Sandy Jack, Eastbourne
The assembly at Kirkby-in-Ashfield held its second Evangelism Day for 2012 on Saturday, 13th October. A number of young people from across the East Midlands gathered for a time of prayer before going out with the gospel.
The day started with person-to-person tracting in the town’s precinct. Several hundred tracts were given out and good conversations were held with Ray, Anne (who claimed to be a pagan), Julez, and May. The believers were encouraged to notice that this time, in contrast to previous occasions, a number of people who were given literature actually stopped and read it. We pray that the word of God may work powerfully in the lives of those who read it and that the conversations may have left seeds of the gospel in the minds of those named.
In the afternoon the believers reached out to an area that hadn’t been tracted for well over 25 years, and distributed God’s word to about 750 homes. This was an area of the neighbouring town of Sutton-in-Ashfield. One particular encouragement came as a consequence of a group who walked up a long grassy farm track for the sake of one house. As a result, the woman, Linda, who lives in that house, walked 1.5 miles to the Hall for the gospel meeting. She stayed afterwards to talk for over seventy minutes and promised to come and bring her husband to the next meeting. Please pray for Linda and others contacted that there may be lasting fruit in the gospel.
Having distributed calendars, tracts and invitations to their annual Carol Service in the locality of the hall, the assembly at Marine Hall, Eastbourne, had the joy of seeing the hall filled to capacity, with many people from the locality attending. It was a particular joy, to have a number of young people attend from the local YMCA Outreach centre, all of whom stayed for tea and engaged in good conversations. Please pray that opportunities will continue to be given to the believers to develop these links with the gospel.
The believers who gather at the Gospel Hall in Treboeth, Swansea, were greatly encouraged over the weekend of 19-22 October, when they celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the assembly.
The work started in 1922 when Mr. A. J. Chilcott of Barnstaple, held a tent mission in the village. A number were saved and desired to go on together, meeting for prayer and Bible study. Mr. Chilcott eventually procured a plot of land, and a corrugated iron building was erected at a cost of £397.4s. 3d. ‘A. J.’, as he was affectionately called, was a gifted evangelist and, over the years, many came to know the Lord through his preaching, and the witness of the assembly. After 43 years in the old hall, it was felt that a new one should be built. A draughtsman and a master builder in the fellowship oversaw the work, and all the other brethren did the labouring, with the occasional help of professionals.
Over a period of almost two years, the new hall was built over the old one, which was demolished a bit at a time to avoid cancelling any meetings. Only one meeting had to be cancelled when the final demolition took place. So, after 45 years, the assembly had a new meeting place, erected for a total cost of £6,200.
Forty-five years later, the assembly thought that it should celebrate the 90 years of the Lord’s great faithfulness. The theme was, ‘To God be the glory’. The saints collected together many photographs, old and more recent ones, and display boards were erected around the hall. On the Friday night, some young people from other assemblies came along, and it was encouraging to see fifty-five, mainly young people, sit attentively as brother Peter Brandon spoke to them. Afterwards a 12-year-old lad trusted the Lord, and a 15-year-old girl sought help for her Christian life.
Saturday was the main day, and, in the afternoon, many of the previous generations of young people came and had a great time reliving the days of their time in Sunday School, Youth meetings, and the many camps visited. After a buffet tea, Peter Davies gave a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the work from the start up to the present. It was estimated that 150 people attended. Some had to leave, but about 130 were able to stay for the final session when Peter Brandon, who has visited the assembly since 1964, gave the closing message for the day. On the Lord’s Day at the gospel meeting there were a few unsaved present. A young man from Ghana was very moved and near to trusting the Lord. The final meeting was on the Monday, when a number from other assemblies joined. Peter Brandon gave a challenging word from John 21 on ‘Barren Evangelism; Fruitful Evangelism; Preaching and Pastoring’. The whole weekend was truly blessed of the Lord and the assembly continues to look to Him for His blessing as they move forward in His will.
The assembly in Gorey report that evangelistic Bible studies continue to remain one of the greatest sources of encouragement. In March 2011, David, a student teacher who fellowships with them during the week, got into a conversation with another young teacher, Lisa, about the gospel. Although initially sceptical, she soon began to ask many questions. Eventually, she attended the Bible Study, and has since trusted the Lord. She is currently on a year out near Barcelona, and is progressing well spiritually but is in need of fellowship.
In September they started a Christianity Explored course on Tuesday nights, which has four or five seekers attending. Lori has clearly been touched by the gospel, as has Noreen, though both seem to be struggling in appreciating that salvation is by grace, having believed for years they needed to ’do their best’. Pray also for Warren and Rachel. It has been lovely to have Fiona and her daughter Caoimhe along too. Fiona had come to studies on and off over several years. Damien, her husband, got saved last year and, it is believed, Fiona has now trusted the Lord. She is involved in several other studies during the week, and a real change in her and her family has been evident. Over the past six months Damien has got friendly with a neighbour, Anthony. He said he had been watching the change in Damien’s life, and wanted to know more about the Bible. Damien spoke with him often, and he has been attending a Bible study in Matthew’s (Shanks) house. In November, he asked Damien, ‘How do I become a Christian?’, and it seems that Damien led him to the Lord. The change in his life has been remarkable. Pray for his wife, Helen, and their family.
