Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
If we have carefully read the preceding pages the following extracts will come to mind. “There should also be a response to the Lord’s desire that His people should go to others, by being constantly on the look-out for openings to reach, to talk to and to make contacts with those completely outside.” “It is a dreadful thing to have lived with people for years and never to have warned them of the fate that awaits them if Christ is not their Saviour.”
As we read this section may we ponder how far we have acted up to this ourselves, being encouraged by the example of some believers who have done so.
Making use of the past
Finding that it was not uncommon for there to be no unconverted adults present at the regular Gospel meeting, the assembly at Annbank, Ayrshire, tried another method to reach adults with the Gospel. Among their number is J. W. McAllister of Paraguay who is a.native of the village and who spent his schooldays there. School photographs were searched out and his surviving classmates and their wives were invited to a reunion in the Gospel Hall. All are now over sixty years of age but thirty-five, including their aged teacher, gathered for a meal and to listen to an account of the Lord’s dealing with His servant over the years, this being illustrated with slides. More than half those present on this occasion were unconverted. The assembly were particularly encouraged as only just over a week previously some twenty unsaved parents had attended the bi-annual Sunday School Parents’ Night and listened to a challenging Gospel message.
Such methods are not suitable for general use, but they illustrate the point that local circumstances can often be exploited to bring perishing ones to a place where they can hear the Word of Life.
Gospel work in Belfast
Newtownbreda is a large, quickly developing district on the outskirts of Belfast where a Sunday School and Gospel work have been maintained for quite a long time. A few years ago a hall was erected in which the believers commenced to gather as an assembly, and this now numbers almost one hundred. Unfortunately some of the down-town assemblies have lost some believers to this new residential area.
At a recent Gospel effort taken by H. Paisley, the hall was packed every night for five weeks and a goodly number professed salvation, among them some who had no previous connection with the hall. A good spirit was evident among the believers and over forty were present on average at the prayer meetings.
One of the city assemblies mentioned above which lost some of their number to Newtownbreda is that at Kingsbridge. In this thickly populated district the believers still continue actively with the Gospel and early in the new year J. G. Hutchinson proclaimed the good news there for six weeks. Although not exceptionally large, the meetings were encouraging and all concerned rejoiced to know of a number who professed to have accepted the Saviour. These included a woman in middle life who had been brought up under the sound of the Gospel, two young men in their twenties and several young people from the Sunday School.
Seeking the lost
The assembly at Newtownbreda mentioned above use their own mini-bus to bring children to the Sunday School and adults to the Gospel meeting. We should all realise that the days are passed when children could be expected to travel a fair distance to attend Sunday School, and therefore it is our responsibility either to take the Sunday School to them or to provide transport for them to come to us.
Many examples have been given in previous issues of believers who have adopted the first alternative, but so many thousands are still waiting to hear. How often is there a large Gospel Hall in the centre of a town, and no Gospel testimony in the estates on its fringe? -and it is these estates that contain the majority of the children, who will be the adults of tomorrow. How many wayward teenagers would have been reached in early years if they had been taught the Scriptures in a local Sunday School? Most of these estates have day schools nearby which ran normally be hired for Sunday School purposes, so we have no excuse to offer.
The second alternative, that of providing transport to bring the young ones in, may either take the form of hiring coaches for the purpose or of arranging for believers who own cars to use them for the collection of the children. If enough use can be made of it then the purchase of a mini-bus may be more economical.
The assembly at Elelensburgh, Dunbartonshire, use a bus to collect the youngsters from Cardross each Lord’s Day, whilst private cars call for scholars from Faslane. At Brentwood, Essex, the majority of the scholars in the Sunday School are collected in coaches from the outlying estates.
We need to ask ourselves how many children there are in our area who could not be expected to attend our school. Then it is for us to decide how we are going to reach them with the story of a Saviour.
Gospel work in Scotland
The provision of transport may also prove beneficial when seeking to bring adults under the sound of the Word of God. R. Walker of Aberdeen held three weeks of Gospel meetings in the James Street Gospel Halfin Ayr, but it was difficult to persuade either young or old to attend. Latterly it became possible to bring several carloads fairly regularly from a local Welfare Home. Yet in spite of much hard work no positive results are known.
The same evangelist was in Kelty, Fife, which with its population of eight thousand is one of the largest villages in Scotland. The campaign opened with a conference, and an anniversary gathering was also held which was specially designed to reach the villagers with the Gospel in both story and song. Several unsaved subsequently attended the meetings and one lad of fifteen professed faith in Christ.
