Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
'He rejoiced ... believing in God with all his house', Acts 16.34.
The conversion of the jailer at Philippi must have been an occasion of great joy for at concerned. Can we imagine the gladness in the hearts of Paul and Silas as they saw their tormentor so radically changed? The man himself, like the Ethiopian eunuch, rejoiced in a new found blessing in Christ. He believed-he was saved! Only the gospel could give an adequate challenge to such evil as was in this man. It proved to be, indeed, the 'power of God unto salvation' for him as he believed.
Yet there was another feature of joy that night-that which concerned 'all his house'. If we read this aright, a new Christian family began just then. They believed and were baptized. In compiling this report it was heartening to read of those from Christian homes who were saved and then baptized. This perhaps gives us food for thought. A Christian family is a significant point of witness in our decadent moral conditions today. It is wonderful when every member of the family shares the same faith and loves the same Lord. Satan and his minions would destroy by design, family life in general but Christian family life in particular.
It is said that spiritist agents are dedicated co overthrow pure Christian marriage and home life. It is certain that we need to pray for children of believing parents, that early in life they may be taught the Scriptures in the home and in young days may find Christ for themselves. And as we read the reports, let us remember that the future of the local assembly testimony depends largely on the growth and increase of Christian families and homes.
Northern Ireland. From Jim Graham come reports of the spread of the gospel. In troubled Belfast city meetings have taken place. A number of unsaved attended quite regularly at Cregagh St. Hall where the gospel was faithfully preached by]. Fairfield and J. Walmsley. At the Glenburn assembly, Archie Carew laboured for three weeks. Numbers were encouraging and there were opportunities for peaching the gospel in a number of schools in the area. At the Bloomheld assembly, J. G. Hutchinson and J. Allen had special meetings designed to reach people in the area, and at Castlereagh, R. McLuckie and G. Hall preached the gospel. Believers at Glengormley visited 15,000 homes with invitations to meetings conducted by Archie McClean and Arnott Caulfield. The attendance was good and there was liberty in preaching.
At Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, R. McLuckie held meetings as did J. Martin and W. Jennings in a portable hall at Ballytober, near Bushmills. D. Kane and B. Glendinning laboured at Bally-bollan and G. McKinley and N. Stewart worked at Dunmurry. At Burnside, near Tem-plepatrick and Dunadry, the small assembly with eight in fellowship has continued to maintain a testimony in the area where there is a strong religious influence, coupled with a marked increase in population in private housing as people have come in from other areas. It has been a long time since someone had been saved in the hall, and it was only after much exercise that W. J. Nesbitt commenced gospel meetings in November '87. The work was slow, but patient labour with a real sense of the Lord's presence and help brought reward. After a break for New Year, a young man professed faith in Christ. This was followed by a girl in late teens, her older sister and mother, and after a few weeks her father, all professing faith in the Lord Jesus. A young man of 20 whose parents are in the assembly and a young married woman have also been saved. The believers are enriched and encouraged by answered prayer and meetings continue with maintained interest. We can share their rejoicing at God's saving power.
At Lurgan, Co. Armagh, good numbers gathered to hear J. Hawthorne and E. Watter-son preach the word. At Portadown, J. Lennox and J. Brown preached to a full hall each night, and at Markerhill, G. Orr (Brazil) saw unsaved gathering to hear the gospel. Three people were saved in a seven week spell of gospel preaching at Ballykeel, Mourne, conducted by Albert Aiken and J. Hutchinson. J. Stubbs and W. Hoalliday held meetings at Ebenczer Hall, Newtownards, and Albert McShane conducted meetings at Magherafelt, Co. Deny. In Co. Tyrone, Albert Aiken and Tom McNeill preached at Lungs. In Dungannon, Bob Eadie and Robin McKeown had well attended meetings, with good interest among local people, and a man and his wife professed salvation. However the hall was burned down with all brother Eadie's seating being destroyed. The meetings were continued in the Gospel Hall, the original hall having been located in another part of the town.
As we read these reports, against the background of all the violence and suffering in the North, we can rejnice that the gospel of the grace of God is consistently preached in so many places. The only hope for the people is centred in changed lives, and this only Christ can achieve. Let us pray for the people who suffer and for all who seek to evangelize in such difficult conditions.
