Cumbria Gospel Outreach
John Heron, Kirkby Stephen, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
The year 1912 saw the launch of the great ship ‘Titanic’. It was this year that another enterprise was launched – ‘The Cumberland and Westmoreland Gospel Tent’. It was the vision of two Christian businessmen, John Laing (later Sir John Laing) and David Beattie, from a Carlisle assembly, for the evangelism of the two counties. The tent was erected in many villages and the gospel proclaimed to young and old.
The work continued through both World Wars until 1947 when a motor caravan was purchased and our brother John Knight was called to the work throughout the summer season for over twenty-four years and later joined by Phil Widdison. Also, Basil Deen spent many years in the work and latterly we have enjoyed help from many other evangelists.
During the 1980s, it was decided by the assemblies in Cumbria to take the gospel to the people where they were - at the markets, agricultural shows and home visitation.
Firstly, a market stall was purchased and then a purpose-built display unit in 1998. Now, evangelists often set off for shows and markets before 7 a.m. returning after 6 p.m. and, then, take an assembly meeting during the evening.
All our literature and Bibles are given freely and we are privileged to be able to source good Christian booklets and tracts on subjects relevant to those in desperate need today, such as guilt, loneliness, death, uncertainty and fear.
The evangelist and helpers are often encouraged by believers who are so thrilled to see a gospel witness at the various events we visit – recently at the County Show in July where over 20,000 people attend, the unit was situated next to a beer tent – what an opportunity to share with the thirsty soul – the Water of Life.
It is wonderful to see the children excitedly waiting their turn at guessing the contents of the ‘Discovery Box’ and leaving with a prize and children’s literature and a Seed Sowers pack. This also gives an opportunity to share the gospel with hundreds of parents and grandparents. Recently a nine year-old girl wrote to say she had trusted the Lord Jesus after reading the booklet which was given her and asked if we could send her a Bible. A young mother visits the van at Penrith Market almost weekly, clearly a seeking soul, taking literature home to read.
We are often reminded of the Lord’s command to GO into all the world and preach the gospel and here in Cumbria we have the privilege of witnessing to people who visit our county from Japan, China, Eastern Europe, and many other countries, worldwide. This year we have committed to have a stall at Keswick Market every Saturday throughout the year where we are indebted to our brothers and sisters from a number of assemblies who are faithfully helping each week. It is encouraging to see believers working together sowing the good seed with the wonderful assurance from Psalm 126 that we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves.
The works’s progress for prayer can be located on the website – cumbriagospeloutreach.org.uk
AUTHOR PROFILE: John Heron is the current secretary for the Cumbria Gospel Outreach. The outreach has a great deal of support from the assemblies in the area and enjoy the fellowship that this engenders.