Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
Personal Work. An elderly couple live on the Devon-Cornwall border at a spot where hitchhikers frequently wait for lifts further west. Many of us would no doubt only notice such folk with superficial interest at the best, but these believers regard them as a mission field on their doorstep and often extend an invitation into their home. A winsome smile and the offer of a cup of tea work wonders.
Numerous good contacts have been made, not only with British folk but also with overseas visitors. University students and some who are akin to the hippie groups have been among the callers.
Many have entered the home of these believers with little or no knowledge of the Gospel of Christ. Not only do they receive direct personal witness with their refreshment, but no visitor leaves without some appropriate literature and is then followed by the prayers ot these newly found friends.
What a reminder this is to each one of us that the preaching of the Gospel was never meant to be confined to orthodox addresses from a public platform. What an example also as to the right use of our own homes.
Open Air Work. On a Saturday in May the Tyneside Open Au Workers assisted the assembly at Walker, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. As a result thirty-five extra children attended the Sunday School on the following Lord's Day, and have continued since.
Northern Ireland. In County Antrim A. McShanc and N. Turkington had some weeks of meetings in a tent near Crumlin, a district noted for its lack of interest in divine things as far as assemblies are concerned. Although invitations were issued the folk in the vicinity showed little real interest and there were no known cases of conversion.
W. Nesbitt preached for some weeks at Whitehouse, on the outskirts of Belfast. In the first week a young woman who had been concerned was saved. Numbers were reasonably good as the meetings continued, but there were no other professions of salvation.
H. Dobson and E. McCullough had good Gospel meetings in a rent in the Ballyloley district, between Lame and Ballyclare. Early in the meetings a married woman professed faith in die Lord Jesus and later other members of her family became interested.
The assembly at Ballywatermoy, a country district some miles from Ballymena, has for years maintained a good testimony. Recently the believers became concerned about the nearby village of Cullybackey, where there has been considerable housing development. Systematic tract distribution had proceeded for some time and at the beginning of June a tent was erected convenient to one of the estates in which T. McKelvey and J. G. Hutchinson held six weeks of well attended Gospel meetings. The local unsaved folk responded better than had been expected, and a number professed conversion as God gave help.
For many years the believers meeting at Windsor Hall, Belfast, have found the going difficult. Some while ago things proved a little easier during a Gospel effort conducted by J. Wells and S. Ferguson. Some nights the attendances were fair yet there was no sign of a consistent local interest.
J. Brown and J. Lennox had very good numbers in the portable hall when pitched near Kilkeel, Co. Down. The local people responded well and all were encouraged as there was apparent fruit from the meetings.
North-East Scotland. H. Burness pitched his tent for the first part of the summer in the village of Newtonhill on the Kincardineshire coast. For long a fishing village, Newtonhill has greatly expanded during the past few years and is now a dormitory suburb of Aberdeen, to which most of the inhabitants commute daily for work. The response from the children was good but from the adults very disappointing. It has often been found that there is a better response to the Gospel on the coast than inland, but this part of the north-east coast has always been notorious for its hardness regarding the Gospel.
In the capital of the Highlands, Inverness, P. Brandon held an encouraging series of Gospel meetings during April. There was a hearty response on the part of the townsfolk and the assembly was much encouraged.
Southern Scotland. Recent removals reduced the Hurlford assembly, Ayrshire, to six in number of whom only two were brethren. It was therefore decided to pitch the shire tent there, M. Newman being responsible for the preaching. It is worthy of note that at least two of those who were saved in the last tent effort in Hurlford are still progressing spiritually. Good organized support from the other assemblies in the shire ensured a goodly congregation each evening. A sprinkling of local folk came nightly, and there were times when the tent could not hold all the youngsters who wished to attend the children's meeting. At the time this report was written an elderly couple and a teenage girl had professed to have accepted the Saviour and interest is being shown by others.
For the first time in over thirty years the assembly at Glengarnock held a Gospel campaign which was conducted by J. Clunas. A good deal of interest was aroused and there were large gatherings. Two people have been baptized and added to the number in fellowship.
Preaching a solemn Gospel message on a Lord's Day evening when there were no unsaved present, J. Burns was surprised to see the few saints begin to weep. It transpired that they were burdened about local unsaved people and resolved that it was time that they did something about reaching them with the news of the Saviour. Are we hardened to the sound of the Gospel so that it does not have a similar effect upon each one of us?
In Motherwell, where the Lord's Day evening meeting is devoted to ministry during the summer, a backslider was restored recently in response to the ministry. Are we as concerned as we should be about the restoration of backsliders? Following on from this, are we as plain in our teaching as we should be about the danger of backsliding, the ease with which we can let things slide?
The Lanarkshire mobile hall was erected at Stonehouse with J. Aitken in charge. There were fairly good attendances and some were saved.
Several young believers from the Glenburn assembly and the surrounding district took a tent to Creetown, Kirkcudbrightshire, during the first fortnight in August. There are some in the assembly at Creetown who were brought to the Saviour through a previous visit with the tent.
In Wigtownshire the Gospel effort during the summer months centres round the Gospel van which is in the charge of the younger brethren who reside in the area. While the nature of the work is that of sowing, it is good to know that there are several in fellowship in the assemblies in this shire who were first contacted through this work.
In Lanarkshire some young brethren have set up bookstalls on Saturdays in their local and neighbouring towns on special occasions. Some from other shires were involved in a similar rewarding effort at the Ayr Agricultural Show this summer. The Bible Stand erected there had a frontage of twenty-six feet, which was used not only for the display of Bibles for sale but also to encourage folk to read and believe the Scriptures. A considerable area was used for the display of suitably designed posters.
The underlying purpose of this stand was to get into personal touch with the many thousands who visit this show. Many serious conversations took place and the workers are seeking to keep in touch with all such contacts. Disappointment was felt that the farming community who live closer to nature than most of us, were not as ready to speak on spiritual matters as the townsfolk.