Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
‘Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord’
The use of tents for the holding of special Gospel efforts continues to prove successful, provided that there is the full support of local believers.
The North Staffordshire tent was pitched at Talke Pits for the first part of the summer and was then moved to Biddulph. The usual pattern was adopted - meetings Monday to Thursday for children followed by a Gospel meeting for adults. Saturday evenings were given over to the ministry of the Word, providing an opportunity for the presentation of the truths concerning New Testament principles of gathering. If Saturday afternoons were fine, open air testimonies would be held on various sites. F. Whitmore was responsible, assisted at first by D. Dixon and later by M. Newman.
At Talke Pits an average of eighty children, many in their early teens, listened attentively to the Word of Life, and were also responsive to the recitation of the Scriptures. Some of the older ones spoke of accepting the Saviour and the workers felt that a work of grace was evidenced in the lives of some. Some of the parents expressed their appreciation of the interest shown toward the children. This is one of the reasons why we should take every opportunity of reaching young ones with the Scriptures, for it is a sure way of making an impression on the minds of the parents. The Saviour cared for the little ones, and we should be characterised in a similar way if we desire unsaved folk seriously to listen to our claims to be His spokesmen.
With the exception of the weekend meetings, the attendances at the adult gatherings were not large. The number of local people present who were not accustomed to attend Gospel services was an improvement on previous years, but on many occasions support from assemblies was sadly lacking. Several adults professed to have exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The most encouraging meetings at Biddulph were also with the children, several of the older ones remaining for conversations regarding salvation. The adult work proved more difficult than at Talke Pits, mainly due to the superstition and power of Romanism. This was a burden to the evangelist, but it was lightened by believers from other localities both by their presence and prayers.
The last week of the effort coincided with the opening of the new Hebron Hall at Biddulph, which provided a home for nearly one hundred of the local children who had no Sunday School to attend.
‘Stand still, that I may reason with you’
Dundonald, Co. Down, is a growing district on the outskirts of Belfast where the assembly is increasing in numbers and, as reported some months ago, has erected a new hall. For a recent Gospel effort, however, a tent was pitched in another part of the district, the meetings being conducted by G. N. Reager and J. G. Hutchinson. Fairly good numbers of the local people attended and some blessing was seen.
The assembly in the Bloomfield district of Belfast also had tent meetings this summer, the speakers being W. Nesbitt and J. Walmsley; the latter being home on furlough from Venezuela. As is often the case, it was difficult to get the local people in to hear the Gospel, but some blessing was reported.
‘Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command’
We reported last year on the Gospel work at Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, where B. Sutton laboured in proclaiming the news of salvation in this town where there is no assembly testimony. The work continued in the tent through this summer, although the weather made it a difficult season. Yet the blessing of the Lord has been seen, at least three married folk having been led to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, two of these taking this step in their own homes as a result of the visitation work. Several young folk stayed behind during the season and it is felt that some of them at least were converted.
One of the highlights of the summer was the baptism of four adults in the river at Llandovery before a crowd of over two hundred people. While many of these were believers from other parts of South Wales, a very large number of unsaved were among them. Thus the obedience of these believers to their Lord’s command was a testimony to many and must have caused serious thought in many darkened hearts.
Gradually the foundations of a permanent testimony are being established in this town, but the area is still very needy and hard. It is planned to maintain a weekly meeting during the winter months and a small hall has been loaned for this purpose.
But what of the many towns some larger, some smaller, where there is no Gospel witness? That which has been accomplished in Llandovery can be repeated elsewhere, but only if we are seriously concerned about the need of unsaved adults and children.
‘Be still, and know that I am God’
There are many young believers growing up among us who have not been grounded in the Scriptures as they should have been. How often has serious Bible teaching not been given because of the vociferous objections of some young ones who have no spiritual appetites. The result is that the door is left wide open for the teaching of error to enter, as can be seen in many places.
At Fortwilliam Gospel Hall, Belfast, meetings dealing with prophetic subjects were held by R. Scott of Falkirk and were found to be both helpful and practical. Such exposition of the Scriptures is a great help to all believers, since it strengthens their faith and encourages them to watch and wait for the imminent return of the Lord Jesus for all His own, being occupied till He come. The Word of God is perfectly clear, ‘we shall all be changed, in a moment ... at the last trump’.
