Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
In 1965 a group of believers from the Hamilton area of Lanarkshire decided to concentrate their attention upon the nearest country town with no assembly witness, which was Peebles. Fortnightly visits were made for house to house visitation. Careful notes were taken of all contacts and these were invited to occasional Gospel rallies in the Town Hall.
In the following year a married couple moved into Peebles to form a base for the work and to follow up the contacts which had been made. In 1967 youth activities were begun both in Peebles and Innerleithen which produced fruit in the following years. A year later came the first converts, four girls to begin with and later two more, this resulting from the visit of a team to Innerleithen.
Three couples formed the first assembly gathering, meeting in a rented room, and a weekly Bible study was started to help young believers. In 1969 die first lad was saved and in the spring there was a time of blessing, culminating in a move to new premises, Peebles Evangelical Church. Five young folk were baptized after the opening conference. Fairly regular conversions and baptisms followed, although there were disappointments as well. In 1971 a monthly Gospel meeting was commenced when unsaved adults were always present, mainly parents and friends of the converted young people.
Now in 1972 there are nearly thirty in fellowship, about half being young people from unsaved homes. A small group still come monthly to follow up the children's work in Innerleithen and Walkerburn. A Gospel campaign is planned for the autumn of this year.
Essex. The believers gathering at the Assembly Hall, Colchester, have undertaken the task of placing a tract in each house in the town which has a population of some 75,000. They produced their own tract and there was a ready response to the invitation to join in the work. It was especially encouraging to note the keenness of the younger ones in fellowship.
This assembly is responsible for visiting nine eventide homes in and around the town. This work has continued for many years and all were encouraged that the last opening arose when the local council contacted the assembly and asked the believers to arrange an evening service on the Lord's Day.
Somerset. In the small town of Ilminster the believers invited J. Hadley of Cornwall to hold a fortnight's children's meetings. The Lord greatly blessed in numbers and we trust in spiritual matters. The Sunday School was very much increased and a good weeknight meeting has been kept up. One young person has asked for baptism and five adults have been added to the assembly as the result of the meetings.
Devon. Last winter the believers at Bow had consecutive ministry of the Word on Saturday evenings. Brethren took up the letters to the seven churches in the book of the Revelation and the interest roused and help given was very manifest.
In North Devon an unusual opportunity for Gospel witness has resulted from the closure of the Seamen's Mission and Sailors' Rest at Appledore. This work was closed because the Society concerned found it impossible to carry on ship visiting in the area. A committee of local brethren was formed with a view to purchasing the extensive property, but the premises were sold to a property company. When the mission closed early this year the local newspaper reported cases of distress at the closing service.
The use of a nearby hall has been obtained for the Lord's Day evening Gospel service, and practically the whole of the former congregation met there for the first time during February. However the use of this hall has only been granted on a temporary basis and it is not available for Sunday School, Women's Meetings or other activities. The men who used the Sailors' Rest are on the street. Negotiations are in progress however, for the purchase of the original Mission and upper hall, and if this part of the property can be bought all the former work could be restarted. F. Holmes tells of good congregations and an open door for visitation in a growing community which has a shipyard employing seven hundred men. There was an assembly in Appledore until about fifty years ago. The prayers of those who laboured in those difficult and disappointing times are not forgotten by our God.
Lancashire. As previously reported the assembly at Boarshaw, Middleton, had to close through lack of numbers some twelve months ago. However recently N. Mellish has held Gospel meetings with unsaved folk present nearly every night.
D. Bingham held a weeks campaign for young people at Hebron Hall, Bolton, providing an outreach to non-church-goers that produced above average interest with good numbers attending.
A brother in assembly fellowship who took a post at Bolton Institute of Technology was dismayed to find that there was no active Christian work among the students. Last September he posted a notice inviting all who were interested to contact him. Over fifteen students and one or two staff showed interest and a weekly meeting for prayer and Bible study was commenced. New students who were not settled at a particular place of worship were commended to nearby Hebron Hall, and one of these is now awaiting baptism.
Outreach to unsaved students began with a visit from P. Maiden. This was followed a month later by an address from N. Mellish when a backslider was restored. Then this spring the campaign mentioned above, taken by D. Bingham, meant that lunch time meetings could be held in the college. At one session in the refectory hundreds listened with attention, while at the more formal sessions some forty students were present. Even the Sikhs and Buddhists joined in the questions.
Mid Scotland. The small assemblies at Windygates and Methilhill in East Fife held a joint meeting one Lord's Day in February. This was the occasion when three elderly sisters were baptized, and many young people saw this ordinance for the first time. This gave a great uplift to the believers as it was the result of continued local endeavour and not the result of special meetings.
