Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Always abounding in the work of the Lord", 1 Cor. 15. 58.
It is very encouraging to be able to represent in this report almost every area of the country. The atmosphere of the activities recorded reveals a keenness and dedication on the part of the workers which prove that it is no ordinary task that is undertaken. How privileged are all who have part in the business of working for the Lord. The early preachers of the gospel emphasized this glorious fact that "He is Lord of all"—they owed their allegiance to Him and none other. The desperate need of our generation demands earnestness in our commitment to the Gospel. Often our apathy and lethargy belie our professions of understanding the true nature of the need. It is a thrill this time to present so many items of news that tell of abounding service and activity. Let us catch the spirit of enthusiasm that such work for the Lord reflects.
Northern Ireland. One or two items are to hand from Jim Graham in Belfast. Sam McBride held a 12 week gospel effort with John Rodgers in the village of POYNTZPASS. Jack Lennox and Jim Brown saw good interest in meetings at the Gospel Hall, BANBRIDGE, Co. Down. Bill Bingham of Nova Scotia had a good interest and saw some blessing in the Bloomfield Assembly, BELFAST. Here Sam Jordan from the assembly gave help. Bill Armstrong and Ron Cunningham returned to the Community Centre at MONKSTOWN, where they saw the Lord's blessing some time ago. A man who had been restored to the Lord, brought his wife and neighbour to the meeting. The large tent in the Botanic Gardens, BELFAST, was again the centre of very good interest for 2 weeks in August. Harry Andrews was the evangelist. God again blessed the effort and some were saved.
Southern Ireland. We have a brief report from the Republic. John Flynn and Robert McLuckie visited the GALWAY/ SALTHILL area with the Mobile Unit. At GALWAY they were able to meet with a group of believers who meet in the home of two doctors. They maintain an effective witness among the students. Help was given in a Bible Study on the subject of "The Church", and prayer is asked for these believers. Political conditions cast their shadow on further activities along the west coast of GALWAY. People were reluctant to talk. At the SHRINE OF KNOCK, where the Pope had paid a visit, some good Christian literature was left. Say our brethren, "Our hearts were burdened as we saw the idolatry of the system of Rome and the spiritual darkness of the people". A sad reflection on religion without Christ I At DRUM, Co. Monaghan, good fellowship was enjoyed at the conference, and the ministry was shared with six other speakers.
Scotland. An interesting report comes from Jim Aitken in LANARKS. He speaks of work done in villages where no evangelical witness is found. The mailing list of our brother now numbers over 100. Through this ministry there have been confessions of faith by some elderly people. This method of spreading the Word often reaches people who have no assembly within their reach. Elderly people—believers who are not able to get to the meetings—find blessing this way. So the letters are sent out, bringing comfort and instruction to the saved as well as the gospel to unbelievers. We can pray for this unique form of witness. Two points of interest from small assemblies. Encouragement came to TAR-BOLTON, a small village in Ayrshire. The assembly in the past has given servants of the Lord to the mission field, but has fallen low in numbers. But the Lord has given a time of increase and numbers are now about 30. The last couple to be added after being wonderfully saved and baptized, were in their seventies. The husband was brought up in a Christian home and now is a Christian. At another small assembly DOUGLAS, Lanarks, a team of workers conducted children's and adult's meetings with great encouragement. Both children and adults professed faith in Christ. Now prayer is needed that the demands of the extra responsibility that such blessing brings may be met.
North East England. News from this area tells of a number of believers who have confessed the Lord openly in baptism. At WHITLEY BAY, there was encouragement in the young people's work, when one of the lads was saved, and eventually was baptized. Whilst visiting the campaign at WALLSEND, he talked with Stewart McKenzie, and a couple of weeks later was baptized. At the BLYTH assembly, five young ladies were baptized in August. In the NORTH SHIELDS assembly, a man has asked for baptism. The Maxwell Hall assembly, SOUTH SHI ELDS, has a good young people's work, and in September ten young ladies asked for baptism. They had been to the Sunday School camp at WISTON, in Scotland, and had been challenged by a message on the subject. On return, they approached the brethren regarding the matter. The service was most encouraging, and afterwards two other girls requested baptism. The assembly also visits an old people's home, and recently an elderly man made a clear profession of salvation. At a small house meeting, another elderly gentleman was saved, and now regularly attends the gospel meeting. Prayer is requested, that in all these believers the work of God shall grow. During the summer months, the North East Assemblies Outreach visited THORNLEY, Co. Durham, and BROMHILL.. Northumberland. Door-to-door work in Thornley proved encouraging, and contact was re-established with many from the outreach work last year. At Bromhill the team engaged in door-to-door work, children's meetings and adult meetings guided by Archie McMaster. During the two week campaign, six young people between 13 and 18 years came to Christ.
