Gospel Work and other Activities
Stephen Baker, Manchester
ENGLAND: MIDLANDS AND SOUTH
Eastbourne – ‘The Airbourne Air Show’
‘Airbourne’ is a four-day air show which takes place every each year on the seafront at Eastbourne. Many thousands of people, both local and worldwide, descend on the seafront to watch the aerial acrobatics which include a performance from the famous ‘Red Arrows’, many fly-pasts, including The Battle of Britain fleet, and various stunts such as wingwalking.
There are also many stalls and static displays on the lawns bordering the beach.
Five years ago due to the driving force of the late Philip Prior, the assembly in Eastbourne decided to hire and pitch a small marquee at Airbourne with the aim of distributing Christian literature. The literature included tracts and some excellent postcard and credit cardsized items produced by Nathan Griffiths featuring pictures of the Red Arrows and other aircraft, a challenging thought on the front and a suitable scripture verse on the back.
This work continued for two years with no problems apart from the requirement imposed by the town council (on whose land the marquee was pitched) that we had to compile a Health and Safety Assessment and a Fire Safety Assessment.
On the third year, the Council Officer overseeing the event visited the marquee and demanded that, under threat of closure, the distribution of literature to people visiting the air show stop immediately as this caused a litter problem! That evening, the local believers surveyed the site and did not find any of their literature amongst the rubbish from fast-food stalls and other similar stalls.
One of the believers went to the Council Offices the next morning and discussed the situation. He was informed that the local bye-laws forbade the distribution of literature on Council land. His response to the council was that various organisations were doing this and the assembly had specified that they would be doing it on the Application Form which had subsequently been approved by the Council. Later that day, we received another visit from the Officer who said we could distribute literature but only within a one metre radius of the marquee front!
While considering this the local saints realized that the bye-laws only applied to the site and not to the pavement from which the site was accessed. They therefore continued their distribution at the entry and exit points on the pavement. One brother and his wife also decided that they would also approach hotels along the seafront, which are booked solid with would-be spectators, and ask them if some of the scripture cards could be left on their display tables for their guests to pick up for free. They were slightly concerned about how this suggestion would be received as some of the proprietors were people of other faiths, but they need not have worried. The hotel owners freely gave permission and remarked favourably on the quality of the cards.
As the fourth year approached, the assembly decided in the light of the restrictions, the friction generated by the Council, the cost of hiring the marquee and the pitch that it was not cost-effective to continued to be represented at the event. In the week before the Show, the same couple took the scripture cards to the same hotels as the year before and were greeted with open arms!. The cards had proved so popular with guests that they wanted to know where to get extra when the piles were gone. Twice the numbers of cards as they had bedrooms were allocated and supplies were replenished halfway through the Air show. The distribution was also extended to the smaller hotels and guesthouses in the area.
This is the fifth year of the assembly’s involvement in the Air Show and the same approach has been adopted with the same enthusiastic response. Some of the hotel staff also collect the cards for their children or send them to relatives. Another tentative initiative was to place some scripture cards in Rest Homes and Nursing Homes. When visiting one of the residents, the believers were amazed to learn that the organized activity that day had been to send ‘Marine Hall postcards’ to their relatives worldwide! These cards are also given out on the street by various members of the assembly during the Air Show. ‘We find that we are being chased by children who are queueing up to ensure they have ‘the complete set’! The local saints are amazed at what the Lord has done. Truly, He has made the wrath of the Council to praise Him! We were enabled to give out over 8000 of these cards and God alone knows how far they have travelled and in how many homes they are now displayed.
ENGLAND: DEVON & CORNWALL
REPORT ON GOSPEL WORK DEVON AND CORNWALL
The Annual Camp at Fowey, Cornwall
There was an increase in the number of campers attending this year’s Assemblies Youth Camp at Fowey in Cornwall. The camp has been held annually for over thirty-five years using the schools in the town of Fowey as a residential centre for the week’s gospel outreach. The camp has always been the responsibility of the assembly in St. Austell and remains one of this assembly’s yearly outreach efforts among young people.
