Ayrshire Bible Exhibition
Jimmy Brown, Crosshouse
‘How does God speak to us today?’ This question is asked, often immediately, by all who visit the Exhibition. The express purpose and sole objective of the Exhibition from first to last, is to impress upon all who pass through it, that the Bible is the word of the living God and that He continues to speak to us today from the page of holy scripture. This is the first question on the children’s worksheets to which thousands have given the answer, ‘He speaks to us now in the Bible’. The truth of scripture is conveyed to their minds by ‘eyegate’ and ‘eargate.’ Indeed they see it, they are told it, they write it and before leaving they are questioned about it.
The man who had the vision and exercise to see the value of an exhibition about the bible was our late brother Mr. Robert Stevely, of Saltcoats, and those of us who, with him, put it together were wholly convinced of the need to reinstate the Bible once more to its rightful place at the forefront of people’s thinking. We who continue with it today regret deeply that our brother Robert is not with us now to see it being used of God in ways and to an extent he could never have imagined.
The Exhibition was built primarily for use in Ayrshire, but the Lord had a much greater harvest field in view and lifted our eyes to see wider horizons and so we have followed the principle laid down by the Lord of the harvest, ‘beginning at Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth’, Acts 1. 8. Beginning in Ayrshire it has been seen in the Northern Isles, Western Isles, Wales, Ireland, and extensively in Scotland and England. In June, God willing, we shall visit the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) for three weeks.
The Exhibition is a comprehensive presentation of every aspect of the Bible. It is divided into six sections. The order as one proceeds through it is as follows:
- Section 1. Its ORIGIN: What is the Bible? Where did the Bible come from?
- Section 2. Its TEXT: How has the Bible come down to us? Is the text of the Bible accurate?
- Section 3. Its TRUTHFULNESS: People whose lives have been changed by the Bible. Does archaeology support the Bible? Does prophecy confirm the Bible?
- Section 4. Its DISTRIBUTION: Is the Bible still being circulated today?
- Section 5. Its CONTENTS: What do we find in the Bible? What is God’s plan revealed in the Bible? Which people’s history is found in the Bible?
- Section 6. Its MESSAGE: What is the meaning and purpose of the Bible? How can we sum up the Bible?
- At the very heart of the Exhibition is God’s great plan of redemption and the message of the gospel with John chapter 3 verse 16 being given prominence.
Adults are not conducted round. From the very beginning we who are Abraham’s servant, ‘I being in the way the Lord led me’, Gen. 24. 27.
One clear evidence of the Lord’s leading has been the development of the work among children. Using the Exhibition as a means of reaching children was never in our thoughts when it was built. But after a period of time we commenced inviting schools to bring pupils to where the Exhibition was on display. This is still a very large part of the work, but increasingly we are erecting it within the schools. The Lord’s hand is evident in all of this. In 2001 between 7,000 and 8,000 children passed through the Exhibition and a similar number saw it in 2002.
When one considers the number of teachers and helpers along with members of the public who pass through, the clear message of the gospel involved with it believe that there are two indispensable agents in a soul coming to Christ for salvation. First the Word of God, and second the Spirit of God being allowed to do His own work in applying that word to the hearts and consciences of those who read or hear it, and so bringing them under conviction of sin leading them to repentance.
It has been clear from the beginning that the Lord Himself was in this work and so we have found ourselves going down pathways which opened out, and continue to open out, into ever widening fields of service. How blessed and satisfying to be able to say like is being presented to approximately 10 to 12,000 unsaved people in the course of a year. In one week in June this year in the town hall at Stornoway 600 children and 400 adults attended. An ever increasing number of Roman Catholic schools are sending children and asking for the Exhibition to be erected within their schools.
The Exhibition has been greatly used of God for brethren to continue school visitation after we have left. This often leads to taking school assemblies on a permanent basis - for example, our brother Wynn Williams at Northampton is now visiting twenty-seven schools on a regular basis and enjoys complete freedom in the presentation of the gospel. The assembly had no contact with schools when the Exhibition first visited. Another sphere where it has proved effective is in preparing the ground for a gospel campaign. A week or a fortnight before the campaign starts the Exhibition will be at the assembly with schools and adults from the surrounding area being contacted. Many who first came to the Exhibition have returned to the campaign.
The Lord has blessed the work greatly and we have been conscious of His presence with us continually. When He would take the work forward He has made every provision for us to do so. This includes the provision of a suitable vehicle for transporting the Exhibition from one end of the country to the other. At every venue we provide the worksheets for the children, the prizes, an exit pack which includes a copy of John’s Gospel, a lovely text, a bookmark and an entry form for the Postal Sunday School. We also carry new Bibles for children who ask for one. Those of us who travel around with the Exhibition have from the beginning given of our time and energy freely and willingly taking nothing of that which is gifted to the work.
We are getting older and now beginning to feel something of the weight of the work but that we are sure the Lord who has met our every need over these past fourteen years will also make provision for the work to be carried on.
The work is the Lord’s – ‘We’ll praise Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that’s to come’. The Judgement Seat of Christ will reveal the degree and measure of its ‘success’. Until then we are encouraged when we receive letters from children saying:
‘I didn’t know about the broad way and the narrow way.
I didn’t know our sins separated us from God.
I didn’t know that good life, prayers and religion can’t bridge the gap sin has made.
I didn’t know that Jesus Christ alone can bridge the gap’.
One recalls with a feeling of deep satisfaction a little fellow rushing back to his class with eyes as bright as buttons saying, ‘Miss, I didn’t know the Bible was so exciting’. ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise’, Matt. 21.16.