Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"The goodness of God leadeth... to repentance". Rom. 2.4.
Each report tells encouragingly of God's gracious dealings with people through the gospel. Some are saved quickly, almost suddenly, the decision of a moment. Others are brought to Christ after long years of struggle in their minds and hearts. For others, there is a coming to Christ and a going away into the wilderness, a period of sad backsliding and then a restoration which heals the breach and re-unites them with the Lord. In each of these situations repentance is an essential ingredient, whether for sinner or saint. Do we forget this in our evangelism today? Are we not in danger of softening the Bible's revelation concerning the sinfulness of sin and the Holiness of God. How good to know that we serve a God who, in His goodness and longsuffering is waiting and willing to receive those who repent of their sins and believe the gospel.
Northern Ireland.Jim Graham from Belfast furnishes us with many items of news including news of times of ministry over the New Year period. In four areas of the city of Belfast, series of gospel meetings concluded. At Newtownbreda, a lady was saved on the closing night of meetings conducted by A. McShane and W. Bing-ham. At Shanklyn Road Hall, good interest was shown as D. Kane preached, and also at Fortwilliam Hall where H. Andrews preached the gospel. R. Eadie and D. Armstrong concluded in cottage type meetings in a house in East Belfast. Over the holiday period, Cregagh Street Hall was packed for ministry given by W. Nesbitt, J. Hawthorne and S. Jennings. The assembly at Castlereagh had a packed hall for a special gospel service on Old Year's night when the speakers were H. Andrews and R. Pickering. On the same night a good company gathered at Ormeau Road for ministry given by T. Meekin and S. Emery (Workington). The hall was full at Albert-bridge Road for ministry by G. Waugh, S. McBride and S. Ferguson, followed on Jan. 1st by Bible Readings on Hebrews 10 conducted by G. Waugh, S. McBride and A. McShane. The Belfast Christmas Conference was reckoned to be one of the best since moving into the King's Hall. Readings were conducted by T. Bentley and J. A. Baker on Romans 12-13, and ministry was given by various brethren.
At Ahoghill, Co. Antrim, J. Brown and J. Lennox had the joy of seeing some profess salvation. Fair numbers attended meetings conducted by E. Wishart and A. McClean in Ballymoney. A number of unsaved attended meetings conducted by J. Martin and W. Jennings at Moorfields. The Annual Conference at Buckna saw a full hall gathering to hear practical and helpful ministry by A. Leckie, S. Emery, J. Hunter and N. Mellish. At Clare, Co. Armagh, J, Hawthorne and T. McNeill had large numbers attending to hear the gospel preached. At Clonroot, an abrupt stop came to meetings held by A. Davidson and G. Marshall. After a number of weeks, brother Marshall was suddenly taken ill and went to be with Christ after preaching faithfully and seeing souls saved. In Porta-down, T. Bentley had a very profitable week of ministry on the life of Abraham.
Eire.At Magheracorran, Co. Donegal, S. Patterson spent two weeks in ministry and preaching from his chart on "From Egypt to Canaan". Four miles from Donegal town, J. Kells and E. Stewart had encouraging meetings in a portable hall, with quite a number of unsaved attending including some Roman Catholics.
Scotland. Some interesting items of news are to hand from James Anderson, Ayr. The two assemblies at Baillieston, at the east end of Glasgow are rejoicing in recent additions. A Zambian lady took her children along to the children's meetings in the Gospel Hall. Soon she ventured to the morning meeting and the gospel meeting. It transpired that she had professed conversion at some stage in her life but had gone no further. Recently she has been baptised and welcomed into assembly fellowship. Her doctor husband came to see her baptism. A mother and her two teenage daughters professed conversion on the same evening in Hope Hall and all three have since been baptised and added to the assembly.
How often the conversion of one is linked to a chain of events. A 52 year old man began attending the gospel meetings in Greengairs Gospel Hall, Lanarks. He also went along to Chapelhall to hear Tom Bentley ministering the Word. Shortly afterwards he trusted the Saviour. He had had assembly connections in the past, his uncle having been instrumental in pointing Robert McPheat to the Saviour years ago. How interesting is the history of a soul's dealings with the Saviour.
