Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"God. . .giveth the increase", 1 Cor.3.6. "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear", Mark 4. 28.
Souls are not easily won for Christ. Satan does not readily yield up his spoils. Before the crisis of conversion, there is often a long chain of events which lead up to the vital decision. Yet every conversion is a miracle of divine grace. In some of the reports of work done, this process is evident, and in other cases it is evident that the first seed has only just been sown. When praying for those who labour it is good to bear this in mind. We need to pray as much for the preparation of evangelical work as we do for the actual furtherance of the work. Many evangelists are now seeking the Lord's will for the months which lie ahead. The demands of the work are great and the task does not get easier. Let us be diligent in our praying that the Holy Spirit will open doors through which God's servants will be abundantly used. Many will work—it is God who gives the increase. The reports of the work sent in are much appreciated, and we are grateful to all who help in this way. We can pray together that 1978 will produce much fruit for the great Lord of the harvest.
Southern Ireland. From A. Gray, MOUNTMELLICK, comes news of the Postal Sunday School work. The autumn was a busy time. The annual prize-givings in various parts of the country were larger than ever. Workers were able to meet many of the pupils with their parents who show interest in the Word of God. It gives great joy to meet many who have accepted Christ and are growing spiritually. Prayer is asked for the administrative side of the work, with a number of staff changes taking place. From SKIBBEREEN comes news of a special Gospel campaign conducted by Messrs Stewart and Patterson. This was held during November and early December, and attendances were excellent. Several Roman Catholics came and many who would not come to a Gospel Hall attended.
In BANDON several Bible studies in Revelation were given by Jim Flanigan, and were well attended. Many were encouraged and some ware saved. During most weeks, open-air meetings are held in various towns by young brethren, mostly recently converted Roman Catholics. These have been baptized and are in fellowship in local churches, especially BANDON. Pray for these faithful witnesses to Christ. An open-air meeting is held every week in CORK CITY. Much opposition is experienced from Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Cults of error cannot allow the light of truth to shine. A united prayer meeting is held each month by rotation in the four assemblies in the south. This began at the Annual Conference in 1962, held on St. Patrick's Day in CORK. Praying together!
Northern Ireland. Conditions in BELFAST make it very difficult to get unsaved people into Gospel Halls. In ORMEAU, situated in an area fast becoming occupied by Roman Catholics, a definite outreach work has been undertaken. About 3,000 homes were visited with leaflets and gospel tracts, and people were invited to a Tuesday night "Community Hour". This is a time of singing of hymns and choruses followed by a clear gospel message. Refreshments end the evening. About 40/50 gather, mainly women and mostly unsaved. One lady has confessed Christ and continues to come to the Sunday evening meeting. Two business men were due to commence meetings here on January 15th, Jack and Harry Andrews. About ten minutes before the first meeting, the prayer meeting was in progress when three bombs went off without warning in shops on either side of the hall causing fires. Damage was done but no one was hurt and all got away safely. J. Graham writes, "Your prayers for this district, which is largely Roman Catholic with a high proportion of I.R.A. supporters, would be appreciated by the believers".
Troubles in BELFAST also make it nearly impossible to hold open-air meetings and distribute tracts. Several assemblies have contributed to placing Scripture texts on roof panels of city buses. There are at least 75 buses carrying the Word of God, operating in every area of Belfast. This will continue until May 1978. Unknown to these Belfast assemblies, the Holywood assembly had a similar exercise. In at least 50 buses, operating in the North Down area, texts are carried. Let us pray that these silent messages will speak loudly. In the small village of PURDYSBURN, just outside Belfast, there has been a Sunday school for many years but Gospel meetings are difficult. W. Nesbitt spent ten weeks there before Christmas and two young men professed faith in Christ. Increase in population due to redevelopment sometimes means assembly increases. This has been so in ANTRIM where for years the assembly has struggled. The Gospel meeting has flourished and the Sunday school is good. Recently S. Thompson and Reg. Jordan preached nightly for several weeks. Encouragement came as some accepted Christ.
The Gospel Hall at CLONKEEN near Randalstown was filled each night in special meetings conducted for eleven weeks by J. Brown and J. Lennox. Folks ware brought in to the meetings by special bus, and there were some conversions. GLENGORMLEY is a growing assembly and with their hall usually filled to capacity young men took an interest in areas around. At MOSSLEY they were granted the use of a Community Hall for an after-church service on Sunday evenings. A good interest was shown. Prayer would be valued for this new work in a large and needy area.
