Reports Section - Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
Prior to 1962 the assembly in Newent met in a small rented room, and the Sunday School numbered about twenty. In that year Glebe Gospel Chapel was opened and the school has steadily increased until this year the attendance averages over one hundred. This meant that there was not sufficient room for all the classes so in September last an extension was erected which not only provided for this need but also gave more scope for work among the older scholars.
A number of these have professed conversion and some attended the assembly ministry meetings. The growth in the number of children has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in the number of parents attending special gatherings such as the prizegiving, carol service and parents’ evenings. At one of the latter the materials used by teachers are exhibited - models, pictures, courses of lessons, etc. One popular item of the evening is the screening of photographs taken at the previous summer outing.
The whole of the assembly support the work both in prayer and in a practical way, while the policy of the workers is not only to teach the Scriptures but also to take a personal interest both in the children and in their homes. It is not just a matter of having the children together once a week for an hour. Herein may be found the reasons for the work flourishing.
Reaching the parents through the young ones has also been the object of the believers at Hebron Hall, Biddulph. They have been approached from time to time by families in the area asking for their newly born infants to be christened, and have explained that this is not in accordance with the Scriptures. However an offer has been made to have a thanksgiving service for the gift of the child, and so far two families have agreed to this. A specific time of thanksgiving has been incorporated in the Lord’s Day evening Gospel meeting, and then a few weeks later the parents have been invited to attend again and receive a Bible on behalf of the child. Thus the parents are brought under the sound of the Gospel on at least two occasions.
The work with the county tent last summer proved difficult, and at Hanford it was impossible to get adults into the tent. Some of the older teenagers were troublesome but even from these there were professions of faith in the Saviour. A coach is now used to bring children from Hanford to the Trent Vale assembly. A considerable number of the teenagers attended the tent report meetings together with a girl from Talke Pits for whom much prayer had been made and who since has been saved. As a result of the tent work at Talke Pits a gathering for Bible study has been commenced by brethren from the assembly at Butt Lane, Talke.
Shortly after the 1918 armistice some believers were given an old army hut and the use of a plot of ground in Walney Island, Barrow-in- Furness. This marked the beginning of a testimony which has continued until now, but it became obvious in recent years that this temporary building had come to the end of its useful life. The old hall was demolished in October, 1965, and in September last the fine new building was opened for parents and children when the speaker was A. Chambers. The annual conference in October was a time of thanksgiving when believers came together from the surrounding district and heard ministry from E. Ogden and R. Scott.
At Caerphilly, Glamorgan, two weeks of Gospel meetings in October were taken by H. Burness, and blessing was seen especially in the salvation of two from among the strangers who came. One was a woman of nearly seventy years of age who was brought in a wheelchair from an Old Persons Home opposite the hall. The other was a middle aged man who found real peace in believing.
The same Gospel preached by S. Ford at Minster Hall, Cardiff, resulted in several professions of faith.
In mid-Wales the small assembly at Aberystwyth has received blessing. At the end of October A. E. Ward conducted a mission which has resulted not only in the salvation of one student but in increased numbers both on Lord’s Days and during the week. The encouragement we can bring to such isolated gatherings should be borne in mind when we are arranging our summer holidays.
We have previously reported on tent meetings in the country district of Annabann near Newry, Co. Armagh. The interest shown was such that when meetings in the tent finished a fresh effort was made in the Gospel hall. A number have made it known that they were saved as a result of these meetings which were in the hands of A. McShane and R. Turkington.
In the same county E. Allen and W. Nesbitt had a session of Gospel meetings in a portable hall erected in the Fayne valley. Good numbers not only attended but also showed interest and God blessed His Word in the salvation of several souls.
Ballyhackamore assembly, Belfast, is one of the larger gatherings in the city, possibly because it has an active interest in the Gospel among young and old. During the autumn the Gospel was told forth by J. G. Hutchinson nightly for six weeks, and the believers brought many unsaved to hear of the Saviour. A number told of trusting the Lord Jesus, including two middle-aged men, both of whom had heard the Gospel in Sunday School days.
The results of faithful sowing are not always seen immediately however. At Killylea in Co. Down and Bailee in Co. Antrim the Word was proclaimed to good numbers yet there were no known cases of conversion.
At Ballymena the Wellington Street hall was filled each night for a week as H. Bell dealt with local assembly truth as found in the Acts and practised by the early church. The ministry was both instructive and practical.
Two assemblies in this county have experienced times of refreshing. The believers at Plann have just opened their new hall in Crosshouse village, just a mile away from the old building but much more centrally situated. During the afternoon of the first Lord’s Day that they met in the new hall the believers “combed” the village, with the result that of the audience of over three hundred that evening at least half were unsaved. The next week saw the first baptism, that of a sister whose conversion was mentioned in this section a few months ago. That same evening a teenager professed to trust the Saviour and just seven days later a twelve year old took this step. During the fourth week-end there was a handful of conversions — and still as many as one hundred unsaved folk attending the meetings.
There was also blessing at Loan Hall, Stevenston, where J. Merson saw little evident interest during the first week. During the second week there were two professions of salvation, and by the end of a month their number had reached double figures.
Hebron Hall, Larkhall, was the venue for a Gospel campaign during October and it was notable how many strangers came into the hall, the gallery having to be opened on one occasion. One reason for this was the way in which the believers supported the meetings, making contacts and bringing unsaved folk. One young man stayed behind and professed conversion, and four girls from a weeknight class took the same decision. The evangelist, F. Whitmore, visited one of the schools and spoke to the Scripture Union Class and again three girls trusted the Lord. The following week some from this class came to the meeting and four of them decided for the Saviour.
