Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
“Up, ye saints, arouse, be earnest,
Up and work while yet ’tis day.”
Earlier pages of this issue have reminded us that we must all stand before the judgment seat to give an account of how we have spent our lives. The following reports should be read with this in mind. All around us are perishing souls, passing into a lost eternity in a continuous stream. How much we need to arouse ourselves.
One assembly in Belfast found out that some two thousand houses were to be erected and immediately started to negotiate with the authorities for a site on which a haU could be erected. “The need is very great and we feel we must get a foot hold, God willing, before it is too late” expresses their approach. Such an attitude is always honoured of God.
Writing concerning meetings to be held in a part of Co. Donegal, an evangelist said “I still have a heart for that country”. Each of us should similarly be burdened with the needs of some part or other.
Buckna, Co. Antrim, is in an area often visited by Gospel preachers with a good measure of interest and blessing. The district around is a farming one and the people mostly favourable to the Word of God. Our brethren R. Craig and E. Wishart tried some meetings in a portable hall; the Lord gave help in the preaching and it is thought that there was a work done for eternity among the number that came in.
It was in the area of Kingsmills, Co. Tyrone, that some of the first of the assembly meetings in Northern Ireland were held, when brethren Campbell and Matthews came over from Scotland. God worked through them to the salvation of souls and the building up of assemblies. To think of those days is to be reminded of what God can accomplish through His people when they are truly set apart for Him in every way.
A. Lyttle and J. Brown told forth the Gospel for eight weeks in Kingsmills, and the Lord was pleased to give blessing. Some who had been the subject of prayer for a long while professed to be saved, whilst many other unsaved ones listened to the simple Gospel message.
An assembly testimony has been continued in the small town of Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone, for many years. W. Warke from the U.S.A. and H. Paisley had some Gospel meetings there with large gatherings, professions of faith being made as a result. Good support was given by believers from neighbouring areas. The whole effort was particularly encouraging to W. Warke as it was near this town that he was saved about fifty years ago, and now on a return visit God graciously blessed their efforts.
Good attendances also marked the meetings taken by J. Martin at Ballnamagna, Rathfriland. Interest was aroused among some of the families of the Lord’s people, and from these some spoke of being saved.
Baptism in the sea
The assembly at Dundonald, Belfast, was recently encouraged by the baptism of five young men in their late ’teens, the parents of two of them not being connected with the assembly. Four of these have now been welcomed into full participation in the testimony and fellowship of the assembly, with all the privileges and responsibilities that ensue.
In recent times baptisms are usually conducted indoors and all too often the witness is to believers and not to the world in general. On this occasion, however, the request was made for the service to take place outdoors, and it was accordingly arranged for a Saturday afternoon at Ballyhalbert, a little fishing and holiday village in Co. Down. About sixty believers were present, the actual baptism being preceded by an open air meeting. It was a fine afternoon and many day trippers became interested, over one hundred witnessing this moving sight.
At Monk Bretton, near Barnsley, a tent campaign was held by J. Harrison, which sadly followed the frequent pattern of little interest being shown by adults but more encouraging response from younger ones. Many useful contacts were made and these are being followed by the local assembly. At the close of the effort a coach was hired to take all the children who wished to attend Sunday School down to the hall.
In the Yorkshire Dales a team is working under the leadership of D. Hinchcliffe, engaged in personal evangelism and proceeding methodically through the various villages. They have met with a good response from both adults and children, and local school rooms have been placed at their disposal to hold meetings for different age groups. Some of the adults attending have never shown any previous interest in spiritual matters. An open air witness has been held in the market place at Ripon on Saturday evenings.
F. Whitmore was at Sheldon Gospel Hall for both ministry of the Word and the preaching of the Gospel in the spring. Although the latter was only for one week a married couple trusted the Saviour together with a young lady.
For the first time in its history the Ayrshire Tent was pitched for the second successive season in the same place - Stewarton - with the aim of confirming the faith of the few who were blessed last year and of seeking to reap from last season’s sowing. One youth who was saved last year is showing considerable promise and was influential in bringing along a group from the local Youth Fellowship. Among others showing interest was an elderly lady, the sister of a retired missionary from India. The evangelist, R. Walker, was glad of the friendliness shown by the local folk although many of them did not visit the tent. Since there is no local assembly the open air work was maintained nightly on a rota basis by other assemblies in the shire.
Taking advantage of the lighter evenings the assembly at Helensburgh went on to the esplanade overlooking the Clyde to hold the Lord’s Day evening Gospel meeting. Hundreds of people, both local and visitors, heard the message and this was a great encouragement to the believers.
Do we avail ourselves of such opportunities to reach out to where the masses gather? Gospel meetings can be held in popular parks in large cities as well as on the sea front. We need to develop a compassion like that of the Saviour, and view men and women as sheep without a shepherd, lost and wandering.
The month of June was occupied with open air testimonies at Dunragit and Castle Kennedy. Interest was shown and a young man decided for Christ at the latter place and has since been baptised. By doing so he has set a good example to all who have trusted in the Saviour, in that baptism should quickly follow as a testimony to one’s intention to be identified with the Lord in His death, burial and resurrection.
A portable hall has been sited at Kirkcowan to make known the way of life and some women have been attending.
Interest was good at Lochmaben from the beginning. Nearly one hundred children turned up for the first children’s meeting and this has been sustained. J. Burns was also encouraged by the goodly crowd of teenagers who came regularly to the adult meetings, several women coming frequently. One woman has professed conversion. Support was good from believers in other assemblies - two old brethren well over eighty travelling eight miles practically every night.