Scotland. ORKNEY. Items from "Northern Links" give news of further activities in these remote parts. One week's special children's meetings were held in Victoria Hall, KIRKWALL, in October. J. Mair and Billy Cardno worked together. Schools were visited, and the meetings were advertised over Radio Orkney. The response was encouraging with numbers reaching fifty on some evenings. The children's meetings continue during winter months on Thursday evenings. A series of ministry meetings followed, conducted by J. Mair, At WESTRAY, M. Browne held two weeks meetings in the Gospel Hall. Each evening unsaved were present, and power was felt in the preaching. Two well attended "after-church" services were held on the Sunday evenings. There was much prayer behind these meetings. At PAPA WEST-RAY, there is continued interest in the Gospel and prayer would be valued as some show signs of spiritual concern. Prayer is sought for ORKNEY outreach and plans to visit the islands later on in the year.
Shetlands. News, again from "Northern Links", tells of work in these parts. The BRAE portable Gospel Hall is now erected on an excellent site opposite a new housing estate for the families of Sullum Voe oil workers and the gospel is being preached there. Albert Aiken of Belfast held four weeks meetings there. The gospel was given with power, and a deep interest was created; much visiting was done around the hall. A former elder of the kirk was baptized at LERWICK and brought into fellowship at BRAE and MANGASTER. This series of meetings brought encouragement to saints at BRAE. At MANGASTER believers continue to gather for breaking of bread. Three more baptisms took place at LERWICK on October 12th.
Near the year's end, blessing was enjoyed in campaigns in DUMBARTON, CROSSHOUSE, IRVINE and NEWTON-GRANGE. People were saved in these places. How wonderful that these people entered the New Year with Christ.
Worth-West England. The CHEET-HAM assembly in MANCHESTER hired a room for Friday evenings from October 7th to November 18th. for informal Bible discussions on stated subjects. Good interest was shown in teaching and discussion. About 12 people, unknown to the assembly came in. Four R.C. students came each week. Assembly support was good.
The LANCASHIRE TENT was the means of much blessing in 1977. Six weeks campaign was set for OPENSHAW but such was the interest that it continued for an extra week. Much prayer and visitation by local assemblies gave good support. D. McMaster conducted children's work for four weeks, and although numbers were limited by Jubilee celebrations numbers overall rose to about 200. Local brethren continued with the children for a further three weeks, and interest was maintained throughout. J. G. Hutchinson held four weeks meetings with the adults, and J. Smyth took over for the final weeks. Meetings were very well attended, and interest deepened as time went on; people listened and came back for more. Some trusted Christ, including a 12-year old boy to the delight of his widowed mother, and a young mother of two children who needs much prayer. Prayer is sought for future plans during 1978. From MERSEYSIDE come two brief items of news. There was keen interest shown in a campaign held at West Vale Chapel, KIRKBY, by Peter Brandon. A number of people were led to Christ. At HUYTON, there was some fine ministry given at the New Year conference with a good company attending.
North-East England. During the past few months several assemblies in the North-East, feeling the need for evangelism in these parts, united together to form the N.E. Assemblies Outreach. It is hoped that believers, especially young people, will give help to evangelists at several centres during the summer, in tract distribution, open air work and beach missions. This vision needs prayer that the Lord will open the way to blessings. Recently the assembly at WALKER had two young people baptized. Ten young people have been saved and baptized during 1977, and eight of them are now in fellowship. Over the last two years, through God's blessing twenty young people have been saved and baptized, sixteen of which are in fellowship. The work is the fruit of activity among the youth of the area. Loving interest has been shown and the barriers have been gradually broken down and confidence won. In this way hearts have been prepared for salvation.
The Hartlepool assembly is planning again the "Tell Hartlepool" campaign which began last year. The aim is to place a gospel tract in every home, and to offer free New Testaments and correspondence courses to the people. So far half the houses in the town have been visited and several requests for literature have been received. It is hoped that this work will be complete by early summer and that help will be given with a campaign at OLD HARTLE-POOL
Midlands. In BIRMINGHAM a useful work is done among immigrants by Ruth Bourne. Contacts are made with Bengali-speaking women. These women, especially Muslims, are usually isolated and lonely. Friendships are established by visiting their homes and many areas of need are discovered, mainly because English is not spoken. The love of the Lord Jesus is shown to them in practical ways. Usually it is possible to play Gospel tapes to them in their own language, and discussion follows. Illiteracy makes the use of literature impossible unless it is left for the men. Three children's meetings are held each week. While these children are not allowed at Sunday school they are allowed at these meetings. Open air meetings are held during holiday time in the parks especially with the view to reach Asian children not allowed at the meetings, Children have been saved but follow-up work is difficult as Bibles are forbidden. TB. wards in hospitals are visited where a large number of patients are Asians. If the women can read, literature is given. Gospel tapes are useful in reaching various language groups. On the last visit, five Muslim women have purchased copies of the Gospel tapes. Here is a mission field on our door steps. Let us pray that many will find the Saviour.
