Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
‘Where wilt Thou that we go?’
It is important for our spiritual prosperity that we should live in the place where our Lord would have us reside. Having ascertained and obeyed His will as to our residence we should then seek out His purpose in the matter of the exact service He would have us render in that locality.
Several west of Scotland assemblies have been revived in recent years when it seemed that the testimonies were near extinction. In each case believers who knew the need moved into the district after seeking to know the mind of their Master.
At Gourock on the shores of the Clyde, the few remaining believers in fellowship had reached the stage of discussing the closing down of the testimony owing to low numbers. At that point a young couple decided that they would set up home at Gourock when they were married, although it would mean the husband travelling further to his work in Glasgow. Once they had taken this step, others moved into the area and the little assembly is now in a healthy condition.
There was a similar danger of an assembly ceasing to be at Sanquhar in Dumfries-shire. Again the Lord sent a couple willing to shoulder some of the burdens of an assembly smaller than that to which they were accustomed.
The assembly testimony at Cumbernauld, Dunbartonshire, had actually ceased. The construction of the new town brought hope that it would be recommenced but this did not materialize for some time. More recently believers have moved in and re-established the testimony, there now being nearly thirty in fellowship to maintain a witness in the new area. In addition to the Sunday School in the old village, a children’s meeting is carried on in the new town.
Another instance comes from Hoswick in the Shetland Islands. The small assembly in this village has been declining in numbers for a year or two due to families leaving the area. One of the very few brethren left felt that, due to indifferent health, he should remove to Lerwick and this was thought to have finally closed the testimony. However, when his house was made available for sale, a brother and his wife bought it as, having retired, they wanted to find a small meeting in which they could be a help. Greatly encouraged by this, the believers now pray that the testimony will continue to prosper.
Many other assemblies are in a similar plight. Often there are believers who could help but who prefer to travel to a larger assembly where burdens are probably much lighter. To quote from an earlier article referring to the book of The Acts, ‘we get the impression . . . that Christ as Commander-in-Chief in the war against the powers of darkness carried out His over-all strategy by the Holy Spirit’s direction of His Servants, choosing time and place in accord with a master plan into which the activities of His servants had to fit’. It is just the same today.
‘Go into the village over against you’
During the past season, George Fenn of Norwich pitched the East Anglian Gospel Tent in districts which he had previously visited in 1933. He was encouraged by visits to Long Stratton and Forncett, villages some twelve miles south of Norwich. In the former village some fifty to sixty children from the primary school close by attended each afternoon, being well behaved and listening eagerly. Since the tent season closed, Friday evening classes are being held in the secondary modern school, Mark’s Gospel being studied with the aid of duplicated question papers; help is given by a married couple resident in the village and in fellowship in a meeting in Norwich.
The evangelist found that the regular visitation of homes in the villages was even more rewarding than the actual adult meetings in the tent Elderly couples, unable to get out, heard the Gospel by this means; an old Sunday School superintendent was grateful that someone could have prayer with him. These are some of the many unknown and unloved as to spiritual matters. A little interest and sympathy produces a willingness to listen to the Gospel, where hitherto indifference and even hostility is found.
‘Let us go forth into the field’
Even though the annual meetings of the Counties Evangelistic Work were held as long ago as October, it will be profitable to emphasise some of the points made by the speakers.
In most areas the children attended in good numbers and there were encouraging reports of those who had accepted the Saviour. Young people varied in their behaviour, in one place making it impossible for the evangelist to continue as he could not make himself heard. One here and there gave evidence of a desire for something that would really satisfy.
Adults on the whole were not interested, yet several in their latter years found peace with God. For example, a lady of 78, contacted while the evangelist was visiting from door to door, accepted the Saviour after attending several tent meetings. This thrilled her so much that she went across the road at 7.30 a.m. the next morning to tell her neighbour about her experience.
In many cases souls were reached who had been concerned about their spiritual state for some time, and who were waiting to hear of One who could meet their need. There must be many more in this category, and the question is who is going to reach them first, those who know; the One who is the Way, or those who are false teachers, blind leaders of the blind?
