Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" said the Lord.
As this report goes to press there is much to encourage about it. Behind the stories of blessing, there lies a background of prayer, preparation and perseverance, all the expression of a deep desire that people shall find Christ and be saved. Yet how many are unreached or untouched by the message, however faithfully it is spread abroad. If desire on the part of the evangelist was the measure for blessing, how many more would be saved. But the word tells of the longing in the heart of God that "all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth", 1 Tim. 2. 4. However deep our exercise may be, however great our desire, what shall we say of His? It is no pleasure for the Lord of the Harvest to see the barrenness of fruit for Himself in our desperately needy world. Do we share His longing enough? Do we see through His eyes, and feel with His heart the desperate plight of all who are without hope — without God — without Christ? Let this report challenge us in the light of this great truth!
Northern Ireland. From Belfast, Jim Graham reports on various features of the Lord's work. Co. Antrim . Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings were encouraged by the numbers of unsaved attending meetings in Ballymoney. At Ballynashec, near Ballyc-lare, Arnot Caumeld and Archie McClean preached the gospel and fair numbers attended. Co. Down. Meetings were held by John Hawthorne and Tom McNeill at Annabane, near Newry. Albert McShane and David Gilliland conducted meetings at Ballykeel (Lough Road). A short distance from Hillsborough, at Growell, God has blessed the preaching with people being saved. An elderly gentleman who has attended meetings for a lifetime and has been concerned for a long time was saved. George Ewing helped Eric Wishart in this effort and the assembly was encouraged. In the village of Moira, three Lurgan brethren, D. Spcnce, A. Davidson and G. Marshall laboured in the gospel. At Frances Street, Newtonards, Archie Carew preached and saw people saved in some well attended meetings. He had the opportunity of visiting and preaching in a number of schools in the area. Co. Derry. David Morgan and Mel Ussher had a good attendance in meetings in Bellaghy and there were some who were saved. Reg Jordan held four weeks meetings at Castledawson. In Belfast there was blessing in meetings held by Sam Jennings in Matchett St. Hall. In Marantha Hall, Roland Pickering held some gospel meetings.
The large Belfast Easter Conference was very well attended this year. Ministry of the Word, reports on the Lord's work at home and overseas and the faithful preaching of the gospel, all contributed to a worth-while occasion. Jim Hutchinson preached the gospel to a crowd of about 1200 and at least two were saved. This is a United Annual Conference covered by the Belfast assemblies and there was great encouragement at the large number of young people present. It was also a cause for great thanksgiving that no incidents occurred in the city to disturb the conference. Over twenty brethren shared the ministry and reports, and there was a deep sense of the Lord's help in all the meetings. An interesting work takes place each Friday evening at the large Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast. A number of brothers and sisters bring patients out of the wards to the little hospital church. Many of these are in wheelchairs and all gather to hear the gospel spoken. Over 30 have gathered, many of whom are complete strangers to the gospel, a Roman Catholic Nun being among them. The messages are recorded so that other patients can hear. Those engaged in this work would value prayer. In Co. Donegal, Sam Patterson and Gilbert Stewart continue to faithfully sow the good seed. Their work is very slow in momentum and our brethren live in a caravan while moving around the county. God has given encouragement to them from time to time with people coming to know Christ.
From a letter from Edward Jamieson there are one or two features of interest concerning the Lord's work. The telephone ministry continues in Belfast, with 40 to 60 calls coming in each day. Many callers leave requests for prayer and others seek spiritual help. It is quite significant to note how these needs are expressed. "My sins are my problem"; "I have reached a very low point in my life"; "I have tried again and again to become a Christian, without success". As these and many other needs are laid bare, the gospel of Christ is shared with prayer that God will speak to those who call. Hospital visitation work in the Belfast hospitals and contact with the prisons continues, and many opportunities to share Christ with those in very deep need are taken.
Scotland. Tom Aitken reports on a very successful mission held at Muirhead with John Spiers. Some were led to Christ and then later baptised. Moving on to Kirkaldy, John Spiers saw about six people exercised by the Spirit of God. A feature of encouragement here was to see the spiritual progress of some who had been led to Christ in a previous mission. Our brother comments that this is the test of success in any mission. It is good to see folks continue on in the things of God. A cause for praise is found in the reporting of the many baptisms in the Central Scottish assemblies. In assemblies around Largs, at least 30 have obeyed the Lord in baptism since our last report.
