Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"The Lord working with them". Mk. 16.20.
We are able again to present a full report of varied aspects of the labours of God's people. Behind the reports there must be many hours of prayer, exercise and expended energy inspired by a desire for the blessing of men. Yet we need to remind ourselves of John 15.5. "apart from me ye can do nothing". The reluctance to acknowledge this often costs us much fruit. He is more than willing to work with us and HE IS LORD. Our highest wisdom is to let Him have His way.
Northern Ireland.We have news from Jim Graham concerning a number of the Lord's servants who are busily spreading the gospel across the province. In a portable hall at Clough, Co. Antrim, J. Martin and W. Jennings preached the Word and at Derriaghy, brethren J. Thompson and E. Fairfield (Venezuela) reached out with the gospel to unsaved. In Armagh city, N. Turkington and S. Ferguson had some well attended meetings and saw blessing in the gospel. At Besbrook, where the Newry brethren have had a children's work for many years, J. Hawthorne and T. McNeill saw a good interest in this needy village which is much in the news. A. McShane and D. Gilliland preached the Word at Grensha Hall which is in a county area in mid-down. A spell of cottage meetings at Birney, near Strabane, were well attended and souls were saved under the preaching of N. Coulter and D. Lowry. W. J. Nesbitt had well attended meetings at Coleraine, Co. Derry. G. McKinley and B. Glendin-ning held meetings in a portable hall at Newtownbutter in Co. Fermanagh. At the Glenburn and Bromfield assemblies in Belfast, J. May, Scotland, held gospel meetings. E. Wishart preached at Cregagh Street, S. Jennings and F. Flanigan in Castlereagh and R. Wishart and R. Jordan in Albertbridge Road. God gave help in all these and blessed His Word in salvation. So the troubled city of Belfast hears the Word. The Belfast Easter Conference, held in the assembly building, was very well attended and considered to be very profitable. Reports of the Lord's work at home and abroad were given, and the ministry was both Christ exalting and practical. The gospel was preached with power by W. J. Nesbitt to over 1000 people-the text John 3.16!
There are several items in a news letter from E. Jamieson. The sending out of "Words of Comfort" to bereaved and troubled people continues. A grieving mother sent thanks for Gospel literature during tragic bereavement. Her daughter was killed by a drunken driver in a hit and run accident. She said her heart was sad and sore. Another family was contacted during a family bereavement. The parents were completely devastated and searched for comfort and peace of mind. This was following a horrific accident and it is prayed that they will find the Saviour. Contact with prisoners is still continued. There is encouragement in seeing a republican prisoner, who has been saved for some time, as a keen reader of the scriptures and always ready to chat on spiritual things. Another who is serving a long sentence for terrorist activities, has relatives who are believers and pray for his salvation. Soldiers are also contacted and one soldier who was badly injured in a terrorist attack, has shown interest in spiritual things. He also has relatives who are praying. Deep Sea Evangelism always brings interesting items of news. A man told how he had picked up literature in a plastic bag on the shores of Poland. Another picked up a plastic bag on the coast of Italy and literature and the scriptures have been posted to him. In Singapore a man picked one up and opened it. He then contacted Ireland requesting Gospel literature. Thus the sea casts up its contents-possibilities of salvation are there!
South Ireland.At Erryroe, Co. Monaghan, S. McBride saw an increase in interest as he preached in this needy area. At Churchtown, Co. Donegal, S. Patterson and G. Stewart were encouraged as a number of Postal Sunday School scholars attended.
News of the National Bible Study Club from Killney, Co. Dublin. The operation of a branch in the North of England gave encouragement as the work expands. Lessons are also being translated into Spanish. There is cause for praise as 4700 study packs and 1186 gospels have been sent out during the past 12 months. Also some have indicated a new found faith in the Lord Jesus as a personal Saviour. Prayer is sought for new accommodation, as Merrion Hall assembly's new building does not have sufficient room for the materials etc. We shall be pleased to receive news of the Lord's work in the assemblies and districts of the South. Reports can be sent to R. M. Fry, "Kinlough", 3 Tudor Court, Torquay Road, Foxrock Village, Dublin 18, who is willing to handle them for the magazine.
