Gospel Work and other Activities
Stephen Baker, Manchester
ENGLAND: MIDLANDS AND SOUTH
The very first London Young People’s Day was held on the 4th October. 2008. It was the result of a number of young believers wanting to have a day studying the scriptures and sharing a time of fellowship together.
Bermondsey Gospel Hall agreed to host the day, being London’s most central assembly and close to all the transport networks. Around one hundred and fifty assemblies received flyers and over two hundred and fifty young people were personally invited on the web using ‘Facebook’.
The hall was packed from 10.45 to 8.30pm and a walk along the Thames path was organised during the free time in the afternoon.
Richard Collings from Caerphilly took up the subject ‘The priesthood of believers – its privileges and challenges’, and passionately appealed to the young people to sort out the hindrances that prevent us from serving in the assembly based on Leviticus chapter 21. There was an evident moving of the Spirit with young people admitting being moved to tears by the challenges made from the word of God. One person was heard to ask afterwards: ‘Do we really have to wait a whole year for another event as good as this?‘
CD’s of MP3 files are available only to young believers who left their details on the hall’s guestbook (bermondseygospel- hall.org.uk) as the speaker requested the recording not be made available globally on the web.
Gospel work has been continuing in Bethany Hall, Huyton, Liverpool, with two weeks of gospel talks being arranged by the assembly in November 2008. Jeremy Singer of Manchester and Stephen Baker of Liverpool worked with the assembly. In the run up to the meetings a group of brothers from various assemblies in Liverpool helped to knock doors, to meet people and to engage them in conversation. A number of good contacts were made. Over the two week period twenty unsaved people came into the meetings. Some of the contacts have been ongoing and the assembly would especially appreciate your prayers for two men, both called John. They attended a number of meetings. The local believers are still in contact with them on a regular basis. In the weeks leading up to the meetings a young man of seventeen professed faith in Christ while at his home. Please pray for his preservation.
Tayside and Fife
In September, Stephen Grant was able to visit several schools in and around Perth over two weeks and good attention to the word of God was given by pupils and teachers. For two weeks in October he was with the Kennoway assembly, first for a week’s Holiday Club during school mid-term break when about thirty children came each morning, then during the second week several visits to local schools were well received. A short series of talks on gospel themes was advertised for each evening during this second week, but very few adults from the community showed any interest.
The assembly at Ballingry had a profitable four weeks with their gospel tent again pitched in Crosshill, the preaching being shared by Jack Hay and local brethren. Good numbers of unsaved people came in spite of the wet weather. Two young people and a middle-aged lady professed to be saved.
In the Gospel Hall at Tayport, Dan Gillies and Aaron Colgan shared the preaching of the gospel during four weeks in October. Many were invited to the meetings but only a few came during the last week. A few teenagers came at times for part of the meeting. Some good contacts were made during door to door visiting.
North of Scotland
The summer season tract work by the Forres assembly is now completed in the town and in nearby villages. Good practical ministry was given by Jim Baker and Jack Hay at the annual week of Bible Readings in September. Many young believers were among the large audience, which was a great encouragement. Joe Baxter was with the assembly in Buckie for three weeks in October. Several unsaved people and a few backsliders attended, three of whom have expressed an interest in assembly fellowship. The support from surrounding assemblies was excellent, with sixty in the hall some nights. Simple gospel subjects were dealt with each evening. Door-to-door work was also very good.
Dungannon, Co. Tyrone
After a successful visit two years ago the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition recently returned to the Gospel Hall in Dungannon. Over five hundred schoolchildren, accompanied by teachers and helpers, came to the exhibition. All were presented with the truths of the Bible in an interesting and challenging way. The local saints were really amazed to listen to the children answer questions in the quiz after each session. It brought home the fact that a lot of gospel truth had been taught in a relatively short period of time. The exhibition was followed up by three weeks of gospel meetings conducted by Jimmy Brown of Crosshouse (the founder of the Ayshire Bible Exhibition). He helped with the follow-up visits to local schools, some of which now have a monthly assembly taken by local believers. Please pray for a time of blessing in the salvation of souls as a result of the sowing of the good seed of the word of God. The assembly in Dungannon also had a short visit by Jim McMaster for a report of the ongoing gospel work in his area of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. This work is mainly in the prisons and on the streets. Members of the assembly and saints from the surrounding area were stirred and encouraged to hear about what the Lord is doing in among people with great difficulties in life. Please pray for those who have been challenged by the work of the gospel in this specific field of service.