While there are a number of assemblies that no longer conduct open-air witness for various reasons, many still do engage in this good work. In the central and upperward parts of Lanarkshire most assemblies have an activity of this kind at least once and sometimes twice each week. J. Aitken engages nightly around the county during the summer months. He visits door to door and does tract work during the daytime, and then meets with believers in various places for open air meetings. He could tell of many people who have found the Lord through this means. A number of assemblies also conduct open air witness in various places on Saturday afternoon. Door to door visitation and preaching take place. Then in the evening after a cup of tea a word of ministry is given.
North West England. A brief note from Howard Barnes speaks of blessing in the 1984/5 series of Ministry Rallies in the Wirral. The attendances were consistent and the quality of the ministry was good and was appreciated by young and old alike.
Shropshire. The assembly at Ludlow held their annual conference on May Day Bank Holiday and it proved to be a time of blessing. The speakers were Archie Carew, London and A. J. Last, Stirling. There were about 100 gathered for each session and the ministry given was powerful and helpful to all. During the winter, Ministry meetings have been held here on Saturday evenings each month and these have been well attended with helpful ministry being given. The assembly at John Street, Shrewsbury, has been blessing in the ministry of the Word during the Autumn and Winter sessions. Early in the year a visit by Stephen Short provided helpful and challenging ministry on prayer and the conditions for Christian discipleship. These were dealt with in a Saturday evening meeting and special weeknight gatherings and the Lord's blessing was felt. The Annual Conference also proved to be a happy occasion with stimulating ministry being given by S. Emery and B. Osborne. There is a small testimony at Oswestry, and the assembly continues to witness for the Lord.
Midlands. It is good to have news of activities in this area. Although some of the assemblies are small they can. speak of encouragement in one way or another. This is especially so in the area of the ministry of the Word. The small testimony at Crowle, Worcs., has been carried on in a wooden hall for many years. This has now been demolished and on the site a new hall is in the process of being built. Work is proceeding well and they are looking to the Lord for His help and provision in this project. Their Saturday evening monthly ministry meetings have been well attended with profitable teaching of the Word being given by a variety of speakers. At the Annual Conference a good number gathered together, and the ministry was shared by David West and Albert Lookie. A helpful lime was enjoyed by all. At Broad was, Worcs., ministry meetings held during the winter months proved worthwhile, with a good number gathering and helpful teaching given on important truths. A Bible Exhibition was held here by B. Jenkins and although the numbers of locals who came in were not large, some contacts were made. The assembly at Cranham Drive, Worcester, held their final winter Ministry Rally in April and an encouraging number gathered. Truths from the life of Joseph were unfolded by John Hall of Rockhampton and the Word proved to be stimulating and practical. This brought to a climax a good series of studies in the lives of the characters of Genesis.
The assembly at Quarry Lane, North-field, have also had a profitable session of Saturday meetings. These were well supported and much profit was gained from teaching given on various subjects. The Annual Conference was a time of blessing. The Word was shared by J. Harrison and T. Proffitt and some helpful and practical truth was given to the good numbers who gathered.
Stephen Gillham felt it a privilege to be back at Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, for a fortnight's intensive effort in the gospel. At the children's meetings 40-50 gathered each night, some of them being quite difficult. Some children responded and new ones joined the Sunday School. Adult outreach meetings were less well attended but there were always those who needed the Lord at the meetings, and some good contacts were made. Openings were given in several schools. The local radio interviewed Stephen, and this was broadcast on Sunday morning. The helpers were many and faithful prayer backed the effort. The results are with Him!
A note is to hand regarding a work near Ross-on-Wye.
The last three years have seen a marked increase in the local interest and attendances at the meetings at the small country chapel at Howie Hill, an offshoot of the assembly at Ross-on-Wye. Much is due to the regular visitation carried out by the retired couple who have been living in the chapel house and have had the care and responsibility of the work. Sadly they have recently had to move away owing to ill health and the local believers are looking to the Lord for those who can move to the house and take over the responsibility for the work.
