Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"There is no difference . . . for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him". Romans 10.12.
"There is no difference . . . for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him". Romans 10.12.
It is encouraging to notice in each collection of reports sent in that we get different emphases on aspects of the work. Sometimes it is the effect of personal witness; with others the results of reading literature or studying God's Word. Each aspect displays the overall suitability of the gospel to meet every human need. The aspect of evangelism which is striking in this report is the universality of the message to reach people from every part of the world. Two at least of the items sent in tell of how people from foreign parts have been contacted and have received the Word of God in their own tongues. "There is no difference" - how telling this word is. It is the same God - a God who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth - who is rich in His bounty to save all who believe. In our modern society, so torn by divisions of race, colour and creed, how good to know that with God there is no respect of persons. All
may be saved. Let us be urgent in presenting Christ to all.
Northern Ireland."Looking back over 1985, in spile of all the problems, we have been very conscious of God's faithfulness." In this way Jim Graham from Belfast begins his report on the continuing work of the Lord. A special series of meetings was held at Cross Keys, near Randalstown, Co. Antrim, and a man and his wife were saved. In a portable hall near Rasharkin, Bob Eadie and Sam Maze preached the gospel, and on the closing night the hall was packed with three times the usual number who gather in the gospel hall in Rasharkin village. The Lord was pleased to save people here. Some showed interest in the village of Clough, where Sam McBride preached the gospel. There was blessing in the Gospel Hall, Bleary, Co. Armagh, when Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings conducted meetings. Good numbers gathered and some professed salvation at Glenanne, as Tom Wright and J. Nesbitt preached the Word. Eric Wishart had the joy of seeing at least one man saved during a seven week spell in the Gospel at Granshea, Co. Down.
At Drumenagh, Co. Londonderry. John Thompson and Noel McKeown (Venezuela) were encouraged by good attendances as they conducted meetings. Eleven weeks' gospel meetings, conducted by Gilbert Stewart and Sam Patterson in the Gospel Hall, Magher-acorran, Co. Donegal, finished with blessing as some were saved and the believers encouraged. Others still show interest in finding the Saviour. During a spell of well attended meetings held by Bill Bingham (Canada) and Wilfred Glenn (Brazil) at Lungs, County-Tyrone, they had the joy of seeing some accept the Saviour.
The Annual Christmas Conference was held at Belfast. The afternoons were devoted to Bible Readings on 2 Cor. 8 & 9, conducted by-Albert Leckie and Albert McShane. The evenings were given to ministry. A large number attended each session and the convenors were especially encouraged by the number of young Christians who attended. Various brethren shared the ministry. The Annual Christmas Night ministry meeting was held at Cregagh Street Hall. Belfast, and various brethren shared in the ministry of the Word. The New Year Bible Readings at Albertbridge Road Hall were well attended and considered profitable. The readings and the ministry were shared by J. Hutchinson, T. Ledger and S. Ferguson. The Conference at Omagh was encouraging. Ministry was given by J. Allen, S. McBride,. A. Drysburgh, J. Martin and B. Bingham. Missionary reports were shared by Emmanuel Stewart and Joe Milne. There was a full hall for the Conference at Donemana where various brethren shared the ministry of the Word. Also at Ballyma-cashon a number of brethren shared the ministry at a well attended Conference.
Several matters of interest are highlighted in a prayer letter from Edward Jaminson in Belfast. One of several avenues of service in witness is that to the bereaved through "Words of Comfort." Hundreds of homes are contacted each week with notices of deaths being taken from various newspapers. Two sisters in the Letterkenny assembly cover the local papers in Counties Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo. Appreciation is expressed, prayer sought and sorrow shared as contacts with bereaved are made. There were the sorrowing parents who expressed their deep sorrow saying, "The loss of our child has left us grief stricken but the support of so many friends is some help along the way. Do pray for us". Another lady wrote, "Thank you for sending me the booklets. It has been a terrible time for me as I do not have any brothers or sisters. My relatives are not really interested". So it is that through this and the telephone ministry, "comforting words" are spoken to those in sorrow. May they find the Saviour through these means.