The Glenburn assembly, Prestwick, had a time of blessing following Jack Gray's meetings in November. Only one person, a young married woman professed conversion at the time of the meetings, but on the two successive Sundays there were baptismal services at which first four and then three people gave testimony to the Lord in baptism. Among them was the young married woman and a married man. The others were teenagers. Reg. Jordan was conducting meetings in nearby Tarbolton at the same time, and on the final night a woman was restored to the Lord. She came from Prestwick and has been added to the Glenburn assembly. Another young person, member of a large family of whom a number have professed conversion, made a decision for the Lord. When the meetings finished a man who was attending regularly, continued to attend the Sunday evenings after the campaign ended and also the Friday Bible Class conducted by Robert Revie.
It was John Knox who stifled the celebration of Christmas in Scotland, and only since the Second World War has it been celebrated on the same scale as in England. An increasing number of assemblies are making use of this season of the year and are holding Carol Services, either on the Sunday before Christmas or on Christmas Eve. Also some have used Christmas morning and through these means many people are brought in to hear the gospel. Quite often also, the Bible Class meeting which was held on Sunday, is now held on a weeknight. Tarbolton have started this and this time seems to appeal much more to teenagers.
From Kenneth Dickson comes news of a commendation to missionary work from the Femielea assembly, Aberdeen. John Mer-son has felt a call from the Lord to serve in Brazil. He will join Walter Alexander, to assist in the evangelisation of young people in particular, and also in the completion of buildings. Our prayers will follow our brother in his commitment to the Lord's work in this needy country. The Aberdeen assemblies New Year Conference meetings were felt to be much better attended this year. For the first time, the concluding meeting took the form of a gospel meeting and this was led by Peter Brandon. It was good to see the large building well filled, and a number of unsaved were present.
With the Cowdenbeath assembly, Hugh Keirs began a weekly outreach meeting at Halbeath village during October. The response of teenagers was good and the meetings continued during November and December. It is now hoped that this will be a regular meeting and prayer continues for this group of about twenty teenagers. A parents family service was held in the Cowdenbeath assembly on Christmas Eve. The hall was filled to capacity and many parents of children who attend the meeting held for them, heard the gospel.
The assembly at Kennoway held then-first New Year Conference on Jan. 1st. In spite of unfavourable weather, about 130 attended and the ministry given by J. Hay, J. Burnett and D. Cameron was greatly appreciated. The Conference on Jan. 2nd. at Innerleven Gospel Hall, Methil, was well attended and helpful and challenging ministry was given by R. McPheat and W. Banks. J. Baxter, recently commended to the Lord's work, has been engaged in door to door work in the Tayport area.
At Buckie, the three day New Year Conference meetings were well attended. Helpful ministry was given by George Meikie, Brian Currie and Robert Miller. The final meeting took the form of a testimony, a report and a faithful message to close. The meetings were felt to be both encouraging and challenging.
Some very encouraging news comes from the Orkneys. Frank Reid recently visited the small Island of Papa Westray which has a population of about 80. The small assembly of eight has continued very faithfully for many years and are now seeing blessing. Two teenage youths professed faith in Christ and along with two other young men have been baptised in the sea and received into fellowship. An increase in the assembly of 50%, and the first baptism for 25 years. Praise the Lord!
North West England.The Greater Manchester New Year Conference, held in Mount Chapel, Pendleton, was enjoyed by a good company from the Manchester area and also further afield. J. Griffiths, Treor-chy and E. Hughes, Liverpool, were responsible for the ministry. Numbers were down for the morning Bible Reading in Philippians Ch. 2, but a very profitable time was enjoyed by all. A pleasing feature of the Reading was the ready contributions from those gathered. Challenging ministry followed in the afternoon and evening to increased numbers. A well spent first day of a New Year!
Midlands.From Ebenezer Gospel Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, comes news of a visit from John Skingley. A large number of campers, old and young, attended the North Staffs. Assemblies Youth Camps re-union. A challenge was given to all in the ministry of the Word. John Skingley also undertook a series of meetings in the local assemblies during the following week, when studies in the Epistle of James were profitable and practical.
Paul Young visited the Rushall assembly, Walsall and conducted two meetings with young people, one with the ladies as well as paying visits to local schools. At the Delves, Walsall, ministry was given, and also a children's meeting was taken and a visit made to a local school.