Eire. Gilbert Stewart and Sam Patterson continue their labours in Magheracorran, and Norman Turkington and Sam Ferguson have been encouraged by an unusual number of unsaved attending in Monaghan town. News from Colin and Rosemary Sheldon shares with us details of work around Dublin. They are finding personal Bible studies among men and women a useful way of introducing Christ and the Scriptures. Rosemary has contacts with several ladies and Colin has one to one studies with other young believers. An evangelistic Bible study is held with one man each week and prayer is that eventually he will find the Saviour. There are still opportunities to visit Secondary Schools and take religious classes In order to keep pace with the curriculum, Colin has been given the subjects to cover and has been asked to use the sketch board to get the message across. There are opportunities for getting into Convent Girls' Schools, and the desire is that blessing to teachers and students will follow. This is an aspect of the work that demands much wisdom and prayer.
Scotland. J. Anderson sends some interesting items concerning work in the South West. The earlier months of this year were remarkable for the number of baptisms that took place, evidence of the on-going work. This was especially seen in Christian families. In December '87, the Saltcoats assembly, now very much depleted, had the joy of seeing a young man of 23 saved through the witness of a workmate. He was baptized and is now in assembly fellowship.
In January, two men were baptized in Ebe-nezer Hall, Motherwell. One was in his seven-tics and it was when his daughter, whose 57-year-old husband died suddenly, asked her father where his soul would have been if it had been him who had died instead of his son-in-law, that he responded that he was saved and wanted to be baptized. The other was a young man in his twenties. Ik had made a profession earlier in life and had been baptized, but he had discovered that it was just an empty profession, and so was baptized again. Two young men were baptized on separate Lord's Days in January and February. On the second of these, two girls from Christian homes were also baptized in Bethany Hall, Paisley. The small assembly in Beith, Ayrshire, had great joy in January, when three women were baptized. One was the wife and another the mother of a man who has been in fellowship for a year or so, and the third was an older woman.
The Ciosshouse assembly in Ayrshire witnessed the baptism of a boy from a Christian home in January, while the neighbouring assembly in Dreghorn saw two brothers, aged 17 and 19, baptized in February. On a Lord's Day in February an 18-year-old girl was baptized in Kilbirnic. She professed conversion at the Ayrshire Gospel Outreach week-end at Helensburgh last September and her backsliding parents and some workmates were among the large company that witnessed her baptism. At the same time there was a baptism in the Bruntsneld assembly, at the opposite side of the county, in Edinburgh. At the High Parks Gospel Hall, Hamilton, four girls obeyed the Lord in baptism in January, and then in February a youl h was baptized on a Thursday evening.
Auchinleck, Ayrshire, is in one of the districts of Scotland with the highest unemployment statistics. The assembly has also known better days and would never have survived if people from outside of Christian families had not been saved over the past 12 years. The eldest member of a family of five has been baptized.
Following a gospel effort in Carluke, with John Spiers, two elderly people were saved. Both were baptized and added to the assembly. Soon afterwards the lady returned to her home village of Forth and to the fellowship there. The elderly man who continued in Carlukc, passed away suddenly. The lady from Forth attended his funeral with her husband, who wonderfully accepted the Lord as Saviour afterwards. Two Motherwell assemblies conduct regular gospel meetings in the community rooms in multi-storey housing blocks. The Shields Road assembly has seen two elderly people profess conversion at these meetings, over a period of time.
Robert Rcvic's first campaign of 1988 in his portable hall was conducted in the Ayrshire village of Dundonald. It is a very 'churchy' place and the going, especially with the adults, was hard. Up to 40 children attended the nightly children's meetings, but the adults were very unresponsive. Appreciated help was given by local believers. Elsewhere in Ayrshire, there have been a number of special efforts among children. Alistair Young had nne week of meetings in Mauchline, a large village with no assembly. Stewart McKenzie writes concerning a New Year Conference week-end at Stranraer. Late on the Sunday evening he was asked to go over to a believers home where relatives of theirs, a young married couple, expressed concern after the meeting. Discussion ensued, and eventually Stewart was able to lead them both to find salvation in Christ, Three encouraging weeks were enjoyed in a gospel campaign at Perth. Unsaved folks came in each evening and a good number of contacts were made through visitation work. A young lad, saved in a previous campaign, has been baptized and added to the assembly. During the meetings a married woman and an older man trusted the Saviour. A teenage lad was baptized.
From W. Mowatt we have items of news from the North East. Macduff assembly enjoyed profitable and challenging ministry during the visit in January of Jim Smyth and George Meikle. George Ateikle will be returning later on, D.V., with Roy Marshall, for a period of gospel meetings. Joe Baxter visited Peterhead in January for ministry and ended with a stimulating report of the Lord's work. This was a visit much appreciated by all.