Two weeks of Gospel meetings were held early this year in Cowdenbeath, West Fife. On some occasions over twenty unsaved were present, and quite a number attended from a neighbouring town where there is no assembly but a weekly gathering is held for young people. Some still attend the Gospel meeting, one a lad of sixteen who confessed that he had trusted the Saviour during the children's meetings. On Saturday afternoons meetings were held for senior citizens, and almost sixty attended on one occasion.
In Angus and Kincardine A. Pollard has noticed an increasing interest among the children, not just in numbers but in the Lord Himself. This is especially so in Montrose and Gourdon where a few have recently accepted the Saviour. The correspondence course work has mushroomed, and the high marks obtained show that the Scriptures are being studied.
The house meetings continue in Montrose and Brechin. There have been four who have trusted the Lord together with a few backsliders who are now seeking to walk in ways pleasing to our God.
The Auchtermuchty district of North Fife has been a fruitful area in recent years. Those saved have been crying out for a regular meeting to be arranged, and this became possible at the end of February. Twentyseven local people were present on the first night.
A second portable hall is being built for use in the Perthshire area. Public halls are very expensive to hire and cannot be booked with any degree of regularity. J. Hay desires to commence work in Braco but the lack of accommodation causes difficulties.
Republic of Ireland. D. Stevens recently revisited some homes on a housing estate in Limerick where he had sold copies of the Scriptures a year ago. He was encouraged to find that quite a number were obviously making good use of them. One sad feature was the evident advance that the Jehovah's Witnesses had made in some of these homes.
A specially designed Bible Exhibition Mobile Unit has been put into operation. It has living accommodation for three workers together with a preaching platform, a book display area and visual-aid unit. In spite of the troubled condition of the land it is planned to visit the main town of each of the twenty six counties during this year, operating in each place for at least one week.
Northern Ireland. T. McKelvey and J. G. Hutchinson had Gospel meetings in the Gospel Hall in the village of Rasharkin which lasted two months. The assembly is small but the meetings were well attended and several made it known that they had trusted the Saviour.
The present troubles have made Gospel work difficult in the city of Belfast, but notwithstanding this a number of special efforts have taken place and there has been encouragement and blessing. T. Bentley had good numbers in Fortwilliam Hall and some professed salvation.
E. Wishart and S. Thompson were in the Donegall Road Hall, a more troubled area. Meetings were smaller but again there was some blessing.
S. Jennings and J. Flannigan had six weeks of well attended meetings in the Ormeau Gospel Hall. Good numbers of outsiders attended and some told of being saved, including a West African seaman who had been taken along to the hall.
N. Stewart and S. Maze had meetings in a portable hall in Bally-lesson, a village on the outskirts of Belfast. There was a good interest and the hall was filled nightly, some being saved. J. Milne and J. McCann had six weeks of well attended meetings in Lurgan. Some professed to accept the Saviour including an elderly lady. W. Nesbitt and all concerned were encouraged to know that some who had long been the subject of prayer were saved during meetings at Annabawn near Rathfriland.
S. Wells and H. Hunter preached for thirteen weeks in a portable hall near Bleary before there were any known cases of conversion. Then as they continued numbers confessed to have exercised faith in the Saviour, some having been the subject of much prayer.
A. Logan preached for seven weeks in the Cloughfern Gospel Hall, on the outskirts of Belfast. A number professed salvation including a woman of 85 years of age.
H. S. Paisley of Canada, on a visit to his native province, had seven weeks of meetings in the Glebe Orange Hall, near Ahoghill. Good numbers of outsiders attended and quite a few professed to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Southern Scotland. The little assembly at Muirkirk, Ayrshire, has been reduced to only one brother and a few sisters. J. Ritchie spent some of January and the whole of February with them and saw encouragement. Before the meetings began an elderly man and a woman professed conversion during visitation. During the meetings several other women professed conversion, two of them being baptized while an elderly man was restored. T. Wilson has continued once a week during March in a house on the housing scheme which is much handier than the hall for the populace.
J. Burns spent five weeks early this year in Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, where the assembly is very small and there is a tradition of religious hardness. The meetings seemed to be beset with difficulties due to the weather, power cuts and illness. However a few did come regularly and many more showed an interest when visited.
Dumfriesshire is as needy as all the other counties in northern or southern Scotland, but while the population in those areas steadily declines, this county has an expanding population, yet there are only a handful of assemblies to serve it. D. Locke and his wife have been commended to work in this area and are living in Langholm, where there was a small assembly until the war years.
The believers at Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, held special Gospel meetings during February when the preacher was W. Park. Many tracts were distributed and open air meetings were recommenced after lapsing for several years. Several were added to the Sunday School and the believers were encouraged as good numbers attended.
At Victoria Hall, Clydebank, the parents night was a great success. The hall was packed and many were impressed as the Word was faithfully proclaimed.