Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Pray without Ceasing". 1 Thessalonians 5.17. In estimating the value of work done for the Lord, it is possible at limes to overlook the vital importance of prayer. It is good to reflect on the possibilities of specific requests for the Lord's blessing. To make people a definite matter of prayer by name, we hear resulted in their salvation, baptism and progress in the faith. Problems of behaviour etc. when taken to the Lord in prayer are removed and the Lord's work goes on unhindered. How wonderful - so much evidence that we have a God who hears and answers prayer. Yet how slow we are to so commit His work to Him in believing prayer, that we miss the thrill of seeing His readiness to answer fulfilled. Let us indeed "pray without ceasing".
Northern Ireland. Jim Graham has sent us in a number of items which tell us that, despite the troublesome conditions in this part of Britain, the Word of the Lord goes out and people are saved. Jim Allen preached in the assembly at BLOOM-FIELD, Belfast, and some accepted Christ as Saviour. Encouraging numbers attended meetings at WINDSOR HALL, Belfast where Norman Mellish preached the gospel. Also, numbers were good at MATCH-ET STREET, Belfast, where Sam Jennings held some meetings. Eight weeks of well attended meetings were conducted by Albert Aiken and Jim Hutchinson at BAL-LYMAGARRICK, and there were some who came to Christ. At MUL-LAFERNAGHAN, Albert McShane and John Hawthorne worked together and saw at least one young man saved. Blessing was seen at DRUMDONALD as Erich Wishart and S. McCauley laboured.
In ARMAGH CITY, Tommy Wright and Harry Wilson, both missionaries on furlough from Brazil, first worked the city with invitations and then saw a good response in the special gospel effort. The assembly at BALLYCLARE saw blessing as Tom McNeil and George McKinley worked together, and at HARRYVILLE assembly, Ballymena, the meetings conducted by Sam Ferguson and Norman Turkington were well attended with some being saved. Meetings were held at BALLYKEEL, near Kilkell by Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings and were encouraging with good interest shown. There were good numbers and interest at meetings held in the village of BELLAGHY, Co. Derry. Meetings were held by Jim Brown and Jack Lennox at TULLYROAN, Co. Tyrone. Joe Mersom (Scotland) had a week's ministry meetings at LUNGS, Co. Tyrone. Over the border in Eire there are some faithful activities in the gospel. J. Fulton and J. Hawthorne held meetings at CASTLE POLLARD, near Longford. J. Kells and E. Stewart laboured in the gospel on a housing estate near BAILIEBORO TOWN, Co. Cavan. Also, S. Patterson and G. Stewart preached in a portable hall at ST. JOHNSTONE, Co. Donegal.
Some interesting items of news from S. Jaminson tell of the spreading of the message through literature. 50,000 pocket calendars with a poem and scriptures on them have gone out amongst the people. Each day they will be confronted by the Word of God. The eight page gospel magazine, "Via" is off the press and will have a circulation of 20,000. Many will be brought into contact with Christ through this little paper. The leaflet, "Thief which deals with the subject of television has been used by groups of young people. Our brother tells of the constant cry for Christian literature from countries as far apart as France, Peru and Ecuador. This means is also used effectively in hospital visitation.
Scotland. One or two items of news come from Robert Eyres in the North. Frank Reid held gospel meetings in KIRK-WELL, Orkney, in fellowship with believers there. God's power was experienced, and a woman from St. Margarets Hope who previously had professed salvation, attended the meetings regularly and asked for baptism. Others who were concerned about this matter joined her and eventually six obeyed the Lord in baptism. Ages ranged from teens to middle-age and they have now been received into assembly fellowship. Praise the Lord for His working in this way. Frank Reid then moved to PAPA WESTRAY for one week's ministry meetings and a quarter of the population of this small island attended regularly. The small assembly of eight Christians here seeks to carry on a faithful witness and they would value prayer that the Lord would revive and bless His work.