North West England. The Lancashire Gospel Tent was pitched at Werneth Park, OLDHAM, during July. Stan Ford was the evangelist responsible for both adult and children's work. The meetings were very well attended, and good interest was shown in the Word. A large number of strangers came in, some of whom were just passing through the park. Teenagers, attracted to the meetings, were at first unruly, but gradually settled down and showed interest. The usefulness of the youth meetings was evident. There are quite a number of believers attached to various churches, etc., in the district, and they gave good support throughout the campaign. These commented on their appreciation of the Bible teaching meetings held on the Saturday evenings. Two young men and two children came to Christ. The MANCHESTER and district Sunday School Camp this year was held at ABERFOYLE, Scotland. About 200 children attended, about half of them being 14 years and over. David Dixon was the evangelist. 17 campers made decisions during the camp, and a good interest was sustained throughout. The Camp Christian Fellowship was attended daily by 70-80 campers and was conducted by T. Renshaw. The camp gave much encouragement to the convenors. The MANCHESTER Village work, which has been in existence for many years, continues. Tract distribution and open-air preaching in the out-lying villages and towns around the city give opportunities for contact with many people. An invitation to apply for the Emmaus Course, "What the Bible Teaches" has had a good response this year. It confirms the conviction of many evangelists that there are more seekers in today's society than we sometimes realize. The Living Word provides the answer. It leads to the Living Christ.
Midlands. News of the work in MATLOCK comes from J. Harrold. The assembly is going through a diminishing period with elderly folk passing away and others leaving to find employment elsewhere. Prayer would be valued. As a result of literature work in July, many people were contacted. One girl, who was attracted by the occult, made a profession of faith going back to a time when she was visited by one of the workers. The assembly work with the elderly folks home continues. John Harrold still sends out many items of Christian literature, and has a large stock of tracts, etc., available for workers. Since September 1971, the commencement of this activity, about 2] million pieces of literature have been distributed. Pray for the seed sown. Ivor Powell writes of an encouraging mission at Southam Evangelical Church, BANBURY. This was a week of intense activity. The love and united fellowship of the workers was noteworthy. At 7.30 a.m. each day there was a well attended prayer time. There were enthusiastic morning activities with about 200 children. About 170 children gathered for the children's meetings with good interest. Some trusted in the Saviour. At a friendship supper evening a lady professed conversion. At the final Family Service, the hall and side room were packed. It was a time to praise the Lord for.
News from Ruth Bourne of immigrant work in BIRMINGHAM. Individual and family problems increase with growth of the community, "sickness and death become more commonplace". There is a great need among these Bengali people. An instance of tragedy can be given. The husband of a woman, Chand Bibi, was visited. He talked about his religion, but accepted a Luke's gospel. Soon after, he was taken into hospital and died. Chand Bibi returned the well-worn gospel—she cannot read. Since then the house caught fire, and they had to move out. As they returned home again, their six year old son ran in front of a car and was not expected to live. After three weeks he regained consciousness, though not able to speak. How much these families need love and our prayers. But there are points for praise—arrival of New Testaments for the Muslims, and the readiness of Christian Bengalis in another town to read scriptures on to tapes. Then there are three Sikh girls who have trusted Christ—we can pray for them.
