Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
'Nevertheless 1 am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed',
2 Tim. 1. 12.
The above words come from the depth of a Roman prison. They are written out of long experience, by a tried and tested warrior for the faith. They were written to encourage young Timothy, Paul's 'own child in the faith'.
We notice that the 'nevertheless' was uttered against the background of the fact, that for the gospel the aged apostle had suffered in many ways. For Paul, to preach Christ had always proved a costly business, and it was soon to cost him his life. But his courage is steeped in confidence-'I know'. This was not speculation but certainty. And the future was all bright, because he was sure of Him who was the object and centre of his faith. How glorious this was for the apostle- how comforting for the young disciple.
As we again record the labours of those who preach the gospel, we are confronted with the challenge that their faithfulness brings. As one report expresses it, 'time could be running out'. Opportunity is often a fragile commodity; it is not so easily grasped but can very easily be lost. In some of the reports there are cries for help, because of a lack of man-power. We may well ask, 'who is sufficient for these things?' We can surely answer with the apostle that our sufficiency is of God, and this is wonderfully true. So it is that with courage and commitment, we can echo the words of scripture above, and without shame and with complete confidence, go forth as heralds of the gospel.
News from Jim Graham tells of activities in the Province. Against the background of so much thai is evil and depressing, God is at work, and it is encouraging to have good news to report. At Ballintoy, on the north Antrim coast Wilson Jennings saw good interest in gospel meetings he conducted. At Ballymoney, where gospel meetings have finished, John Hawthorne and Tom McNeile saw a number of unsaved come in to hear the gospel preached. At Cambridge Avenue Hall, Ballymena, Tom Bentley held two weeks of ministry meetings. At Broomhedge, near Lisburn, R. Eadie and J. E. Fairfield saw good interest during their meetings. Meetings held by A. McShane and D. Gilliland in Armagh city were well attended and encouraging with some being saved. Many local people attended the meetings at Teaguy, which were conducted by W. Ardis and W. Russell. In the Tullylagan area of Co. Tyrone, Brian Glendinning preached in a portable hall and at Newtonstewart, believers were greatly encouraged by bible readings and ministry in their hall. In the Plantation Hall at Tisburn, N. Turkington and S. Ferguson saw good interest in the gospel. A good interest was shown in meetings held in Central Hall, Bangor, Co. Down with J. Flanigan.
It was good to see Christians bring their unsaved friends to meetings held with 11. Andrews for two weeks in Ballynahinch. At Dromore, W. J. Nesbitt and his son Andrew, were greatly encouraged during meetings held there. The hall was filled and extra seats were needed, with some from the town and district coming regularly to the meetings. A number have professed conversion. In Co. Londonderry, at Drumenagh, J. Lennox and J. Brown saw good interest in meetings held in the Gospel Hall.
R. McPheat gave ministry which was much appreciated at Coleraine and S. Rudd had a spell of meetings of ministry on 'Egypt to Canaan' al Cortade. At Albertbridge Gospel Hall, Belfast, J. Thompson and D. Kane have finished seven weeks of meetings. A fair response was seen as the result of concentrated visitation with invitations and tracts. At Laganvale, Tom Meekin conducted gospel meetings, and this is the first series in the new location of what was formerly Ormeau Road Assembly, and possibly the first gospel meetings in this area of Belfast for very many years. Much prayer is desired for the Lord's blessing.
We have a report from Reginald Fry concerning the Lord's work in the South. He comments on the situation in Eire as follows: 'In the Republic of Ireland at the moment there is much cause for encouragement in the work of the gospel, but many feel that these days of opportunity are beginning to run out. The materialism which has swept across Western Europe and deprived people of spiritual awareness and any deep concern about eternal matters is beginning to take effect in this land. Bui a( the moment there is an openness to hear what the scriptures have to say and all over the country there are now little groups studying the scriptures and showing interest in the things of God. Some of those who constitute these groups are very ignorant concerning the scriptures and some of the practices that they are involved in show their limited understanding of what the scriptures teach. Nevertheless, in many cases, they are open to learn and to be taught, and from these little groups there is a very effective witness in the areas in which they are located. A great number of younger people of the land are loosening their ties with organised religion, and are at the moment almost drifting along, some with a sincere searching of the word for spiritual reality, others taken up with merely temporal matters. Those who labour for the Lord in this land will value prayerful remembrance of the Lord's people thai Ihe opportunities that are on every hand today will be taken advantage of and that many of these dear folk will be won for the Lord. Time appears to be running out, and there needs to be real urgency in reaching the people with the only message that can save them-the gospel of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ'. Thought provoking words!