The week was a great encouragement to us as young people, mostly from Devon and Cornwall, sat to listen to the messages faithfully delivered by Mark Lacey from Bath. This camp brings together a number of promising young people helpers from the Thames Valley area who for a number of years have given up their holidays to come down to support the work as tent officers. Another interesting aspect of the camp is the number of parents who live locally, regularly dropping in to spend time watching the activities and listening to the gospel message.
After a week enjoying the lovely beaches and seeing the various centres of interest in the area, the opportunity is always taken on the last day (Friday) to spend the afternoon in the town of Fowey. An open-air meeting is held on the Town Quay. This takes the form of some singing and then a gospel message. The area is flooded with holidaymakers at this time of the year and so is an excellent form of outreach. The believers who run the camp are pleasantly surprised by the interest shown by the visitors (believers and unbelievers) in the camp and its purpose.
Holiday Bible Club, St. Austell
The assembly in St. Austell has for many years held a Holiday Bible Club (HBC) in the Hall the week before the schools return for the autumn term. The aim is to establish fresh contacts as well as reconnecting with old ones before the re-start of the youth/ children’s activities.
This year HBC was held in the local Junior School hall due to the demolition and rebuilding of the Gospel Hall. The weekly children’s After School Club has been held here since the old Hall went out of use in May. This resulted in seeing greater numbers than ever before with over thirty coming each day. The assembly does the two-hour sessions with its own personnel and the help of a number of the children’s parents who stay for the whole session. This year’s theme was ‘Joseph’ and the days quickly passed in a flurry of singing, quizzes, games and craft activities and at the end they had a full contact address book for the restart of the youth programme later in September.
The new meeting place for the assembly on the original site is beginning to take shape and is on schedule for a completion date of April/May 2010, DV. While meeting temporarily in the W.I. Hall down the road from the old Hall, the assembly has been blessed to see several coming into fellowship and other individuals attending the meetings who haven’t done so previously. Recently, two middle- aged men made professions of faith in Christ and this greatly encouraged the local saints as they have seen the hand of the Lord with them despite the upheaval of the rebuilding project and all the associated issues.
Beach Missions in Cornwall and Devon
Annually, for many years now certain beach towns are visited and evangelized by teams of believers for several weeks during the peak holiday season. These teams often enjoy the hospitality offered by the assemblies in these towns. They, in return, boost the work of such assemblies as this solid group of devoted young men and women help with the meetings on the Lord’s Day.
These teams always have to apply to the local authorities for permission to use the beaches for the two or three sessions they run each day. These are great opportunities to evangelize parents and children on holiday. At Lyme Regis this year they received a letter from the Town Council stating that they were regarded as being an important part of the town’s offering to those who come there on holiday and as a valued part of this they were very welcome every year. This was music to their ears and God was thanked for what must be an unusually warm response from the a Local Authority. The team reported having over seventy at their ‘Family Night’ on the Thursday and that numbers had been very good throughout the threeweek effort with evidence of blessing.
There have also been teams at St. Ives, where the assembly at Barnoon has fellowship in the work, and again a team at Polzeath in Cornwall. These teams work all through the holiday period and after much sowing the need now is to pray for the reaping!
The assembly in Bromborough had the Lancashire Gospel Tent for four weeks of adult and three weeks of children’s outreach meetings during June 2009. Ian Jackson and Ian Campbell were the evangelists. This was the seventh time the Tent had been to Bromborough over the last fifteen years. The Tent complemented a wide range of outreach activities through the year. Existing contacts were consolidated and new contacts made. Prior to June special monthly prayer meetings were held and six thousand tracts and invitations were distributed in the village during May. The adults’ and children’s meetings were supplemented with weekly coffee mornings, afternoon teas, door-to- door visitation and about fifteen visits to local schools. All these were successful in getting new contacts. Excellent support was given from neighbouring assemblies throughout the month. Unsaved were present at every meeting, mainly brought through personal invitation and contacts.
A number of believers from local evangelical groups showed real interest in the truth being taught. There was great joy during the campaign with the news that two children were saved. Both are from Christian homes and will therefore continue to receive encouragement in spiritual things in the family circle. The Lord helped both His servants in the clear and powerful presentation of the gospel. The assembly was greatly encouraged by the campaign.
