Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
‘Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee’
On several occasions in the past, attention has been drawn in these pages to the large areas in Great Britain where not only are there no assembly testimonies but also little is being done in the way of aggressive Gospel witness. It is with gladness therefore that we now include reports of the exercise of believers in two areas concerning ways in which the glad news of the Saviour may be spread more effectively.
‘Tell them, Thus saith the Lord God’
The four Border counties of Scotland - Roxburgh, Selkirk, Peebles and Berwick - contain only about forty-five believers who gather in assembly fellowship. In the early part of this year two meetings were held for those concerned about the spiritual needs of this area. The first was in January on a night of fog and frost, yet over one hundred and fifty brethren came together from a widely scattered area, some travelling over one hundred miles each way in order to be present. A real interest was evident as W. S. Loynes gave an outline of the Counties Evangelistic Work in the south of England, a film being shown based on a typical season’s work.
The situation in the Border counties was detailed by W. Landles and J. Robb, the great spiritual dearth of the area being stressed. It was agreed that the rural areas will not be thoroughly evangelised unless the larger assemblies feel their responsibility in this matter. It was accepted that something needed to be done, not only for the Border district but also for the Highlands and other areas where assemblies are either small or non-existent.
The second meeting in February was also well supported and certain conclusions were reached. The brethren at present responsible for the Home and Foreign Missions Fund accepted the initial responsibility for a new work of evangelism in the Border counties. Once the work gets under way other brethren would be asked first of all to share in, and subsequently undertake completely, the responsibility for this work.
‘Go, and tell this people’
For a number of years I. Munro and his wife have pioneered with the Gospel in the villages, hamlets and glens of the north and west of Scotland. Literature has been left in many homes and the story of salvation sounded forth with the aid of the amplifier on their van.
The provision of some form of building in which people could be gathered to hear the Gospel has been considered a necessity if the work was to be extended. A well-worn portable hall has been obtained from Northern Ireland, and has been completely re-made in order to be towed along Highland roads. The evangelist stripped the old corrugated sides and roof, replacing the former with aluminium and using perspex in the roof. Electric lighting was installed together with heating apparatus. When erected the hall accommodates sixty adults or eighty children, and collapses into a suitable size for towing behind the van.
A conference was held during March in the Glen of Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, to mark the commencement of this new venture, and this proved a unique and impressive occasion. Over one hundred believers gathered in the upper loft of a farmer’s barn in that lonely glen, and listened to the ministry of the Word by several brethren.
The above reports concern only a small area, and there is a need for each reader to consider their responsibility in their own part of the land, applying to themselves the words of old, ‘Are ye still? be not slothful to go’.
‘Speak with My words’
At the close of last year J. Fraser had a special effort among the young people in the Middlefield district of Aberdeen. This is a housing estate to the north of the city and is outside the area of any of the assemblies. For a number of years several brethren have persevered with a children’s work here. During this recent campaign numbers were good, and particular encouragement was seen at the Parents’ Nights on the evenings of the Lord’s Days.
The assembly at Wolseley Hall, Plymouth, entered fully into a campaign directed at winning the young; this took place when P. Brandon was with them for two weeks in January. Large numbers of children came night after night-on some occasions nearly four hundred were packed into the hall - and listened as the Lord’s servant simply but purposefully taught them the age-old truths of the fall of man and of God’s plan for man’s salvation. At the close of the campaign there were two further nights when an invitation was given to those who wished to know more, and on those evenings there was a response in a number of young people.
With no little joy, some few weeks later, a baptismal service was held instead of the normal Gospel service, and several young people obeyed their Lord in this way.
At this point it would be well for all readers, however old or young, to consider whether they have ever believed these truths for themselves. Firstly, the indisputable fact that each one of us is a sinner, one who comes short of that perfect standard of holiness which a thrice-holy God demands. Secondly, that the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, voluntarily died upon that cross at Calvary and allowed Himself to be judged for my sin by a Holy God.
‘I have made thee a watchman’
Gospel meetings which continued nightly for eight weeks were conducted in the Gospel hall at Lurgan, Co. Armagh, by A. McShane and A. Lyttle. From the first a real interest was evident and the audience, which filled the hall each evening, included a good number of unsaved people. Five of these professed to have accepted the Saviour. One young woman, who came from Co. Fermanagh a good distance away and worked in Lurgan, was so concerned about being saved that she set aside her usual visits home so that she might be able to attend the meetings. There was great rejoicing when she eventually went home, as she was the last of the family to be gathered
At Ardmore, a few miles away from Lurgan, J. G. Grant had a long and good spell of Gospel meetings. There were good attendances of local unsaved and all concerned were much encouraged to know of several who gave expression to their faith in the Lord Jesus.
‘Persevere in prayer’ R.V.
