Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
A. C. Hinton, Uxbridge
During the past year steps have been taken designed to make this Section of the Magazine more informative, and more representative of the work which is being carried on throughout the British Isles. Quite a number of brethren are assisting in various ways to secure this, without charge to the Magazine Fund, and the Committee gladly acknowledges its indebtedness to them. The time and labour these brethren devote to this service are not to be judged by the volume of the reports printed, since they frequently find that efforts to obtain suitable material meet with no response. If one of them should ask you for a report, he would be much encouraged by your willing and prompt co-operation. If you are not asked about something suitable for recording in connection with the activities of your assembly, and do not know the address of the Correspondent concerned, details would be welcomed if sent to A. C. Hinton, 21 Oak Avenue, Ickenham, Uxbridge, Middlesex.
Readers are reminded that, as has been mentioned previously from time to time, the Lord’s servants who are referred to in this Section are in no way responsible to the Committee: also that inclusion of any particular item is not to be taken as necessarily indicating that the Committee recommends adoption of the methods employed.
“How sadly possible it is to delight in conferences and feasts of good things; to enjoy, in a way, all the ministry that is brought before us, and yet to be unprepared to go out from and with these good things in self-denying efforts to rescue the perishing.
The dear Master can never be weary again by the side of any well, but we may be weary by the side of many for Him” (Hudson Taylor).
As we enter upon a New Year we might well ponder these words from one who experienced what it meant to “scorn delights and live laborious days,” and seek grace to respond to the challenge they bring.
It shall be told thee what thou must do (Acts 9. 6). (A.C.H.)
NORTHERN IRELAND Belfast. The early part of the winter is generally a time of great gospel activity, and 1955 was no exception. Four or five special efforts were in progress concurrently in various parts of the city; in most cases God was pleased to bless His Word to the salvation of souls.
The assembly meeting in Apsley Hall is the oldest in the city. It has many stirring memories of visitations from the Lord, amongst which there stands out the period of blessing granted about 45 years ago, when the late David Rea came along unexpectedly one Lord’s Day for the breaking of bread meeting, stayed to preach the gospel in the evening and continued for a number of weeks, declaring the whole counsel of God. The assembly has since maintained a constant witness and few years have passed without a special gospel effort. The latest was conducted by Harold Paisley during a five weeks’ visit. Large numbers attended each evening, the Lord was present to bless and some professed faith in Him.
These included a husband and wife who had been long prayed for by the latter’s father, now gone to be with the Lord. Others showed interest and the saints were refreshed.
A new hall was completed during 1955 to provide for the increasing needs of the suburban district of Finaghy. Children’s work both on Sundays and week-days has been most encouraging but little interest has been shown by adults. During a recent visit Samuel Thompson was well received by the people in the course of systematic visitation, although they did not attend the meetings in large numbers. However, there was a very real sense of God’s presence and power, with definite answers to prayer. Some were saved and the believers much encouraged.
Ballymena, Co. Antrim. About eight years ago a young man named Andrew Aiken left this district to preach the gospel in Nova Scotia, where he has seen the Lord’s hand in the salvation of quite a number of souls. Whilst home on a visit he joined David Walker (Aberdeen) in special gospel-meetings in the Wellington Street Gospel Hall. A good interest was shown right from the commencement and some 250 usually attended. God gave help to preach the gospel in the plain, simple, old-fashioned way and several professed conversion, including four young people from the Sunday School.
Coleraine, Co. Derry. A. McShane and A. Lyttle had encouraging meetings here. The Gospel Hall was filled nightly and soon a number were anxious to be saved. Some of these have professed and show signs of divine life. (J. S. W.)
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND Four brethren have held an open-air meeting in Cork city once a fortnight during the autumn. They are exercised concerning the continuation of this witness. (T. E. J. A.)
NORTH-EAST SCOTLAND Aberdeenshire. G. H. German has had ten days’ gospel-meetings at Newburgh, a village where (as stated in Sept./Oct., 1955, issue) there has been little activity for many years. A few unsaved turned out to the meetings; some were definitely interested and it was felt that the Holy Spirit was convicting.
A little further along the coast at the fishing port of Peterhead very encouraging meetings with the children have been conducted by Dan Cameron (Coatdyke). Although there has been an assembly testimony there for many years, this is the first occasion on which such services have been convened for boys and girls. Many parents and grown-ups, themselves former Sunday School members, were also present. The hall was packed nightly during the fortnight’s effort, there was great power in the meetings and definite blessing has resulted.
