simply opens her life to the Lord. For the aged lady—what shall we say? Praise God she is saved ! But how different the meaning of "now" to her. It was her final opportunity ! All of which serves to show the importance of the time factor in sharing Christ with others. We have got to be convinced that there is no better time than the present to press home the claims of our Risen and soon-coming Lord. Maybe if we transmitted to people in the world a greater sense of our urgent desire that they should immediately respond to Him, we should see more positive reaction and acceptance. The word of the parable will speak for itself, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled", Luke 14. 23.
Northern Ireland. We have various items of news from Jim Graham, Belfast. At CARDY, Co. Down, Eric Wishart and Sam Jennings had the joy of seeing some accept Christ as Saviour. R. Jordan and J. Wishart had a fruitful spell of meetings in TAN DRAGEE, Co. Armagh—one accepted Christ on the very first evening. Meetings were held at BALLYGOSKIN, Co. Down, by John Hawthorne accompanied by J. Palmer. In the Gospel Hall, PORTADOWN, Sam Ferguson and Norman Turkington held good meetings and some were saved. Jim Graham and Samuel Thompson were encouraged as a good number of outsiders attended meetings at Adam Street Hall, BELFAST. Work has been done in the open-air at BANGOR, Co. Down, in association with the Central Avenue Gospel Hall. The weather has not been very favourable, but consistent open-air work has been done at PORT STEWART, CARNLOUGH and NEWCASTLE. Well attended conferences are reported from AHOREY, where a centenary of meetings was celebrated ; at BLEARY and also at BALLYMAGAR-RICK. The ministry at these gatherings was helpful and much appreciated.
Scotland. There is encouraging news of work in Lanarkshire. At HARELEES-HILL, LARKHALL, Jim Smyth held a mission. Many from the estate came to the meetings which were well supported by surrounding assemblies. There was a fine atmosphere for preaching the gospel and a number of adults and children were saved. The interest continues. At MUIR-HEAD again, Jim Smyth enjoyed blessing as an elderly lady and two teenage girls accepted Christ. An interesting conversation was held with a young Roman Catholic lady after a meeting. Her sister had found Christ some time earlier, and she seemed very interested. She was given a Bible and a copy of "Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment". She needs prayer. Jim Aitken continues with door-to-door work during the daytime, and open-air meetings in the evenings. A fortnight was spent with the FORTH assembly, tracting and preaching in the villages of CARSTAIRS, CARSTAIRS JUNCTION, CARNWATH and DOUGLAS WATER.
In the latter place the hearing was quite remarkable. At CARSTAIRS, two German lads on tour saw an open-air meeting for the first time and took photographs. A good supply of gospel literature was given to them. A further fortnight of activity was spent in fellowship with the NEWMAINS assembly, working in their area. Each of these occasions has been augmented with special afternoon open-air rallies, with ministry following in the evening. John Spiers and Robert Revie held a month of meetings in CUMNOCK. A good number of folk from the district attended. Towards the end of the mission, two people accepted Christ, and on the last night there was joy as two more came to the Lord. One of the ladies saved had been influenced by her sister, who had found Christ just previously at the Glasgow meetings of Luis Palau. The Renfrewshire Gospel Campaign at ELDERSLIE was conducted by Robert Revie. Meetings held in the Gospel Hall from Mondays to Thursdays were well attended, and also the after-church rallies. These were held on Sundays in the village Primary School. A number of the locals came in, and although no definite professions were made, some good conversations were enjoyed in visitation work. As someone said, "the seed was sown, and we await the harvest in coming days". The AYR Bible Readings were held this year in Wallacetown Church These proved again to be times of great blessing. There were believers present from Scotland, England and many from Ireland. Attendances were as high as ever and interest was keen. A. Leckie, J. Riddle and A. Gamble were responsible for the ministry, and the good Word of God was much appreciated in its practical application. Stewart McKenzie tells of encouragement following a visit to BLACKBURN, West Lothian, to discuss arrangements for a future gospel campaign. During the week following a 'phone call came to say that after the gospel meeting a young man accepted the Saviour. His parents are in fellowship, and he was home on R.A.F. leave.