Scotland. Reports of the Lord's work in Scotland are plentiful. Jim Anderson sends news of work in the South West. John Clunas came home from America for a three months spell. He held a gospel effort in East Kilbride for 2 weeks-this his home town. The first week the meetings were held in homes where one or two professed conversion. The second week was held in Threshold Assembly Hall where there were conversions nightly. Three daughters of a woman who professed conversion at one of the house meetings were saved on different nights. John's youngest son's former teacher had become curious about the "wee fellow's" Christian background, and with John's encouragement began attending the gospel meetings as the Cluna's left for the U.S.A. 7 years before. She made a decision for Christ just at the end of the week. John Clunas' next effort was at Annbank, Ayr. Each night for a fortnight unsaved attended the meetings. On the last night a meeting with Sunday School children and parents saw over 50 unsaved present. Following this at the final rally, a number of believers from Douglas were among those that gathered. There were two conversions, an elderly lady and a 16 year old friend of her grandaughter. During the second week the husband and son of a sister in fellowship at Annbank professed salvation.
Robert Revie erected his portable hall in the Rourtreehill district of Irvine New-town. The meetings got off to a slow start but unsaved folk came. There was moderate Christian support and one woman professed to trust the Saviour. Because Robert was ill, Ian Steele and George Smith helped out and during this time the woman was saved.
The first Renfrewshire Assemblies Campaign for 1987 was conducted by Joe Baxter, recently commended to the work, in Linwood. Among the villagers there was considerable interest in the meetings, so much so that they were continued an extra few days after the fortnight was up. No definite decisions were made. John Spiers conducted a two weeks effort in Renfrew in April. The assembly prepared for this effort by holding two seminars on evangelism. Special occasions were organised for the first meetings. It was hoped that such would draw folk to return for the second weeks meetings and a good number came back. A gospel effort was held by Robert Spiers at Dumbarton in the school, but people were reluctant to come possibly because the believers were not sufficiently known. The second week was conducted in the assembly's hall but with little carry-over from the first.
Stewart McKenzie spent April with The Strutherhill assembly in Larkhall. He conducted the Sunday and Thursday meetings and visited everyone on the assembly roll. Alistair Young spent a very happy week in Bothwell, Lanark, conducting children's meetings. Numbers rose to 90. This little assembly goes out of its way to contact parents as often as possible. Jim Smyth held his last campaign, for three weeks at Forth. About 80 of the villagers attended at some time or other in a splendid campaign. A recently bereaved lady professed salvation. Jack May had two weeks with the small assembly at Shotts. In this area of heavy industrial decline, encouraging times were experienced, both with adults and children. A youth of 20 trusted the Saviour. Joe Baxter worked in the strongly Catholic village of Chapelhall. Often work proves hard going here, but this campaign proved different. John Clunas had 5 nights in Baillieston. The two assemblies joined in distribution and big crowds attended. Two older ladies professed salvation. George Forbes had a series of children's meetings in Carluke and a teenage girl was baptised.
Scottish Postal Sunday School is encouraged as lessons sent out during 1986 more than doubled. Arthur Pollard receives regular letters which encourage, from children and parents. He seeks to visit scholars in remote places. A gospel campaign was held in the Holburn Assembly in Aberdeen. A woman was saved and a backslider restored and the believers were greatly challenged. Jim Smyth, the evangelist, was deeply moved by the apathy of the people to the gospel. The Fernielea assembly in Aberdeen held a missionary week-end. Practical financial methods of missionary support were described. Andy Patching spoke about "Romance and Reality" in the work of the Lord in Zambia. James Crawford of Brazil also gave a report. Over 300 witnessed a moving commendation of John Mer-som to the work of the Lord in Brazil a week later. Believers in the Hospital Hill assembly, Dumferline, have for over ten years been using cassette tapes to seek to meet spiritual needs of both saints and sinners. These are sent out regularly to missionaries and other isolated believers abroad. Tapes are also sent to elderly and house bound saints and also the blind. Some are sent to hospitals.
News from the N.E. comes from W. Mowatt, Cullen. The Annual Conference at Lossiemouth saw a good attendance. The ministry was practical and challenging. During May, Robert Walker preached the gospel at three week-end meetings here. The assembly made every effort in door to door visitation to contact people in the town but the response was not encouraging. However the gospel was faithfully preached. At Cullen the annual conference was preceded by searching ministry given by David Morgan on the Life of Solomon. The Conference was well attended and the ministry and fellowship was appreciated by all. Many outlying villages will be visited in open air work and prayer will be valued.
North West England & North Wales.News from Howard Barnes gives contrasting pictures of assembly life. Some assemblies have ageing believers and dwindling numbers. There are those however that have young folk with a faithful witness and the Lord is blessing. The assembly at Jireh in Bebington see about 50 teenagers regularly attending the gospel meeting and many have been baptised and brought into fellowship. One young man was saved and began to witness to his family. His younger brother was soon saved. He then had the joy of seeing his mother attend his baptism and finding salvation that night.