The message of the cross proclaimed by P. Brandon at East Kilbride also resulted in blessing. The hall was well filled each night including many unsaved. House meetings were held when believers invited their neighbours for a cup of tea and the evangelist gave short informal talks. Some fourteen souls came to a knowledge of the Saviour. Extensive visitation both before and during the campaign undoubtedly was contributory to its success.
While D. Craig was at Burnbank for two weeks of ministry it pleased the Lord to bring three souls to a knowledge of the truth. These comprised a girl and boy of ten and a woman who was saved at the end of a baptismal service and who now is seeking fellowship with the believers. One from the local kirk is similarly seeking while a backslider for many years has been restored.
Ministry of the Word is not often mentioned in these reports. For two weeks F. Cundick dealt with The Feasts of Jehovah in Hamilton, using a large coloured chart. He sought to stimulate interest in this section of the Scriptures and is felt to have achieved this object. It is important that all believers should be grounded in these great sections of the Word where a panoramic view of the purpose of our God can be obtained.
Believers from surrounding assemblies gave good support to special meetings taken by J. Birrell in Dalbeattie during October. Many teenagers showed an interest for a time but their attendance dropped as the challenge of the Gospel was made plain and a definite decision called for. Yet a number of these asked a local brother to convene a weekly meeting for them in his home, in addition to the weekly children’s meeting which has started.
“Re-unions” was the subject of J. Aitken at the annual camp gathering in Bethany Hall, Dumfries. The opportunity was taken of bringing the Gospel before the many parents and friends of the campers who were present as he dealt with the prodigal and his father and the soon coming meeting in the air of believers and their Saviour. Is every reader prepared for that great moment when the Lord will come out of heaven to take those who have believed in Him to be with Him for ever?
The first Paisley and District rally of this winter took the form of a special weekend in October when F. Tatford and K. Rendall spoke on the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. After the main meeting on the Saturday evening a special effort was made to contact teenagers with a coffee gathering and a number attended and some results were seen. Similarly on the Lord’s Day evening there was an after-church meeting in the local grammar school.
Republic of Ireland
For a considerable time there has been a concern among believers about the need for some follow-up to the work done in the summer months in distributing Gospel literature. The Lord has now led four brethren, one accompanied by his wife, to spend some months of this winter in caravans in the county of Galway. They have found indifference in many homes but there are some where the Word of God is being read. In a few cases they have received a real welcome and have been shown hospitality. The difficulties are great, and the nearest assemblies are nearly seventy miles away.
F. Pontin tells of visiting a family where the mother is blind and seriously ill. They are very poor and have a constant struggle, but he was able to read the Scriptures to them by candlelight and tell them of sin and salvation. Another case is of a man who has visited him almost every week for a number of years but has found it very hard to grasp the simple truth of the Gospel. At last there seems to be evidence that the seed is bearing fruit for he now realises that it is Christ alone who can save. Confusion has been caused by a television programme in which a priest attacked the evangelical faith by asserting that it was only the people of the Lord’s own day that could be saved by faith in Him.
Radio broadcasts commenced in December under the title of “Look and Live”, seeking to encourage the reading of the Bible among the thousands in Eire who have received copies of the four Gospels. Following the circulation of the Scriptures some four hundred years ago, the Reformation spread through Europe. A serious reading of the Word can produce a similar result today.
In the north of the Republic a portable hall was erected by S. Lewis and R. Beattie in a country district some miles from Omagh. It was practically filled each evening including a goodly number of unsaved.
Now is the time to be planning, in the will of the Lord, what shall be done in the coming summer to make His glory known. It may be of advantage to recount the experiences of the Troon, Ayrshire, tract band.
Instead of following their normal practice of visiting four or five villages they concentrated on one, Dundonald by name. Open air testimonies were discontinued and replaced by door-to-door visitation. The aim was to enter into conversation with the villagers, and in fact they were sometimes invited into the homes. Some conversations revealed an interest in spiritual matters and a seeking for something deeper in life. The village was divided into four sections each of about one hundred houses, and one section was covered each week. This enabled the whole village to be gone over three times during the season of twelve weeks. Special Gospel meetings were then convened in the village hall, the speaker being D. Snaddon. While many promises of attendance were not fulfilled, an encouraging number came. A teenagers meeting attracted over seventy nightly, and there were requests for this to continue during the winter. One young man professed faith in Christ and some ladies have attended the Gospel meeting in Troon. The potential in such a village is obvious, and there are many similar cases, maybe on our own doorstep.
During the past summer G. Fenn of Thorpe, Norwich, pitched the East Anglian Tent for over three months at Banham, some sixteen miles south-west of Norwich. The headmaster of the local school announced the meetings in each class room, after which fifty-nine children attended the first meeting, the prelude of seven weeks of afterschool meetings for these children. Senior children from more distant schools were catered for by a second later meeting, this arrangement lasting into the summer holidays. Seventy-four New Testaments were given away for good attendance and many experienced blessing, though decisions were not urged upon them.
One woman did not miss an evening and confessed that she had been saved. Women attending the local Methodist “Sisters’ Fellowship” transferred their weekly gathering to the tent. Door-to-door visiting cheered many elderly folk, and several sudden deaths in the village afforded opportunities of extending sympathy and testimony. One young man was disillusioned by formal religion and testified of the tent meetings that “This is it”, though the evangelist was unable to ascertain what “it” meant to his mind. Fortnightly meetings are being held during the winter months in a large room in a local cottage.
A special effort was made during October to reach the children of East Coker, Yeovil. Prior to the campaign each house in the village received a leaflet and all children were invited as they left their day schools. Over sixty youngsters came to hear D. Wilcox each evening, the believers bringing some in by car from outlying areas. Six made a profession of salvation whilst many parents came and showed interest in all that was done.