North West England. A very effective gospel campaign was held by David Morgan at Bethany Hall, HUYTON, Liverpool. Many homes were visited and attendances were good. At least one man was saved and a number of friends continued to attend the various services. The Annual Merseyside Tent Crusade for Christ was conducted in June by Stan Ford at WAVERTREE. The Crusade was noted for good attendances—this in spite of indifferent weather conditions. At least forty professed to trust the Saviour. A winter series of Assembly Rallies was held in LIVERPOOL. These proved to be well attended, and blessing was enjoyed. The series for next winter is now being prayerfully considered. The Lancashire Gospel Tent has been pitched at Werneth Park, OLDHAM, with Stan Ford as evangelist. A great number of strangers have been seen in the tent. Many teenagers attending were disruptive in behaviour, but this gradually improved. The children's meetings and youth specials were well attended.
North Midlands. A literature exercise is reported from Steep Turnpike Evangelical Church, MATLOCK. Workers joined together to visit 660 homes in the area, and answers were received from 300 of these. At 45 of the homes, the gospel was presented. As a result, 5 made definite professions of faith in Christ, 18 New Testaments were requested as well as 22 Bible Studies, and about 24 return visits took place within the next four weeks. This was greatly encouraging. Prior to this special effort, letters were taken to 800 homes, so quite a few of these will be visited to find answers to questions contained in the letters. There is a real desire to see people responding and coming to Christ in this locality.
Midlands. The "Way" Witness Tent was erected again at the Three Counties Show at MALVERN, and proved to be effective in reaching many with the gospel. Many thousands again passed through the tent, and over a cup of tea some interesting and useful conversations were held. The Worcester Postal Sunday School made many new contacts as school children from a wide area came into the tent. About 400 received their introductory lesson and already these are beginning to come back completed. The Word of God was displayed in various ways, and amidst all the commercialism of the Show we can pray that this and other testimonies to the gospel will bring people to Christ. The believers at Hesters Way Gospel Hall, CHELTENHAM, have for about 15 years consistently visited two local Old Peoples Homes. Each visit has presented opportunities to share the gospel with the aged. Recently, after one such meeting, a lady of 83 confronted the speaker and said, "I am not saved". After looking at the Scriptures and some conversation, she was wonderfully led to Christ. She now is happy to meet with the believers. It was discovered that she was brought up in a Christian home, but made up her mind early in life to go her own way—without Christ. How merciful the Lord is in saving her in life's eventide. News comes from Philip Lambert of work in Wiltshire. Ten days children's meetings were held in the village of SHREWTON. It was good to meet the children, and also to see signs of spiritual growth in some of the young people who had trusted Christ in the previous year. Pray that a regular work will be established in the village. A good number of children attended the children's mission at BRADFORD-ON-AVON. The children were of higher age range, and so deeper things were given from the Word. Many of them had become Christians in previous missions.
Home Counties. We have news from Dane Hall Christian Assembly, BISHOPS STORTFORD, Herts., of a developing story of the Lord's guidance and blessing. It was fifty years ago that an assembly first gathered together in this place. Things moved along in the usual manner until 1968 when the council decided to widen the road, demolishing Dane Hall in the process. Meeting first in the disused Technical College, then at Northgate End Activity Centre, the assembly is now numerically much larger than in Dane Hall days. There are drawbacks in the use of this Centre, but there has been much work done for the Lord here. After continual prayer and the building up of funds, a piece of ground has been made available in Dunmow Road. Outline planning was granted for a building site. Many experiences have been seen of the Lord's definite guidance as time has passed. The plot of land was worth in excess of £10,000, yet has been made available at £4,000. Plans for a building have been drawn up and approved by the Council. A Christian builder has been wonderfully provided, one who has been recently saved and, with his wife, has been baptized. In a remarkable way the sewers have been laid and the site levelled by a contractor, in return for the willingness to allow his heavy vehicles to be stored on site for 3 months. This work was done free of charge! So another story can be told of God's faithfulness—an encouragement to trust until the building will be, in His will, erected and the assembly can gather again in their own hall.
