Reports Section - Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
‘He healeth the broken in heart’
The last issue included an outline of the work of the assembly at Annbank, Scotland, in reaching out to bereaved families in their district. Judging by the number of enquiries received, this report aroused considerable interest. It may be of help, therefore, to state that the booklet ‘To the Bereaved’ can be obtained from the Drummond Tract Depot, Stirling, Scotland, at a cost of 2d. per copy. It presents the truth clearly without being blunt and should help rather than hurt in times of sorrow. When a home has been bereaved for the second time the Annbank believers use another booklet, ‘A message to the Bereaved’, published by the Central Bible Truth Depot, 11 Little Britain, London E.C.1. In both cases a personal letter is sent with the booklet conveying the sympathy of the assembly.
‘What is that in thine hand?’
In the generation when Sunday Schools were commenced, there was no problem in attracting children - the Sunday School itself was the attraction. Today we are faced with a complete change and, especially in older areas, the first problem is to get the children to the hall. In most towns there are estates where children abound, and we should face up to our responsibility to bring them where they can hear the Gospel.
One way in which this problem can be tackled is by believers using their cars to collect the children. This has been done at Heavitree, Exeter, and the number on the school roll has quickly increased as a result. Newton Abbot assembly has for some time hired a bus to ‘do the rounds’ on a housing estate, effectively recruiting many who would not otherwise have heard the Word of God. The believers at Buller Road assembly, Exeter, recently purchased a baker’s van and having been converted this is proving an excellent means of transport. In a similar way at Beacon Heath, in the same city, a converted ambulance is being used to bring in the young.
Perhaps we may have been slow to realize the value of such improvisation. So often we think that the children should come of their own accord; but as some have put it, ‘If they don’t come we are faced with one of two alternatives - to forget them or to fetch them, and the latter seems nearer to the Lord’s commission’.
‘the Lord made it to prosper’
During 1949 some children from the Llwynhendy Housing Estate, Llanelly, started to attend the Sunday School at the Bynea Gospel Hall, about two miles from their homes. Seeing the need in that area, the believers at Bynea decided to apply to the Llanelly Council for permission to hold a Sunday School at the Llwynhendy Primary School. This was granted by the end of that year, and they first had the use of a classroom and subsequently of the school hall as numbers increased. Two brethren and one sister from Bynea undertook this work at first, but after two years there was such a need for teachers through the work expanding that a brother came from Evangelistic Hall, Llanelly, bringing a class of young brethren to help in the work. As numbers were maintained it was decided to apply to the council for a plot of land for the erection of a hall. A similar request was made by the Roman Catholic Church who were eventually given the piece of land under consideration. This caused a good deal of public resentment, references being made to it in the local press. However, the Lord had better things in view for them and a more suitable site was made available at Amanwy, a very short distance from the school. At the opening of the new hall in March many local residents were present together with believers from surrounding assemblies. The hall was packed and every ante-room used to seat the crowd, and it was felt that this was a good witness in the area. At the moment the activities are confined to the Sunday School and a Gospel witness. The hall is the joint responsibility of the four assemblies in that area.
‘the Lord added to the church’
The first Lord’s Day of this year was a remarkable one in the Ayr district. Two unrelated young people were converted in Bute Hall, Prestwick, at the beginning of ministry meetings taken by D. Craig. In the nearby Glenburn assembly a fifteen year old youth was saved at a testimony meeting and the same evening saw another profession of faith in James Street Hall, Ayr.
‘Gather the people’
It is often worth considering what variations can be made in the normal invitation to the Gospel meeting. At Holywood., Co. Down, over one thousand letters were posted to people of all walks of life, inviting them to lectures on Lord’s Day evenings during February. These were given by Dr. D. Gooding on such subjects as: The Resurrection - myth or fact?; The Bible - Man’s word or God’s? Numbers rose to over one hundred, many of whom did not normally attend Gospel meetings. Many were impressed by the truths expounded and the conviction with which they were taught.
‘Fear not; I will help thee’
Once again we would draw attention to the possibilities for Gospel witness on the housing estates of our land, and especially to the responsibility of believers who live thereon.
