Gospel Work and Other Activities
Sandy Jack, Eastbourne
During April, the assembly at Huyton held gospel meetings with Andrew Dutton and Stephen Baker. These meetings were very encouraging in terms of the numbers of unsaved coming in. They have resulted in increased numbers of people coming to the regular gospel meeting (averaging eight to ten unsaved a week) and to the monthly community gospel tea (between twenty-two and twenty-eight in each time).
The assembly at Prestwich held a gospel outreach in May. It was hard to get people along to the meetings, but encouraging when visiting in the area to see the respect that people had for those who visit regularly. Some teenage boys did come into the meetings. Jeremy Singer, Stephen Baker and Phil Raggett helped with the meetings.
In June, the assembly at Irby held gospel meetings with Stephen Baker and Phil Armstrong. The meetings were well attended in terms of unsaved coming along. The Lord was good and on one of the days, a grandmother and her granddaughter, who were visited in the afternoon, came to the meeting in the evening. The granddaughter is studying Religious Studies and Philosophy and showed an interest in coming back after her exams were finished 'C sadly she hasn't.
Every year in Southport a week of open-air meetings is undertaken and it proved again to be a good opportunity for people to hear the gospel. A number of brethren helped with the preaching. Monday started with a verbal attack from a Seventh Day Adventist insisting that we should be preaching the keeping of the law in addition to the gospel. Some names to pray for are, Lucy and Sarah (students), Maureen (a lady who confessed she was racked with guilt), Susie and Alan (Alan suffers from depression), Jack (Jack agreed for a Bible Study Course to be sent to him 'C he has not replied to the e-mail yet but he was very interested when chatting in the street), Jenny (this young woman recently had a miscarriage and as a result was angry with God), Beverly (a Buddhist lady who chatted for quite a while), and Alex, Walter and Beverly - all young people who showed an interest in what was being preached with varying degrees of response and antagonism. There also was a encounter with one sad old lady (known to God) who was angry that the believers had the audacity to come and preach on the streets.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of the testimony at Bethany Gospel Hall in the Hesters Way Estate, Cheltenham, and the saints wondered what they should do to celebrate and commemorate this event. Just after their Combined Easter Conference one of the younger men suggested having an 'Open Day' to mark the occasion and after having set it out before the Lord, the assembly agreed to go ahead and arrange such an event for the 31st July.
The content of the event included:
-a book stall with free literature, including Bibles
-a kids' craft section
-a comprehensive exhibition of the history of the assembly with photos on display panels around the hall, DVDs of Sunday School outings, parties, Mums and Toddlers and PowerPoint presentations of activities over the fifty years
-a coffee shop open all day with free refreshments
-a large marquee and a gazebo in the car park with seating, a BBQ, games and competitions for all.
-a Visitors Book and a questionnaire provided for comment
Over 5,000 flyers were distributed inviting people to come along, and the response was astonishing. There was a constant flow of people (some of whom had been Sunday School, Seekers, and Kids Klub children over the years) all day coming in and enjoying the time. Two hundred came through the hall and many comments were made and interesting conversations held with those known from the past. There also were some good new contacts made.
Since the Open Day, the assembly has seen more people coming in to the gospel meeting and are anticipating numbers increasing in the children's Kids Klub when it restarts in September and other activities like the Coffee Morning. The assembly, most of whom are in their late seventies and eighties, were greatly encouraged as they worked together.
The assembly at Nutley arranged two weeks of gospel meetings in July with Hugh Doey, Don Rogers and others sharing in the responsibility for preaching. The believers were encouraged as one or two came in from the village and some good contacts and conversations ensued.
The Ayrshire Bible Exhibition visited Eastbourne in June for two weeks and while the number of schools attending was down on previous years, good opportunities were taken with the more than 350 children and teachers who did come along. Graeme Paterson was invited into two of the schools and the local saints also went in and presented prizes at another school.
