Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
The reports which follow have been gathered for us by correspondents in different districts. Their task is not an easy one and we would once again express our appreciation of their labours. Especially is this so in respect of J. Donaldson of Hamilton who for some fifteen years has been responsible for the south of Scotland. The faithful way in which he has done this has been manifest in the regularity of reports from that area. Due to advancing years he has now felt it necessary to hand over this service and we welcome m his place our brother T. Aitken, 6o, Cloglands, Forth, Lanarkshire.
The brethren whose names are mentioned in the reports are in no way responsible to the committee of the magazine, neither is that committee necessarily in agreement with all the methods used.
Some months have passed since we printed news from the Shetlands. In these isles there is a long season when meetings, apart from those on the Lord’s Day, are not well attended. This is during the summer when darkness sets in very late and people give their attention to their work out of doors which normally does not stop till it is time to retire for the night.
In spite of this J. Burns spent almost two months in intensive visitation, including speaking to those at work in the fields. In the homes in the West Mainland he was able to read the Scriptures and speak of divine things, while in several hamlets after-church meetings were convened.
So the work continues, for in general, outside Lerwick, a better response is made to cottage and similar simple gatherings than to meetings in halls or church buildings. This is surely a reminder to us all that we need to go with the Gospel, not wait for the unsaved to come to our halls.
The baptism of the first converts from a new work not only rejoices the heart of our Saviour but also encourages the workers immediately concerned together with all who preach and teach the truth of God in its fulness.
Believers in fellowship at Ipswich but labouring for their Lord in the village of Martlesham have had this happy experience recently when a married sister and a lad of seventeen were baptised. The former had been attending the Gospel meetings since their start in March of last year, never having heard the Gospel prior to this although she had been to church. She trusted the Saviour during special meetings held in the summer of 1965. The lad was a product of the Sunday School and had previously talked of baptism but was hindered by his mother. Recently a speaker commented on baptism along the lines that it was not something to be prayed about but something to be immediately obeyed. Following this both of those mentioned asked to be baptised, and the parents of the lad not only gave their permission but were witnesses of his obedience to his Lord. Other adults and young folk from Martlesham were also present, none of them having previously witnessed this ordinance.
Ipswich is one of those towns which is to be greatly expanded in size, and we would do well to be exercised that in such places a Gospel witness will be established among the new estates as they are erected.
More than one person has professed conversion at open air meetings this season. At Castle Kennedy a youth paid careful attention for several weeks as the Gospel was proclaimed, finally being so interested that he was almost standing with the preachers. Eventually after a talk he trusted the Saviour and has since been baptised at Stranraer.
The old shire tent has now been adapted into a portable hall and was erected for the first time at Kirkowan in the care of W. Scott and the W. Brown. Little interest was shown by the local residents, but among the visitors was the teenage sister of the lad mentioned above. She was subsequently taken to the Glenburn tent at Creetown and on the way home one evening professed to be saved. She has likewise obeyed her Lord in baptism, being witnssed by her unconverted parents.
Frequently those who are contacted during special Gospel efforts are lost sight of later. In Dunbartonshire many contacts have been made during this summer as the Gospel has been taken to various parts in the open air. As such an interest was shown, arrangements are being made to hold two separate weeks of meetings each year in all the areas which have been visited.
Following the visit of J. Burns to Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, reported in the last issue, the believers at Lockerbie have been exercised to commence a weeknight meeting in a small hall in this village for the young people. Attendances have been encouraging.
The shire tent was erected at Crossgates in July but during the first week in August intensive rain and wind not only damaged the tent but also caused flooding. A local hall was then used for the meetings which were in the care of S. Chambers.
The little assembly at Inverkeithing has been encouraged by three young folk who separately professed faith in the Saviour and have now been baptised and added to the assembly. In addition a young brother has been restored.
Gransha is a country district of Co. Down which for many years has been a centre of Gospel activity where God has worked mightily in days past. J. Martin conducted a long spell of Gospel meetings in the late summer which were well supported by many of the believers from around. A definite interest was shown by unsaved folk and a number professed conversion including some from the families of believers.