From the South, items of encouragement are to hand from Tom Aitken. The assembly at HOSPITALHILL, Dunfermline, were encouraged when three young people obeyed the Lord in baptism. They were members of the Bible Class of the one who was to have preached at this meeting. Unfortunately he was not able to be there but the Lord provided and it was a joyful occasion. Tom Aitken tells of news given to him of a young man who trusted Christ at KENNOWAY where John Campbell and Jack Hay had meetings. His aunt is in the FORTH assembly and she was overjoyed when she heard the news. She is the only member of a big family to have found the Saviour. Her husband and son are still unsaved but her daughter is in fellowship. Such is the way the Lord works. John Campbell and Jack Hay had good numbers at their meetings and hope to keep contact by holding a meeting each week at KENNOWAY. Sadness is often mingled with joy in any report of the Lord's work. It is reported that a young man from a remote part of DUMFRIES recently trusted Christ. He progressed well and attended a Bible School in England. While there he met a keen Christian girl whom he married. A week after the wedding, while driving together they met with a terrible accident and his wife was killed. Pray for this young man in his sorrow.
Work in Central Scotland is tough and far from easy to engage in. Brethren such as George Forbes, David Locke, Roy Marshall and George Meikie know this only too well. Roy Marshall and George Meikie laboured together in the West Quarter area, near FALKIRK and had the joy of leading a lad to Christ. On the other side of Falkirk, in the THORNHILL district Robert McPheat worked during February. These were good meetings with a fair interest but no definite decisions. At a full hall a girl was baptised during the meetings. In MUIRHEAD, near Glasgow, John Spiers saw a good start to the mission held there. The Lord had begun to work before he arrived. Brethren visiting and tracting during the previous week had the joy of seeing souls saved and on the first night of the mission a lady was saved. As John Spiers ended a campaign at COWDEN-BEATH a woman trusted Christ. So it is that unsaved ones are brought in by faithful servants of the Lord and He honours their faith with blessing.
Tom Aitken speaks of the joy and encouragement which often comes when going back over ground previously covered with the gospel. Those who have been saved are not only going on with the Lord, but speak of the wonderful change wrought in their lives by the Saviour. There has been a revival too of the old fashioned Scottish "kitchen meetings". Through this means the evangelist is able, after speaking, to discuss the truths of the gospel over a cup of tea. Quite a number of people have been reached in this way. The assembly at BISHOPSTON, which has not been functioning for long, have with the Lord's help built a new hall. They are hoping shortly to resume their normal gatherings in this building. We are grateful for this comprehensive report of the Lord's work in Scotland. May He richly bless His work in these and other parts.
North West England. News comes from Gerald Bourne of the Greater Manchester New Year's Conference. This began with a Bible Reading on Romans 12. 1-10, led by David West of Leicester. After the passage had been opened up there was helpful and profitable conversation to the blessing of all. In the afternoon and evening sessions, John Riddle joined David West for ministry. The teaching given was both expository and practical and it was felt that this was a well spent New Year's day. The MAUL-DETH ROAD assembly joined with WYTHENSHAW assembly to attend a meeting W. Grumbaum gave to show a film on the Lord's work in RUSSIA and also an account of the work in EASTERN EUROPE. The hall was packed to capacity, and believers were stirred by the devotion and zeal of believers behind the Iron Curtain. They need our continual prayers.
North East England. John Tinkler has sent some interesting items of news. The assembly at Saville Road Hall, SKEL-MANTHORPE, recently were encouraged by ministry meetings with Norman Mellish. The book of James was the subject and the teaching given was both practical and profitable. The largest attendance for many years gathered at the Annual Tyneside Sunday School Workers Conference held at NORTH SHIELDS. Peter Hedley, home on furlough from Italy, spoke on Christian growth and the vital importance of Christian discipline. The Lord's presence was felt and many were challenged by the ministry. Three teenage children of believers were baptised at WYLAM after the Sunday School anniversary. A good number witnessed this happy event.
Tony and Annie Harvey were commended to the Lord's work by the assembly at WHITLEY BAY. Their work consists mainly in witnessing in the local market places, situated at Whitley Bay, Blyth, Morpeth and Hexham. A Bible and Christian literature stall is set up at each centre and this provides a base for proclaiming and distribution the Word of God to those who pass by. There are several interesting features to this work. Relationships are built up with other holders, and these provide opportunities for witness. An instance of this is that of conversation with a young man one morning, when driving sleet and strong winds made the erection of stalls questionable. This conversation revealed a deep need and the disclosure that his sister had just become a Christian. He was deeply interested. Many and varied contacts are made with the passers by. Stories are told of bereavement, broken homes, broken hearts, disillusionment and despair. A young couple were contacted and they were taken to hear Billy Graham preach at ROKER PARK. Eventually they accepted Christ as Saviour. The change in the lives of both is very evident. Bibles and literature are sold or distributed and a wide variety of needs are met in this way. It is certain that eternity alone will reveal the true extent of the blessing reaped in this work.
