Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
Some years ago five young men were passing the local Gospel Hall one Lord's Day evening bent on pleasure. An invitation to enter and join in the singing was handed to one of them and he slipped away from his friends and entered the hall. The following week his friends went with him, and within a short period they were all saved, baptised and in fellowship. Moreover their professions have stood the test of time.
In a provincial city there is a newspaper vendor who, since he was invited recently, has started to attend the Gospel meeting. His comment was that he had often wanted to enter the hall but had never been able to summon up the courage as he knew no one there.
These incidents are cited in order to stimulate us to be more active in inviting those with whom we are brought into contact to hear the Gospel, which alone can meet their need.
West Country. Previous reference has been made in this section to the assembly at Burraton, a village near Saltash, Cornwall. Along with the new housing development in recent years a new hall has been erected and a good company met in July to mark the opening. R. Wood formerly of Angola, ministered an "The Precious Things of the Lord"j emphasising practical matters relevant to them. The hall is finished, but the work goes on, and the assembly looks to the Lord for His continued blessing seeking that they may be a help to those who live in the surrounding newly erected dwellings.
T. Blackburn conducted a mission at Dawlish with favourable response, mostly from younger folk. Perhaps the most significant memory was that of three teenage girls who attended all the meetings and were obviously under conviction yet would not yield to the claims of the Saviour. How many there are like these, "near to the kingdom", and what an example of the need for continuance in prayer on their behalf. From there our brother went to Kingsbridge, where for many years there has been a small assembly, and good numbers were seen at the tent meetings. Hooliganism caused interruptions but the Gospel found a response in die hearts of some.
D. Pierce and D. Dixon held tent meetings at Okehampton in June, when four girls trusted the Saviour and one visitor was restored. Moving on to Frcmington five teenagers came to the Saviour and a middle aged woman, who had attended every meeting, trusted the Lord in an early morning prayer meeting when the mission was all but over. On the last day she brought her husband, and he helped with the removal of the tent to Bideford.
Several years ago a Christian businessman was led to consider opportunities for the purchase of existing buildings rather than the erection of new halls, for reasons of economy in cost and fitness of site. The first premises thus acquired had been a theatre. Since then there have been various buildings taken over, the latest a: Plymstock, an expanding town adjoining Plymouth, having been a telephone exchange. For some time previous a Sunday School had been run in the home of believers, but in June a goodly company met to seek the Lord's blessing on the consolidation of the work in the hall and the establishing of a full assembly testimony. They heard how over two years had elapsed since the property was purchased as the authorities had at first declined to allow its use to be changed. Prayer was heard however, and the outcome was seen in the transformed premises. The believers were reminded of their responsibility to be a "light in the world". Comparisons were made with the Eddystone lighthouse which has had three predecessors—the lirst failed because it was built on a wrong principle, the second because wrong materials were used and the third because it was on a wrong foundation.
Lancashire. A successful Gospel tent effort was held by N. Mellish and E. Deen of Manchester in the overspill area of Darnhill on the outskirts of Heywood during June and July. Unsaved souls were present every evening and up to two hundred youngsters attended the children's sessions. Door to door work and open air witness sowed the good Seed throughout the area. Each Saturday evening was given over to the ministry of die Word and the thirst for this was apparent. There is no assembly in Heywood and those in neighbouring towns are very small. However the work of the tent was wonderfully supported by a group of evangelical believers in the town who withdrew from one of the denominations last year and have been meeting in a large house. Many are praying that these will be led into a clearer understanding of the will of the Lord as to how they should gather together.
Good numbers attended the tent at Blackburn which was in the hands of F. Whitmore. Much help was given by nearby assemblies and some were saved, others expressing their appreciation of the ministry.
South Wales. H. German and D. Tucker conducted tent services for children and adults in Llandovery, a town with no witness to the Saviour. Houses were visited and open air meetings held yet there was little interest among the adults, although the meetings for young folk drew fair numbers. There is a great need for prayer for such areas.
The two evangelists then moved to Cross Hands to give help and encouragement to the small company maintaining a testimony in that village.
In Swansea the presentation of prizes and certificates in connection with the Scripture Study Tests drew many children and parents. This afforded the opportunity for the clear presentation of the Gospel.
Southern Scotland. The assembly at Newtongrange, Midlothian, have a large children's work on an estate at Mayfield. Gospel meetings were held on Friday nights during the past winter in the community centre, taken by R. McPheat, and then a tent was erected and the Gospel told out on Lord's Day evenings with the help of two young brethren. From the first evening the tent was packed, half being unsaved, and a number have confessed their faith in the Saviour.
The assembly in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, was encouraged by a fortnight of Gospel meetings conducted by B. Sutton when many unsaved were brought under the sound of the good news. The campaign was preceded by a week of prayer meetings and a further week of distributing tracts and invitations. Five made professions of faith in the Saviour.