Some twelve miles to the north lies the needy town of Ballynahmch in the heart of the county where a small assembly witnesses faithfully to its Lord. Recently two young business men secured a site and erected a canvas tent in the centre of the town on the main road. For several weeks they preached the news of salvation faithfully yet there was little in the way of visible result.
Just a few miles away is the village of Drumaness which has featured in these reports several times when God has given blessing in the salvation of souls. Two brethren held meetings there and experienced the help of their Lord; doing a day’s secular work and carrying on meetings each night is quite a strain. Three other young brethren carried on a Gospel effort in a portable hall at Milltown. Numbers were fairly good but there was not a lot of local interest among the unsaved, although a few came to hear the simple message.
In Co. Tyrone the assembly in the town of Dungannon have much enjoyed and been encouraged by meetings held by T. McKelvey and E. Fairfield, the latter being on furlough from Venezuela. The local folk responded well and God visited them in the salvation of several souls.
How shall they hear?
A newsletter from Scotland contains the following comment regarding G. Miller, who was commended from the assembly at Dingwall, Ross-shire, two years ago. He “came from a Catholic farm labourer’s family and never heard the Gospel until he was nineteen. It is scarcely credible that a person could live in Scotland for nineteen years and never be handed a tract, never be invited to a Gospel meeting and never asked if he was saved! It was the thought of how many others were in the same state of ignorance that led G. Miller into full-time service, so that he might go from door to door with the Gospel”.
Are we able to say with confidence that every person living in the town where we live has been presented with the Gospel in one way or another? How about those in the street where we live? Or are there those who have been unaware for more than nineteen years of the Gospel of the glory of Christ which has been entrusted to us by our risen Lord?
North of Scotland
H. Burness and S. Stewart have enjoyed an encouraging season in their joint ventures with the tent which was pitched at Fochabers, Morayshire, first and then at Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire. Teenagers and children responded well at the first site, a number of youngsters and the mother of one of them professing conversion. Follow-up work presents a problem as there has been no assembly in this place for sixteen years. Both these places have a reputation of being hard as regards the Gospel, but the Lord was pleased to show the power of the Word preached in simplicity.
In the city of Aberdeen a number of local brethren, as in former years, erected a tent for the summer in one of the housing schemes on the north side of the town. Adults were unresponsive but children again rallied willingly. A special weekly meeting was also held for teenagers and in this way they were able to win the ear of many teddy-boy types who were abysmally ignorant of divine truth.
The assembly at Burney Bit, Pamber Heath, which is seven miles north of Basingstoke, commenced as a local testimony some fifty-five years ago. The faithful work and preaching of the late G. Titcombe were used of God to establish the witness in this village. After one summer’s work with tent and caravan a wooden sectional building was erected as a winter “tent”, the intention being to move it later. However it remains to this day, having been clad with iron sheeting about thirty years ago.
After the war the annual meetings grew so much that the venue was transferred to the Memorial Hall in Tadley. This year’s meeting in August saw some one hundred and fifty believers present in the morning for a conversational Bible reading led by H. Bell on the subject of “The imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ”. Various passages of scripture were read and expounded, showing that only Israel was seen to pass through the great tribulation. The afternoon and evening sessions were devoted to ministry by H. Bell and A. Leckie, who dealt among other things with the millennial reign of Christ and the eternal state. About two hundred and fifty were present at these sessions. Lunch and tea were provided which helped to make it a happy and helpful experience.
Such a gathering proves what has been mentioned in earlier issues, that there is an appetite among the Lord’s people for serious all-day study of the Word. It behoves those who are shepherds to provide food for such.
For the second half of the season the county tent was pitched in the Muirhouse housing scheme at Motherwell in the care of R. Jordan, the assembly at Shields Road being responsible. The Gospel was preached with both warmth and power and four persons professed to be saved. In addition many local residents came and heard the Word. The other four assemblies in the town gave much help and a united front was presented to the world in old fashioned open air marches each night. In view of the interest shown during this six weeks the Shields Road believers have decided to continue the Gospel testimony on Lord’s Day evenings.
The assemblies in this shire operate a Gospel van each summer, often in the care of D. Cameron, which visits hamlets and villages where there is no testimony. Before and after the summer season some brethren make use of it and have been going at holiday weekends to give help at Chirnside, Berwickshire, which may well be the oldest assembly in Scotland. At one time it looked as though the testimony might die out, but the work is now giving encouragement.