Rejoice with Camp Hill Gospel Hall, BIRMINGHAM, who celebrated their centenary of witness in June. A Conference was held with A. Carew and C. Jarrett giving ministry. A weeks meetings of varied character followed. The occasion brought encouragement to the assembly. Worcestershire Camp Out enjoyed one of the finest camps ever at MORTHOE, N. Devon. Robert Scott-Cook was padre and there was a tremendous interest in the Word, The basis of Bible study was the Postal Sunday School Manna Lessons, and these proved very effective. The weather was perfect. There were campers who came to Christ—one girl on the very first Sunday. Christians also gave testimony to blessing received. Warwickshire Sunday School Camp had a happy time at CHERRING-TON, Warks. The sun was scorching and the days were full, beginning with choruses around the flag pole. Bible messages, etc., were given by Ivor Cooper, and the Lord placed His seal on the camp by saving some of the campers. Some of these need prayer as they returned to difficult and unsympathetic homes.
London and South East. A series of meetings on prophetic topics was held at Hare Street Gospel Hall, HARLOW, during one week in July with A. C. Gooding, Stowmarket. Considerable interest was shown in the meetings by local believers and by neighbouring assemblies. A few unbelievers were present, and some interesting contacts were made with believers in Harlow who had not attended a place of worship for years. The question sessions following each address were interesting and instructive. Each talk was illustrated with excellent charts. Monthly Youth Rallies held at Mill Lane Chapel, CHESHUNT, have proved most encouraging. Held on the first Friday of each month, approximately 60 young people plus leaders have attended, drawn from the Cheshunt area. The interest of the local young people has been particularly heartening—some have made professions of faith in Christ during the last twelve months. Other assemblies have also supported. An inter-group quiz—questions based on Mark's Gospel— made for keen scriptural interest, and other activities plus refreshments at the end made for a happy time of fellowship. Pray that this will continue. An interesting item comes from H. E. Johns concerning work by a Graves-end Choir in London Prisons. This was formed some years ago, and when in Winchester supporting some meetings they were asked to sing in a prison. Since then they have visited WINCHESTER prison several times a year. When the London Crusade Choir disbanded they were invited to visit other London prisons. WANDSWORTH is visited five times each year. Twice WORMWOOD SCRUBS is visited and five times MAIDSTONE. PENTONVILLE gets just one visit. Although the chaplain usually leads prayers, etc., comments are given between hymns and two or three have accepted Christ. No mixing is allowed with prisoners except at Maidstone, and here a man serving a life sentence for murder was converted. He presented the Choir with a copper plaque in token of the fact that he had found Christ through their work. A work with difficulties—please pray! At SIDCUP Tom Bathgate and Derick Bingham conducted a two weeks tent campaign in June. Over 50 children gathered each evening from Tuesday to Friday. Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evening young people's meetings were held, and adult meetings on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. These meetings gave encouragement.
Further news is given of the building programme of the Dane Hall Christian Assembly. Through the goodness of God and the sheer hard work of local believers, the foundations of the new Gospel Hall have been laid, including the gap for the baptistry. Curious onlookers asked, "What is the hole in the middle?" So at BISHOPS STORTFORD there is evidence of the Lord's hand in blessing. We can pray for continuance. (See Sept./Oct. issue.)
South and West. A witness stand was organized by Stephen Gillham in a marquee erected at DORCHESTER one day Agricultural Show. This proved to be a worthwhile effort. Christians from many assemblies rallied round in support. Layout included an illuminated display entitled "Signs of the Times", a bookstall, a competition for children, and among other things a display introducing young people to the Postal Sunday School. Refreshments provided opportunity for contacts with about 1000 people. All were given gospel literature, and about 80 children received prizes for entering the competition. Stephen was able to give a gospel message to children and their parents when they attended their special prize-giving. Here was quite a unique opportunity for evangelism.