South East England. We have some encouraging news from S. Mountstevens, The Sunday School in RAMSGATE now numbers about 80, and many parents came in to a recent prizegiving service. In the assembly work, some have been saved and baptized. In the villages blessing has been experienced. Monthly follow-up meetings prove a source of encouragement. There is an evident desire for the Word. In one village both parents and children asked for a week's mission. There is need for much prayer. In seeking the usual site for the August Beach Mission there were difficulties, but after an appeal to the Thanet Council, the Lord miraculously intervened, and a leading member of the Council disregarded his own rules to allow the work to continue. He said he had enjoyed the meetings which he had seen. How wonderful God is! A tent mission was held in the village of St. NICHOLAS, and between 40-50 children gathered each evening. There was a good interest. There is a great need for the gospel in many of these villages, and the Lord has graciously provided a gospel van and small tent so that this work can go forward. The Lord continues to bless in the MARGATE assembly. A girl of 10 having attended Sunday School for about 5 weeks, opened her life to the Saviour. At a tent mission at STURRY, up to 90 children attended. A consistent work among children has been continued here on Tuesday evenings for a number of years, without much apparent fruit. Two girls came to talk after one of the special meetings, and wanted to be sure of salvation. "Are you Christians then ?", they were asked. "Yes", they said, and told how they had trusted the Saviour at the Tuesday meetings. How encouraging this was for the workers. On the same night as this, a boy and a girl trusted Christ.
South and West England. Several interesting items of news are to hand from J. Harman, Weymouth. Stephen Gillham is finding many opportunities for witness in DORSET Schools. These contacts were important as the end of the school year approached. The preparation work was done for witness to students in WEYMOUTH—an annual opportunity. Sadly, the Norwegians are unable to come this year. But students from many parts will be visiting, and more news of these activities will be to hand later. There is a move in the local Council to ban distribution of literature in .WEYMOUTH town centre and along the sea front. Prayer would be valued that this intention will be overruled. It would greatly hamper evangelism. Since a recent report given on the PORTLAND prison work, a new chaplain has been appointed at the prison, and he is most uncooperative in the work of visitation. The presence of "evangelicals" seems resented. He has interfered with the work and distribution of Emmaus Bible Courses—even the prisoners are upset about him in this connection. He has curtailed the visitation times for the workers Prayer is needed.
South Wales. The South West Wales Evangelistic Mobile Unit have held their annual meetings. Encouraging reports of the activities of the Unit were given, and W. E. Davies of The Bahamas gave challenging ministry. A decision has been made to purchase a new vehicle so that the work of evangelism may effectively continue. By this method an open-air witness is faithfully maintained in the centre of the city of SWANSEA. The Unit is also used to assist smaller assemblies in the Welsh villages with their testimony.
Devon. Just one encouraging item of news comes from Whipton Chapel, EXETER. At a Sunday Evening baptism service, the hall was packed. Six young people gave open testimony to their faith in Christ as they were obedient to Him in baptism. One of the young men came from a non-Christian family and his parents came to the service. Since then they have been attending the gospel service each week. Prayer is now being made for further blessing, especially in this family.
Foreign News Items. With all that we hear of political unrest and upheaval in POLAND, it is good to know of a visit to the country made by Bill Grunbaum, and to hear of conditions in this troubled land. Food shortages are a constant daily trial as are the long tedious hours of waiting for small supplies. During his packed visit, involving numerous consultations with Christian leaders, workers and others the "simple stedfastness" of the people was most impressive. One preacher said, "This crisis has delivered us from our fear of Russia". There is a determination to stand up for what they feel to be necessary and right in shaping their future. A lot of prayer is needed for these believers at this time, that out of the present-day crises, both spiritual and material, may come a new and lasting work for God, healing the rifts between believers and ultimately bringing much glory to God. It is good to hear of Christian broadcast work in POLAND. From the Western world, nine Christian radio stations beam the Word of God into Eastern European lands, including Poland. One unique radio programme is the work of "Voice of the Gospel" based in WARSAW, and is the only programme originating inside the curtain bearing official blessing. Keen and skilled workers produce first class programmes, both evangelistic and expository, which after censorship are flown to Monte Carlo and beamed back into Poland in daily 15 minute broadcasts. Thus amidst the awful darkness of communism, we can be confident that the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ is shining. Let us pray for Bill Grunbaum and fellow workers who are engaged in bringing the Word to Eastern European Countries.