In one rapidly growing district an attempt was made to establish a witness in accord with New Testament teaching. Nineteen believers are now coming together to search the Scriptures, coming from one denomination or another.
We are now halfway towards the next summer season. What are your plans for furthering the spread of the Gospel during these months?
A three week campaign was conducted at Grosvenor Street Chapel, Barnstaple, by S. Ford. As the period coincided with the General Election, ‘The Right Choice’ was adopted for a title. The attendances of young ones were good and visits were made to many of the local schools. Nearly three hundred were present to witness the baptism of ten young people from Barnstaple and district.
Altogether some eight persons professed conversion, six of these at an after-church rally attended by the mayor and mayoress.
‘the care of all the churches’
The small assembly at Muirkirk, Ayrshire, was strengthened in numbers as a result of the tent campaign there five years ago. Since then, the homecall of some and removal of other believers have weakened the testimony again. This has caused J. Cowan to be exercised about holding a Gospel effort in the area. Now retired, he previously worked in Muirkirk for a number of years.
A tent campaign has also taken place at Prestwick in the same county. R. Walker saw two men who had made a profession of conversion as boys brought back to the Lord. One of these has since been baptized in the presence of some of his unsaved relatives, and has been added to the Annbank assembly.
‘If a man love Me, he will keep My words’
What great joy it must bring to the heart of our Saviour when believers obey His command and are baptized by immersion, following on to meet with His people in accordance with the New Testament pattern. A young married woman who professed conversion during tent meetings in 1962 has now been baptized and added to the assembly at Central Hall, Kilmarnock. For some time she had been attending the Gospel meeting, feeling that she was receiving nothing from her attendance at the established church. Her husband is now accompanying her to the Gospel meeting.
One Lord’s Day afternoon in October believers in Bow, Devon, were witnesses of the baptism of two sisters in the local river. This came at the close of a two weeks’ mission conducted by J. Burns. A few strangers were seen at most meetings with larger numbers in the village hall at 8 p.m. on the evenings of the Lord’s Days.
Recently five young folk, four youths and a girl, were baptized and added to the assembly at Beith, Ayrshire. This is a gathering which has increased steadily during the past few years.
‘rightly dividing the Word of truth’
At Plympton, Devon, many fundamental truths were covered by G. K. Lowther during a series of meetings for the ministry of the Word. The local believers, while greatly benefitting themselves, were also much encouraged on many occasions to find believers coming who were not associated with the assemblies.
We should be seeking at all times to lead such believers into a better understanding of the Scriptures so that they will be able to glorify their Saviour in their manner of gathering. So often those in denominational circles have no idea of the things which we believe and practise. At Whitleigh, Plymouth, three addresses covering some aspects of the local assembly were given by D. Kirk during a short stay. These were of great help to some who had only recently been baptized, and here also were found those not associated with the assemblies. In days of departure, it is important that such truths are taught consistently and clearly so as to build up local gatherings which will be golden lampstands in reality showing forth His glory.
‘Continue in prayer’
How often we tend to forget both the need for persevering prayer and the power of prayer. In Drumaness, a small village in Co. Down, a young married couple had been the subject of prayer for a long while. Recently R. Jordan held special Gospel meetings and all concerned were much encouraged when this couple professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Between twenty and thirty believers met each evening to pray during the six weeks that H. S. Paisley held Gospel meetings in the little fishing village of Portavogie, Co. Down. Their prayers were answered as the hall was filled each night and five professed to be saved, including a man and his wife who had not been in the hall for forty years. The husband was brought under conviction of sin the first night he attended, and he professed to be saved a week later.
‘good tidings of great joy’
Special Gospel campaigns continue to result in the salvation of souls as the cross of Christ is faithfully proclaimed. At Blackburn, West Lothian, a good number attended and a few confessed to have trusted the Saviour. Five young believers have been baptized and received into this assembly.
J. Aitken was at Kirkmuirhill, Lanark, for the month of October in an attempt to reach the local folk with the Gospel. The believers were encouraged to see unsaved ones coming every night.