Morayshire. William Trew (Cardiff) laboured at Lossiemouth during three weeks of November. The original intention had been to hold gospel-meetings throughout the whole period, but numbers were very small during the first two weeks, and our brother was led to devote the remainder of the time to meetings for believers. His ministry on the Ephesian Epistle was much appreciated by the local Christians.
Usually many unsaved are present at the Lord’s-day-evening gospel-meeting. It is thought that the reason for their absence on the present occasion was a local fishing-boat disaster. When any tragedy occurs in these fishing communities a mantle of gloom is cast over the whole township. (C. R. T. : M. S. R. B.)
SOUTH-WEST SCOTLAND Ayrshire. During the present winter, more assemblies than usual are holding Gospel Tea Meetings, conducted by “Deputations” from other assemblies. In this connection it is interesting to note that Anton Shulte, from Germany, has recently visited Catrine and district. He first came to the neighbourhood as a Prisoner of War—a young man who had drunk deeply of the world without finding satisfaction. One night he walked into the Gospel Hall in Catrine to such a meeting, conducted by a deputation from Irvine, and was saved. Very soon after returning to Germany he gave himself to full-time service in that land and has been much used in large efforts over considerable areas.
Special gospel-meetings have been held at Elim Hall, Kilmarnock (R. Jordan) and Mauchline (John James): there were a few professions of conversion.
Dumbartonshire. Some also professed at Helensburgh, where two weeks’ special meetings for children were held by Denis Barnes.
The saints at Victoria Hall, Clydebank, lost their hall through enemy action and have been meeting at Janetta Street School. They have now secured a site for a new hall, the plans for which have been passed.
Lanarkshire. Several souls have been saved in the new hall which was opened a year ago on a housing estate at Larkhall (see Mar./Apl, 1955, issue). About 100 parents recently attended a Parents’ Night in connection with the Sunday School.
A man who was saved at tent meetings during the summer has been baptized and added to the assembly at Roman Road Hall, Motherwell. Another man was converted during a month’s gospel-meetings there held by Fred Whitmore.
Jas. Arndyx (Kirkintilloch) has given helpful talks at Ebenezer Hall, Burnbank, on Faith’s Foundation, Fellowship, Fervency and Features. Attendances were good, including some recently converted, and all were helped.
Renfrewshire. A. M. S. Gooding had special meetings at Newton Mearns. Many of the local people came to hear the messages and showed interest. The Lord gave blessing in salvation and the saints were refreshed. (J. D.)
BIRMINGHAM Between 60 and 80 people hear a forthright gospel message on alternate Sundays at the Highbury Old Folks’ Home, King's Heath. Brethren from Hope Chapel assembly, King’s Heath, and neighbouring assemblies have maintained this witness for nearly 20 years.
Nearly 50 adults were present recently at a Parents’ Day in connection with a new Sunday School at Hollywood. A wish for the holding of Sunday-evening services was expressed by some of them. (P. P. C.)
BEDFORDSHIRE Edward Geary, labouring in connection with the Counties Evangelistic Work, reports that meetings for teenagers held weekly at Cranfield have given great encouragement. For some months the numbers present have necessitated the holding of two meetings on each occasion. These meetings are the result of open-air children’s work four years ago. Two young people have now been baptized, and others desire to take that step when their parents consent.
The Lord also gave much encouragement among the children last summer. They gathered in large numbers, listening to the gospel messages in the open air and several professed conversion. Our brother also visited a number of villages and new estates with tracts and amplifier. (F. E. A.)
LONDON East Sheen. A fortnight’s Special Witness to Children was conducted by John Williams in Sheen Hall, Upper Richmond Road, after much prayer and visitation of houses over a large area. The response was of a most encouraging nature, and large numbers of boys and girls, many with their parents, attended night after night. The special Saturday-evening Rallies were highly successful and the Hall was packed to capacity. Several young people accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and in many cases there is clear evidence of a real work of grace in their hearts. One outstanding experience was the conversion of the father of one of the young lads of the Sunday School. The assembly has been much encouraged and warmed by the visit of our brother and the evidence of the power and blessing of God in their midst. Three who had been saved prior to this Mission have been baptized since it ended, and others have come forward asking for baptism.
The London County Council are developing a gigantic building-scheme in this neighbourhood. Already flats of 9 and 11 stories have been built, accommodating some 1,500 people, and more are in course of erection. The believers at Sheen Hall are visiting and tracting each flat regularly, and have made interesting contacts.