‘The World’s Biggest Seafront Air Show' took place again in Eastbourne for four days in August and the believers from Marine Hall took the opportunity to distribute free postcards with texts on the back. Having ordered 10,000 of these to top up the current stock, they were surprised by the fact that nearly all supplies had gone by the third day. In addition to the postcards, they also distributed a number of CD's (Nothing Happens by Chance) with a local scene on the cover and specially produced gospel tracts. It was thrilling to see adults and children run along the sea-front after the believers, asking for the postcards! Makes a change from being complained about! Only the Lord knows where the seed has gone.
August 7th to 10th saw the Tall Ships spectacle in Hartlepool and with over one million visitors, proved a tremendous opportunity to take the gospel to many souls who are lost.
With over thirty thousand ‘John 3. 16’ bags and another thirty thousand text bags, Alan Barber and a number of others spent the four days distributing to and engaging with many of the spectators. One man told Alan that John 3. 16 was the only Bible verse he knew; one lady cried as she read the verse on the bag. Many conversations were held with believers who once ran well and with some who used to be in assembly fellowship. Copies of Ultimate Questions in Dutch, Russian and German were handed out to the ship crew members. Two people came to the gospel meeting as a result of reading the banner displayed at the entrance gate.
The saints in Seymour Gospel Hall, St. Austell, have moved into their new hall. They are very grateful to the Lord for the way in which He has so graciously provided for this project through the generous and faithful giving of His people. They are praying that the work will have a real impact in the locality and are planning some ‘Opening Meetings’, details of which will follow, in the next issue, DV.
Nitish Patel has been involved in six weeks of outreach and meetings in the Wembley area. Many tracts were distributed and unsaved were present most times. One Saturday there were fourteen outsiders in the hall listening to the gospel. A number of good conversations were held with people passing by. One Hindu man told a brother that he had never even heard of a book called the Bible! Another said that he had heard of the name of Jesus but knew absolutely nothing about Him and that this was the first time anyone had spoken to him about the subject. A Roman Catholic man called Octavio from Gujarat has shown much interest and continues to come and a nominal Christian couple from Gujarat have been coming every week. Kirit who was saved last year had his wife, Asha, and two young daughters join him from India in May. Though he feared she might stop him coming, it was a great joy to see she also has been coming to the meetings with him. Mahendra who was contacted last year still comes along when he is free but he is not saved yet. There are thousands of Indian students in Wembley and it is a great task to reach them before they finish their courses and return to India.
There have been many camps held up and down the country during the summer months and it is encouraging to hear of so many young people being brought into such close contact with the gospel. In our deeply anti- Christian culture we thank God for believers, who give so much time to plan, attend and pray for these opportunities. We ought to be seriously praying that the up-coming generation will rise to heights of spiritual attainment that we so often feel our generation has failed to do. Camp work is exhausting but can be exhilarating, so we pray it will also be fruitful. There are too many camps to give reports of them all 'C below are some short reports from a selection.
Held under canvas, the camp is conducted over two weeks. The first (the girls' camp) was taken by Ian Jackson. There were about fifty-five girls present and some older teenage girls with little or no background were showing particular interest. Please pray, as they have returned home, that the interest will continue. The second week (boys' camp) was conducted by Paul McCauley.
The believers at Orton Road Gospel Hall, Peterborough, held their annual young people's camp at Chepstow this year with Stephen Clegg as the speaker. His topic of ‘Dare to be Different’ and the use of some personal experiences in the gospel left the young people with a real sense of the challenge they have to face as Christians in a hostile world, and the importance of living for the Lord. Three of the young people made professions of faith.
Although many will associate Cheddar with cheese and its magnificent gorge, hundreds of young people from the South West associate it with a Christian camp. Each year, for many years, in a farmer's field outside the town and latterly in the grounds of a secondary school in the heart of the town, children have slept under canvas and enjoyed a week of Christian teaching, good fellowship and fun. This year's camp, held in the first week of August, was the largest camp ever held.