We have been asked to bring to the attention of the readers of this magazine that there is an assembly in Gibraltar. Most saints when arranging their holidays like to be able to meet local believers who meet according to the New Testament and often ‘going to the meeting’ can be the highlight of a holiday. The assembly in Gibraltar has been very weak in numbers for years (the assembly currently has four brothers and three sisters, only one of whom is under forty years of age) but the local saints continue to gather for the following meetings.
On the Lord’s Day the Breaking of Bread starts at 11.00. This is followed by approximately forty-five minutes of ministry of the word. After this there is a short assembly prayer meeting. The Lord’s Day meetings are normally in Spanish but on alternative Lord’s Days the ministry will be in English. The meetings are usually finished by 13.15 at the latest. At 18.30 a gospel meeting takes place in English. There has not been any gospel activity until recently so the saints would appreciate being remembered in prayer. On Wednesdays there is an additional gospel meeting in Spanish. This starts at 18.30. Thursday evening is the night for Bible Study. This meeting starts at 19.00 and the assembly is currently going through First Corinthians. An interpreter is available at all meetings All saints would be welcome, a letter of commendation would be preferred, and the help of preachers would be appreciated. For further information please e-mail Denis Goodwin at email@example.com.
Other contact numbers are as follows: Hall: 00350 20 07 86 56 Hector Hermida: 00350 20 07 97 18 Paco Baldachino: 00350 20 07 18 29 The Hall address is Gospel Hall, Queensway, (opposite) Ragged Staff Gates, Gibraltar. [Update January 2016: the contact information is no longer accurate but the assembly still meets at this address].
(A brief summary of some developments as reported by Graham and Sylvia Hobbs)
Shkoder – Good progress has been made on the building of the new hall in this town. Work has temporarily stopped but the believers expect it to start again soon in the will of God. At the conclusion of the next stage (windows being put in) the saints hope to be able to commence using the hall. Please pray that everything will go smoothly as the landlord of their present premises is beginning to become a little fractious and the assembly would like to move to the new premises as soon as possible. As far as outreach is concerned around twenty unbelievers came to a recent meeting and good numbers of unsaved come in regularly.
Orikum – This is a town in the far south of the country where work has been commenced to start a new assembly. The nearest assembly is at Vlore (20 kilometres away) and it has been closely involved in this work. Peter Headley and a team of workers spent some time here in the summer and contacts are now being followed up. Regular contact is made with a group of fifteen teenagers but it is proving difficult to get older folks interested in the gospel. Please pray particularly for a young couple (Yuli and Ela) who have recently been married and are being commended to go and work in this town.
Sangkhim Canaan School Update (SCS)
Here are the latest updates on the Sangkhim Canaan School (SCS). We are grateful to the Lord for providing the funds for the purchase of a 5.22 hectare plot in Kampong Chanang. The purchase was legally completed on 19 December 2008. Even on the last day, we discovered that there was another owner of the property. The seller had agreed to pay him K for the rights to sell the property. We made the seller sign another agreement to guarantee that there are no more third parties claiming ownership. We are glad that the land title deeds were legally transferred. Our lawyer had done all the due diligence checks and in the final analysis our faith is always in our God. We will be erecting barb-wire fences around the vacant land to keep farmers from coming in to ‘steal’ the soil. We will also add landfill to repair the side road to make it passable for traffic once we fence up the land. We will have to deploy a family to live on the property and to guard the place. Meanwhile, our architect, brother Felix from Bethesda Hall, Ang Mo Kio, Singapore, will be working on the concept plan to develop the kindergarten, primary school and teachers’ living quarters in the first phase of the development. He will be working with a local architect, a believer whose husband is working in TWR. These buildings are targeted for completion in September 2011. We will commence working on the second phase to build the secondary school six years later.
Meanwhile, we are also exploring creative ways to use the vacant land. One idea is to use part of it for agriculture or fish farming. This way, we can help the local believers learn how to improve their farming skills that will improve their livelihood. We pray for overseas farmers who have the expertise to help the Cambodian farmers improve their harvest. One Japanese brother from Nagano Assembly had shown interest. He has similar farm projects in Nepal and China. If you know of other farmers, please contact us. The renovation of the Sangkhim Canaan School is almost completed. We are now furnishing the classrooms with furniture and teaching equipment. The walls are also decorated with colourful murals. A team of youths from assemblies in Singapore and Japan visited the school to help paint the exterior perimeter wall with more colourful murals.