A new venture in the same shire with a portable hall was begun at Netherburn, where there has been an assembly for a century. Good numbers were present at all the meetings which were in the care of R. Walker, and two souls turned to die Lord. Encouragement was also given to those working with the Gospel van when three souls were pointed to Christ in the village of Douglas.
Tarbolton is only a small gathering with eight or nine in fellowship, but there was nothing small about the meetings in the Ayrshire tent sited there. On Lord's Days the tent was too small so the Public Hall was hired and this was filled. Two open air testimonies were in progress at the same time on Lord's Days as well. The Lord honoured the preaching of R. Jordan in that several were saved, including some nurses from the hospital who came from different parts of the country. We are reminded by this of the widespread results that can issue from the faithful proclamation of the Gospel. Open air meetings in Dunbartonshire have seen good attendances this summer and a willingness to accept gospel literature. Many folk sitting around have been engaged in conversation. When was the last open air witness in your locality?
Northern Ireland. W. Nesbitt and D. Kane had a spell of Gospel meetings in a tent on the Shore Road, Belfast. The district is thickly populated and fairly good numbers attended, several professing conversion. One lady, who had no record of attending meetings and was unable to be out through illness, was saved in her home as a result of almost daily visits. Her married daughter in London was saved at the same time after a serious illness, being helped to salvation through a verse of Scripture learned many years ago in Fort William Hall, Belfast, just a short distance from where this tent was erected. May this encourage all who work among young folk to teach them to learn the Word of God by heart.
T. McKelvey and J. Hutchinson had very large and fruitful meetings in the Gospel Hall at Mullafernaghan, Co. Down. This is a country district and although it was a busy time of the year for the farmers around, God aroused a marked interest. A number of young men and women, some long prayed for, professed faith in Christ.
At Douglas Bridge, near Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone, J. Brown and R. Armstrong had nine weeks of good meetings in a portable hall. There was good support from believers in neighbouring assemblies and of those who professed conversion some had no assembly connections.
In the same county S. Lewis and J. Grant were greatly cheered at meetings in a portable hall near the town of Strabane. Attendances were good and a number spoke of accepting the Saviour, including one man of eighty-three years of age. Some of the older believers remember him shedding tears when concerned about salvation half a century ago. God is indeed gracious and longsuffering, and we should persevere in prayer in such cases.
There was a litde blessing at Drumcaw, outside the city of Armagh, when A. McShane and N. Turkington also used a portable hall for the making known of the Saviour's claims.
Two missionary brethren, J. Flynn of Ethiopia and A. Farrell from Japan, home on furlough and living in Monkstown, Co. Antrim, held four weeks of Gospel meetings in a public hall. The homes in this growing district were visited and fair numbers attended. Although there were no known cases of conversion the effort was considered well worth while as the Seed of the Word has been faithfully sown.
Republic of Ireland. At the end of July a special Bible Week was held in Galway, on the we«t coast. In many ways this was the focus of this summer's work, for meetings run as Bible Lectures in the suburban holiday resort of Salthill have reached many with the Gospel. A Bible Exhibition was held in a hotel, and members of all the religious orders within 75 miles of Galway were invited to a special session when the vital importance of the Bible in daily life because of the certainty and uniqueness of its message were emphasised. The workers are much exercised regarding the opening of a bookshop in this town.
Kerrykeel is a small village in Co. Donegal, and here S. Patterson and G. Stewart pitched a tent in June. Pray that the Lord will bless the Seed sown in this sparsely populated area.
Yorkshire. When the "Next Towns Team" was at Driffield as many as two hundred children were packed into the small Gospel Hall, and among those who trusted the Saviour were some teenagers. The assembly now seeks to maintain the many contacts made and continue the work.
Attendances were excellent at the tent sited at Featherstone, Pontrefractj where G. Tryon was the evangelist.
Postal Sunday Schools. The work in West Wales continues to increase and give encouragement in every way, especially as the interest among adults continues to develop. Yet the workers still have to report that "there still remain many villages and smaller towns in the area to be visited. This does not include the houses on the side of the road and many farms". Here is a field which appears to be "white unto harvest", but where are the reapers? Scholars continue to write and tell of their personal faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour, and home visits to scholars have provided opportunities to meet the parents.
Following contact with the Swansea workers a Plymouth P.S.S. was established. Its initial pupils were children first contacted in a Plymouth hospital, where a few believers hold a Sunday School in the children's ward. This was followed by an advertisement in the farming press, as the aim was primarily to reach those in outlying districts of Devon and Cornwall. A recent visit to the Royal Cornwall Show resulted, without canvassing, in many applications for courses.
Here again there have been some contacts with the parents. In one home there is now a text wall plaque on the living room wall; in another, the child of a publican asked for a Bible as "the only one in the house has some pages missing from it". A dozen or so believers are engaged in the work in various ways and although there is no quick and easy return confidence runs high as they disseminate the Word of God, knowing that this is what the Holy Spirit can apply to the eternal blessing of young and old.