Early morning prayer meetings aroused an interest among the believers at Treboeth Gospel Hall, Swansea, during a Gospel effort taken by P. Brandon when several souls made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus. Several of those in fellowship gathered their neighbours and friends into their homes and invited the evangelist to address them. This proved a successful innovation.
‘and preached Christ unto them’
During the months of October and November, S. R. Chambers of Edinburgh held meetings almost nightly in various parts of the Shetland Isles. Attendances were good and, as a result of visiting the homes in one rural area he had the joy of pointing a middle-aged woman to the Saviour. In all districts there are lonely souls who would delight to have someone visit them and speak of spiritual matters, revealing to them the glories of the One who desires to be their Saviour.
‘My heart’s desire ... is, that they might be saved’
The needs of the children of our country should be a cause of concern amongst all the Lord’s people. Ignorance of divine truths is common among them, while many are being taught error at day schools where the very existence of God is denied, His Word ridiculed and such evil doctrines as evolution taught. In many cases they live in areas where there is no assembly Sunday School for them to attend. It is our responsibility in such instances to take the Gospel to them, not just in spasmodic campaigns but on a permanent basis.
Many reports of the work of believers who have sought to act in this way have appeared in previous issues of this magazine with the object of encouraging others to step out into this vast field. Another such case is at Llandovery in South Wales. As a result of the tent campaign held in that town by B. Sutton during last summer, a small Sunday School was commenced. This is now being maintained faithfully by believers who work with the South-West Wales Mobile Unit, and they have also undertaken the responsibility for a Gospel testimony in the area.
Where it is impossible to hold a Sunday School we would remind readers that a Postal Sunday School can be used to reach children in any part. The Postal School in Eire has now grown to over 250 scholars, yet the work is done by only a few workers. Such methods as these leave us without excuse.
‘they . . . preached the Gospel in many villages’
We reported last year on the open air testimony which was maintained in the West Middlesex village of Harefield during the summer months. The workers, believers from neighbouring assemblies, have been encouraged by a request for them to hold a weeknight meeting for younger ones in a house in the village. A goodly number of children have attended so far and it is hoped that this will prove to be the foundation of a permanent work in the district.
There are many other similar localities where young and old alike are waiting for some believer to bring them the news of a Saviour. Are some of them waiting for you? If so, how much longer will they have to wait?
‘the figures of the true’
An illuminated model was used by P. Widdison during a fortnight of ministry at Buller Road, Exeter, on the subject of the tabernacle. Sometimes this subject is associated with obscure and fanciful typology, but the speaker dealt with it in a manner that brought the New Testament to life. Such exposition is priceless, for there is much teaching in the Epistles that we cannot fully understand unless we appreciate the references to the tabernacle. The believers at Buller Road together with many visitors were strengthened by the doctrinal and practical truths which the tabernacle illustrates so perfectly.
‘The word which God sent’
Prior to the commencement of special meetings in the Wellington Street Hall, Ballymena, an envelope containing a Gospel booklet and an announcement of the meetings was delivered to some three thousand houses in that part of the town. Three days before the start of the effort a further card was delivered over a wider area. The gatherings were well attended and a number made a profession of salvation. The believers were also encouraged to hear that several had stated that they had been saved as a result of reading the booklets delivered to their homes.
Although Ballinaloob is just a country district of Co. Antrim, it is an area where over the years Gospel meetings have always been well attended and fruit has been seen as a result of the efforts made. Recently a series of Gospel meetings was taken by J. Martin and J. Elliott which, lasting for fourteen weeks, resulted in several accepting the Saviour. One of these was a women of over seventy who, although very anxious to be saved at some meetings over forty years ago, had not since then been in the habit of attending the Gospel meeting. Our Saviour cares for the aged ones, even though we may often forget them.
‘Compel them to come in’
If we are truly concerned for the blessing of those who at present have not experienced the forgiveness of sins, then we will search them out with the Gospel. At Helensburgh in Dunbartonshire the young believers regularly visit the cafes in the town with personal invitations to the Gospel meetings. Good results have been seen in the number of teenagers accepting the invitations. The winter months provide wide opportunities for efforts of this kind.