Canaan School of Cambodia,
PO Box 986, Phnom Penh,
Kingdom of Cambodia.
Some believers might be interested to know that www.voicesforchrist.org is a website with a very large audio library of messages given by servants of the Lord who seem to be almost exclusively New Testament local church based. The messages are readily available for download.
Common Ground with Islam?
During the week 3rd to 7th November 2008, forty-eight Muslim and Catholic theologians met in Rome in order to discuss a document elaborated last year by one hundred and thirty-eight senior Muslim scholars. The document, A Common Word Between Us and You, proclaims itself to be an attempt to find common ground between the two religions in order to bring peace to the world.
The thesis of A Common Word is essentially that Christians should come to agreement with Muslims that love of God and love of neighbour are the most important aspects of the two faiths and therefore instead of fighting one another, they should seek to outdo each other with good deeds.
Whilst at face value the treatise appears laudable, in actual fact it denies the most important aspects of Christianity and its mission. It is based on a verse from the Qur’an, namely Sura 3:64, which denies the identity of our God, the divinity, Sonship and Lordship of Christ and defines us as in rebellion against the Muslim god if we reject these doctrines.
More worryingly still, previous Muslim invitations to ‘come to a common word’ or to ‘come to common terms’ have in fact constituted an invitation to accept Islam as the true religion, or at least to acknowledge Muhammad as the final prophet and therefore to endorse his writings and authority, which comes to the same thing. In 2007, four Christian scholars from Yale University wrote a Christian response to A Common Word that failed to see its pitfalls and three hundred well-known leaders have already signed it.
The document wrongly assumes that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This is of fundamental importance, because how can two groups of people agree that love of God is the most important thing if it is not the same God that they are to love? The Muslim god is said to have ‘no partners’ - that is, he is said to be a unity and not a Trinity. And herein lies the rub: to acknowledge the Lordship or Sonship of Jesus Christ is to say that He is God, or a ‘partner’ (in Muslim eyes) with God. This is blasphemy to Muslims and so the text invites Christians to agree that God has ‘no partner’.
Another problem with this attempt to bridge the gap is that it is written with a Muslim mindset of rules, duties and good works, rather than the Christian understanding of salvation and grace. The document therefore urges that common ground should be built on the duties of loving God and neighbour and good works, which takes the heart out of the gospel entirely. The text claims that no one, including Jesus Christ, has said ‘anything better’ than the two greatest commandments. But John chapter 3 verse 16 clearly says far more than that, for it declares ‘not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’, 1 John 4. 10. No common ground can be found at the centre of the two religions; only on a superficial level can there be any such agreement. Likewise, the Islamic worldview with which the text was written presupposes that the Qur’an is a valid, authoritative source and that Muhammad was an authentic prophet. Even the definitions of the ‘peace’ which is sought and the ‘neighbour’ who is to be loved contrast with the biblical ones or even the Western ones with which we are familiar. Surely, the issue is in the interpretation of the detail here and any agreement reached would have to be very carefully drafted to avoid disputes of interpretation!
A Common Word is also disingenuous in suggesting that love of neighbour is a tenet of Islam. Such dissimulation is allowed by the Islamic doctrine of takiyya whenever the reputation of Islam is at stake. Not a single Qur’anic verse has been found that supports love of neighbour. In actual fact, Islam teaches love of other Muslims and conversion of, or hostility towards, non-Muslims.
Whilst it is important to love and live in peace with Muslims and to respect their religion, it is not usually from the Christian side that violence emanates.
In the light of this counterfeit basis for dialogue between the faiths, it is suggested that those Christian leaders who have signed Loving God and Neighbour Together: a Christian Response to ‘A Common Word between Us and You’ should consider withdrawing their signatures. This is not without cost, however. Revoking one’s signature to a peaceable and accepting response to A Common Word is a rejection of the invitation to convert to Islam. This is a rejection of the most peaceable offer of conversion in our generation. It is also a refusal to submit to Islam and it gives Muslims everywhere a Qur’anic ground to perpetrate Jihad against those who do so. Those who are brave enough should count the cost.
7th November 2009