Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
In several counties this summer emphasis is being placed on seeking to revive the testimony in places where the assembly is so weak that their Gospel witness has discontinued. The tragedy is that in several of these spots there are believers who, for private reasons, prefer to travel to a larger meeting in the nearest town. Their presence in their local gathering would probably make all the difference to the testimony. If the Lord has guided us to the place where we live, then it is His will that we should gather locally, otherwise much of the point of a local testimony to those among whom we live is lost.
The assembly in Maybole was on the point of closing down and steps had actually been taken towards this end when neighbouring gatherings combined to help. Five assemblies are involved, and each Lord’s Day a number of brethren proceed there to help in the morning meeting and to conduct the Sunday School and Gospel Meeting. It is expected that this will prove a short term measure, for just when the decision to help was being taken it was discovered that two or three of the brethren who had left the little town years before were on the point of moving back. Meanwhile this opportunity is proving a useful training ground for younger brethren who are reluctant to take part in larger gatherings.
We reported a year ago on the conversion of a man at Plann, Kilmarnock. He had been taken to the meeting by a nephew who in the same way was responsible for the winning of several other relatives. A neighbour of the uncle who at first did not believe that his conversion could last, started attending the Gospel meeting shortly afterwards and has now been saved.
Recently two young folk were baptised in Victoria Hall, Ayr, and six in Bute Hall, Prestwick. Practically all are the result of faithful Sunday School and Bible Class work against the background of a Christian home.
Another assembly in the shire has occupied a new hall. The believers in Saltcoats were concerned about the Sunday School and other activities dwindling through the hall being left high and dry near the town centre. The new hall is no more inconvenient for the believers and much nearer the majority of the townsfolk. Much hard work, including some of a manual nature, was put into the building by the believers themselves.
The summer work in this shire commenced at Lochwinnoch, where there is a small and struggling assembly. Some eighty believers gathered for tract distribution on a Saturday afternoon, and were able to hold an open air witness in addition to visiting every house in the village. The following week a large open air rally was held and the nightly meetings which followed saw large numbers gathered to hear the Gospel. A good number of young folk have made a profession of faith in the Saviour to the encouragement of the evangelist, S. Ford, and the assembly. It has been the custom of the brethren to meet early each morning for prayer and this has clearly been answered.
Special Gospel meetings were held in Glassford by J. Grant, previous to which every home in the village and the surrounding district was visited by members of the assembly and personal invitations given to the gatherings. During the campaign believers with cars brought in some from cottages and farms outside the village and from Chapelton. Attendance and interest were good, and it was evident that an impact was made on the village. On the last evening one young woman professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and has been present at all meetings since then.
The village of New Stevenston was stirred as the Gospel was told forth in the open air each night during a campaign taken by H. Burness. This, together with the fellowship evidenced by neighbouring assemblies, was a source of real encouragement to the assembly. For example the assembly at Shields Road, whose open air meeting is normally held on a Wednesday evening, transferred their effort to New Stevenston. The entire district was visited and a good number of unsaved folk came to the hall, although there were no known conversions. One of these was a Roman Catholic man, a former professional footballer, who sat listening intently. The children’s meetings were also profitable, some one hundred different young ones being brought under the sound of the Word.
The annual Workers Conference at Burnbank was followed by an extra effort in the Gospel in a large hall on a housing scheme, when a few professed to be saved. A young woman who asked for baptism and fellowship with the assembly set the seal on a very precious weekend.
The assemblies in mid-Scotland combined for a special series of Gospel meetings in Falkirk, the speaker being S. Ford. In spite of the wintry April conditions the attendance grew each night until on the closing evening some nine hundred were present. Over thirty made profession of faith in the Saviour whilst others were deeply affected.
We reported last year on the work in a school at Grangemouth, and the past winter brought attendances of over four hundred children when some had to be turned away owing to lack of room. Many of the parents have searched the Scriptures with their children in preparation for the competitions. A recruiting drive for the Sunday School at Albert Hall resulted in two busloads being conveyed each Lord’s Day afternoon.
There are but six assemblies in this shire - its neighbour, Kirkcudbrightshire has but three, all very small.
The canvas of the shire tent has perished, so it has been decided to work this summer in the villages with open air meetings and visitation.
A new testimony in Lancashire
Some eight miles to the north of Liverpool on the main Preston road lies the township of Maghull, with a population nearing twenty thousand. There was, until April of this year, no assembly in the district, but in that month believers began to meet in the home of one of their number. There are some thirty-five in fellowship, and for their weekly prayer meeting they use a garage which has been loaned to them. A geographical barrier has hindered the start of evangelical meetings, for the town is divided in the centre by a three lane dual carriageway which parents are reluctant to allow, their children to cross. Negotiations are now proceeding for the acquisition of a plot of land and the requisite planning permission; once this is obtained then a settled Gospel witness can be planned.