Wandsworth. One of the local brethren, Will Baigent, held a week’s special meetings for boys and girls at Victoria Hall, Wandsworth Common. The attendances throughout were wonderful, ranging from 250 to over 350, and the speaker was greatly helped. Quite a number of the children came forward to indicate their desire to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. These have since been grouped into a special fortnightly class of instruction and our brother is seeking to lead them on in the knowledge of the Word, and a fuller understanding of salvation by faith in Jesus. The assembly rejoices in God, believing they were led of Him to seek to bring the children together for this week and tell them of the love and grace of the Saviour. (S. H. S.)
SOUTHERN ENGLAND Paulsgrove, Hants. During the 12 months following the opening of the Gospel Hall on this new housing estate, the gospel-meetings have been fairly well attended and souls have been saved. These converts include a young man who had just completed his National Service. He was invited in off the street and after the meeting said, “It shook me tonight, I never heard anything like that before.” He is now baptized and in fellowship. On another occasion a young man and his wife were saved when the expected preacher failed to keep his appointment and a local brother gave the message. A lad of 12, who had only attended three gospel-meetings, said to his mother before going to the meeting, “I shall not be home so early tonight.” The explanation was disclosed at the end of the meeting when he and his friend of the same age remained behind and both made a clear and bright confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isle of Wight. E. Nelson Walker tells of follow-up work amongst some who came under conviction last summer during tent campaigns. One of these is a man who was often present at the tent, but with his own fixed ideas. He now admits that as he read his Bible he saw clearly that Christ had died for him and that his only hope was there, but some barriers in his life are still needing to be broken down.
SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND Bristol. As a result of prayer, permission was given for the first time to hold four open-air rallies last summer in St. George’s Park. The three nearest assemblies united in this effort, with the help of the Bristol Evangelistic Mobile Unit. An interest was shown at each of the meetings, especially on the last occasion when the whole meeting took place after dark and many more, particularly young, people remained to listen to H. Bedford and A. Ward. Several interested persons were contacted. (A. C. P.)
Somerset. After months of prayer preparation, the assembly in Manvers Hall, Bath, invited Joseph Lewis (Bromsgrove) to conduct a special campaign during the whole of October. The opening meetings were specially directed to the encouragement of believers; these were followed by three weeks’ gospel services in the Hall and meetings in the famous Pump Room, which was taken for four consecutive week-nights. Attendances were smaller than had been hoped for, but each night there was encouragement in the number of strangers present. Our brother’s ministry was used by the Lord to stir believers and to the conversion of souls. Of some 40 inquirers, 17 made profession of faith in the Lord Jesus, while encouraging interest has been maintained by some of those who made no decision. An interesting fact was that 25 men were included in the inquirers, and of the 17 who made their decision 10 were young men.
Another delightful result was the interest evoked in a brother and his wife who, after being connected for some years with Baptists in a nearby town, now attend regularly at Manvers Hall. They were instrumental in bringing some 15 or more young fellows and girls from their neighbourhood, of whom 10 were, it is believed, truly saved. Most of them come from unsympathetic homes, and the saints are concerned that follow-up action may be possible.
Some of the young people in the assembly who were saved recently, and others who have been lukewarm, if not backsliding, believers were greatly helped and further blessing is anticipated. Applications for baptism were being received at the time this report was written.
There was a large attendance at a most impressive service in October when six young believers were baptized at Bishopswood. W. E. Davies (Cardiff) has held a memorable fortnight’s Gospel Campaign in this scattered village. It was an all-out effort, with much prayer and visitation by the Christians in the local assembly. The average attendance was about 55 and at the final meeting 92 were present. Many teenagers and a married couple professed faith in Christ.
During the past summer our veteran brother D. S. Thompson (Minehead) continued his labours in the needy West Somerset area, where some villages are four or five miles distant from the nearest place of worship. He visited 20 villages, having open-air meetings in ten of them and Tent Missions at Carhampton and Washford. Those contacted included a woman who said she had played the organ when he was there with the “Good News Hut” 23 years ago, and others (one of whom is now a Sunday School teacher) who had received marked Testaments for repeating Scriptures. (A. C. H.)