For several years the assembly in Bridge of Weir has used the village Gala Week as a means of reaching the town with the gospel. Many hundreds of visitors came to the stand again this June and received gospel literature and an invitation to attend a family night in the village hall. This was a children’s meeting with a message for children and adults. More than eighty local people came, most for the first time, and heard a clear presentation of the gospel.
During the summer months, the assembly in Gourock holds its gospel service in the public park where there is a bandstand and plenty of seating available. Some people sit in the adjoining gardens, some bring their children into the play area within the bandstand and some others saunter by, all hearing the gospel. Some helpful conversations have been held. So far this summer the weather has caused only one cancellation. In addition to this, door- to-door visitation takes place through-out the town and in the neighbouring village of Inverkip. Tracts were also distributed at the local Highland Games, and this year at the European Pipe Band Competition. George Forbes and Ian Mathers continue visitation work over a wider area, including the villages round about and then across the River Clyde to the Island of Bute. They also do some distribution in the Cowal peninsula. Prayer fellowship would be much appreciated for these forms of outreach.
Gospel Tent Work
Dan Gillies has again made good use of his tent over the summer months. In Inchture, Tayside. Stuart McGahie of the Tayport assembly helped with these meetings as the gospel was presented for two weeks at the end of June. The response was very encouraging. Twenty-five children regularly attended the children’s meetings along with some parents, and local unsaved folks were present at all the adult meetings with as many as ten in on certain evenings. Prayer is requested for blessing on this effort which was the first in the area for about twenty-five years. Please pray especially for two teenage girls who came every night and showed a deeper than usual interest.
In Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, in July, Aaron Colgan of N. Ireland shared meetings with Dan Gillies as they worked in fellowship with the assembly at Kirkconnel. Only a few unsaved people came and sadly even some who had showed an interest last year showed no concern this year. Some older boys came to the children’s meeting and showed a good interest in the gospel. A man from Sanquhar who was terminally ill professed salvation following visits to him, and he bore a clear testimony to his family before he went to be with the Lord shortly afterwards. Next it was Inverlochy, near Fort William, to an excellent site in the centre of the village where hundreds daily read the large banner (Acts 16. 31) alongside the tent. Around twenty different people came in; parents attended the children’s meeting nightly, many doors were knocked and a lot of literature was distributed.
Finally, in August at Edzell Woods near Luthermuir children and parents attended meetings morning by morning for a week, with Brian Chalmers sharing in the work.
Please pray for gospel meetings which were held in Ballymoney Town Hall from Tuesday the 29th September 2009 till Friday the 23rd of October 2009. The gospel preachers were were Wesley Martin and John Fleck. Please pray that the Lord will bless this second venture where meetings have been held in an independent venue that many souls will seek the Lord and know His great salvation.
Treboeth Gospel Hall, Swansea
The assembly in Treboeth had a real thrill at the end of May this year when they saw seven young people being baptized. It had been quite a few years since there had been any baptisms in Treboeth and the event was marked not only by joy but a distinct recognition that the Lord had answered prayer. The work among young people has gone on faithfully week by week and so the time of reaping was a real blessing. Many friends and families attended which was a great form of testimony and despite the hall being full everyone witnessed the baptisms as they were projected on to a large screen. Please add your praise to that of the saints in Treboeth for what the Lord has done.
Indian brethren Conference
The second conference of Indian brethren was held at Sneaton Castle, Whitby, Yorkshire for four days at the end of August 2009. The first such conference for Indian believers, mainly from Kerala, now living in the UK, was held in 2007. Its success encouraged the committee to arrange this second one. It was attended by around one hundred and twenty brothers and sisters from assemblies throughout the UK. A time of instruction, encouragement, fellowship and blessing was enjoyed by all. The ministry was in both in English and in Malayalam. The theme of the ministry sessions was ‘Prepare to meet thy God’ with addresses on the expectation of the Lord’s Return and how believers should live in the light of that. The Bible Readings were on Church Doctrine and Practice. The speakers were: Roy Hill, Bristol, UK; Alexander Kurian, Dallas, USA; and V. P. Poulose, Kerala, India. Brothers Kurian and Poulose also had meetings in various assemblies in England, N. Ireland and Dublin during their visit.
