Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
'. . . the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?' Amos 3. 8.
Here, in the words of the prophet Amos, we have the compulsion to proclaim, once there is the conviction that the Lord has spoken. The prophets were not casual or careless in what they said. There was power and relevance in the messages they gave. They wanted to transmit the sense of the abiding truth that they handled. Shall we, who have the full content of Cod's final revelation in Christ, His last word, do less? May such compulsion characterize our preaching in these difficult days.
It is good to hear from Jim Graham that the gospel continues to go forth across the province. At Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, a good interest was seen and souls were saved in meetings conducted by A. McShane and A. Caulfield. In meetings held at Ballywaterrnoy, J. Lennox and J. Brown saw blessing. At Carnlough, a little seaside village, the opportunity is taken to conduct open-air meetings, and A. Aiken, assisted by brethren from the assembly, conducts these. The assembly here is down to seven in number. Meetings were held by J. Martin and W. Jennings at Roughan, Co. Armagh, near Ihe Eire border. Encouraging numbers attended meetings held in a portable hall at Tandragee by N. Turkington and S. Ferguson. In the difficult and needy area near Newbliss, Co. Monaghan, G. McKinley preached in a portable hall. At Dromore, Co. Down, believers had a real time of blessing, with large numbers filling the hall and many souls saved. Some of these had been the subject of prayers for years. The speakers were W. J. Nesbitt and his son Andrew. The meetings ended with two weeks of ministry.
At Ashfield, near Dromore, R. Pickering and). Wishart concluded a spell of meetings in a tent. Help was experienced as they preached each night, and a measure of interest was seen. Meetings were conducted at Ballykeel, Mourne, by J. Thompson and J. Milne (Venezuela). Blessing was seen in salvation and good numbers attended, including some who had never been in the hall before. At Ballywalter, at least one professed faith in Christ in meetings conducted by A. Aiken. Some locals came in as J. Kelso and T. Herron preached in a portable hall in Lisburn. Numbers were disappointing in meetings held by E. Wishart at Donemana. At Moneymore, good numbers attended meetings conducted by R. McKeown and R. Eadie. Good interest was seen in meetings conducted by T. McNeill at Killykergan, Co. Londonderry, Five professed faith in Christ and the believers were encouraged in well attended meetings conducted by B. Neil! and T. Bentley at Limavady. The annual conference also was well attended. The conference held at Bellaghy and the missionary conference at I'ortstewart were well attended gatherings. Annual conferences have been held at Mullafernaghan and Ballymacashon and also the half-yearly conference at Enniskillen.
In Londonderry city, B. Glendinning and B. Smith were disappointed in meetings, the first series to be held in the new hall. On the outskirts of Belfast, at Braniel, W. Armstrong and R. Jordan spent five weeks in preaching in a portable hall. The meetings were constantly disturbed by youths playing football against the hall during the meetings and pleas for co-operation fell on deaf ears. Patience was tested to the limit but the brethren continued to preach the gospel. This Protestant estate needs prayer.
In a newsletter from E. jamieson, Belfast, we have three items of news regarding contacts with prisoners and officers in Belfast prisons. There is a constant work of visitation conducted and there are opportunities of witness in the gospel. A number of Christian officers from Belfast made a visit to Bradford in England to do a work of evangelism in the city, including a work among the vast Islam population in the area. Literature was supplied for the outreach and much prayer was felt to be needed that some of these darkened hearts will be enlightened by the gospel. News comes of a prisoner, serving a long sentence for murder, who recently made a profession of faith in Christ. He needs much help to cope with prison regime. Then a prison officer was very seriously injured in a car accident some months ago, on his way to work. He suffered brain damage and is terribly agitated. His wife and children need much prayer. These are just examples of the needs which are met in this visitation work. Tt is good to hear of this on-going work in all the hospitals of Belfast area, reaching members of the security forces who are in hospital.
We have an interesting report from Colin Sheldon of work in Eire. There is news of encouragement in service for the Lord, travelling to different parts of the country, seeking to encourage both mature and young believers in the things of the Lord. 1 le was able to counsel and instruct those who were saved in the satellite relays from London and it gave opportunity to encourage young believers to grow in the things of the Lord. At Wexford, open-air meetings were held with the aid of the sketch board and large crowds stood round listening to the presentation of the simple truths of the gospel. Young believers in the town were strengthened in their faith in the Lord Jesus as they witnessed to the people as they passed by the meeting.