After 40 years of summer Bible Clubs in Riverchapel, Matthew and Shirley Shanks have been able to start a weekly club in that area. Please pray that this will be a further bridge for the gospel into a very needy community.
This year’s outreach at the Ploughing Championships was a great encouragement. Attendance at the three-day event was reported to be 187,000 with 1,300 exhibitor stands. The saints were presented with a wonderful opportunity to ‘sow the seed’, and the Lord gave tremendous help to do so. The shopping bags, used to distribute items, were severely delayed and did not arrive until the day before the show, at which point they needed packing with gospel CD’s and picture texts. However, after some hard work, 18,500 of them were distributed over the three days. Hundreds of Titanic comic books and other leaflets, bookmarks, and fridge magnets, were given out as well as all our Acts 16:31 pencils and pens. Thirty-four believers from four countries helped to staff the stand – the fellowship was amazing! Please pray that God will be glorified, and many individuals will be convicted of their sin and saved as a result of this outreach.
Jonathan Kelso reports, ‘What are you to do when a mother of seven children asks if you would consider ‘adopting’ (keeping) her new-born, one-month-old baby boy, simply because she cannot cope with this added burden of caring and providing for this recent addition to her family? What do you do when a girl in her early teens comes in desperation seeking shelter from a disruptive and abusive father; living in a little one-roomed house from which there is no privacy and no escape?
He has given her an option, which comes in the form of a ‘marriage’ arrangement to someone he knows. What does he gain by this arrangement? Simple - more money to buy beer, and one less mouth in the house to feed! The problem for this girl of almost fourteen years is that she is a Christian, and she wants to please her Heavenly Father’.
‘As we get to know the people we work among, and hopefully earn their trust, we do have to respond to many very trying and emotionally draining circumstances. We need to be able offer wise counsel to those who come to us for help and for advice; for some, we are all they have got. We have chosen to live close to where these people live, believing that to work among them we need to be close to where they are. It is important to preach, as we do from the scriptures, but it is also vital that our lives are a witness and a testimony every day’.
At the end of November Paul Williams held five days of Bible teaching in Saliste, for fifteen Gypsy men from five different locations. Each evening Paul and Jonathan travelled with the men to different villages for evangelism, which is something they love to be involved in. On the Wednesday evening they held a meeting in Gura Raului; it was packed. On the Thursday evening they were in Orlat, and again the meeting room was packed with people. Lae, a brother from Geoagiu, and Jonathan both spoke from the same verse in John chapter 3 verse 14, and, at the close, Simona, a girl in her late teens, waited to speak with Andi and Jonathan. She told them that she wanted to follow God’s way, and they had the joy of pointing her to the Saviour.
Alec Catchpole writes from Pozzuoli, Naples: ‘The economic situation here continues to worsen as austerity measures, leading to cutbacks, leave many without work. Employers in the private sector are taking advantage of the uncertain job market by cutting wages, and taking for themselves the child benefit which the state gives to workers with children. Just last week another member of the church was made redundant, and the chances of him or others who are unemployed getting work are almost non-existent. For those made redundant, there is a short period of state benefits, but, after a few months, these finish, and for those who have never had legal employment (which is a lot of people) there is no help at all.
Due to the loving generosity of believers in the United Kingdom, we have been able to distribute food to Christians in need, which has been really appreciated by them. One family was in such financial difficulty that they were reduced to sleeping in a car. We were able to help by paying their rent. Thankfully the father has found work in the north of Italy, so they should be alright for at least as long as his work lasts’.
‘The economic gloom is also having an effect on the future of the church. Stefano is a very bright young man. He is finishing a degree in Philosophy at university and is a excellent preacher. His desire is to work and serve the Lord in the church, but the harsh reality for him, and the majority of the other young people, is that they will probably have to leave the city to find employment elsewhere. Laura has just finished a degree in the science of Tourism, so she too will be looking for work. Please do pray for them and others in the Neapolitan churches that have a really uncertain future’.
‘On the brighter side, Angelo and Mena, a 40-year-old couple with teenage girls, have recently been converted and have asked for baptism. We really praise the Lord for such encouragements in the midst of a pretty bleak picture. Prayer would also be valued for Luigi and Raffaele, a father and his 19-year-old son. Raffaele started reading the Bible on his own, on seeing the contradictions between biblical Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church. He sought an alternative, so they have been coming along for a few weeks which is a real encouragement’.