England, North West. In Manchester city centre in January, Albert Leckie gave ministry which was much appreciated and then continued with meetings at Brownwood Hall, Wythenshawe. Good numbers were present to enjoy Bible teaching suited to today's needs, Peter Hedley of Italy addressed a full meeting of mainly young people in the Central Hall, Manchester, on the subject of the Judgement Seat of Christ. W. Grumbaum visited Pendle-hury Gospel Hail, when he showed slides and a film of Christians behind the Iron Curtain, gathering in forests in sub-zero conditions to attend open-air prayer meetings etc. The meetings provoked much heart searching.
News from S. Mountstevens regarding a very encouraging two weeks of children's meetings at Mauldeth Road, Manchester. From a small start, over 50 children attended, many of these from two homes for battered wives and families. One lady was counselled on account of the loss of her 2-year-oid child. She was badly scarred through beatings, but she did come to several metings for children and adults. It gave an opportunity to point her to the Saviour. Satan sought an advantage through a young lady whose life left much to be desired. It was good to see people coming in but her influence on the young girls was not good. Much wisdom is required to deal with such circumstances. There was a lot of interest shown and really much to encourage. Just as the adversary was active, so there was rejoicing to know that a spiritual work was achieved and is continuing. A young lad on two occasions showed his interest-he wanted to know how the preacher was saved! Two schools were visited. There was an opportunity to take three classes in a school that was very much multi-racial. A school governor had to be in attendance to justify our brother's presence to the left-wing authorities. A week-night meeting has been commenced and prayer continues that the work may be built upon for God's glory.
North East England. News of a campaign at Ebenezcr Gospel Hall, Killamarsh with S. Mountstevens. During the two weeks of gospel meetings numbers reached 100. The 'gospel bus' brought in a load of children each night and interest was maintained throughout. On prize-giving night the hall was packed wit!) a large number of children and parents coming in. The work continues, with a real desire that there will be those who will find Christ to the glory of God. Our brother makes the point that it is easy to get 'responses' as children become interested, such is the danger of action without understanding. Two assemblies were taken in a school not previously sympathetic to the gospel, the moving away of the 'rector' enabled a visit to be made. So the word is preached and the Lord will surely work in the hearts of boys and girls to give the increase.
Midlands. An unusual report comes from R. Cereseto, Nuneaton, which tells of a systematic work of evangelism in connection with the assembly there. It is well worth consideration as an example of tie possibilities of local assembly work. Over the past year, evidence has been seen of God's blessing in spite of much apathy towards the Lord's things and spiritual values. At the beginning of 1987 a need was felt for a children's mission with a view, in the Lord's will, to a later adult mission. A concerted effort was made ui visiting 200 houses in the immediate vicinity of the hall regularly each month. This continues. Commencement of a monthly Senior Citizen's Tea on Sunday afternoons was made, with a clear gospel message preceding it. A few folk from the area have attended and prayer is chat the work will grow,
During the October half-term holiday, a children's Holiday Club was held and about 60-70 children of all ages gathered from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. During the mission an Indian woman brought an abundant supply of refreshments for the children, as a token of her appreciation. The headmaster of the local school was approached with a request to give opening for conducting morning assembly. He declined this request but undertook to distribute an invitation to each child. Resulting from the mission and also from personal contacts with the children, about seven or eight now attend Sunday School. At the close of the mission, the prize-giving service saw about 130 children and parents gathering. Frizes were distributed and the gospel was preached to a number of unsaved. At the end of the service, an Indian man asked for a bible in his own language:-this was gladly given to him.
An interesting activity is connected with an elderly brother, in his eighties, who lives outside Nuneaton. He has a vision of tracting the whole of the town and also to see 25 added to the local assembly before he is called home. To date he has, with the able assistance of another, distributed to some 13,000 homes out of 70,000. Our brother has also written to every headmaster, councillor, dentist, doctor, publican, and many others in positions of public responsibility, enclosing a tract. Thus many contacts are made, with prayer behind them that this may lead to some who will come to the Saviour. Each of these activities is just part of local assembly work and for the furtherance of the testimony in the locality. While not spectacular or out of the ordinary, the report is published at length to encourage any who read to communicate with details of local assembiy activities. The Lord is still working in many places in similar ways to this and it would be so good to hear, that we may rejoice, and pray together for His work.
The assembly at Cranham Drive, Worcester, had a most encouraging time on Mother's Day when a special invitation was given through the children, to all the 'mum's' to come to the Family Service at 6p.m. The hall was absolutely packed to the doors and it proved to be a time of contact with many unsaved parents. The children took part in the service and a direct gospel message was given. There was good attention as the word was preached. On a previous Sunday a special tea was given for parents of children associated with the children's work, and this loo proved to be a time of encouragement as the hall was filled.