Because of a clash of dates, two hundred, mostly from the south of England and south Wales, turned up on site for one week only, instead of the usual two. The day starts and ends with quiet times in the tents, led by tent leaders (believers in assembly fellowship who are over 18 years old).
This year's quiet times were based on the subject of Peter 'C his life and letters. All campers (youngsters between the ages of 10 and 17) and leaders attend both the morning and the evening Bible teaching sessions. The morning studies this year were on the life of Joseph and the evening ones were on Paul's missionary journeys. These sessions have been blessed of the Lord in years past in that many campers have professed to be saved and others have gone home to their various assemblies to ask to be baptized and then to be received into assembly fellowship.
Although the primary work of the camp is to teach and preach the gospel to the campers, each year we have been able to draw close to tent leaders as well as campers and to encourage them in their walk with the Lord. We have been delighted to see tent leaders grow in faith and discipleship over the years, first as campers and then as leaders, for we all have issues to wrestle with and matters over which we need to be challenged or encouraged, no matter how old we are. Please pray for this work, its follow-up weekend in November near Bridgewater and its week away in Cornwall over the Easter holiday.
The believers at Ballingry, Fife, held two weeks of gospel meetings in Crosshill. The preaching was shared between Jack Hay (Perth), and the local brethren. The support from assemblies locally was good and an encouraging number of unsaved were present in the tent. Particular encouragements were the presence of one local councillor and another man who had refused invitations for the previous fifteen gospel series. It was felt that a number came under conviction as the gospel was faithfully preached. Prayer is requested that there might be fruit in salvation.
The same tent was pitched for the first time at Scotlandwell, Fife. By the kind permission of a local farmer a further week of meetings were held here with the gospel being preached again by Jack Hay (Perth) and local brethren. It was good to see a number of locals present under the gospel, particularly the farmer and his wife, and prayer is requested for this couple, and others who came, that they might be saved.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
In June 2007, the Ultimate Decision gospel outreach started in the South West of Ireland. A tent and caravan were set up at agricultural shows in Co. Cork and Co. Tipperary to distribute gospel literature. It became clear there was an opportunity in this setting and after much prayer the work continued to develop and also join up with the gospel outreach in the market in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, which had been started some years previously.
The work has grown over the last three years and between the months of May and September a stand is erected at the Newcastle West market twice a month, and also at seven or eight agricultural shows in the Counties Limerick, Cork, Kerry and Tipperary. This work mainly covers market towns and rural areas all of which are over 90% Catholic with little other gospel work going on.
Gospel tracts, CD's and Bibles are freely handed out and scripture texts are displayed on a large digital screen with the text changing every twenty seconds. In the last three years there have been in excess of 4,000 children's packs given out in addition to other materials.
The Charleville show in June had great weather and while it was felt that many laughed at the scriptures, it is good to remember 'His word does not return void'. Over 350 Kids Packs were handed out.
The weather at the Newcastle West show in July meant numbers were down, but quite a few conversations were held and some literature passed on.
In August the Cappamore and Limerick shows enjoyed better weather and much more literature was given out. At Limerick all of the John 3.16 bags and Kids Packs that the team had were given away.
You can keep up to date with this work at www.ncwbiblefellowship.com or alternatively you can write for more information to The Ultimate Decision, c/o 51 Hawthorn Drive, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, Ireland.
Over the past few months a few new faces have been at the meetings. Ewa is a young mother that Remi Pacha (Canada) had met last year. When he was with the believers again this year, he was in Tesco buying some groceries. At the checkout the girl said, ’Hello Mr Pacha’. She said she was reading the Bible he had given her the previous year. Remi invited her for a Bible study and she willingly accepted the invitation. They met at the home of Ewa and Adam Olczuk from the fellowship and talked for three hours. Ewa has now started to come to meetings on a Sunday.