Midlands. The assembly at Granham Drive, WORCESTER, were encouraged at a Mothers Day Family Service. The children of the Sunday School and the young people took part and a stirring gospel message was given. Over 150 people gathered, the majority from this needy and large estate. The occasion gave a good opportunity for conversation and contact with these families. Monthly ministry meetings are held in the various halls in the County. At CROWLE, BROADWAS, REDDITCH, WOLLASTON and WORCESTER these gatherings provide occasions for fellowship and also opportunity for the teaching of the fundamental truths of the Word of God. Various brethren give helpful and practical ministry and the attendances are good.
Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire. Reports covering this area can now be sent to Robert Greenman, Malborough House, Rockhampton, Berkeley, Glos. GL13 9DT^ He will be glad to receive news of assembly activities. From COLEFORD, near Frome, comes news of development in the work. A new hall with fresh and better facilities has been built to replace the very old building that has been the gathering place for a long time. An informal opening saw about 100 villagers coming in at different times. Visual displays for the scriptures were supplied by David Willcox and some good conversations ensued. The Sunday School and mid-week children's work has increased with about 25 attending at each. Opposition has been encountered -Satan does not take readily to such intrusions into his world - but there has already been much to encourage. At Bethany Hall, WESTON-SUPER-MARE, three teenagers were recently baptised and received into fellowship. This encouraged the beginning of Bible study sessions to "get to grips" with the Word and these were conducted by E. Parmenter. Believers from other assemblies joined in and some, often teens and twenties, come from over 30 miles away. In April D. Willcox plans D.V. to conduct two weeks gospel meetings. At Chelsea Gospel Hall, BRISTOL, a mother who had backslidden has been restored, her husband saved and her daughter has been saved and baptised. Two other teenage girls have been baptised after trusting the Lord. The Lord used John Baker in this work and two of the three girls were saved during meetings held three years ago. "Dad" has now asked to be baptised. How great to hear of families being blessed and Christian homes established. At Ebenezer, BRISTOL, blessing came through believers making specific people the subjects for prayer. Some of these were saved and things began to grow. Since last summer 23 teens and twenties have been baptised and all are continuing in the Lord. 13 are now in fellowship. Some of those saved have very big problems, and great wisdom is needed in giving them help. Arising out of the Sunday School, a complete family of five have been saved and are now in fellowship. Three more women will be baptised shortly. We rejoice with these folk in their blessing.
Philip Lambert from TROWBRIDGE looks back over six children's missions during the Autumn of last year in Will-shire. He says that one of the most distinguishing features of these activities was the numbers and the responsiveness of the children. The behaviour was good; this aspect of the work was made a special matter of prayer. A number of people have recently been baptised who trusted the Saviour during last year. They need prayer for strength to go on with the Lord. Our brother continues to visit schools on a regular basis and also a regular visit is made to share the gospel in the prison.
South Wales. W. Beale has sent us some interesting items of news. At George Street Gospel Hall, SWANSEA, two weeks special meetings were conducted by Paul Young. These were mainly directed towards children and young people. During the first week the children gathered for 1 hour each evening. The 2nd week contained a Bible Club which was held for 2 hours each morning. The attendances were good and the interest was maintained throughout. On the first Sunday, the Sunday School prize giving was held and on the final Friday a prize giving for the two weeks effort was conducted. A good number of parents attended these gatherings and the gospel was clearly presented. Several evenings were given to the work among young people. A number of the schools in the area were visited and during the fortnight several hundred children were able to hear the gospel story told. One Christian Union at a school was visited and a number of unsaved students were present. Very many questions were asked after the message was given. To finalise the effort a Rally was held on the Saturday evening, and on this occasion a good number gathered. Paul was greatly helped by his wife and others who shared in the work. No definite conversions were seen but the interest was encouraging. We can leave the work with Him!
An interesting little episode concerns the village of PANTYFFYNNON. Here a small assembly gather and seek to maintain a witness. Michael Stephen organised a three day Bible Exhibition at the Gospel Hall. For one day only the actual Bible used by Mary Jones was acquired; it happened to coincide with the 200th anniversary in West Wales of Mary Jones's historic walk to purchase her very own copy of God's word. Michael took the opportunity to visit every school in the district and the Bible was readily accepted. The outcome of the visit was seen, in that well over 100 children visited the Exhibition and took away with them badges and Bible literature in English and Welsh.