Scotland.The news from Scotland is brief. Two instances are given of the knowledge of blessing coming after the meetings had finished. At Dalgitty Bay, news came of a man finding the Saviour and also being baptised some weeks after a mission had ended. Then at Forth, a lad whose parents are in fellowship, and a lady both told of coming to Christ as a direct result of meetings with John Spiers. The lady had heard the gospel at a meeting in the South and was so impressed that when she came back to Scotland after her visit, she sought out a place where she could hear the Gospel. In the local fish and chip shop, she was told of meetings being conducted in the Gospel Hall. She attended and by the grace of God trusted the Saviour in her own home. Jim Aitken continues to be encouraged with the mailing work. Three older folk sent word to him at Christmas saying that they had trusted Christ. There were many children and parents who attended Children's Prizegivings and also special Carol Services giving opportunity for many to hear the gospel during the Christmas season. The New Year Conferences in different places saw many gathering together to share the Word, and some were especially well attended. The ministry given was of a high quality and many spoke of finding help.
North West England.Missionary interest was stirred up through the visit to the Manchester assemblies of two servants of the Lord. Ken Cowell of Japan and R. Towse of Zambia gave stimulating talks on die work of the Lord in their respective countries of service, illustrating their talks with slides. The Greater Manchester New Year Conference was held on New Year's day. J. Page, Northampton, and G. Waugh. Ayr, gave ministry from the Word and a large appreciative audience was present. The day began with a Bible reading on the Lordship of Christ both in the assembly and in the life of the believer. The two hour session was marked by useful discussion and resulted in much profit for young and old believers. The ministry of afternoon and evening sessions proved a stimulating and challenging start for the New Year. The presence of many young people at the Conference brought special encouragement to all.
Midlands.We have a good sprinkling of news items from this area. At the assembly at Cranham Drive, Worcester, the Christmas activities gave opportunities for many contacts with unsaved folk from the estate. Two Sunday Family Services took the form of Carol Services, and at both the Christmas message was shared with the people. On the first of these, children from the Playgroup took part and it was good to see young "mums" and "dads" present among the large number that attended. On the second occasion, the children from the Sunday School took part and the hall was full to capacity with many gathering from the estate again. A clear and challenging gospel was presented on both occasions and good interest was shown. These two opportunities, with a special Ladies Evening and a Coffee Morning brought lo an end a year during which on many occasions the people of Warndon have been presented with the claims of Christ. The assembly are earnestly seeking and praying for people to be saved.
A note from Charlton Road Gospel Hall, Birmingham, tells of encouragment through the monthly ladies effort. 83 gathered at the meeting and a good gospel message was given. At the Christmas Service over 120 gathered giving a good opportunity to share the Word. Then at a baptism, a good number gathered to witness the open confession of faith of a young married couple. This brought joy to the believers of the fellowship and gave good opportunity to give a challenging gospel message to those gathered.
From the assembly at Cotteridge, Birmingham, comes news of a special effort to reach the people in the area. For two weeks they held a series of activities entitled "Come and meet our Church." The various activities were in the main well attended and some useful contacts were made. Many heard a clear presentation of the Gospel and many Christians were challenged with their faith being deepened. For the assembly it produced a wonderful spirit of co-operation and fellowship with special Saturday morning prayer meetings being well attended. The assembly and other assemblies that helped were drawn together in the work of the Lord. At Hesters Way, Cheltenham, the Saturday Rallies for Ministry have been well attended and the Word given has been helpful and profitable to all. A weekend with Tom Smith, Heswall, was encouraging. On the Sunday evening, the special Christmas Service saw the hall full to capacity with a good number of unsaved present. It was reckoned that there were more unsaved attending than in the whole of the year previously. A powerful message was preached.
Avon & Wiltshire.Several items are to hand from these counties. At Wroughton, Swindon, John Skingley conducted meetings and there were encouragements. The children's meetings were good and on the final night the parents and children numbered up to 60. The children listened very well to the messages given and it was good to hear them recite scriptures that they had learned. A Saturday Tea for Senior Citizens saw about 20 gathered and a good time was enjoyed with them. A visit was also made to an Old People's Home. A series of meetings was conducted by John Baker in Coleford for children and adults. Virtually all the 600 houses in the village were visited. At the adult meetings, unsaved came except for one evening. But even on this occasion, one aged man was present who is very much mixed up in his beliefs because of Jehovah Witness influence, but who it is felt could be saved. About 40 children attended each evening and the assembly felt a sense of blessing.
From Rockhampton comes news of an outreach venture began about one year ago. Each month a public hall has been hired in Thornbury for the preaching of the gospel and several unsaved folk attended on most occasions. About 1000 leaflets, quoting scriptures, have been distributed monthly and all 4000 houses have been covered. Sad to say that during the last three months no unsaved have been present. Now the assembly has been told that the premises arc no longer available. There is prayer for that which has been done and a looking to the Lord and for His guidance for the future.
