Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
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 the inclusion of any particular item is not to be taken as necessarily indicating that the Committee recommends the adoption of the methods employed.
‘So the posts . . . went out’
From time to time we have sought to draw attention to those parts of this land where there is little in the way of aggressive Gospel work. In this category fall the rural districts of Northumberland which contain many lonely farms and hamlets. It has been estimated that there must be at least five thousand homes in these areas which are out of the reach of any assembly or evangelical witness.
An attempt to reach these families is now being made by the recently formed Christian Postal Service who send copies of ‘The Way of Salvation’ with a suitable covering letter into the homes of those living in the rural parts. The work was commenced in October last year after several months of prayerful planning. A team of fifty workers has been formed, of whom sixteen send out a letter and a tract each day, the senders undertaking to pray daily for the recipients of the letters. Other workers help as teachers in the Border Counties Postal Sunday School; the children who enrol are introduced to their teachers by means of photographs with ‘potted biographies’ which tell the children something about their teachers. The preparation and typing of the lessons together with the necessary illustrations provide work for other believers.
Although the work was suspended during the Christmas period, already upwards of one thousand homes have received the tracts. A few replies have been received from adults and the first twelve children have been enrolled in the Sunday School. The work proceeds slowly but the potential is great, and it is hoped that in the process of time the work will extend into other northern counties. Anyone desiring further information about this work should contact H. A. di Castiglione, 19 Woodvale Gardens, Wylam, Northumberland.
‘So the church . . . was multiplied’, R.V.
Children attended regularly during a campaign held by J. Harrison in the summer of 1959 on the Heartsease Estate, then in course of erection on the outskirts of Norwich. Following this a number of workers from some of the assemblies in Norwich continued this children’s work on a weeknight evening in a local school. After a difficult period during the following summer the work was revived and has steadily increased until over one hundred children are now present each week. In 1963 the city council was approached and permission was given for a hall to be built in the centre of this estate of 8,000 people. Building of the new hall, known as Antingham Hall, commenced in the spring of last year and the opening meeting for prayer and praise last December was attended by representatives from many Norfolk assemblies. The new assembly, in fellowship with other local gatherings, met to remember the Lord at His table for the first time on the first Lord’s Day of 1965, being about twenty-two in number. Attendances have been almost 100 per cent at the weekly Bible Readings and Prayer Meetings. About five-sixths of the cost of the new hall has already been met, and prayer is asked that the new assembly may be knit together with a bond of love amongst themselves, firstly for God and then in their labour of love toward the unsaved around.
‘The Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work’
Another town where believers have endeavoured to reach out with the Gospel is that of Tiverton in Devon. Here a large council estate, Cowleymoor, has been developed where the assembly, situated in the main part of the town, has sought to reach the young in particular. For several years an evangelical work has been carried on in a hired building and in the home of a believer living nearby. During 1964 an opportunity arose to acquire a site which caused the assembly to be exercised like those of so many centuries ago who said ‘Let us rise up and build’.
A sectional timber building was planned and much of the subsequent constructional work was done by the believers in their spare time. The building was opened in the late autumn of last year, and soon afterwards T. Blackburn paid a return visit to conduct a Gospel mission during which some young people professed to have trusted the Saviour.
The convenience of now having their own building on the estate should enable the Tiverton assembly to develop and make the best use of the opportunities to serve their Lord where so many live but so few know Him.
Many towns have far larger estates than Tiverton where nothing is being done to proclaim the worth of the Saviour. This report should cause each reader to consider their own locality, and then be exercised about its need.
‘He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him’
The assembly at Dursley, Gloucestershire, has been encouraged in the setting up of a Gospel witness in the neighbouring village of Uley. A desire was laid upon the heart of a brother resident in the area that something should be done to meet its spiritual needs, especially those of the young people, and the result was a gathering for this purpose being commenced in his home. Eventually a disused chapel in the village was purchased and the work transferred there. A Sunday School has now been started and also weeknight meetings for young people and children. Special efforts have been made to reach the teenagers and the believers have been cheered to see an interest in spiritual things on the part of several young men.
The same assembly has been given cause for praise by the interest shown in visits made to the local ‘Home for the Blind’ on Lord’s Day afternoons. Much appreciation has been shown by the residents; outsiders also, interested in the work, come along to join in listening to the Gospel witness. Prayer is requested that the favour shown hitherto by the authorities may be continued.
‘a time to plant’
The coming summer, in the will of the Lord, will see another special effort for the distribution of literature in Eire. Young brethren are therefore invited to consider if this is the way in which their Lord would have them spend part of their holiday this year.
Greater liberty has been experienced during the past year in the spread of the Gospel. Taking advantage of this change, which may only be temporary, believers have seen many reached with the Gospel through open air preaching and visitation.
During December a visit was paid to some of the homes visited in Galway last summer, and the workers were encouraged to find that there had been little opposition by the clergy and that some were still reading the Scriptures.