For the past 45 years, Fred Dodds has been a faithful distributor of God's Word in Cardiff, In the city centre he has distributed gospel literature every day. He is now 70 years of age and still feels the burden of need for this work. He also does a work in visiting ships of other nationalities in Cardiff Docks. An ever moving large stock of gospel booklets and tracts in 82 different languages is made use of. So every day at his own expense this faithful brother is in business for his Lord and he has seen the Lord's hand in blessing many times. He recently gave a talk entitled "Get your priorities right", in an effort to interest younger people to take up the work. May the Lord's blessing prosper this activity.
Devon. We have news from Peter Smith in TEIGNMOUTH. At Stoke, Cannon, near Exeter, where there are about 20 in fellowship, four were baptised. Three of these were young people. There is a regular mid-week children's work here and the attendance at the gospel meetings is good. At Whipton assembly, EXETER, a young lady was baptised. We are reminded that a work has continued over many years, to reach the people in the Devon villages with the gospel. During the summer months Christian workers commit themselves to continue in tract distribution and open air preaching. Because of the smallness of numbers the work nearly had to close, but four brethren have committed themselves to continue during the coming summer in the Lord's will. This work begins in May. These are needy villages indeed, and prayer would be valued both for new workers and the salvation of the people who will hear the Word.
John Baker tells of work done in PLYMOUTH. A campaign was conducted in Wolseley Road Gospel Hall. The children's meetings increased in number as the nights went by. There were some tough little characters among them but their behaviour was good. How good it would be if some of them came to the Saviour. Plymouth is a needy city with some 250,000 inhabitants. Tract distribution gave many opportunities for contacts. One lunch time as John came back to his car, a man was standing by it. A tract was offered and a conversation ensued. He told how that his late brother was a Christian but he was not. It was strange, but out of all the people who could have been met in Plymouth, John had visited his brother while working in Wales. The man said that he knew Wilf Bcale and quite unexpectedly he turned up at one of the meetings. A meeting was arranged and the contact was made. How many times such events have been repeated. Is it coincidence? We can say that when God seeks to meet a needy soul, events converge to bring this about.
It is good to hear that the telephone ministry in Plymouth commenced by our late brother Leonard Dan is continuing. It is installed in the home of John Powell who will be taking over responsibility for sending in reports to the magazine. His address is, 27, St. Gabriels Avenue, Peverell, Plymouth, Devon, PLB AJ6. He will be pleased to receive news of assembly activities in East Devon and Cornwall. We are grateful for his willingness to help in this way.
Foreign News. A letter is at hand from John Flynn, Ballymena, telling of a work which will contribute to famine relief in Ethiopia. Brethren S. F. Warren, Bill Taylor, Ron Cunningham and John Flynn joined together to undertake a field survey of the severe famine conditions, and to assess the extent of the relief work at present. This they executed in the last two weeks of January with two survey journeys. The first was to the North, to Bade and Daga in the WOLLO province where assembly missionaries formerly laboured. Believers from these areas were contacted and fellowship enjoyed. Sadly, some had drifted away from the Lord. Former mission station buildings are now occupied by Ethiopian families. The two Gospel Halls are being used by local authorities. It is sad to see the door for die Gospel closed. In the relief camp at Bade the Red Cross Society, etc., care for 20,000 people and at least three believers from the former assemblies are working in the camp. 40-50 are dying each day, and a team of gravediggers are constantly employed. It is sad to say that no assembly help was accepted at Bade, but it was possible to pass on a little help to some widows who suffer much hardship.
The second journey was to HOSANA, and later on to SODDU. At Hosana a warm welcome was given by local Christians and also there was an invitation to undertake responsibility for projects requested by Local Government Authorities. It was felt that it was the Lord's will to undertake this, the completion of which will very much enhance the testimony of die local believers. These promised to implement the work in any way they could. The assembly relief project consists of a feeding/medical care station at Shashego, 25km. from Hosana, and a clean water supply at Moristo, 17km. from Hosana. Here are indications of indescribable suffering in which many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are involved. May die Lord answer prayer and seal these activities with his blessing.