It is good to know that the work is growing at Limerick where David and Kay Stevens are labouring. There is a constant and faithful open-air witness in the place and its surroundings. There is need for teaching as young believers, some from Roman Catholic backgrounds, are born again and come to the assembly. Much to encourage and much lo pray for. David Stevens needs prayer as he is troubled much with back problems.
We have a report from Reginald Fry concerning a work in connection with the small assembly in Kilkenny. Three elders there have a vision to commence a Christian college for the purpose of teaching constructively the word of God. They feel concerned that often the new, born again believers are abandoned with only a very shallow understanding of the rudiments of the teachings of Christ. Then they are immediately subjected to pressures from the various cults. Others fall prey to the very popular semi-cult of the neo-pentecostal and charismatic movement. Such perils demand that sound spiritual truth be given them. We can remember prayerfully these exercises on the part of those who teach the truth of God in a consistent way
We have a number of items from the South West from Jim Anderson. In Ebenezer Hall, Dreghorn, the first 1989 Ayshire Gospel Outreach was conducted by David MrMaste.r. This lasted for three weeks. Although the local Sunday School had ceased and the effort commenced on the school holiday weekend, the nightly children's meetings quickly built up to about 40, most of them collected by bus. This encouraged the brethren to conclude with the first ever parents' night, and a few parents came along. Adult interest was never large, but a 24-year-old woman, who had been attending the weekly gospel meetings for some time before the campaign, professed to trust the Saviour, She needs prayer as she has an unsaved fiance. Another 14-year-old girl from nearby Springside also professed conversion. The support from the Ayrshire assemblies was very good.
Kilbirnie assembly celebrated its centenary this year. In addition to making the annual conference a celebration, a photographic display of former members of the assembly was staged in the gospel hall for three nights of three weeks. This attracted a large amount of interest as the hall is near the centre of the village, and local people, many of whom would have attended Sunday School in former days, came in. No doubt many of these would have been workmates of an earlier generation of brethren who worked in the steel works. Among those who showed interest was a visiting emigrant from America. Coffee was served, conversation enjoyed, and the bookstall had surprisingly good sales.
The Gourock assembly hired the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition for a week and hired a public hall to display it. At least 250 people visited it, of whom some 50 were known to be Christians. All were greatly impressed and went away with appropriate literature to read, Lanarkshire gospel work saw Jack Hay conduct two three-week campaigns, the first in Kirkmuirhill in the east of the county and the second in Muirhead in the west. The interest in Kirkmuirhill was astonishing for these days. About 24 strangers were in the gospel hall for one meeting. The disturbing thing was that while many came, there were almost no regular attenders and disappointingly there were no known conversions. At Muirhead there was not quite the interest, in a place where there have been many campaigns in recent years. John Clunas, on a quirk visit to Scotland, had the joy of seeing a man profess conversion at East Kilbride. When he was last there just over two years ago, the man's wife and two daughters trusted the Saviour. Cause for much rejoicing.
News from Kenneth Dickson of the Lord's work in the South East, A two week gospel campaign was conducted by Archie Carew in Victory Hall, Torry, Aberdeen. Much prayer and preparation, involving the distribution of several thousand leaflets went into the work, and the strenuous efforts of the Lord's people were rewarded by good attendances at all the services. Congregations included some first time visitors, as well as believers and their friends from various other parts. There was a faithful preaching of the gospel and each address was begun with a challenge to backsliders, to unbaptized believers, and to any without a permanent spiritual home, exhorting all to obey God's revealed will. The wrath of God as well as the love of God featured prominently in the messages and the hearers were left in no doubt as to the way of salvation. To senior citizens, teenagers, men's and women's meetings, at Sunday School and day school assemblies and classes, the word was presented. These details are given in full because it is good to know that the comprehensive scope of the gospel is still relevant for needs of today. May we hear more of this kind of evangelism!
Making a good recovery after his recent illness, George Forbes visited Fernilea assembly, Aberdeen, for a week of children's meetings which were held in Springhill school. Around 30 children attended regularly. For several years, Dan Gillies has been engaged in door-to-door work and also has held gospel meetings in Auchenblae. Dan again worked in the village for four weeks with help from John Stubbs. Some older children attended the meetings, as also did one old man whom Dan is hoping will come to the gospel meetings in Luthermuir.
Brief items from the North. Frank Reid spent March helping the assemblies in Shetland, and held gospel meetings in the district of Brae. Attendances were disappointing, yet it was encouraging to have requests from two Christians for baptism and a further two applied for fellowship. In April and May, Frank Reid and Bobby Souter held adult and children's meetings in Culbockie, Ross-shire. The work proved hard with little response from the community. Support from the local believers was good.