Gloucestershire. At Bethany Hall, Cheltenham, the assembly has been encouraged as the numbers have grown from the surrounding area attending various conferences and rallies. About 100 tislened to ministry by C. Rees at a monthly Saturday rally. Door to door evangelism continues on the local housing estate, and many contacts have been made after the breaking of bread on Lord's Day. A special scries of ministry meetings with J. Hunter were well attended and helpful ministry was enjoyed. The special meetings planned with R. Revie, D.V., will aim specifically at children, teenagers and senior citizens, in addition to gospel meetings for ail. Prayer is sought for the Lord's blessing.
Avon.The Bristol United Ministry meetings have proved a real blessing to large numbers of Lord's people over many years. Numbers had dwindled, and ten years ago virtually no young people attended. The appetite for the Scriptures seems to have improved as numbers grow, and regularly 25 per cent of the company are teens, twenties and younger. Many make a round trip of up to 50 miles each Saturday night to listen to sound teaching from the word of God.
Although the assembly at Unity, Bristol, does not have a large children's work in their own hall, they have a means of reaching many hundreds of children in their locality. One of the retired brethren helped a local school once with some swimming instruction. Things developed from this, and he now provides all the religious education for the whole of one school and also conducts assemblies in two others. In days, when this subject in the schools opens the way for much unscriptural teaching, how good it is to sec opportunities being taken to teach the Scriptures as the basis of salvation.
London Area.A brief note regarding the new vehicle used by the South-East London Evangelistic Mobile Unit. This has been equipped with an up-to-date public address system and opens up possibilities of more effectual preaching of the word, both in season and out of season. There is still a need for new workers to give the possibility of increased numbers of visits. The Ferrier Estate at Kid-brooke was visited, and a good number of tracts were distributed. It was difficult to reach homes above the fourth floor in the housing blocks-the lift was not working. Two visits were made to Brixton and this is always a busy, bustling area. During a visit to Camberwell Green, a Portugese man was given a flfoy of Salvation in his own language. It was good to meet two Christians willing to make themselves known to the workers. Behind these small happenings lies much prayer for greater things.
Dorset.Stephen Guillham has a great burden for the schools in the county and for the need of reaching children with the Scriptures. The December 1987 schools programme proved effective with 65 schools being visited and, together with Gordon Curley, the message of Christmas was shared with some 13,500 children. In each school about 40 minutes were allowed with the whole school. The interest and attention was thrilling and generally all the staff were present. A pleasing feature is that over half the schools have asked for return visits. Easter provides another good opportunity. Our brother feels the need for believers to pray much for local schools and particularly with legislation before Parliament. This legislation could change schools dramatically and the need for schools to be still open to evangelists and teachers is vital to the spiritual well-being of future generations.
South Wales.News is to hand from Don Roberts of activities in the Cardiff area. The Cardiff Christian Rallies, held every Saturday evening, still continue to cause much praise to God. The numbers arc increasing with a very high proportion of those attending being young people. The highest number of the session recorded 160, and the lowest number at 80. It was most encouraging to see the young people bringing their note pads and making notes when the three chapters of Titus were dealt with in three consecutive rallies. Prayer is much needed for the work at Trcrhomas (Craig-y-Rhacca), where youths still persist in disturbing the adult meetings. Lately pan of the hall was damaged by fire. By contrast, a note of encouragement as the work at Plassey Street, Penarth, still continues to go from strength to strength with four active brethren now there. Helpful ministry was given at Canton Conference by Howard Barnes and Ivor Strode. Whilst numbers were low in the afternoon the evening attendance made up for the deficiency.
At Bethesda, Rhiwbina, there is encouragement as two have sought baptism. At Tavistock Street there is much encouragement in the Ladies Meeting with up to 40 attending regularly. Each attender is given a copy of Daily Bread Bible Notes and in this way they arc encouraged to read the word. This kind of work seems to be one of the most significant ways of evangelism throughout Cardiff. A lot of the contacts are with older folk and the burden is for their salvation as they face the realities of eternity. The Mid-Glamorgan Bible Reading, held each month, has been based in 1 Peter and the studies have been to profit while the numbers have been low. This deficiency has been compensated for by the eagerness with which the brethren have taken part, and this shows much prior preparation.
Cornwall.We have encouraging news from K. Rudge, St. Austell. The final winter Ministry Rally saw a crowded hall and helpful ministry was given by A. Wiseman, Northampton. This brought to an end a very encouraging series with attendances that saw believers from all Cornish assemblies. On the Sunday evening at St. Austell, there were three who confessed the Lord openly in baptism. A man and his wife in middle age had an interesting experience of the Lord. The man had a stroke 15 years ago, and through his wife's consistent attendance came and they were both saved. There was much rejoicing as they with a lad of 16 from a non-Christian background obeyed their Lord in this way.