The Ford estate in Birkenhead has become notorious in the national media as a black spot for drug addiction. There has been an assembly witness there for just over ten years. It is composed largely of younger believers who maintain a faithful witness in such a dark place. Following a special day of witness in the shopping precinct near the hall, and successfully inviting people inside, this has now become a regular monthly event. A number of unsaved also attended a senior citizens tea. Over the years the building has been attacked and now the doors are steel plated. The assembly has also felt much spiritual attack, but continue as an example of zeal for the gospel to all the assemblies on the Wirral peninsular.
John Baker had 2 weeks gospel meetings in Wrexham in North Wales. Quite a number of families with young children came to the meetings. There was extensive tracting in the area and a number came in to the meetings. The Wirral, Liverpool and N.W. Rallies have all continued during the winter and have been consistently supported. The Merseyside Monthly Bible Readings on John 13-17 covered five evenings during the winter. These were profitable but the numbers were disappointing. The Merseyside Easter Conference saw a reasonable attendance. The Lordship of Christ was the subject of the Friday morning Bible Reading and was opened by J. Sinclair. The other speakers were Wm. McNeil, U.S.A., A. Renshaw and G. Anthon, Manchester. The ministry was much appreciated.
The Greater Manchester Missionary Conference held at Chctham Gospel Hall had as speakers P. Ferry, Thailand, R. Lower, Japan and R. Smith, Zambia. A good interest was shown in interesting reports on the Lord's work. Challenging ministry given by J. Skingley, Southport, concluded the Conference. John Skingley conducted a children's campaign in the Brownwood assembly, Wythenshaw during the first week in May. Good attendances were seen. Preparation and prayer are in progress for the Lancashire Gospel tent. The venues for this year are Heaton Park, Manchester in June, and Great Sankey Warrington, in July.
Midlands.An interesting report comes from Ivor Powell at Daventry. The assembly at Daventry praise God for continued interest and blessing at the monthly family services on the Grange Estate. Consistent visitation goes on month by month and many useful contacts have been made. Numbers attending the services and very encouraging-recent ones have seen 100 and more and several people have spoken with appreciation of help received. There is prayer that some will be saved. The assembly is planning to reach many homes during coming weeks, leaving the family with a copy of John Blanchard's "Ultimate Question". Ivor Powell speaks of joy in taking many school assemblies with open doors in nine schools.
Useful meetings were taken at Bottes-ford, Notts. Several unsaved people attended and two young men need prayer. One of them said that he would attend "for the fun of it". Being a builder the message he heard was on the wise and foolish builders. The other young man who had been in much trouble with the police, showed much interest. It could be that he has trusted the Saviour.
News from the Butt Lane assembly, Stoke-on-Trent, tells of a family service on a Sunday evening when over 70 gathered with 20 parents unsaved coming in. Parents will come if children take part, and choruses were sung and verses of scripture learned in Sunday School were repeated. Geoff Payne of S win ton gave the message. He also spoke at an old people's centre afterwards and was well received. The Annual Conference was well attended, and the speakers, E. Hughes, Liverpool and D. Roberts, Cardiff, gave helpful ministry. Don Roberts continued the following week with ministry on the Epistle of James, and this was appreciated by all.
News from the Birmingham assemblies. The Annual Good Friday Conference at Sheldon Gospel Hall saw a very good company gathered to hear the Ministry of God's Word. There were about 160 present with 20 assemblies represented. The warmth of fellowship was good. Dick Towse, late of Zambia gave ministry on 2 Tim 2. and Douglas Gooding, Coventry, ministered on the Lord's Supper. The ministry was very acceptable and was appreciated by all who gathered.
On April 25th. believers at New Street, Erdington, gathered to celebrate 100 years of testimony in this part of Birmingham. It was a joy to look back and to record the faithfulness of the Lord. It was generally reckoned that the very first meetings of believers in Erdington were held in a stable at the "Acorn Hotel", then transferred to the National School prior to the Gospel Hall being built in New Street. This was destined in the goodness of God to be the spiritual birthplace and home of many people. During the years the worship of the Lord at His table, Sunday School and children's work, regular gospel testimony and women's work have all been engaged in consistently. There have been several workers commended to the Lord's work in foreign fields. There have been times of joy and also of sorrow-so much that reveals the needs and the blessings of the Lord's people. The hall was full for a very joyful Conference and B. Osborne and A. Shearman gave helpful and stimulating ministry. May the Lord continue to bless the work in this place.