In the same way there is much misunderstanding concerning the work of the Holy Spirit. R. McLurkin, in his native land on a visit from Canada, had a week of meetings with the assembly in the town of Ballymoney,Co. Antrim, the subject being ‘The Holy Spirit’, when fairly good numbers attended.
‘Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said’
Each report concerning the taking of the Gospel to the children on the new estates should stimulate every reader to look around as to the possibilities in their neighbourhood.
Langley, Buckinghamshire, adjoining Slough, has been developed as an overspill housing area by the London Council, and has spread rapidly towards London. The estates are so large that some parts have no church or Sunday School of any kind to meet the needs of the large child population.
The spiritual need of this area became a burden to one brother in particular, and eventually this resulted in the commencement of a Sunday School by believers in fellowship with the assemblies at Datchet and Windsor. A disused school canteen and classroom were hired, and after the distribution of leaflets and personal invitations the Sunday School commenced in March of this year.
Numbers have increased steadily until there are now some fifty children each week. Many of the parents have never heard the Gospel and it is hoped to reach them through the younger ones both by personal contacts and by holding a Parents Sunday.
The present accommodation is only leased on a monthly basis, and new premises may have to be found at short notice. In such circumstances it is good to know that our God will provide for every need of His people providing they are walking in the path of His will in accord with His commands.
‘that ye may stand perfect and complete’
Believers in the infant assembly at Wendlebury, Oxfordshire, a village near Bicester, realised the need for the detailed study of the Scriptures. Rising to their responsibility, a series of Bible Readings was arranged lasting over a complete weekend in September, three sessions taking place each day when the letter to the Philippians was considered. That there is an unsatisfied appetite for such gatherings was shown when some fifty believers came from various parts to join in the study. There were no frills-the sense of the passage was given, alternative readings stated and much profitable discussion took place as the Epistle was dealt with methodically verse by verse. Young believers came to realise the truths to be discovered by the study of the Scriptures word by word, and at the same time learnt to appreciate the development of the truths presented by the Spirit.
Are believers in your area being catered for in this way? Are they being led to appreciate the deep things of God as He desires?
‘stand fast therefore’
The assembly in the holiday resort of Llanfairfechan, North Wales, although small in numbers, has tried to ensure that all visitors are aware of the location of the Gospel Hall and the time of the Gospel meeting. A half-page advertisement has been inserted in the town guide giving this information and also drawing attention to the open-air service held on the promenade each Lord’s Day evening during the summer.
A stream runs through the town and enters the sea under a bridge which forms part of the promenade. The right to hold this open-air testimony at this prominent spot was granted by the local authority for as long as the water runs under the bridge. It is a cause for encouragement in these days when the powers of the authorities are sometimes viewed with apprehension by believers, to realise that our God can overrule even in the way such matters are recorded.
The Gospel is proclaimed for a full hour in these meetings and is listened to by many on holiday. Being away from their acquaintances at home, visitors seem more ready to stand and listen, and the possibilities of such a gathering should be examined in all resorts.
‘stand fast in the Lord’
The Lanarkshire Gospel van with D. Cameron in charge visited the upper wards of the shire during the summer. This area is practically without an assembly testimony and whilst the inhabitants are very religious it is a religion without a Saviour. On the whole the evangelist was well received and was able to contact many homes.
The shire tent was pitched at Lesmahagow, a village on the main Carlisle-Glasgow road, for the latter part of the summer, S. Lewis continuing to be responsible. Adults were very indifferent but the services for children were well attended and a few professed to be saved.
The Wigtownshire tent was moved to Leswalt in August. J. Aitken continued there until the beginning of September, one woman trusting the Saviour and others showing interest in spiritual matters. The attendance and evident interest of young people has given much cause for encouragement.
‘The counsel of the Lord, that shall stand’
The correct use of our holidays is a matter that should exercise every believer. We are stewards of our time to use it for our Master.