Colin and Rosemary Sheldon speak again of their regular weekly activities at Templeogue, Dublin. These reflect steady work and give opportunities for sharing the gospel. There is always youth work to be done, There are openings in the homes for bible studies especially with the ladies' studies. It is good that young Christians are willing to participate. Colin engages in one to one bible studies and these prove helpful to those concerned. Weekly visitations with the assembly on Monday evenings prove to be times of real fellowship as the gospel is communicated to neighbours. At Convoy, Co. Donegal, Gilbert Stewart and Sam Patterson continue to share the gospel in cottage meetings.
News of continued activity in southwest Scotland comes from Jim Anderson. Robert Revic sited his portable hall in Stewarton, one of the largest places in Ayrshire, where there is no assembly- He spent 4 weeks here in February. These proved to be the best attended meetings in the county for quite a while. Each night there were unsaved people in and believers who were members of the Church of Scotland showed a good interest. Unknown to the evangelist, a man saved in meetings at Darvel had just moved to Stewarton and his brother from the little town, indicated that he was coming back to the Lord. A young woman in her early twenties trusted the Lord in the early part of the meetings and then in the closing stages, an elderly woman came to Christ. She was just contacted on the doorstep, and was anxious to be sure of meeting her deceased husband in heaven, as he was a Christian. So it was that on the second visit she trusted the Saviour. As always with Robert Revie, children's meetings were conducted nightly as well, and on one evening, the leader of the youth fellowship in the Church of Scotland brought his group along to the meeting.
The year 1989 commenced with a spate of baptisms in the west of Scotland. A teenage youth, saved at John Clunas' meetings almost two years ago, was baptized at Annbank. Two brothers of about twenty years old were baptized at Prestwick, and a month later twin sisters were baptized there. Then at High Parks Hall, Hamilton, five young women were baptized, 4 coming from Christian homes. The other woman came from a home where the parents were opposed to her baptism, so she had to wait until she was twenty-one years old. On the same evening, a young married woman, whose parents had also opposed her baptism, was baptized at Irvine. There was a baptismal service at Perth, where a young woman of 21 obeyed the Lord in baptism. At Carluke, five young people gave testimony to their faith publicly, by being baptized. A thirteen-year-old girl was baptized at Renfrew-she came from a non-Christian home but her parents were in favour. Young folks from Christian homes were baptized at Elim Hall, Kilmarnock, and in Bethany Hall, Stevenston. These events testify to the fact, that during years of preaching and leaching the gospel, there is a steady reaping of fruit and a resulting growth in the testimony. How good to know that first century principles of New Testament testimony are working in a vital way today. Let us pray (hat all these folk will be kept from falling, and go on to glorify the Lord.
News from Kenneth Dickson of work in the Aberdeen area. At Inverbervie, two women and three young people have recently trusted Christ. There is a great desire for prayer that others in this village will be saved as they are challenged by the gospel, and that those who are saved may go on to be baptized and added to the assembly. From Montrose, Arthur Pollard reports continued growth in the Scottish Postal Sunday School, and Bible Class work. A new desk-top publishing unit will help greatly in the production of lessons. About 700 lessons each month go out to many different homes and much prayer follows these that those who study the word in this way will find the Saviour and go on for Him.
The Tayside and Aberdeen Camps have been a means of blessing to many young people and preparations are already under way for this year's camps, in the will of the Lord. There are various needs, such as a suitable school, that sufficient leaders will be available and also that George Forbes will be well enough to give the junior falks at Tayside, All these needs demand much exercise in prayer. The four teams that man the Aberdeen Gospel Van begin in March their visits to the rural areas of Grampian and Angus. Numerical strength is essential and there is much need all the time for the help and guidance of the Lord so that many people in outlying districts may be reached and won for the Lord.