Notes from Ivor Cooper, Leamington, give several items of news. At Priory Terrace, Leamington, a new children's work commenced called "Mission Control". A half term Holiday Club was held and the response was encouraging. At the end of a family service a young lad trusted Christ. Onley Youth Custody Centre was visited. This proves a challenging and fruitful opportunity for witness. The young men there are usually very open and it is thrilling to have the opportunity to share the gospel with them.
South Wales.Some items of news come from Don Roberts, Cardiff. Four young people were baptised at Ebenezer Gospel Hall and this adds to the growth of this already large assembly. The valley assemblies are small with few numbers and poor response. Abertridwr is endeavouring to reach out to the lost and are now commencing a women's meeting. This form of meeting is one of the best methods of evangelism in Cardiff.
The Bible Exhibition still continues to prove its worth. While it was erected at Llandaff North Gospel Hall, a man who had been away from the Lord for sometime was restored. Also at this assembly a young lady was baptised. At Bethesda Hall, Rhiw-bina, eight people were baptised, one married couple and six young people. It is gratifying that these young people are a follow-on from the Friday night young people's meeting. A campaign was held at Ely Gospel Hall for children. Frank Lonney had three weeks meetings and about 50 children gathered each evening. He was also able to conduct morning assembly in four different schools.
The small assembly at Nantgarw was greatly encouraged with a visit from S. Mountstevens for two week's childrens meetings. Held in a village hall the meetings were very well attended with 50 children coming each evening. The attention to the Word was good and while no professions were made, prayer is that fruit will eventually be seen. Interest has continued, with increase in numbers at Sunday School.
In the early 195O's, the Swansea & District Assemblies Scripture Study Tests were started. The scheme was taken up amongst the Cardiff & Bristol assemblies. On May 15th., the Annual presentation of certificates was held in Swansea when over 400 gathered together, including many parents. W. Beale gave a simple gospel message and 360 certificates were presented to the successful scholars. The study of the year was on the Miracles of Jesus. It could be that many parents helped to look up relevant passages with their children. The organisation of this event is efficiently handled by many young believers who give their time to it and a wide area of South Wales is represented in the assemblies from which the children come. This is a profitable and effective way of teaching the children the value of Bible Study. John Baker made many contacts in his gospel campaign in Trimsaran, Dyfed. Stan Ford conducted a short gospel effort in Pentwyn Gospel Hall, Trecynon, Aberdare.
Dorset.The Annual meeting of Postal Sunday School for Dorset was packed with children and their parents. There has been increased interest recently and good response from many young people as a result of camp and school visitation. Stephen Gillham has held profitable meetings at Wareham, Arelsford (Hants), and Lyme Regis. 45 schools have been visited since Christmas, with 20 visits during the Easter period. Preparations are being made for a campaign at Stalbridge and also at Sher-borne and arrangements for Summer Camps are well in hand. Much need for prayer.
Devon.From J. Powell, Plymouth comes news of a visit by Peter Brandon to West Hill Gospel Hall, with a series of subjects on the Holy Spirit. These were very much appreciated although numbers attending varied each night. The visit culminated with a Conference at Wolsley Road Gospel Hall where ministry by Alan Osborne was also much appreciated. The Easter weekend was spent at Menadue Camp Site by a number of young people including the Bible Class from West Hill and a series of Bible Studies conducted by Peter Brandon was again very much appreciated. A 12 year old girl was saved on this occasion.
Cornwall.The assembly has been greatly encouraged at St. Austell over the last few months by seeing God save souls and also by the obedience of five believers in baptism. One middle aged man made known the fact that he had been saved by telling his wife that he wished to be baptised. His wife had that very day come into fellowship having trusted the Lord about a year previously. Prayer is requested that their two sons, who are coming to the meetings regularly might be saved. It is good to know that 11 believers have been baptised since the beginning of the year. At a Saturday night gospel meeting entitled "Life Lines", over 100 adults and young people listened to over an hour of testimony to the change that only Christ can make in human hearts. The believers are convinced, that God is at work in this area and God will soon save some of those who hear the gospel. Further outreaches in the gospel using "Lifelines" are planned D.V. for June and September in the outlying villages of Polgooth and Penwithick. These Youth Gospel Rallies have now been held in Truro, St. Austell and Falmouth assemblies and on each occasion over 120 younger people were present to listen to a clearly and powerfully presented gospel message. Some have professed to accept Christ as Saviour. Much need for prayer is felt for the future of this outreach work.
The Plymouth & District Assemblies Camp Site, purchased three years ago is now clear of any loan debts. The farmhouse building and fields cost £63000. Much work has already been done to renovate and improve the whole site. In addition to summer camps, many assemblies use the facilities for teaching weekends. An open day saw over 150 believers gather to rejoice in God's goodness and to pray and listen to ministry.