In 1948 four families of believers came to the Oxgangs district of Edinburgh) an area of housing expansion. It was their combined exercise that the Lord would have a work started in that locality, so a weekly prayer meeting was commenced in one of their homes. As a step in the propagation of the Gospel, tracts were distributed from door to door. After two years of such labour it was apparent that there was a distinct interest among the children, so an open air meeting was arranged for them in the local park. Although the weather was poor the first week, about thirty came and listened as a lesson was given with the aid of a flannelgraph. Numbers grew, accommodation was obtained in a local school, and attendances were maintained at an average of eighty in the school and forty in the Bible class. Although the work reached a low ebb at one period, the number of believers increased so that in 1957 a Gospel service was started, preceded by an open air meeting. Further families moved to the area and joined in the work, and in January of this year the believers, with the commendation of the other assemblies in Edinburgh, gathered as an assembly in St. Cuthbert’s School, Oxgangs Road North, Edinburgh. They are now seeking a site for the erection of a hall.
‘ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence’
In some counties there appears to be little aggressive Gospel effort. It is, therefore, stimulating to read of a number of simultaneous Gospel campaigns which have been held in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, each of which was accompanied by blessing.
For many years the Francis Street, Newtownards, assembly has been a centre of Gospel activity, and this season F. Whitmore and J. Noble were responsible for the work. The believers exerted themselves to get strangers under the sound of the Gospel, and as the Lord gave good weather not one of the open air marches prior to the meetings had to be cancelled. Really good numbers attended, and several professed conversion.
In the growing seaside town of Bangor there are three assemblies. The believers at Holborn Hall saw much hard work rewarded when the hall was filled each evening as P. Brandon presented the Gospel. At the closing meeting in Kings Hall about six hundred were present. In Ebenezer Hall at the other end of the town H. Paisley preached for six weeks. In both places a number spoke of accepting the Saviour.
For just over one hundred years there has been an assembly in Bambridge, which has a population of seven thousand. From a very small beginning it has grown to a large and happy gathering of over one hundred. J. G. Hutchinson, who was brought up in the town and saved there thirty years ago, had eleven weeks of most encouraging meetings. The large hall was filled nightly, the Lord worked and quite a number professed salvation.
The opening of the new hall at Dundonald was reported in the last issue. C. McEwen continued there for six weeks, and saw fair numbers coming in, several professing conversion and some of the Lord’s people helped and restored.
‘I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord’
We must never underestimate the value of personal witness. Among several baptised earlier this year in Irvine, Scotland, was a man who had been influenced towards the Saviour by a fellow-bricklayer on a 94 building site. Various members of his family attended the baptismal meeting, all of whom were unfamiliar with the inside of a Gospel hall.
‘by my Spirit, saith the Lord’
The believers meeting at Fuller Hall, Croxley Green, Herts., had for some time been anxious over the extent to which young people and children were being reached with the Gospel. A long period of prayer prepared the way for a fortnight’s campaign under R. Saunders this March, resulting in much blessing and reviving. Upwards of one hundred children came each weeknight, teenagers varying between thirty and eighty in number. At a local coffee bar the Gospel was brought to over thirty young people with the permission of the proprietor, and a few of these came later to special meetings at the hall. Some thirty of all ages told of their acceptance of the Saviour, and the believers are now concerned that these should be cared for aright.
‘they shall shew forth My praise’
The assembly which formerly met in Hebron Hall, Links Street, Kirkaldy, has now removed to Hebron Evangelical Church, Hayfield Road. This is a new hall in a good position adjoining three housing schemes, and during the first weeks after the move there was a steady increase in the number of scholars in the school, and there are good prospects of reaching many more. As an initial contact with the many homes an attractive leaflet has been sent through the post, the intention being to follow this up by visiting from door to door. The hall seats over three hundred, so that there is plenty of room to be filled.
‘The Lord is on my side’
Since Neath Gospel Hall was opened over two years ago the size of the estate has nearly doubled. There are now over one thousand houses and still there is no place of worship apart from this hall. A need was felt for an evangelistic campaign, and B. Sutton was invited to conduct this during three weeks in February. On Saturdays, with the help of believers from Swansea and Cardiff, all the houses on the estate were visited and open air meetings held. The Mobile Unit was a great help in this and also in announcing the meetings as it travelled around the area.
The number of children increased nightly, until the hall was almost full with about one hundred. In contrast the people proved indifferent to the meetings for adults, although one or two came each night. The final night saw more present and there was rejoicing as three professed faith in the Saviour.