Wiltshire. Philip Lambert reports that he was able to spend almost one month working with the assembly at Corsham. Over 2000 Gospel portions were distributed as every home in the town was visited. Invitations were given to the Sunday evening gospel services which re-commenced at this time. It is planned to visit the area on a bridge had the joy of baptising a number of folk who had trusted the Lord in past missions. During a Film Outreach encouragement came in the number of those who attended and also from the response of those who asked for the counselling literature. The assembly at The Park, Swindon, embarked upon a gospel mission with some trepidation. This is a small assembly on a large council estate where there is little interest in the gospel. After prayer and a day of fasting a unanimous decision was made to go forward, depending on the Lord. Preparation was made through prayer and visitation of some 2500 homes, and this exercise was a blessing in itself — young people with older ones worked together. For 2Vi weeks, Albert Aiken preached the gospel faithfully each night and unsaved were there in good numbers. A number stayed behind for conversation with the evangelist. The way was open for a local Comprehensive School to be visited. A Senior Citizens tea saw some 50 gathered and some of them came regularly to the coffee mornings and the meetings. Barriers were broken down in these ways and the effort was felt to be worthwhile. Many were contacted who had never been touched before, although there were no definite conversions. We pray that God will bless His word.
London and South East England. We have more news concerning the work of the South West London Mobile Unit. The activities of the Unit still continue to give cause for praise and prayer — many people spoken to, many needs uncovered, many opportunities for witness made available. At a stand in Shaftesbury Avenue, outside the Globe Theatre, a good contact was made with a Ghurka doctor. Many tracts were accepted. A visit to Victoria was made. Several brethren gave messages and a Scottish lad, who had been in touch with Buddhists was spoken to. Contact was also made with two Roman Catholic ladies. Large numbers of tracts were distributed at Tooting. Good, brief contacts were made, with people promising to read the tracts. At Hammersmith a man was contacted who had just come out of Exeter prison after serving a seven year sentence. Through reading a Gideon Bible and Bible studies while in prison, it was John 3. 16, that led him to Christ. He said that he was absolutely sure that Christ died for him. A young man whose wife was a translator in Brazil was encouraged to hear the gospel preached. An encouraging time of witness was held at West Croydon station. Some good contacts were made with young people and two long conversations were enjoyed by a worker with two young ladies. One of them was a Christian, but her friend was still unsaved. She became seriously interested. Another girl went away concerned about becoming a Christian. Even after the times of witness have ended the work goes on. A tract left in a train brought a letter saying that the recipient had found it after attending an occult evening. He asked to be told more of the things of which the tract spoke. Opportunities are given from time to time, to give reports at arranged meetings. It is good to be able to share the news of what the Lord is doing through this means of witness.
S. Mountstevens tells of a twelve day series of children's meetings at Cowley Road Gospel Hall, Uxbridge. This third visit to the assembly here proved the value of going back and visiting former contacts. One eleven year old girl from a most unstable background, was concerned. She thought she was a believer, but soon realised that she was not and eventually accepted the Saviour. Because of her background she needs much prayer. The atmosphere in the meetings was one of anticipation as the children listened intently. As our brother stood outside the hall one evening, three girls contacted at a former visit went by. Eventually they came in to the meetings with some friends, and after several visits they professed to be saved. The oldest of them has a Roman Catholic background and is bound to find it difficult. A school visit gave opportunity, through the help of the headmaster and staff, to give the Word to about 200 primary children and some parents. This effort proved most encouraging and we pray that blessing will follow.
South West England. Stephen Gillham sends news of opportunities for visiting schools with the gospel. 27 schools have been open for follow up visits following the tour of them at Christmas. It is a matter for encouragement that most of these so visited have asked for a return. Although in this field there are few known results, the scriptures are taught and it is wonderful how the doors continue to remain open. In a three week mission at Ham worthy, where the work is in a low state, up to 50 children came to some meetings and there was a good response from the parents to a family Film Night and the Family Services. At Pinehurst Chapel, West Moors, over 100 children came each morning to the third Holiday Bible Club and a team of 30 helped each day. The response to the Family Service was such that closed-circuit television had to be used in an adjoining room. It was reckoned that about 220 parents and children were present, a major breakthrough made with some of the families and the opportunity is given of much follow up work.
J. Harman sends brief news regarding Conferences in the Weymouth area during Easter time. Numbers were up on last year and it gave much encouragement to realise that there is an increased desire to hear the Word of God. The village assemblies were especially helped through this means.