At Charlton Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, it was standing room only at their Christmas service and there were a good number of unsaved families in the hall. The Word was spoken with power. On the last Sunday of 1986 a young married woman was baptised. The weekly ladies meeting is proving encouraging with up to 90 attending, a good number of whom are unsaved. A report comes from Selly Oak, Birmingham. The assembly there have faced changes in population, with most of the surrounding folk now being elderly, students or young couples. There is also a decreasing number of children in the area. By 1984 the Sunday School had declined, and the Gospel meeting was stagnating. A radical change in the Sunday programme was made and a morning family service was introduced. This immediately proved successful with both local senior citizens who were reluctant to come out in the evenings, and students from local universities and colleges. Assembly families are encouraged to attend as family groups. The hall is regularly filled to capacity. The believers meet for worship and the Lord's supper in the evenings and are encouraged by the useful participation by young believers.
The assembly at Cranham Drive, Warn-don, Worcester were again encouraged by attendances at the Christmas services. The hall was filled to capacity on two consecutive weeks and it was a good opportunity to present the gospel faithfully. The interest was good. Also at a special Christmas morning service a number from the estate came in.
A New Year Convention was held at Hope Chapel, Moseley, Birmingham, when Roy Wood gave reports of the needs and work in Angola. There were about 80 present and he spoke in such a way as to show how much was owed in prayer and practical help (including unwanted, unused spectacles), to our fellow-saints in Angola. After 12 years continual strife in this country, a recent survey of 164 countries to ascertain those most desirable to live in, listed Great Britain as 12th., and Angola as 164th. The slides shown were most interesting and challenging and gave an up to date picture of the country. The rebels, who come in from Zaire, have been to twelve assemblies. They then asked for the evangelist, took him out and shot him, and afterwards sacked the buildings so that the government troops cannot make use of them. Yet baptisms were spoken of and in one place more than 1000 were baptised at one time. Praise God for the triumphs of faith! In thinking of this needy, sad country, we remember Ruth Hadley and her fellow labourers as they serve the Lord in these perilous conditions.
East Midlands.Brief items of news from S. Mountstevens, Milton Keynes. An interesting episode began when a local lady came and knocked on the door. For months she had evaded passing the house as she could not face the texts displayed on the van. Plucking up courage, she told our brother a story of mental illness, backsliding and sorrow. It is now known exactly where she stands-she is definitely in need of prayer. For many years she was under the sound of the gospel from Ian Paisley in Ireland and knows the truth. In Milton Keynes, banner work and tract distribution is constantly engaged in and the Word is faithfully displayed. A man came in to a gospel meeting to say that he was converted 26 years ago on a building site at Wells, Soms., after a conversation with our brother. Although the contact was forgotten, the Lord had wonderfully saved him. Here is a snippet to encourage gospel preachers. An elderly man walked into a small gospel hall. He had never been in before and this night there were few present. He was gloriously saved and went home rejoicing. Hallelujah-what a Saviour!
Wiltshire.News from Philip Lambert tells of visits to a large number of schools during December. The doors are wide open to this evangelism with its direct contact with children and young people, and many hundreds of them hear the gospel. How important this ministry is as we consider the future of our nation.
Work continues locally in the village of Neston, where Philip Lambert is engaged in a one year's outreach. A Christian film evening was conducted but few came in from the village. A series of gospel meetings also proved disappointing for numbers. Door to door visitation does prove effective in establishing contact with people in their homes. A mission conducted at Sladebrook, Bath, was refreshing with most of the believers coming in every night. The outreach commenced with a number of school visits in the area. The "Breakout Club" proved beneficial and numbers were good from the beginning. It was good to know of children who had trusted the Saviour. The family nights were well attended and a family who came to all the adult meetings and the Parents Supper need prayer.
London Area.News to hand from the South West London Evangelistic Unit. The witness in Trafalgar Square in September gave opportunity not only to preach the gospel, but also to engage in personal witness. Some 20 people had conversations with Unit workers and much literature, both English and Foreign was distributed. Trafalgar Square is to be closed to public meetings for two years so guidance is needed for the future. Prayer would be valued.
At the Strand, leaflets distributed were well received. Many contacts were made with overseas visitors. A young lady, a backslider, took leaflets and was given counsel by a worker. Several contacts were made at West Croydon Station including a bus driver and a young man who spoke with a worker and promised to attend a local assembly. At Villiers Street, many were found sleeping under the bridge, so the time was spent in tracting. This evening was felt to be worthwhile. One man came up and said that he used to heckle but has since been saved through open air preaching. Another man came into the Unit many years ago for prayer but still has many difficulties. A generally mixed reception was given at East Croydon Station but good literature distribution was possible. Contact was made with a young lady who took literature and was very thoughtful on hearing how to become a Christian. At West End, Leicester Square, two people from Turkey showed interest and left their addresses for further contact. Also a backslider, a Sikh was conversed with. The Unit celebrates 40 years of witness this year and will be holding special meetings on April 4th.