From Philip Prior come items of news concerning work in Fife. At Tayport, Jack Hay had three weeks of gospel meetings which were well attended. Unsaved were present in almost all the meetings. Alistair Young spent time in the Fife Outreach work, following up the visit last year. He visited a number of schools and playgroups in the Lochore, Crosshill and Blairhall areas. At Camock and Blairhall he was able to speak to six classes of children and at Inzievar school he was given permission to address all eleven classes. Leaders of local playgroups have requested that he visit them. Hugh Kiers continues his weekly gospel meeting at Halbeath, Dunfermline, where his audience mostly consists of young people. Hugh is also engaged in door-to-door work in the Cowdenbeath area, fie asks for prayer especially for an elderly man whose parents had connections with the former Lochgelly meeting, and also for a 13-year-old boy who showed great interest as he listened to the parable of the sower.
North West England
News from Gerald Bourne that the winter sessions of ministry meetings, held at various assembly halls, in the Greater Manchester area, have been very well supported and some helpful and challenging ministry had been given. It is encouraging to hear that this means of encouraging bible teaching, especially to meet the need of young believers, is continuing year after year, and that there are still many who seriously desire to hear the word of the Lord expounded. May this long continue.
It is good news to hear that the Lancashire Gospel Tent convenors have been enabled to fix venues for their summer campaigns, in the will of the Lord. During June the ten! will be pitched in the Gorton area of the city, with Robert Revie as the evangelist and Alistair Young working with the young people. During July, Golborne, which is between Warrington and Liverpool, will be the venue, with Archie Carew and John Skingley responsible. There are many needs connected with this work and an appeal is sent out to any young Christian men, maybe students or unemployed, who would feel free to help, particularly as tent watchmen or in general assistance on site. There is a four-berth caravan attached to the site. But most of all the work demands very much prayer, that the Lord will come in and bless those who listen to the gospel as it is preached.
An item of news comes from Paul Young concerning a children's mission in Doncaster. He reports that it was good to return to the place for a busy schedule of meetings and school visits. Altogether he was able to take nine R.E. lessons, three assemblies and a Christian union in the town. All were very worthwhile and gave opportunity to explain to young people that Christianity is credible and essential. The children in the children's meetings numbered about 60 but each meeting went well and two teenage girls professed to trust Christ.
A late item of news from Charlton Road Gospel Hall, Birmingham. It tells of the ongoing work among the women. The monthly meetings held are well attended and for the Christmas service there were about 130 present. The New Year's Day service saw a young man baptized, and two weeks later, two young people were baptized. A good number of relatives and friends witnessed this public confession of faith. The believers in the assembly have been much encouraged by having six folk added over the last few months.
The work at Cranham Drive, Worcester continues to give encouragement. Mother's Day is an opportunity each year to invite mothers and dads to a special service. This is done through the children of Sunday School, Play Group and Friday Club. This year saw the hall very full with a good company of parents present, some who had not been in before. The children took part in the service, and a clear gospel message was given in closing. At the end of the evening, each mother was given a small bunch of flowers. This is found to be one of the 'by all means', to present the gospel to the people. At the Fifth Anniversary Conference there was a good attendance, and Bernard Osborne, Dinas Powis, gave very helpful ministry, taking 'Studies in the Song of Solomon' as the theme. This was felt to be a time of blessing, and gave an opportunity to praise Cod for His faithfulness and goodness in this work. The estate at Warndon, like so many others of its kind, is a rapidly growing area, and there is much need for positive evangelism in this area and for workers to meet the responsibility.
A brief note regarding the work of the South East London Evangelistic Mobile Unit. There is a shortage of workers to man the Unit, and at the present, Sunday runs are not possible. During a visit to the Strand, a young Jew spoken to at length, was quite ignorant of the Old Testament scriptures, but promised to read the John's gospel given to him. A young street-sweeper testified to his faith and was given literature to pass on to people that he meets. The visit to Woolwich was a source of joy, when a backslider approached the Unit saying that the message given by the worker had touched his heart. He came into the vehicle with tears of repentance and was counselled and pointed to the One who was faithful to forgive all sin. He is being followed up. So amidst the difficulties, the labourers few, the need great, the work goes on, looking to the Lord for His help and blessing.