Several years ago when a home worker was disposing of his tent, some young brethren from Glenburn assembly, Ayrshire, purchased it. Each summer since, joined by other brethren on holidays, they have spent a fortnight in July taking the Gospel to some needy part of southwest Scotland. This year they went to Ecclefechan in Dumfriesshire, where they had a very good reception. They were so encouraged by this that some of them are planning to return there for a week in October.
Ample opportunities are available for those who would spend their holidays in similar ways. The work of Gospel Literature Distribution in Eire has been mentioned many times in these pages. The workers in that land were greatly encouraged this summer as brethren joined them from other parts of Great Britain and abroad. The reception of the literature, which was normally offered for sale, varied from parish to parish. There were many opportunities to speak a personal word of testimony and to present the Way of Salvation. It is known that in some homes the Scriptures are being read as a result, this being revealed when certain places were revisited.
‘By faith ye stand’
In the last issue we mentioned the tent work at Stewarton, Ayrshire, a town where the assembly testimony had died out. The interest shown during the first part of the summer fully justified the work continuing there during the second part of the season. J. Grant probably preached more to the little groups he met in various homes than he did in the tent.
One unusual feature was the regular attendance on Lord’s Days of a youth fellowship group from the Church of Scotland which numbered from one to two dozen. Near the end of the meetings two of these young folk trusted the Saviour.
The last night of the twelve weeks season was memorable as three girls, whose first acquaintance with the Gospel had been in the children’s meetings, trusted the Saviour. One other adult came to know the Lord, while a back-slider, restored earlier in the summer, has been added to the nearest assembly which is at Kilamaurs.
‘as I have purposed, so shall it stand’
Many camps were held in various parts of the country during August. That of the young people from Hebron Hall, Port Glasgow, was their first experience in this sphere, and it proved an enjoyable time marked by the salvation of some fifteen of the campers.
The believers at Hebron Hall had worked for many years in the Sunday School, Bible Class and Children’s Meeting without seeing very much in the way of permanent results. Being exercised about this they felt that a summer camp might consolidate the teaching of those who had made a profession of faith and at the same time bring to the point of decision those who had received the good seed of the Word over a long period.
As this was a new venture the number of campers was limited to fifty, and the venue was Lochgilphead, Argyllshire. By the Tuesday evening of the camp a number had professed to be saved, so the pattern of the camp meetings was changed so as to give some fundamental teaching to these young converts. The workers rejoiced to witness the evidence in the life of the change of heart which had been professed.
‘the Judge standeth before the door’
It is a long while since we reported on the work in Leeds. As the normal meetings have been held, some fruit has been seen and a number have been baptised. In the last few months a Christian couple have had the joy of seeing their two sons, aged 19 and 16, and a daughter of 17, all saved and baptised.
In the Joseph Street assembly ‘Late Night Special’ meetings are being conducted on alternate Lord’s Days. Some of the young people ‘fish’ the youths off the streets and bring them in for tea or coffee. Small tables are used and, while they eat and drink, someone speaks or sings. By this informal method many are being reached with the Gospel.
‘having done all, to stand’
The opportunities for making known the claims of the Saviour are manifold, and there is scope for every believer. A. Glass has found that in Co. Cork his visits to homes have been much appreciated as he has read the Scriptures and talked over the way of salvation. The elderly folk have been especially grateful to receive the large-type S.G.M. booklets. In portable halls and tents as well as in the open-air at seaside resort and fair the story of redemption has been faithfully proclaimed during the summer months.
The Postal Sunday Schools enable youngsters to be reached wherever they live. At the ‘Tell Yorkshire’ report meeting this autumn it was stated that there are now seventy scholars in the schools, and that an additional ninety students had enrolled this summer for the Emmaus Courses. In Eire there are now three hundred and fifty young folk receiving lessons through the post.
There is one avenue of service that is open to us all, that of personally testifying of the Saviour’s worth. This does not need an indoor audience or elaborate arrangements of meetings and special speakers. It does, however, require courage, tact and discernment and above all the background of a consistent life. May we all seek the spiritual equipment for this vital service.
Once again we would express our gratitude to those who have helped during the past year in any way to secure the reports which have appeared in this section. At the same time we would emphasise that the brethren whose names appear in this section are in no way responsible to the Committee of the magazine and it should not be assumed that the Committee is necessarily in agreement with all the methods which are mentioned.