The great 1859 revival began with a number of young men who had been saved while meeting for prayer in a schoolhouse just outside the village of Kells, Co. Antrim, about five miles from Ballymena. Some of these became foundation members of the assembly. The village has grown considerably and a new hall has now been erected where a special Gospel effort was conducted recently by J. Hawthorne and J. Thompson. The interest shown was such that the meetings were continued for eleven weeks. A number professed conversion, including one woman who had been brought up as a Roman Catholic, and a married couple that were contacted during visitation work. The man was an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but after several afternoons had been spent reasoning with him from the Scriptures he came to the meetings and after a time of concern believed. Some of the converts have since been added to the local assembly.
The attendances were the best for many years during meetings held by H. Paisley in Ballymena. Among those who spoke of being saved were some who had been the subject of many prayers.
In Co. Derry a special effort was made to make known the Way of Salvation in the town of Coleraine. The hall was packed to capacity as T. McKelvey and E. Fairfield preached the Word. During the nine weeks there were those who professed salvation, including two women for whom much prayer has been made as their husbands were already in assembly fellowship.
New ground was broken in Bakewell in March when a Gospel campaign was held by W. Hastings and J. Legge. The meetings were preceded by a fortnight of early morning prayer sessions which were well attended and continued throughout the effort. Every home was visited and a personal invitation given by the younger believers and then again by the evangelists. A bookstall was set up in the weekly market, and Gospel literature distributed to hundreds. Fishing on the streets brought in a few contacts and all was felt worthwhile when each night unsaved ones came to hear the message.
Special meetings for the young in the spring gave believers much encouragement. The patient plodding of Sunday School work at times seems fruitless, but in due course the harvest comes.
Personal invitations with a special approach to the parents were much blessed when D. Hislop was at Brimscombe. A Parents’ Night on the Lord’s Day evening brought an attendance far exceeding expectations, and many heard the Word who rarely listen to its lifegiving sound.
J. Smyth made the gatherings interesting for both old and young during a fortnight at Inverkeithing. The final night saw the hall well filled and the Sunday School attendance has increased as a result.
Despite the seeming indifference to the Gospel, encouraging reports were given at the Cardiff Home Workers Conference. W. E. Davies told of blessing in Cardiff, Dinas Powis and Tonypandy. Weeks of house to house visitation prior to the meetings proved to be very successful.
Young people who visited Eire last year have caught the vision of the Postal Sunday School. They are reaching out to children living in the remote villages of the Gower Peninsula with good results.
The assembly meeting at Sunningdale, Yeovil, held their second annual conference in March in the new hall on a housing estate, the speakers being D. Lawrence and C. McEwen. During the evening meeting the latter made reference to the subject of baptism.
After the meeting a young woman, a sergeant in the W.R.A.C., came up to him and said that she had been challenged, for although she had been saved two years previously in Germany she had not been baptised. As she was in Yeovil for the weekend the brethren said that they would baptise her the next night with others. It was then discovered that she had to be back in the barracks in London by midnight on the Lord’s Day but there was no suitable train after the baptism. Nevertheless she was baptised and two brethren drove her to London afterwards. They encountered fog but reached the barracks on time. Although they had very little sleep these brethren were present in the hall for the prayer meeting at seven o’clock Monday morning.
Is any reader in the same position of being saved but not baptised? There is no excuse for remaining thus any longer.
There are prisons in many of the larger towns of our land, several of them being regularly visited by believers either to hold meetings or to speak with individuals. One assembly had commended to their care a young convert who arrived at the local prison. He had been saved while on the run from the police and, having been baptised, yielded himself up to the authorities. So bad was his record that he received a long sentence. There being at that time no assembly visitor to the prison a young brother applied for permission to visit this prisoner weekly. Such was the opposition of the authorities that it was only after much prayer and perseverance that permission was finally given. Another convict has now been converted, and here also antagonism has been shown to the application for him to receive a regular visitor.
A week of meetings for the young taken by A. W. Grimsey in Charlton Road Gospel Hall, Birmingham, brought over one hundred youngsters nightly, half of whom did not attend any Sunday School. Many stayed to the after classes to learn more of the claims of the Saviour.
In Aberdeen the usual weeknight gatherings have been held, with a special fortnight’s campaign in the Middlefield area. R. Walker was gratified to find such a good response on the part of the young people.