Devonshire. The assembly at Burn has for some time been anxious to reach the small village of Bickleigh (situated about a mile and a half from their hall) with the gospel message. Now exercise has been followed by action. The parish hall was hired for afterchurch services on the Sundays of October, friends from other assemblies joining in this effort. A number of brethren from Tiverton formed a choir and G. H. Darch gave the messages. Numbers varied between 70 and 110 and included a fair number of local people.
A fortnight’s campaign at Bideford conducted by Bob Petiffer had been preceded by many months of prayer, especially through prayer-partners. These were enlisted by means of prayer-cards, some from as far afield as South Wales. The week immediately prior to the commencement of the campaign saw nightly prayer-meetings in the Hall. Also, at the ministry-meetings for the two previous weeks messages were given, bearing upon the activities of the Church in soul-winning. Despite this preparation the number of folk attending many of the services was disappointing (in marked contrast to our brother’s experience on an earlier visit), although on one occasion the hall was full to capacity with additional seats in the aisle and folk standing in the lobby. A few of the older children in the Sunday School and a girl of 18 made definite professions. The evangelist also had the pleasure of hearing about a young man who trusted the Lord during his previous visit and about which no one had known at the time.
The work at the new housing estate at Whitleigh, Plymouth, which started with open-air meetings conducted by Edgar Jackman, has now reached a further stage. A Sunday School has been commenced in an old barn, the attendance reaching 40. The weeknight children’s meeting attracts 120 each week. They are well behaved and show much interest. (G. H. M.)
WALES The assembly at Ammanford, Carm., arranged for a fortnight’s special gospel-meetings to be held by A. J. Chilcott. Attendances were good from the commencement and maintained so well that the effort was continued for several weeks. Interest among the young people was very marked. Some six professed conversion and are going on well.
Jas. G. Hutchinson had meetings in Burry Hall, Llanelly, and also in Jehovah Jireh Hall, Loughor; he afterwards visited Fforest-fach for three weeks. There was help from the Lord in the presentation of the gospel throughout, and many strangers came under its sound. Fforestfach assembly has begun the winter Saturday-evening Bible Addresses, the studies being in the book of the Acts: good interest is being shown. Many districts might profitably adopt this method of systematic ministry on Saturday evenings.
The saints at Glan-y-Llyn, Glam., were encouraged by seeing the Lord’s hand and good interest during a visit by J. Murphy. Our brother afterwards visited Newport, Mon., and other assemblies in that county. The little company at Trethomas had the great joy of seeing a whole family—father, mother, son and daughter—obey the Lord in baptism. This took place at Caerphilly, on the last night of a series of addresses by W. A. Norris on “The Lord’s Return.” A young sister from Caerphilly was also baptized.
Good interest was shown during gospel-meetings at Bridgend held by Handel Evans. The assembly there adds to the attendances at the Sunday School by hiring a bus to bring children from a housing estate. Some of these children also come by bus to the weekly children’s meeting.
There were some very definite cases of answered prayer during Peter Brandon’s visit to Bethesda Hall, Whitchurch, in November. The many cries of God’s people were graciously heard: attendances were exceptional, and the Lord’s hand was seen in the salvation of souls. J. Harris had a week of meetings for children and adults at Ebenezer Hall, Cardiff, and interest was good. (W. A. N.: H. T.)
S.W. LONDON EVANGELISTIC MOBILE UNIT A recent report of this work records that as the engagements have been fulfilled nightly in all types of weather and venues, two things seem to be outstanding; (1) the Lord’s sufficiency in bringing the workers into touch with inquiring and interested folk, who have been helped, and (2) increased indifference, coupled with a measure of definite opposition. At Hammersmith a Hindu woman accepted a copy of John’s Gospel and a young Roman Catholic at Fulham showed concern when the Scriptures were read to him. Refusals to accept tracts were experienced to an unusual degree in Oxford Street, with quite a deal of sneering on the part of passers-by. Distressing intrusions were made from near-by public houses at Richmond, but the Lord preserved from real disturbance and a young man, who said he had never heard the gospel before, trusted in Christ. Opposition was met from a stall-holder near Victoria Station, but later there was a very good hearing for two hours and the people seemed loath to disperse at the end of the meeting: a lad aged 16 was saved. At another site an opposer complained to the Police, who refused to interfere: he then showed his annoyance by throwing water and wet bread at the workers. The Lord gave strength and many listened to the messages. A second man (a Russian sailor) who said he had never previously heard the gospel was contacted at Leicester Square: after a long conversation he professed faith in Christ. (A. C. H.)