Many camps have been held for young folk during this summer, and we would briefly mention one of them, that arranged by the assembly at Hebron Hall, Port Glasgow. It was held at Coldstream, Berwickshire, and comprised sixty young people between the ages of eleven and eighteen. Each morning there was a Bible study session dealing with the life of Abraham whilst in the evening the Gospel was expounded. On the Lord’s Day morning and evening visits were made to the assembly at Chirnside mentioned above; having been advised of their coming the believers had hired a larger hall for the occasion. Thus advantage was taken of the opportunity that camps provide to bring young ones to assembly gatherings who would not attend in the normal way. Nine young folk trusted the Saviour while others expressed their thanks for the spiritual help they had received.
Among the many villages of Donegal is Convoy, lying not far from the border. Concern for the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants resulted in the erection of a portable hall where S. Lewis continued for five weeks in the proclamation of the Gospel, other brethren giving help. They were encouraged by a few unsaved coming regularly to hear of the Saviour.
During the months of July and August teams of sisters from assemblies both north and south of the border, together with others from England and Wales, engaged in door to door distribution of the scriptures in Co. Galway and Co. Donegal. Daily they sought to place a portion of God’s Word in each cottage and at the same time endeavoured to present the Gospel in its simplest form. Among the folk who were met were many who had spent their lives attempting to buy salvation through prayers, pilgrimages and penances, yet who longed for a certainty of happiness beyond the grave. Living under the bondage and in the fear of Rome leads to death without hope, but on more than one occasion they wept as they listened.
Over a slightly longer period teams of brethren engaged in the same work in the counties of Sligo, Mayo and Clare. The activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses made it difficult in some areas, but by contrast, in a number of districts the local parish priest recommended the reading of the Knox Scriptures. In Tramore and district some twenty-seven open air meetings were held and the reception on the promenade at Tramore was particularly rewarding.
It is not the intention to extend this section to foreign fields, but the following report will encourage those who seek to make their Saviour known in remote districts and in those areas where the reception is hard. It should also exercise each reader concerning the evangelisation of similar areas in Great Britain at present untouched with the Gospel.
On the main railway line some thirty miles north of Hamburg is a small village by the name of Wrist, and here the Lord has been pleased to manifest His grace in the fives of several. Looking back to 1947 there was very little interest to be found in this part of Germany in the Gospel of our God. The people stubbornly turned their backs upon Him, many having been caught up in the evils of black magic and superstition. (The very same evils that are spreading rapidly in Great Britain at the present time.) In His wisdom God brought into the area a brother who during the last few years has been very faithful in preaching the Gospel from house to house and in tent meetings. While the hostility has been very great in some villages, nevertheless some adults and children have turned to the Saviour. A disused dairy has now been purchased and converted into a Gospel hall with accommodation for visitors.
On June 17th last many believers gathered to witness the first baptism, some having travelled many miles in order to be present, hour sisters and two brethren obeyed their Lord in this way, one of the latter having previously had a leg amputated. The afternoon was spent in a conversational Bible reading dealing with the sixth chapter of Romans. Afterwards five sisters, one aged eighty-five, asked to be baptised as soon as possible and this took place in July.
Thus are apparent the results of God working through one of His servants who, being in the place of His directing, was prepared to serve Him in all simplicity in making known the Gospel. A century ago there were many m this land with a similar exercise who saw similar results following their labours, assemblies being established and built up. Have we lost this outlook?
The younger generation
One is continually impressed by the number of children ready to listen to the Gospel who are simply waiting for some believer to take it to them. On the edge of London lies Harefield, Middlesex, once a village but now absorbed into the built-up area. R. Whittern pitched a tent there for three weeks in August and while the response from adults was again very poor, over two hundred children attended.
Teenagers are not so easy to reach, but a group of young believers from the assembly at Castleton, Mumbles, Swansea, are being encouraged in their work among this age group. A weekly late night meeting is held and between thirty and forty teenagers come along. A short message is given and personal contact made over a cup of coffee.