In a general review of the work done by Philip Lambert, the point is made that it could be as many as 85% of the children of Wiltshire have never heard the gospel in a way that they can understand and certainly this many never attend Sunday School of any kind. It is through this conviction that with urgency ways are sought to tell boys and girls about the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus in many activities, the children have been reached with the gospel and in connection with the various missions, many homes have been visited with gospel literature and good contacts have been made.
London & South East.The South West London Mobile Unit have been active, sometimes in inclement weather. In an end of the year letter there are some interesting items. At a stand in Leicester Square, three Jewish fellows from Greece were spoken to. Messages were given at Argyll Street and many tracts were accepted. A Christian from H.M.S. Fearless took tracts to distribute to other service men. Many nationalities gather in London and many contacts are made with people from other lands. At Wandsworth two young people from Hungary were spoken with and both took literature. They showed some interest. At West Croydon Station a German woman had a long conversation with a worker, accepted literature and left in a thoughtful state. At West End. folk from Sweden, Italy, U.S.A., Portugal and Korea were contacted and received literature. It is good to be able to supply them with the Word in their own tongue. At Earls Court, several interesting contacts were made including one with a Jamaican lady who hesitated to receive the Lord Jesus as her Saviour. Again at the Strand, a number of nationalities were met including a Jewish boy who took a leaflet "Yeshua in tae Tenach". At East Croydon a good number received literature and a good conversation was held vvith a friendly Jewish Rabbi. At Great Windmill Street, a good number of leaflets were distributed but police stopped the witness alleging obstruction, a girl from Ireland was contacted and a Muslim accepted a gospel. How good it is to see the barriers of race, colour and creed broken down in the universal challenge of the gospel.
It is sad to have to report that an assembly previously mentioned in our reports has now closed its doors. We have a note from The Rest Gospel Hall, Three Cups, Heathfield, Sussex, that they have closed the hall. The believers now join with the assembly at Maynards Green. At the final meeting over 40 were present including several who had been converted in the Sunday School many years ago. Although the hall was closing, there was thanksgiving and praise for God's goodness over 52 years of testimony in the village.
Dorset and Hampshire. From J. Harman we have some interesting items of news. At Ebenezer Gospel Hall, Weymouth, a profitable time was spent by Stephen Gillham when a special children's mission was held. Over 100 children gathered each night and great interest was shown. Much effort was put into the preparation and the neighbourhood was canvassed. Also there were visits to local schools. Many non-Christians and parents were present each night with a packed hall for the final meeting. Since the mission there has been increased interest among both children and their parents. At the Tricketts Cross estate the new building is nearing completion and it is hoped soon to commence work. Bert Campbell and his wife are encouraged by the interest that is being shown by people on the estate and by the way the Lord has answered prayer in continuing to meet the needs of the work.
Over 50 schools have been visited by Stephen Gillham, the Dorset Evangelist, during the Christmas period and in spite of the teachers' disputes, each appointment was fulfilled without disruption. These gave great opportunities of witness to the children. At Bethany Hall, Weymouth, Peter Glasgow had an encouraging time with the Senior Citizens at their tea meeting. A good crowd gathered and each received a gospel calendar which was much appreciated. At Twynham Chapel, Christchurch, another "Break Out" Mission was a great week, and numbers reached 112. Some youngsters trusted the Saviour and the Sunday evening family service saw the hall packed beyond capacity with many parents in for the first time. Reports on the follow up work are encouraging.
South Wales.A note from Fred Dodds of Cardiff tells of a work of gospel distribution in Cardiff. Our brother is in fellowship at Ebenezer Gospel Hall and has conducted this work for over 45 years. Literature in English and many foreign languages is put into the hands of those who need the Saviour. The portions of scripture and gospel tracts are taken from an ever moving stock in over 95 different languages. Cardiff is a cosmopolitan city and demands a great variety of literature each week. This is distributed in Cardiff City and aboard foreign ships in the docks at Cardiff and Barry. It is quite amazing how-many different contacts are made. These include well known public figures, TV. personalities which are often met, and even Royalty on one occasion. Each evening is taken up with correspondence. As all literature is stamped, many people write in asking for further spiritual help. "One doesn't have to be a preacher, to be a reacher", a pointed quip! Prayerful tract distribution is often more effective than public preaching. Letters are received from many parts, and often after many days. So a faithful sower goes forth sowing the Good Seed. May God bless him in his labours.
A note from a news letter tells of the on-going work in Maesteg. Paul Young tells of good numbers at the children's and youth meetings on Monday evenings. "Good News Extra" meets at the Youngs' home and this has been arranged to help eight 11-13 year olds who have made a profession of faith in Christ. Paul Young continues to go into local schools on a regular basis to conduct assemblies. The Monday Coffee mornings are now established and 8 neighbours regularly attend. Yet this local work is in many ways an uphill struggle demanding much prayer.