North West England
The Lancashire Gospel Tent was pitched in Debdale Park, Gorton, Manchester, for the four weeks in June. Evangelists were Robert Revie and Alistair Young. Numbers were encouraging, especially as a large number of strangers came in. As many came back to hear the message it was obvious that a work was going on. Many had talks and much visitation took place. A woman who confessed to being a backslider said she wanted to get back to the Lord. It was felt as the meetings finished that the work had only just begun, and much follow up was needed. It was with a real sense of dependence on the Lord that the children's work was approached, as in previous years difficulty was experienced in parents allowing children in the park alone. However the children came and it was good that many parents brought them. Numbers could have been better, but interest was marked throughout. The Friday youth nights were also encouraging with numbers about 40/50. It was a good campaign-but meetings finished and the work goes on.
The Liverpool and Wirral Rallies culminated with a good Merseyside taster Conference, the tone of which was set by a much appreciated Bible Reading on Philippians, led by T. Wilson. For the ministry that followed he was joined by W. Craig and A. Wiseman. The David Street, Liverpool, Missionary Conference gave an opportunity for reports from home and abroad and those gathered appreciated the frankness and faith of the workers who gave the reports. The Oaklands Residential Complex in Bromborough has now been open for two years. The downstairs rest home is full, with 2U residents, and the 35 sheltered apartments are also full. Residents and apartment occupants all speak well of the high standard of care and accommodation. Much prayer is needed, that the provision may be made to keep this high standard of environment for such aged believers.
Frank Lonney and John Skingley encountered some opposition and little positive response during their campaign at Leeswood. This small Welsh village near Mold has seen the earnest efforts of the small number in the assembly. The efforts of the evangelists were believed, however, to have laid a good foundation for future work. The assembly needs prayer as sickness has curtailed much of their outreach work for the present. The nearby assemblies at Johnstown and Wrexham havt been encouraged at their alternate Saturday evening meetings. As they unite for these efforts they speak of much appreciation for the ministry. At Johnstown, although few come in to the gospel meeting, the weekly visitation around the estate has given many opportunities for witness.
It is good to hear again from Charlton Road Gospel Hall, Birmingham, concerning the ladies' monthly meetings. The attendance has been over 60 and the interest has continued. There was joy as two ladies have recently come to Christ.
News from Malvern of the Witness Tent at the Three Counties Show. With very good weather, this proved to be a wonderful opportunity for testimony to the many Ihousand visitors who came in. The Dynamite Club, (Postal Bible), saw many children showing interest and a total of 300 starter packs of material were taken. There were many children who came in and interest was good. About 30 of these initial lessons have been relumed. The display showing the parable of the Rich Fool was built up of six sections telling the details. This provoked interest as people stopped and looked and many leaflets were given out. There was a good team of evangelists working together and the fellowship was marked. Contacts were made wilh those who entered and some good conversations were enjoyed.
Ivor Cooper tells of the witness of the bookstall in Coventry Market, Hundreds of books have been sold and many conversations were enjoyed. A good relationship has been established with many of the stallholders. Paul Young tells of a campaign held at Rushall, Walsall. Five days were spent with this small assembly. It was a busy time with four children's meetings and numbers rising to SO. The six further meetings for youth and adults were full. There were also schools' programmes with assemblies and R. E. lessons. Prayer is needed that the seed sown will be fruitful to God's glory.
News from the South East London Mobile Unit. A very happy time was enjoyed at the Annual Report meetings with Mike Lomas giving challenging ministry. Bv mid-May there have been 10 outings to various places and the 10,000 tracts purchased last year are now virtually used up and a fresh supply is being obtained. There is much to thank God for in meeting all the needs but additional workers are desperately needed. At Lewisham an alcoholic asked for help and came into the vehicle for prayer. He was followed up and given contacts, to help with his problem. At Woolwich new building works prevented the usual stand, but almost 100 Messenger newspapers were given out to passers by South Wales The Annual Homeworkers Conference at Ebenezer, Cardiff, brought good reports of the work from Rupert Abbott of Birmingham City Mission, P. Lambert of Counties, Paul Young from MaeSteg and rousing ministry from Eric Palethorpe of Chorley. Excellent ministry was given at Liandaff North to a full hall as Jim Allen, N. Ireland, and J. Dickson, Scotland, ministered at their annual conference. A visit from David Richards, Canada, to Treorchy for a series of ministry meetings was very much appreciated.