For six weeks J. G. Hutchinson proclaimed the Gospel in the new hall at Fortwilliam, Belfast. Interest improved as time passed and a number trusted the Saviour. A special feature was the two hour prayer meeting each Friday night, when some forty believers met to pray from10 p.m. until midnight.
Well attended prayer meetings were a feature of a special effort in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, taken by R. Jordan and J. Noble. During the seven weeks several were saved, among them being some who had no previous connection with the assembly. A backslider was also restored to the Lord and received back into fellowship.
‘Go and cry . . . Thus saith the Lord’
A Gospel campaign was held in Hebron Hall, Rutherglen, Lanark, during March, the evangelist being D. Barnes. For the first week the weather was very adverse but nevertheless on the whole attendances were good, a fair number of unsaved being present, whilst the children’s meetings had excellent numbers. Some fruit was seen, quite a number of backsliders being touched. The campaign has given a general stimulus to the believers and it is planned to continue the children’s meetings which previously had been in abeyance for some years.
‘I do send thee unto them’
The systematic distribution of Gospel literature from house to house is probably the only way of ensuring that every family in a given area has the opportunity of accepting the Saviour.
The believers who meet at Abbey Chapel, Tavistock, circularised some three thousand homes with an enquiry as to those who would care to have a Christian periodical month by month. The indifference of the present age was evidenced by there being but one reply. Undeterred, the assembly decided to distribute a Gospel newspaper systematically and over eight hundred homes now regularly receive this periodical.
While there is no publicity in this work., and perhaps little to encourage, yet here and there a warmer contact is being made, and, it is hoped, the confidence being won of those to whom the assembly has its primary responsibility - the local folk. More important still, we believe that in many homes outwardly disinterested in the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ the greatest message of all time is being read.
‘He that heareth let him hear’
Early this year three week’s Gospel meetings were held by H. German in Kirkwall, Orkney. Despite very inclement weather interest was good, though no definite decisions were seen. A recent convert, however, was much helped and has since been baptised.
During February G. Alexander visited many scattered homes in the country districts in addition to holding meetings; he found many opportunities for prayer and the reading of the Scriptures. There is a great scope for this in all parts of the United Kingdom, especially among the elderly and infirm who are unable to leave their homes to attend a place of worship.
‘Teaching every man in all wisdom’
The failure to provide the young believers in the assemblies with sound food which will cause them to grow spiritually is the main reason why some fall by the wayside.
The first Lord’s Day of this year saw the start of a Young People’s meeting after the normal Gospel service in Hebron Hall, Port Glasgow. The aims of those responsible were impressive - to stimulate interest in assembly missionary work, to give consecutive Bible teaching of a fairly solid nature and to include a Gospel note for those present who might be unsaved.
Ten minutes are devoted to the missionary talk, a particular country being dealt with over several weeks with the help of maps and illustrations. In addition to the different aspects of missionary activity the geographical, climatic and economic features of the country concerned are considered. After light refreshments twenty minutes are spent on the main message; during the first two months these dealt with the Epistle to the Ephesians.
There has been an average attendance of nearly fifty young people from the beginning. So while the original intention was to continue for three months only, this sustained interest has encouraged those responsible to extend the series.
‘learn of Me’
With the same object in view, a whole day conference for young believers which lasted for nearly ten hours was convened by the assembly at Datchet, Buckinghamshire, during April. Four subjects occupied most of the day - The Young Believer’s Growth, Pitfalls, Problems and Missionary interest. Each of these was opened up by a speaker, a time of discussion following. In this way the pertinent things were given prominence yet all present had the opportunity of voicing their individual problems.
‘I will open thy mouth’
The Gospel was proclaimed for three weeks in February by L. Mullen of Japan in Pookeen, Eire. He was assisted in this effort by B. Haigh, a young brother who hopes to serve the Lord in Zambia but for the time being is helping the workers in Southern Ireland. Numbers varied considerably but the Lord blessed the Word and at least one professed faith in the Saviour.
‘By Him actions are weighed’
The women whose lives are brought before us in the Scriptures are often neglected in our public ministry. J. Merson spent the first week of March in Glenrothes, Fife, taking as his subject five outstanding women in the Old Testament. The ministry was fresh and much appreciated by those who heard it.
‘look on the fields’
The advent of another summer season reminds us that many workers among the young are preparing for summer camps. These occasions should be the subject of much prayer, for if a godly atmosphere prevails fruitful times of reaping may be experienced.
Some camps, such as that for Manchester and District, have been held for several years. Others, among them the West Cumberland Assemblies’ Camp, are new ventures. Last year the former camp was held in Scotland while the latter kept nearer to home at Keswick. Both were times not only of enjoyment and physical benefit but also of scenes of a real work of saving grace being wrought in the hearts of not a few.