‘thou art My servant’
J. Aitken, who was commended to full time work for the Lord at the beginning of this year, had a Gospel mission for several weeks in the small town of Newton Stewart, Wigtonshire. Three women and one girl made professions of faith as a result. This evangelist hopes to spend most of his time in the needy area of Galloway in south-west Scotland.
‘Search the scriptures’
Married sisters with young children are not always able to enjoy as much fellowship in assembly gatherings as they would wish, especially when there is only one weeknight meeting. To meet this need in Lerwick, Shetland, a fortnightly meeting has been started which is held by the sisters in their various homes when they talk over the Word of God. They have been greatly encouraged by the presence of two unconverted ladies.
‘Glad tidings of good things’
Hospitals and convalescent homes offer avenues of service with the Gospel which has the advantage that the audience is a changing one. Consequently over a year or so a large number are reached, most of whom probably do not normally come under the sound of the Gospel.
Believers from the assembly at Uxbridge, Middlesex, make a weekly visit to a local convalescent home. Although this is but a small unit and the audience only averages about a dozen, yet the turnover is so great that in the course of twelve months it is estimated that some five hundred souls listen to the Word of Life. The visits last for about thirty minutes, half of this being devoted to a very simple message, which is heard by a complete cross-section of the community. During convalescence, patients have time to think on eternal realities, being away from the pressures of the home or the office. To take advantage of this an S.G.M. booklet is handed to each one.
Is there such a home in your area where souls are waiting for a herald of the Gospel?
‘the Lord will do great things’
Some while ago the assembly at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, became responsible for what had been a little mission hall in the nearby village of Eden. When R. Jordan and J. Noble preached the Gospel there in January it was evident from the start that God was working. The hall was filled each night and the evangelists were given the joy of seeing a good number professing Salvation.
‘that He might make known the riches of His glory’
During January the Yeoford, Devon, assembly held two weeks special meetings taken by W. Sleep. Although numbers proved to be only a sprinkling of those in the village, the believers were encouraged when three adults were converted. Two of these were employees of a Christian farmer, the third being a young man on probation.
Just over a year ago we reported the opening of the new Whitleigh Hall, Plymouth, where for some years on a housing estate there had been a work among the young. During March the believers arranged a series of special services taken by H. Tickner of London. While the response from the adults on the estate was poor, all concerned were gratified to find that there were some waiting to respond to the Gospel. Response from the younger age groups was good, and a visit to the local home for the elderly, where the assembly regularly hold meetings, proved to be most profitable. Most of the residents attended and a few professed conversion.
During the same week D. Pierce conducted a campaign at Buller Road, Exeter, aimed principally at children and teenagers. Here again the response from the children was good.
J. Grant held a Gospel campaign in James Street Hall, Ayr, in February, and among those blessed was a sixteen year old youth, the son of backslidden parents. Since the lad’s conversion his parents have been attending the meetings regularly. Another, brought back to the Lord immediately after this effort, had been a backslider for over twenty years. Since then his wife, who had been a supporter of the Salvation Army, has at last submitted to baptism in company with some younger folk.
‘To the poor the Gospel is preached’
These words headed an account in the last issue of a visit to a lodging house in Scotland. Unfortunately it was wrongly stated that the believers engaged in this work came from Hamilton, when in fact they were from Ebenezer Hall, Burnbank. The same workers visited the local Eventide Home and cheered the old folk there. A good number of the residents came to the meeting and listened to the Gospel.
‘teachers of good things’
So often we fail to consider varying the stereotyped address even when speaking to children and teenagers. Properly directed questions and answers can arouse interest and provoke thought. This method proved a profitable way of bringing home the Gospel during a visit to Chelston, Somerset, by C. H. Darch, interest being well maintained.
‘always abounding in the work of the Lord’
Of the numerous conferences, both large and small, we have space to mention but one. At Uxendon Hall, Wembley, believers were reminded of the great truths found in 1 Corinthians 15. When there is so much false teaching concerning the rapture of believers it is good often to be reminded that we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. There is no question of any partial rapture - all will be changed instantaneously into the likeness of His body of glory. As we lay hold of these precious truths we should be those who are always abounding in the work of the Lord. Is this so?