As a result of the campaign at Lochwinnoch reported in the last issue, the Gospel testimony on Lord’s Day evenings has been recommenced with help from other assemblies in the district, and some interest is being maintained.
The work at Neilston proved more difficult for S. Ford since, although the meetings were well attended, indifference marked the general attitude of the villagers and few of them came. The meetings for the youngsters were the most encouraging and it would appear that the Sunday School can be an important work in the area if the interest can be maintained.
Three weeks were also spent by the evangelist at Bridge of Weir, the after church rallies being extremely well attended. Some fruit was manifested from the work and it is hoped that the local testimony will be strengthened as a result.
The shire tent was pitched in a large housing estate at Springhill, a few miles from Glasgow, with R. Jordan in charge. Attendances of both believers and unsaved were good and two people are known to have been saved.
The Gospel van has again been used to reach those parts of the shire not reached with the Gospel by the tent. As D. Cameron travelled in this way he had a good reception in many places.
Yet what a challenge this brings to us - that within easy reach of Glasgow there are souls who never hear the Gospel unless this van calls, souls who have no regular Gospel witness in their area. The same is true of all big towns, where there are many believers whose responsibility it is to reach out with the Gospel and yet they are not doing so.
South East Borders
We have reported in past issues on the needs of this widespread area. Two evangelists, J. Robb and J. Clunas, have been carrying out extensive house-to-house visitation in this area, as well as engaging in open air witness in Jedburgh, Hawick, Chimside and neighbouring places. A team of workers from the Hamilton area has been visiting Peebles fortnightly on Saturdays for tract distribution, open air work, etc. This is in connection with the Scottish Counties Evangelistic Movement, formed by the assemblies in Scotland in an endeavour to reach the needy parts of that country with the Gospel.
The company of believers who gathered to the name of the Lord at Charleton Gospel Hall, Bristol, have been without a home for several years. The area around their hall was being demolished to make way for development and finally the hall had been left standing on its own. Negotiations for a new site progressed very slowly whilst the work of reconstruction proceeded apace and indeed finally over-ran them. Left without a hall they met in a day school in very uncongenial conditions.
In His own time the Lord provided for them and on July 22nd the day for which they had prayed and longed for arrived, since they were then able to open the doors of the new Speedwell Gospel Hall to their friends and neighbours of the near locality. They had previously worked around the district with literature explaining who they were and then a week before this event invitations were given out from door to door. In the hall which seats about one hundred and thirty therewere gathered over two hundred, not counting the believers in fellowship. A set of coloured slides was shown which had been taken by the believers as a way of introducing themselves in the district. A tape recording was used to recall many happenings of interest, seeing that the hall is situated in what was once the East Bristol Coalfield, a place where George Whitfield and the Wesleys preached to the miners, sometimes to two thousand at a time in the open air. After such preaching white lines could be seen on the black faces of the miners as the Spirit of God wrought in their hearts. (How needful today to preach not just the love of God but the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Do we tend to overlook the holiness of our God?)
The following day brought believers from other neighbouring assemblies to unite in rejoicing for the goodness of God and to listen to the ministry of the Word of God from C. Ingleby. Further encouragement came on the Lord’s Day when over forty local residents were present at the Gospel meeting.
H. German found that most of the children in Chudleigh Knighton attended the meetings and up to ten mothers came and listened with them, but otherwise adults were difficult to contact. At Hemyock quite a number of teenagers and children trusted the Saviour and A. Blackburn saw the tent filled for adult meetings several times. In the north of the county at Copplestone good numbers nearly always included some unbelievers, two of whom professed to have accepted the Saviour.
A large company met in Union Hall, Cowdenbeath, in June to bid Godspeed to two of their young folk, J. Legg and Miss Kent, (who have since been married), who purpose serving their Lord in Africa. Brethren from neighbouring assemblies expressed in ministry their fellowship with them in their future service. The following week they left for Portugal to learn the language.
All readers are not called to take the news of the Saviour to other lands, but without exception all are called to make known their Saviour in their own locality. Have we done so?
There has been no evangelical witness in Bicester, a small market town in Oxfordshire. Believers in the small neighbouring village of Wendlebury were exercised about this and invited B. Sutton to pitch his tent in the town for several weeks until the end of August. Good numbers of children came from the start and adults in ones and twos. Blessing has followed the faithful preaching of the Word and believers are now concerned about the continuance of the work.
It is surely a basic responsibility of local believers to ensure that every house in their town or district receives a portion of Gospel literature, yet how rarely is this carried out. We have mentioned previously the mailing missions in Eire, and F. Pontin now states that by the end of the year every home in Munster will have been reached in this way. Munster covers six counties including several large towns. Can we say the same of our town?
The campaign with the county tent at Padiham was encouraging. Good support was given by other assemblies and the whole area was visited with tracts and invitations by young believers. Whilst F. Whitmore was the leader, he sought the help of others in the conduct of the meetings. Some came who had never attended such a gathering before, and there were those who gave evidence that the Lord was working in their hearts.
The Word of God
This should encourage those who faithfully distribute the Word in printed form. An evangelist had been addressing the Scripture Union branch in a school in Scotland, and afterwards handed out various leaflets including ‘Four Things God Wants You To Know’. One lad studied the pamphlet that night and was surprised by the contents, as it seemed to fit him personally. He realised his state as a sinner and that night accepted Christ as his Saviour. The Word is still the sword of the Spirit.