South Wales. At BETHESDA, CARDIFF, Vacation Bible School was held from 24th to 28th August. The morning session was attended by 83 children (80% "outsiders"). Thirty members of the assembly were involved as teachers and group leaders, etc. The children were divided into three groups according to age. In an interesting way the Word of God was taught and the gospel preached. Activities enforced the Bible Truth for each day. The week was marked by devotion from the workers and thorough enjoyment from the children. 15 children professed faith in Christ. The last of three children in one family was saved. Prayer now continues for their parents and for each family represented. The 1 981 "HOLS Club" (Hear of the Loving Saviour) was held at Leckwith Avenue Gospel Hall, CARDIFF, from the 24th to the 28th August, and was followed by a special family service on the Sunday following. Maximum publicity given included mention in a local paper and on local broadcasting, as well as the assembly making two visits to the surrounding area to deliver literature. Nearly 70 children came and through various activities the work was carried on. Each child received a copy of John's Gospel, from which daily memory verses were taken. At the special Family Service many parents attended and were able to hear the gospel. Some have been added to the Sunday School and good contacts with parents made. Frank Lonney reports on five weeks tent work at SEBASTOPOL, Gwent. There was good support from the assembly and also from the young people of CWMBRAN who helped in door-to-door work to distribute 3000 invitation cards. About 2000 doors were "knocked", and good conversations were held. Unsaved were in each night. Christians from Cwmbran, Abergavenny and Cardiff gave regular attendance. On the final night about 100 were in the tent, about 25% outsiders. One teenage boy professed salvation. There were encouragements—keen support in visitation was given by a 14 year old lad, who was not afraid to knock on the doors and speak to people about Christ. David Prosser reports on the Witness Stand at the Royal Welsh Show, BUILTH WELLS. There were many opportunities to speak with visitors and also surrounding stallholders. Three people made professions of faith including one lady from America. It was a thrill to have the help and fellowship of an Army Captain who last year trusted Christ at the Show. Since then he has been baptized, and was a great asset to the team.
Devon. Interesting items come from Dennis Pierce in North Devon. A two week tent campaign was held at COPPLE-STONE. Average attendance at the evening meeting was 73. Most of these were Christians, and while their fellowship was wonderful, it would have been good to see more unsaved coming in. Throughout there were about 10-12 who were not Christians. Of these, two showed interest by asking for literature. The Children Specials were very good in numbers and in interest. Three asked if they could trust the Saviour. Several more are in touch by correspondence, and 12 asked for applications to join the Postal Sunday School. At MARWOOD, the children's work was good, with the children being ferried in each day. One boy—the son of a helper— trusted the Saviour. At BIDEFORD, an interesting time was held at a site on Pollyfield football ground, A small team of three young people did a great job of visitation, daily distributing literature and talking to many. Meetings were held for all ages, and average attendance during two weeks meetings was 60 adults and 60 children. Quite a number of these needed to know Jesus as Saviour. Altogether eight professed definitely to accepting the Lord. These are being carefully and prayerfully followed up, and they do need our prayers that they will go on to know the Lord.
An interesting item of news comes from BOVEY TRACEY. In the surrounding Devon villages, for over twenty five years, the evangelizing of the people has continued. Commenced by two Devon believers, there has been consistent visitation each year between the months of May and September. The programme is carefully planned at the beginning of each year. The list of villages to be visited, meeting places, etc., is then printed. The usual pattern of the work is door-to-door in the afternoon, a picnic tea, and an open-air meeting in the centre of the village to complete the activities. There has always been, and still is, a wonderful spirit of fellowship among those who engage in this work. Many villages visited have no place of worship. Having contacted and found interested people, help is given in spiritual things. Opportunities are given to pray with people in their homes, and to read the Word of God to those housebound. The season ends with a report meeting in which experiences are shared. Some five thousand tracts are distributed each year, with New Testaments and children's books. The work is voluntary, and the Lord always richly supplies the need. Praise the Lord that these scattered communities in Devon are hearing the gospel.
Cornwall. There is not much news out of Cornwall these days. Ken Rudge writes to tell of a Postal Sunday School Camp at FOWEY. The Cornwall Postal Sunday School held their camp in Fowey C.P. School from July 27th to August 1st. 39 children, mostly P.S.S. Scholars, joined Stuart McGlashen who shared the Word with them, and there were a number who responded to the Lord. The most rewarding aspect of the work was in seeing the spiritual growth of several who were saved last year, despite their not enjoying much in the way of fellowship with other Christians. For them, the only real contact with spiritual things was P.S.S. material, the Word and their teacher. Praise God for the evidence of the real work of the Spirit.
As a footnote to this Report we have news of the commendation to fulltime service for the Lord of Paul Young from Coventry. He has moved with his wife to his home town of MAESTEG, Mid-Glam., engaging in the work of evangelising and ministry. We have valued his contributions to Precious Seed and to our book Day by Day through the New Testament. We shall follow our brother with our prayers that he and his wife will find blessing in the sphere of service to which the Lord has called them.