Devon.From J. D. Powell of Plymouth we have some interesting news. At West Hill Gospel Hall, the Carol Service saw a few parents attending with children as the Christmas message was given. Senior Citizen Teas prove a very welcome way of spreading the gospel in Plymouth. These are well attended by many elderly folk. Prayer is needed that while they still have the mental capacity to understand they may be led to accept the Saviour. There is a consistent visitation made to Dartmoor Prison by Arthur Thurston and Bill Longville with the help of others. These visits are made on Sunday afternoon and some remarkable contacts have been made. A number of prisoners have confessed Christ as Saviour and are standing firm for the Lord. Praise God that captives are set free - in the truest and deepest sense of the word!
The "Venturers" work at West Hill, Plymouth, gives cause for encouragement. On Sunday afternoons about 70 are present. The Junior and Senior Clubs on Friday evenings reach up to 100 of varying ages. Young People provide the "Ferrying" service to bring these young folks to hear about the Saviour.
News of the Postal Sunday School work is interesting. During 1985, a year which began with a dramatic drop in the number of pupils for the Plymouth P.S.S., things gradually improved and the numbers are growing. Also young people are being raised up to serve as teachers, helpers and out-reach workers. This is good news indeed and there is a note of praise and thanksgiving in the Annual Report. The Secretary remarks that it is because of team work and prayer fellowship within P.S.S. that in the goodness of God things are happening. There is a great demand for Bibles, young Christians are growing in the faith and unsaved are being challenged. Outreach opportunities prove effective.
The Stand at Yealmpton Show began with trepidation in a seemingly unsuitable position, but eventually with only four helpers gave some useful contacts and through it a family has joined P.S.S. and introduced others. Only two were engaged at the Totnes Show and again many useful contacts were made with a lot of literature distributed. Through visitation work in the villages and in housing estates by young people from Plymouth assemblies, many application forms were distributed and children have joined P.S.S. Here is a report that highlights the possibilities of perseverance, prayer and pulling together in a certain aspect of work for the Lord. With the challenge to the Christian's Sunday that is threatening so much evangelism on this day, perhaps the Postal Sunday School work will come more into its own as days go by. One question asked in a Lesson and answered by a Junior pupil says much for the effectiveness of this activity. "What would happen to you if Jesus came back today?" "He would be coming for me". Let us pray that many young people may be able to give the same answer through this means of evangelism.
Cornwall.It is good to have more news of the Lords work in this County. At St. Austell, on New Years Day, the New Year Fellowship meetings were held. About 130 gathered from the various assemblies, each in the County being represented. The time allowed for a sharing of joys and assembly needs as the representatives gave their reports. Reports were also given by evangelists John Hadley and Stan Burdilt. John Hadley is still needing a tent for the summer work. Stan Burditt plans, as the Lord leads, to raise a second gospel tent testimony during the coming summer months. Both the work of Cornwall Postal Sunday School and the Plymouth Assembly Camps were reported on. Time was spent in prayer for the needs of the County and the meeting concluded with very practical ministry by Stuart Dan of Plymouth. This was felt to be a very profitable time spent in sharing the burden of the work of the Lord in Cornwall.
The 1985 Cornwall Postal Sunday School Report gives some interesting sidelights on this work for the Lord. It was a very happy year marked by fellowship in all its various aspects. Three special openings presented themselves as outreach opportunities. The P.S.S. "Treasure Island" Stand was erected at Wadebridge in the Royal Cornwall Show. During the three days many young people received lessons-a few followed it up and are now regular members. Then Stan Burditt and his wife used the P.S.S. Stand at the Elephant Fayre. Here again were some useful opportunities of contact. Some juggler's children called at the stand to find their mum, who was inside the van talking about spiritual things. An explanation of the Seed and Sower Display was given and they were given P.S.S. Lessons. The third opportunity was at the Saltash May Day Fair, and David Ogden was able to erect the Stand with a bookstall as well. Here again some useful contacts were made as P.S.S. Lessons were passed on to children. It is good to hear that letters come in to the office telling of blessing and help received by children and parents. Some of the children are led to find the Saviour as they study God's Word. A number of the children who write in from families associated with other denominations, but they speak of the help they find from the Lessons, and those who are saved find a work to do for the Saviour. From the workers' point of view it is reflected again that this is a "team" effort, teachers and helpers working together to reach children who often they will never see, making sure that they have the opportunity in early years to learn of the Saviour.