Reports of Gospel Work
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
In 1959 the assembly at Enmore, near Bridgwater, comprised only six believers and the only gatherings were for the remembrance of the Lord and a weeknight meeting for young people. At the end of that year the Sunday School was recommenced and from an opening attendance of seven, numbers have increased to over seventy. It is a very scattered area and almost all of the children have to be transported by car or van. This has the advantage that a regular contact is maintained with the parents. Other believers came to the area and Gospel meetings were recommenced. At the same time the way was opened for the site of the hall to be purchased.
The believers have been encouraged by conversions among young folk, some at the Gospel meetings and others at camps. Three baptismal services have been held and the assembly now numbers twenty.
This experience of the Lord’s goodness should encourage all who labour where numbers are small.
Often we concern ourselves as to how we are to introduce the Gospel to those we seek to interest, instead of leaving the matter with the Lord. F. Pontin tells of how he called on a lady of high social standing in Eire at the request of a former employee of her father in England. As he went he wondered how to direct the conversation into spiritual channels, and was amazed when within five minutes of his arrival they were talking about the Scriptures and then about the Lord. The Lord had clearly prepared the way, and the lady bought two Bibles and requested another visit.
Open air testimonies are held on the Hoe each Lord’s Day evening during the summer. On 28th May, when Sir Francis Chichester arrived at Plymouth after his voyage around the world, the opportunity was taken to proclaim the Gospel to the thousands packed upon the Hoe to witness his arrival, and to distribute literature among them.
A. McShane and N. Turkington held meetings in a canvas tent erected at Waringsford, a district of Co. Down which for many years has shown little interest in the Gospel. There was a fair response and a few professed conversion.
Kilkeel is a small fishing town in the same county and the Gospel is told forth not only in the assembly’s hall but also from time to time in portable halls and tents in the area. Recently J. Wells and W. Nesbitt preached the Gospel for a number of weeks and saw some of the local folk attending; one married woman professed salvation.
The assembly at Ardstraw, Co. Tyrone, is one of the oldest in the country. For some years it seemed that it would be impossible to continue owing to the smallness of numbers, but the door was kept open and there has been some encouragement. A. Thompson, who hails from this district, and R. Adamson held Gospel meetings recently when there was a fair number of unsaved present each evening.
A portable hall was used for a series of Gospel meetings on the new housing estate at Ballykeel, on the outskirts of Ballymena, Co. Down. The gatherings were well attended, J. Martin and T. McNeill being encouraged to know of a number who accepted the Saviour, including several teenagers.
J. G. Hutchinson visited Crosskeys in Co. Antrim and Ballykeel for ministry following Gospel series in both places. He was encouraged to see that some who had been saved were now in happy fellowship with the assembly while others obeyed their Lord in baptism at the close of the series.
Within hours of the children knowing that A. Blackburn was returning with the tent, the Butt Parks Estate, Crediton, was buzzing with the news. The children’s services had an average attendance of ninety with several mothers in addition. The visiting of each house resulted in good numbers at the adult meetings. A goodly number of youngsters spoke of accepting the Saviour, some being teenagers from difficult homes.
The evangelist then moved to the housing estate at Halberton, near Tiverton, where the Lord was pleased to bless in the salvation of three adults.
For some time a Gospel witness has been maintained on the Saffron Lane Estate, Leicester, as an offshoot of the work carried on at York Street Hall. Quite a large Sunday School is held in the local day school, and just a year ago a Gospel meeting was started on Lord’s Day evenings. The response was not too encouraging at first but numbers have risen in ones and twos. Visits have been made from door to door but there has been much apathy and indifference to overcome.
Last May, a fortnight’s campaign was taken by P. C. Symonds and W. S. Galyer. The response from children and young people was very good and since that time seven of the Sunday School scholars have professed to be saved.
Once again we need to search our own hearts as to the provision being made to reach those living on estates around us with the news of Life.
H. Burness was at Bridge of Weir during May where a fair interest was maintained. A young married woman made a profession of faith. The work during June was at Johnstone and was in the hands of C. Reid. Large numbers came and a few children accepted the Saviour. Special follow-up efforts are being made in each place with open-air work, children’s services and youth meetings and a few teenagers are showing interest.
The shire tent was pitched at New Stevenston for the first half of the season. The work has been very hard for while R. Jordan was kindly received as he went from door to door with leaflets only a few unsaved came to the tent.
The opportunity of the summer months has once again been used to take the Gospel to the upperward parts of the county with the Gospel van. S. Lewis was usually out in the afternoons with one or two brethren who were free. In the evenings believers from nearby assemblies joined for open-air witness.
Holiday resorts often present unusual opportunities for open-air testimony. At Helensburgh large crowds stand and sit around, hearing the clear word of the Gospel and also readily receiving tracts. The workers feel that the nearby “Polaris Bay” has caused many to take a serious view of eternal matters.
The considerable interest and blessing consequent upon the opening of the new hall at Crosshouse still continues. Normally, indoor Gospel meetings are discontinued during the summer months in favour of open-air work. Interest was so great, however, that the brethren decided that it was desirable that the indoor meetings should continue.
The Lord has blessed the spirit of unity in the assembly at Auchinleck with encouragement being granted. Several young folk from the homes of believers have been either converted or baptised. A widowed sister has seen blessing in her own family circle and was responsible for bringing a bereaved family to the Gospel meeting when three of them were saved. The number blessed nearly reaches double figures.
About twenty years ago the testimony of the little assembly in West Kilbride ceased. Each year open air workers have visited the community and this summer the shire tent, in the charge of B. Sutton, was located there. Support from other assemblies in the county was good. The result was that each weeknight two open-air meetings went on simultaneously, while the average number in the tent was one hundred and thirty. On Lord’s Days the seating capacity of the tent was exceeded and the meetings had to be transferred to a public hall. The final night saw five hundred present, and some not able to enter.
The resultant blessing was remarkable. Believers took the opportunity to bring unsaved friends who were ripe for conversion. Several youths in their late teens from Stevenston, where there was blessing last winter, professed during the early weeks. Then two women from Stewarton, where the tent has been for two summers, trusted the Saviour. Further an alcoholic and his teenage daughter decided for Christ. As far as residents in West Kilbride were concerned, a number of boys professed to be saved at the children’s meetings. Then a woman who was saved when the tent was there forty-one years ago brought a friend who trusted the Lord Jesus.
The Gospel message, without any frills or anything to attract, is still the power of God unto salvation. Has each reader had that all important matter of his sin dealt with by trusting in the only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ?
The tent meetings at Denton in June were encouraging from the point of view of teenagers and children but there were not many adults from the immediate neighbourhood. The interest of the teenagers was real and the local believers hope to commence a Sunday School and Bible class to cater for them. The support of the Lord’s people at the tent was, however, most discouraging.
“They that feared the Lord spake often one to another”
It is one of our responsibilities to encourage our fellow-believers in the truth. Especially is this necessary when the companies of the Lord’s people are small and isolated, and it is here that the annual conference for the ministry of the Word has real meaning. On such occasions believers travel long distances to have fellowship with their brethren and this is a great cheer to those who struggle throughout the year to maintain the testimony. The county of Gloucester is such an area.
Yet in more populated areas it is possible for the multiplicity of such gatherings to become a snare. Is this one of the reasons for the shortage of workers for tracting, open-air work and mobile units? One mobile unit report states that the number of workers is still falling. Another unit is only used at weekends. Surely we need to wake out of our lethargy.