A children's campaign with S. Mountstevens at Bethesda was blessed with four professions of salvation. A campaign with John Skingley at Nantgarw saw those who were saved. A notable conversion was a young man of 20. The following baptism brought in about 90 people, about 30 of whom were unsaved. Ministry on 1 and 2 Timothy was given at Heath Gospel Hall, Cardiff, by John Wright, home SB furlough from Trinidad. The annual conference at Cwmbran saw a full hall and ministry was given by H. Stewart and Malcolm Horlock. A visit was made by Fred Epps to Glan-y-llyn to give practical ministry on the life of Eiisha.
The Cardiff based Bible Exhibition opened on May 31st at the new Cardiff Central Library, for three weeks, being officially opened by the Chairman of the Council and the Lord Mayor. Both these dignitaries were presented with a Gideon bible. The average attendance each day, excluding four classes of school children, was 50, giving a total attendance of over 800. Of those contacted, two were seeking and were near to the kingdom. There were many such deep conversations. Some were seeking for truth and some were seeking for guidance. Many overseas students, clergymen, atheists, doubters, Jehovah Witnesses, Roman Catholics and even a Satanist came seeking knowledge, light and help.
Two items come to us from Paul Young, Maesteg. Speaking of the work in Maesteg, he says that at the moment the work seems both encouraging and fruitful. More adults are in at the gospel service than ever before and also at the Wednesday meeting for prayer and bible study. There have been three conversions recently. One was a recovering alcoholic, another a formerly homeless man of Spanish descent and the third the mother of one of the young men saved two years ago. Also there seems to be a definite work of recoveiy and recommitment amongst a number of backsliding Christians. Such work entails much time. Visitation and counselling needs have increased and this can only be expected to continue. Yet they gladly praise God for these additional opportunities locally, to witness for Him and for His hand of blessing in it. Perhaps as we read this we can pause and reflect on the importance of
a vital, local assembly testimony. Bet in various localities, surely this is the lamp of testimony in these very dark days!
The second item of news relates to regular invitations received to visit University and College C.U.'s. These are usually for bible teaching to Christian students. Opportunities opened at Swansea and Aberystwyth on successive Saturdays and in both there was good attention and interest and a number spoke of blessing. Two letters received spoke of the refreshment from such values of truth taught and the challenge brought through the ministry. Here again is a work to praise God for.
News from John Powell of a Postal Sunday School get-together at a farm belonging to a Christian family just outside Plymouth. The weather was excellent and about 30 children and 60 adults gathered including a number of teachers. A time of recreation was held, followed by tea. After tea a time of singing, quizzes and a brief message brought the event to a close. This was a good occasion and gave cause for thanks to the Lord who is continuing to bless among the children.
The challenge of children's work'. So Peter Smith opens his description of four children's missions, 3 in Devon and 1 in Bristol. About 280 children altogether heard the gospel. Numbers varied from 80 in Paignton to 25 in Plymouth. Both assemblies were seeking to build up their Sunday Schools and it has been good to hear of new ones now regularly attending. About 60 chiiden met in the parish hall, Moretonhampstead, for the first Pioneer Postal Bible School Mission. A few applied for lessons and it is hoped that they will continue.
The work of Words of Life Postal Bible School has continued steadily. Numbers at present stand in the mid seventies. A major distribution of 3200 outreach leaflets at the Devon County Show has already resulted in 8 children and 3 adults applying for courses. It was a great joy to see 29 children and 11 parents at the Special Spring Rally, some of them from 4 past missions. At present 35 children have been involved for 12 months or more.
A report from one of our readers in Zimbabwe, tells of gospel preaching by Alistair Young, Scotland in Harare area. During 9 weeks, many good opportunities to preach the gospel were given. There were many good openings in the schools where hundreds of children and their teachers have heard the good news. A total of ten schools in Harare and one in Mutare were visited and at one of these thirty minutes were given with the whole Junior school, every morning for a week. Alistair also conducted several children's missions. Tent meetings were held in Mabel reign area of Harare, where about 90 children attended. Over 80 children attended a week's meetings in Kingsmead Chapel, Borrowdale, Harare. There were similar numbers at Bethany Chapel, Harare, during a Holiday Bible Club. There were also opportunities to speak at two camps and it was most encouraging to know of several children accepting the Saviour. Various other meetings were conducted far teenagers, adults and children and a few days for ministry in Mutare. How good that so much seed was sown as well over 5000 different people were presented with the gospel. A most interesting item of news. May the Lord bless the work of evangelism in these needy countries.