South Wales.A letter from Bruce Anderson, Newport, reviewing the work in which they have been engaged for the Lord during 1986, gives an interesting item. It concerns literature work and a Market Stall at Monmouth each Friday. This work is a constant source of encouragement, and whilst sales have never been large there have been some good contacts and Bibles that have been sold have gone to many different areas and countries. It is always a joy to sell a copy of the Word of God. A mother and a father came to buy a Bible for their son. They confessed that they were not religious, but wanted the Bible for him because he was a Christian and wanted to start a Christian Union at the College to which he was going. He had found it difficult to meet other Christians and he had only been a Christian for two years. Encouragement was offered him as he came along. One thing he said was unforgettable. "When I was in school, I can only remember learning about Indian gods". How challenging this is in so called Christian England.
From Don Roberts, Cardiff comes news of blessing in a relatively new work at St. Mellons, Cardiff. Eight believers have been recently baptised. There are approximately 60 in fellowship and the work is growing. One man of 47 was converted when he was only twelve years old, in another assembly. He has now been restored to the Lord.
At Tavistock Street, Cardiff, two young ladies were baptised. A mid-week Carol Service was held here and about 50 gathered of which 20 were unconverted. There was a good opportunity to preach the gospel and then converse with people over a cup of tea. The Annual Cardiff Rallies Carol Service saw about 750 people gathering together and a stirring gospel message was given by Peter Brandon. At Ely Gospel Hall about 60 came to the Carol Service. The estate was visited with about 1000 invitation cards. At Abertridwr, a small assembly of only 5, there was encouragement when about 20 came to their Carol Service. Thus the Christmas season affords many opportunities of commending the gospel.
At Ynysybwl, a unique opportunity to preach the gospel was given to a packed hall, when a memorial service was held for an ex-miner who had attended the meetings there.
From Paul Young comes news of a Christmas Holiday Club held at Dinas Powis. The Lord answered prayer and 80-90 children attended the two hour session each morning. An added joy was the opportunity to speak at a baptismal service on the Sunday evening, when a young married couple were baptised. Later in the week the wife's younger sister became a Christian and another young woman in early 20's professed faith in Christ. The late night "Coffee Bar" attracted older teenagers and some very good conversations resulted from this effort. The final Sunday saw the hall packed for the prize giving service. Many children brought their parents and it was a good opportunity to present the gospel.
The local work at Maesteg continues with many local opportunities for preaching the gospel. The Senior Citizen's centre in Nantyffyllon was once again visited. There is cause for rejoicing in the conversion of two teenage girls and they have joined "Good News Extra", a group for the building up of young believers.
Interesting items of news come from W. Beale, Swansea. Following a gospel campaign conducted by Robert McLuckie, and door to door visitation work by John Baker, the assembly at the mining village of Trimsaran, Dyfed, has been greatly encouraged. A number of unsaved folk have continued to attend the meetings. There is earnest prayer now for contacts made and also the continued preaching of the Word. Work is proceeding on the new building being erected by the brethren at Jireh Gospel Hall, Loughor, and it is almost ready for opening.
The young believers from Swansea and the surrounding areas organised an open air witness and Carol Service in the main shopping precinct prior to Christmas. Many people stood and listened and accepted Christian literature. The South Wales Mobile Unit was also active in distributing Christmas tracts in Carmarthen and Neath and believers from Llanelli assembly conducted a similar witness. How good it is to hear of these activities conducted in the towns and villages. May the Lord bless them.
Cornwall. Some encouraging items of news from St. Austell. Following a campaign with John Baker in November, interest has continued in the meetings. A lad of 14 years who came to the gospel meetings because his sister and mother were saved and baptised, told his mother that he had trusted the Saviour before Christmas. A man of 20 asked a brother from the meeting in the Post Office for a chat because he was seeking God. The Lord wonderfully saved him through a gospel tract before any conversation took place. He has now come regularly and is concerned about being baptised. A good New Year's Day fellowship meeting was held at Falmouth. Each representative from Cornwall assemblies gave a report about the work of the gospel. Stan Burditt and John Hadley gave reports of their summer work. A report was given by K. Rudge on the Postal Sunday School work and Peter Glasgow gave helpful ministry.