News from Don Roberts of work in the Cardiff area. The New Year Conference at Adamsdown Gospel Hall, was well attended. Ministry was given by Norman Mellish and John Scarsbrook, and this stressed the responsibilities of both elders and believers in assembly life and testimony. The Cardiff based Bible Exhibition is beginning to gain impetuous once again, with many open doors for use of this graphic display of the message of the word of God. At Bethesda, Cardiff, the Tuesday afternoon ladies work has given encouragement to workers, as the numbers continue to increase.
The Cardiff Christian Rallies are continuing with a sense of blessing. The attendances number mostly over 100, with a good majority of young people and they bring their notebooks and pens with them. A successful series was built around Acts 2. 42 and its four essential activities, each one dealt with by a different speaker. The Canton Conference was well attended with D. Williams and j. Mitchell giving helpful and encouraging ministry. The work at Pencoed continues to see the Lord's blessing. A young woman has been baptized and brought into fellowship. The weekly family service sees over 30 attending from the district, and the Sunday School now numbers about 20 to 30.
News of the work in Maesteg comes from Paul Young. The new hall continues to attract attention and interest. Increasing numbers of unsaved join the various services. The first wedding took place in the hall, when one of the young men converted and baptised last year, married a Christian girl. The prayers of the assembly follow them that they may serve the Lord and establish a true Christian home. Paul Young was asked to conduct the funeral of a local woman, unsaved as far as was known, but this gave opportunity to bring comfort and a testimony to the family-the husband suffers from multiple sclerosis. A second baptismal service was enjoyed when six believers obeyed the Lord-all from the locality. Over 80 attended the meeting, many of whom were unsaved. The work among the children and young people continues, as also does the intensive door-to-door visitation which was recently undertaken. This gives much cause for prayer.
A children's mission was held with Paul Young at Treboeth, Swansea. This event gave much joy and about 70-80 boys and girls attended each evening. Their attention and enthusiasm was good. Prayer follows that workers will be able to lead some of them to the Lord. For the fourth time a Holiday Club was held at Bethesda, Dinas Powis. The numbers were high, the interest good, and cooperation among all the workers was great.
A brief item comes from W. Beale, Fforestfach. The regular monthly ministry meetings arranged by the Evangelistic Hall, Llanelli, and Armine Road Gospel Hall, Fforestfach, have been very well attended, and the help given by the various brethren in the area has been much appreciated. The studies in the word have been both interesting and profitable. Workers with the South Wales Mobile Unit were encouraged to receive a letter from a young lady in Carmarthen who had received a tract from a worker and had trusted the Lord after reading it. She wrote to ask for further literature so that she could pass it on to a friend.
Devon and Cornwall
News from John Powell, Plymouth, of a Missionary Conference held at West Hill Gospel Hall, Plymouth. The attendance could have been better but the occasion provided good accounts of missionary work in Italy from Peter Hedley, and St. Kitts from Clifford Hope who has now retired, It was good to feel the vitality in the recounting of the Lord's doings in their respective fields of activity. Clifford Hope emphasised that he and his wife had experienced a sense of special help on many of the days when their name came up for remembrance before the Lord on the Daily Prayer Guide. This must encourage believers in the homeland to constantly pray for those serving the Lord on the field. Peter Hedley gave good account of the Lord's work in Italy illustrated with slides and this also was much appreciated. The challenge came as the news unfolded-the tremendous need for workers to carry on the work.
Several items come from Ken Rudge in Cornwall. The Saturday ministry meetings go well at St. Austell. A very profitable week-end was held with Tom Proffit, with ministry on Gal. 3 and 4. The attendance was excellent and the Sunday was well spent as our brother stayed over for the gospel meeting. There have been encouragements in the assembly, in that a young man of 23 has been converted. His parents have come to the Lord during the past two years, and it was through conversation following a meeting that this man was led to the Lord. A visit made by Postal Sunday School outreach to Tresillian village saw some useful contacts made, and children responded to invitations to join.