‘behold, he prayeth’
H. German held a Gospel campaign lasting three weeks in Dunniker Hall, Kirkcaldy. Prior to the visit the believers held a week of prayer. The result was that there were over twenty unsaved gathered in to the meetings during the campaign. On the last Lord’s Day the evangelist took up the subject of baptism. Subsequently two young brethren brought joy to their Lord by obeying Him in baptism and have now been received into fellowship with the assembly.
The ministry of the Word by D. Kirk in Lerwick, Shetland, during the opening days of 1965 produced similar blessing. On the final evening of his visit six young believers publicly confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by passing through the waters of baptism.
The assembly at Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, has seen a good response at the service held for teenagers after the normal Gospel meeting. The rallies on Saturday evening have also proved successful, many coming from neighbouring rest homes together with blind people and younger ones from various institutions.
‘with one accord’
The truth of the individuality and independence of every local assembly is one which we need to maintain and teach. At the same time we often find that co-operation between neighbouring assemblies produces benefits in reaching out with the Gospel and in the building up of the people of God.
An example of this comes from Devon, and its country districts of Silverton, Tiverton, Cullompton and Loxbeare, which in the early weeks of this year sought the help of C. McEwen in the ministry of the Word. The Lord’s servant was able to visit each assembly on a different night of the week for four weeks running and also conducted a Saturday evening rally at each during this period.
‘let me not be ashamed of my hope’
For many years the assembly meeting in Ebenezer Hall, Belfast have been aggressive in Gospel work among young and old. In 1936, in order to reach a new district known as Ligoniel, a wooden hall was erected where a Gospel work was carried on. This was replaced by a fine, comfortable brick building in 1962, situated in the area of a vast new housing estate. On the Lord’s Day, apart from the Gospel meeting in the evening, two Sunday Schools are held with over one hundred children attending. During the week a flourishing children’s meeting is carried on.
S. Thompson held special Gospel meetings for five weeks toward the end of last year. Although each house in the district was visited twice, only a few responded to the invitation given. However, two professed salvation and recently at a testimony meeting a young man accepted the Saviour. It is just a small band of workers who carry on this testimony so earnestly.
Newry, Co. Down, is a large border town where many of the people are Roman Catholics, and this was the site for a special Gospel effort conducted by C. McEwen and J. G. Hutchinson. The assembly, which numbers about thirty, was much encouraged as a result. Many homes in the area were visited and God gave interest and blessing to such an extent that the meetings continued nightly for twelve weeks. A number professed conversion, amongst them some who had been long prayed for.
After this J. G. Hutchinson moved to the hall at Ballykeel, near Kilkeel, and commenced preaching there. No previous arrangements had been made, but he was encouraged to do so by a young man from that district who had come to the Newry meetings each night and showed interest. Events proved that this was of the Lord’s leading for the people attended remarkably well, filling the hall nightly for five weeks. God again worked His own work of salvation in the hearts of a few while the little assembly was given cause for rejoicing.
‘I must preach’
Are we always as concerned as we should be to take the Gospel to our relatives and friends? H. Wilson, home on furlough from Brazil, was exercised in this way and arranged to have Gospel meetings in a country district near Battleford Bridge, Co. Armagh, being joined by H. S. Paisley. A portable hall was erected (which has since been wrecked by storms), and good numbers attended each evening. Several professed to accept the Saviour, although these were not those for whom the gatherings were originally planned.
Blessing was also seen during the Gospel preaching of J. Noble and R. Jordan in the Lisburn Gospel Hall, Co. Antrim. The names and addresses were given to the evangelists of those about whom the believers were concerned and those who were thought likely to be interested. This method appeared to give better results than door to door visiting and a number told of their salvation.
As a stimulus to interest in the work of the Lord in other lands, a missionary week was held in the Wellington Street Hall, Ballymena, at the end of 1964. Each evening two reports were given by various missionaries on furlough. The hall was filled on each occasion, a real interest being evidenced by other assemblies in the area.
‘good tidings ... to all people’
The Christmas season is long past but it is well to remind ourselves of the opportunities it presented to reach the unsaved with the Gospel. The assemblies in Cardiff united to hold a Carol Service, and believers rejoiced to see many unsaved ones listening to the simple presentation of the Gospel. The shopping crowds at this time of the year were found in a receptive state by tract distributors from the assemblies in Swansea.
Maybe we have never appreciated before that such possibilities are open to us. If so we should be seriously concerned about next Christmas, in the will of the Lord, and seek to be ready to reach as many as possible.
At Rossmore Hall, near Edgware Road, London, two training courses were held during 1964, the object being to deepen the knowledge of the Scriptures and also to give instruction on practical lines.
Two lectures were given each Thursday evening, one theological and one practical, followed in each case by a short period for questions and discussion. The first term concentrated on the Old Testament, the second on the New. Among the subjects dealt with were some not normally handled in routine assembly meetings such as the problems in Genesis, the religious, historical and geographical backgrounds of the Bible and the reliability of manuscripts, etc.
It is clear that a need was met by these courses and that the students grew in spiritual stature as a result.