The following is a report from Paul and Sue Williams of the work in which they are involved in Romania.
Consecutive Bible teaching
The intensive Bible studies each Saturday in different regions of Romania (Bacau, Ploiesti and Vaslui) run from September to the end of May. During recent months studies have been held on Mondays in Calimanesti assembly on the book of Nehemiah, and Campina assembly on the New Testament, with brethren from six assemblies. The studies on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays in Sebes Assembly, Alba, for believers from seven assemblies proved most helpful and these studies recommenced in September 2009. Most Wednesdays Paul has had profitable studies in assemblies in the county of Prahova: Varbilau, Moara Noua, Cocosesti and Popesti. On alternate Lord’s Day afternoons (16.00 to 18.30) a Bible study has been conducted in Bertea, Prahova, for three local assemblies. Recently we enjoyed a weekend of meetings in the city of Craiova (S. W. Romania). On the Saturday Paul had a regional youth conference on ’The eternal state and its present day application for young believers’. One hundred and eighty young people listened attentively to this important subject. On the Lord’s Day we had two meetings in the large Craiova assembly (three hundred and fifty believers) and during the afternoon Paul visited Filiasi assembly. During April Paul was in Sighet (on the Romanian/Ukrainian border) for four days of studies in Nehemiah 1-6, and the life of Elijah (five hours each day!). Visits were made to three assemblies in the county of Satu Mare: Potau, Satu Mare and Medies Ariet (twenty-three believers were baptized in this assembly recently and five people professed salvation). Recently, Paul was invited for a weekend of meetings in Dorohoi, N. E. Romania. On the Saturday he spoke at a regional youth conference to one hundred and twenty-five young people on the important subject of ‘Evidences of the new birth in 1 John’.
Christian infant school
Prayer is valued for Sue and the two Christian teachers in the Strejnic Christian Infant School. There was a special Easter gospel meeting in Strejnic assembly with a very good number of unsaved in the hall packed with over three hundred and fifty people, including the local mayor. The infant school in Strejnic has progressed well during the last school year. Literature work The translation and checking of the first phase (nine of the seventeen modules) of the Sunday School and Bible Cclass teaching material has been completed. Printing is planned for August. These consecutive Bible lessons for children, teenagers and adults will be a great help from a gospel and Bible teaching point of view, meeting a real need here in Romania. Also, we are currently in the process of printing in Central Romania one hundred thousand John 3. 16 Seed Sowers texts.
Special gospel tent meetings
Last year the Lord wonderfully provided a one hundred and seventyfive seater tent for gospel work in Romania and it was used in the earthquake county of Vrancea, in villages where there are assemblies (Calimanesti, and in the town of Marasesti) or where there is no assembly testimony (Haret, Padureni, Ciuslea and Doaga). At least twentyfive people professed salvation in these tent meetings, and over six thousand children and adults have listened with interest to the simple presentation of the gospel. As a result of these tent meetings regular children’s meetings have started in Marasesti (two different locations) and Calimanesti. Also, in the village of Haret, a weekly Bible study has commenced with a number of interested persons. In the village of Ciuslea an older brother has bought some land with the intention of seeing an assembly planted.
Prayer is requested that the Lord will provide another tent for gospel work in Romania where there are many open doors and we are not able to meet the requests of the brethren in different counties; and also that a second-hand nine-seater mini-bus might be provided for this work. Please pray for further blessing. Romania is still fruitful ground for the gospel and souls continue to be saved to the glory of God in regular assembly meetings and in special gospel meetings. Also, in certain areas of the country, new assemblies are being planted.
A new magazine for believers
The Lord has burdened us to publish a Christian magazine for the family. There will be articles of a devotional and expositional nature, plus articles for children and young people. The magazine has been distributed free to believers in the seven hundred assemblies in Romania, the Republic of Moldavia, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, Austria and London. Initially, the magazine will be printed every three months with a print run of twelve thousand fIve hundred copies. We are currently working on the next issue.