Teresa is a woman from the Congo who recently arrived in Newcastle West and found out about the assembly on the web. She is a believer and has been attending quite regularly. Her husband was assassinated five years ago in the Congo, she has four children (probably in their 20's) and three of them have been at the meetings with her. Hannah has also started coming to the Thursday night meeting; she is a single mum who recently lost custody of her daughter and has had a few broken relationships. Do pray for her salvation. Patricia is a single mum from South Africa who recently moved to the area. The contact with her came through a gospel magazine delivered to her house. She was saved two years ago while living in Dublin and has been out at the meetings a couple of times. She has indicated that she wants to come to the Fellowship; she has two young children. George is an Irish man living in the Netherlands. He e-mailed last month to say he had found the assembly website. He said he was looking to move back to Ireland and in particular Newcastle West where his daughter has recently moved. It turns out his daughter and partner moved in next door to Andrew and Gillian Shanks who are in the assembly. George has been saved about a year and had been going to the Fellowship in Limerick before moving to the Netherlands. If it all works out he plans to get a job here and would like to come to the meeting.
Three weeks of Kids Clubs and outreach took place in Riverchapel and Gorey in July and August. On the first Monday ninety-six children turned up and they all gave great attention to the word of God. The parents were all very supportive. By the end of the week the attendance was still around one hundred every day and a few registered for Bible Beginners courses. So, many people have heard God's word.
Situated about one kilometre from the Swiss border in the village of Altenburg, the assembly of about sixty believers had the joy of seeing three converts baptized. The baptisms took place in the river Rhine. One of those baptized has worked in the home of a couple in the assembly for over fifteen years and came to know the Lord, no doubt influenced by the consistent godly living of her employers. This lady's husband and that of another lady also baptized are both unsaved. Both were at the baptisms and heard the brethren explain the importance of being saved and what baptism meant. The other person baptized was a young man 'C it was good to see him take this step. There are many young people who attend the meetings in Altenburg and prayer would be valued that they would really have the strength to live sanctified lives for the Lord.
In May, a sick gypsy woman, Cassiana, visited a poor Romanian family she had heard about. She brought them some food, much to the amazement of this little family. Three young girls were living with their aged grandparents; the eldest, a boy of seventeen was working away from home as a shepherd. Their twenty-eight-year-old mother died four years ago and the ¡®father¡¯, an abusive, chronic alcoholic, is responsible for a large percentage of their misery. Their living conditions were appalling and Cassiana reported to brother George Sortan what she had discovered. George and Vasile visited the home and were saddened that these three young girls, Petruta, Irian and Vasilica were having to live in such terrible conditions. The family was invited to come to hear the gospel in the little hall in Gura Raului. The three girls and their grandmother came and the grandmother trusted Christ. The following week, the eldest girl, Petruta was saved. The saints discussed their circumstances and decided to try and improve their living conditions and over the next few weeks worked to turn the little place where they lived into more of a home. One day when visiting, the old man signalled he wanted to pray. What a prayer it was! A prayer of repentance and then thanksgiving for the love, grace and mercy of God. The loving act of our dear sick sister, Cassiana, has been the gateway to a tremendous work of the Lord in that family.
Work amongst the gypsies has been a real battle and it has been obvious that Satan is not prepared to give in without a fight. Jonathan Kelso, writes, ‘I personally have witnessed the effects of the resistance being waged by the power of Satan and his demonic host as he tries to weaken the effects of the gospel’s power. We continue to preach God’s message of good news and souls are still trusting Christ as Saviour’.
In June, sixteen new gypsy believers in the village of Geoagiu were baptized. The little assembly in the village continues to grow, but is under constant attack from the devil. Almost always in the meetings in Geoagiu and Salistea many unsaved are in attendance and whilst this is a great opportunity for gospel preaching, it is also important not to neglect teaching the believers, so having a programme specifically for them is important.
The saints have had the joy of seeing three people baptized. One of these was a man who was saved during the conference in February. He is around thirty-five years of age and his previous life was one of motorcycles and everything connected with that. Now he is a new creature in Christ, he has sold the bike and is in assembly fellowship. A real trophy of grace!