While it may be more difficult than ever before to bring adults into our halls, the opportunities for personal witness are as great as ever. How often we tend to ignore those with whom we have the most contact when, if we have allowed our Master to guide our footsteps, these are the very ones He intends us to reach.
Spastic and mongol children are sometimes passed by as far as the Gospel is concerned. Because they are not distracted by the many matters that confuse the normal mind, they often accept the Word of God at its face value with childlike simplicity.
A brother in assembly fellowship in the north has the daily task of collecting such children from their homes and taking them to the special school. Though their ages range from ten to twenty they all have the mentality of five year olds. As he travels with them he teaches them Gospel choruses and their ability to memorise these has been remarkable.
Are we using our opportunities as profitably?
Another brother, a stockbroker by profession, maintains a bookstall in a market in his spare time. Among overseas contacts made, there was an elderly Frenchman, a Roman Catholic, who was given an invitation to the local Gospel Hail and came for the first time on the occasion of an Old Age Pensioners’ Tea. A retired missionary sister from Algeria who was present befriended him and he was delighted to find someone who could converse with him in fluent French. He arrived at the Gospel meeting the following night and volunteered that he was coming back the following week instead of attending the Roman Catholic Church.
Deaf and dumb
Another brother concentrates on trying to reach and assist those who are deaf or dumb. While we cannot converse with such without some training, we can put them in touch with others who can help them. B. G. Dickinson, 102, Burnage Lane, Manchester 19, will be glad to assist in this way if any readers have deaf and dumb friends, relatives or acquaintances.
In South Wales the believers are proving more and more that the adults can best be reached through the younger ones.
The presentation of certificates and prizes in connection with the Assemblies Scripture Study Test brought many parents to George Street Hall, Swansea, with the result that it was packed to capacity.
The assemblies at Bridgend and Tondu use a different approach, A supper is held for the parents at which the objects of the work among the children are made known.
In each case parents are not only hearing the message of salvation but closer contacts have been made and a greater interest aroused.
The harvest is certain
In the Jan.-Feb. 1966 issue, reference was made to the children’s work at Motherwell, Lanarkshire, and to a special series of meetings. Some five weeks later, results were seen. A bright lad of twelve went to the superintendent and asked if the speaker at that series had said that the only way to heaven was by trusting in the blood of the Saviour. The superintendent agreed that this was so and the boy ran off, but the following week told his teacher that he had been saved. Since then four other children have accepted the Saviour.
Has the reader taken this vital step as the only way to have sins forgiven and to be fitted for heaven? A holy God offers you a Saviour, His beloved Son, who being sinless died upon that cross at Calvary and while hanging there in the darkness voluntarily accepted the punishment for sin. To reject such an offer is folly, for there is no other way of salvation.
Developments at Swindon
A weekly meeting for children was started in a workmen’s canteen on the Park and Walcot estates of Swindon in 1958, and a Sunday School and Gospel testimony the next year. The rapid growth of the estates brought other believers into the area, reinforcing the pioneer band of workers. This enabled two additional Sunday Schools to be established at separate centres, reaching some two hundred young ones each week, most of whom possessed little or no knowledge of the Scriptures. In i960 the believers began to gather to remember their Lord in the way He desired, and since then four born-again souls have been baptised and added to the assembly.
For some time it has been evident that if the work was to develop and be established a hall was desirable, for during the past four years the assembly has been obliged to move three times. Negotiations with the town council for a plot of ground suitable for a hall have resulted in a central site being offered on a ninety-nine years lease at an annual ground rent of £50. Plans have been approved in principle and the Lord’s people now trust that this much needed building will soon become a reality.
Drumenagh is a country district on the shores of Lough Neagh, Co. Derry, where there has been an assembly for a good number of years. At the beginning of this year, A. McShane and A. Lyttle commenced a Gospel effort there, the meeting being well supported by other assemblies. Help was given in the preaching of the Gospel but there was only one person who testified to being saved.
J. Burns went from Annbank to tell out the good news of salvation for two weeks in Wemeth Gospel Hall, Oldham. Attendances of both young and old were small at first, possibly the result of bad weather, but there was an improvement later. Although there were no evident conversions a few strangers have attended the Gospel meeting subsequently while there has been a considerable improvement in the numbers at the Sunday School.
“A Faith for Today” was the title of a campaign held in the Gospel Hall at Consett, Co. Durham, during January. It was preceded by three ministry meetings designed to bring the believers together in a frame of mind and heart in which the Lord would be able to bless them. The evangelist was H. Murphy of Belfast, and the assembly was blessed as a large number professed faith in the Saviour and some were restored to the Lord.