South Wales. Paul Young sends more news of the continuing work in Maesteg and district. A Coffee Morning is held each Monday morning in the Young's home as an outreach in the street. Seven ladies have attended and several others have expressed an interest in coming. Opportunities to visit local schools are increasing. In an Infants School and a Junior School nearby, weekly assemblies are taken. In another Junior School visits are made twice each term. At two of the schools, Paul was once a pupil. Some of the children come to Sunday School and the Good News Club in the Gospel Hall in Maesteg. A week's campaign was held in Pencoed where there is a small assembly. Children packed the hall for the meetings — some had to sit on the floor at the front of the hall because there were no more seats. The local Junior School was visited and about 300 children listened to the gospel. At each adult meeting there were unsaved present and most appeared challenged by the Word of God. Also on most of the evenings, a good number of teenagers came and afterwards some came up for counselling and literature. Some did
A mini-missionary weekend was arranged by six South Wales assemblies and held at Boverton Christian Camp, Barry. The theme of the exercise was, "The Lord's Work in Spain", and Eric Barmejo was responsible for report and ministry. Each programme was interesting; "Selected for Service"; "Think Spanish"; "A Review of Roman Catholicism"; these and other subjects proved stimulating and challenging. On the Lord's Day morning, fellowship at Cadoxton Gospel Hall, Barry, was enjoyed. There was great benefit and blessing from this weekend, and there was a challenge left and a commitment to pray for the Lord's work in Spain.
Interesting news comes from Swansea Postal Sunday School, "New Life". On April 19th, 33 workers left Swansea for Dolfor with the intention of distributing offers for a Bible Course to those living in the area, which has not been touched for about 12 years. There is no assembly near for many miles. The atmosphere enjoyed in fellowship together with all during the weekend was encouraging and rich in the presence of the Lord. In the face of opposition the Lord was at work, and over 60 enquiries were received. 45 individuals have asked for Courses and a teacher from a school requested 15 courses in Welsh and English. It has been many years since so many requests have been received after distributing cards. Locally the Neath Valley has been completed in visitation work. So the work goes on with much prayer needed and sought.
Devon. Brief news from Peter Smith in Teignmouth. Describing the activities over the past four months he calls it a "plod work". Regular children's meetings, Bible Classes, Sunday School and youth work with local door to door visitation. There are opportunities for preaching and teaching in the Devon assemblies. At the small testimony in Coleman Avenue, Teignmouth, a Mother's Day service was a highlight, with 14 mums, mostly connected with Sunday School scholars, attending. At Easter about 40, including 20 children, watched a Video of "Treasures of the Snow". Also about 40 attended the Easter Day Family Service and among these were seven strangers. Opportunities for visits to schools to take monthly school assemblies have been useful in a primary and an infants school. Thus the work advances slowly, often in small ways, but there is evidence that the Lord is working.
Cornwall. From K. Rudge comes items concerning work in this needy County. The assembly at St. Austell was greatly helped by a short visit from P. J. Smith, Teignmouth, who worked hard for several nights among the children, As a result of the work done a good number of new children have been contacted and these continue to join in with the regular children's activities. One 12 year old girl was baptised during the Lord's Day evening service. Several of her Secondary School friends were invited to come, and her unsaved father and brother witnessed her open confession to her faith in the Lord Jesus. The assembly was also encouraged by the request of an older lady to be baptised. Her account of her conversion was interesting and there was no doubt that the Lord had spoken very definitely to her. On the night of her baptism, her husband observed it from the front. He needs much prayer as he continues to attend the gospel meetings. From St. Austell the assembly conducted the second of a series of gospel meetings, held in the town of Lostwithiel. This took place on Saturday evening using the School Hall. There were a good company of people present including a young couple on holiday for the weekend. After the meeting the husband unburdened his heart as to how he had been resisting the Lord, and he desired to be saved that night. His wife had been saved some three years earlier. They both attended the breaking of bread at St. Austell the following Lord's Day. It was good to hear from them that they had shared the news of his conversion with their parents as soon as they could — the evening he was saved. There is a concern in St. Austell to establish some kind of permanent witness in Lostwithiel. It is a very needy place.
The small assembly at Carbis Bay has been strengthened by a visit from John Glenville of Colyton. He gave helpful ministry. Not having their own hall makes it difficult to hold such gatherings, and these were the first of their kind for some years. The May Day celebrations at Saltash, gave the assembly opportunity to take a stand on the streets.