At CHURCH DOWN Glos., a desperately needy area, R. Chilvers was able in 1976 to obtain a site for a tent campaign. Amidst much difficulty and in a very rough area a work was done over three weeks and many came from the estate. No damage was done to the tent and God honoured the faith of those who worked. Some accepted Christ. Since the campaign, an adult Bible Study has been held in a local Christian home. About twenty adults and teenagers now gather, and recently a weekly prayer meeting has commenced. Also in the local youth centre a Sunday School began and about 50/60 now gather. Several have been baptized in a local assembly since the campaign. At the other end of the village a campaign was held in 1977. Some of those saved in 1976 were able to join with this. Contacts were more difficult here, but as a result a local school hall has been hired for a Wednesday evening children's work. Prayer is much needed for this difficult area.
London and Home Counties. The
Christmas season offered to many local assemblies the opportunity to reach out with the message. At WELLING the believers held a Carol Service on the Sunday evening before Christmas. About 120 attended including a number of strangers. Scripture readings, items sung by the young people, and a closing Gospel message, made for a useful evening. Invitations had been sent to parents through Sunday school children, and some of these came. At Birkbeck Chapel, SIDCUP, a special Christmas morning service was held and about 120 gathered, including parents of children and young people who attend. The young people at PECKHAM sang carols in the shopping centre on the Saturdays before Christmas and gave out suitable Christian literature to passers-by.
South of England. There are those who are able to take the Word of God into prisons. At DORCHESTER, for over 20 years there have been regular weekly visits to the prison. Each Friday evening between 6.30 and 8 p.m. a Bible Class is held. Home Office regulations restrict attendances to twelve each week, but it is estimated that during a year about forty hear the Gospel. A short time of singing of hymns and choruses is followed by systematic Bible teaching. Questions and discussion follow. This has proved a fruitful work in that many have found blessing, some have been saved, and backsliders have been restored. Spiritual help with personal and family problems has been given. Recently one man under conviction of sin was moved to Dartmoor. Here he met a godly chaplain, and the Lord gloriously saved him. Since release, he has revisited Dorchester and given testimony in song to God's saving grace. J. Stbckley has for the past eleven years been responsible for the Bible Classes. Much wisdom and understanding is needed in the furtherance of this work. We can have fellowship in our prayers.
South Wales. More news about work with Senior Citizens. From October to April, eight of the assemblies in SWANSEA area take over the responsibility for services in the nine Residential Homes controlled by the Council. A small band of workers pays a visit each month. A short bright service is conducted and personal contact with the residents is made. Many of them are believers and appreciate much the fellowship. But to many who are nearing the end of the journey of life, it is good to have the opportunity of presenting the Gospel. This is a work that demands constant care and prayer, and has been the responsibility of the assemblies for over 30 years. At TRETHOMAS, Gospel Literature Outreach worked with Robert McLuckie from Ireland in a two weeks campaign. Here the proof was seen of consistent visitation of the homes on the estate. Much seed had been sown over the past three years but little reaped. The turning point came in these meetings. Four young people came to Christ for salvation. Two women were led to Christ in their homes. Since the campaign others have been saved. Three people in one family are among them, and also other young people have recently made decisions. After the sowing the reaping—God is faithful.
Devon, Cornwall. In PLYMOUTH'S West Hill Gospel Hall a regular Senior Citizens tea is held. These elderly folk are contacted through individuals and Residential Homes and they are brought to the Hall for special tea and Gospel meetings. These people appreciate what is done, and some come to the Sunday evening service as a result. During the past year a few of the sisters have been visiting an old people's Home each month. A time of hymn singing and a brief message make a useful contact, and then conversation with the residents takes place. Visitation is also under way, and about 500 homes are being visited with literature in an effort to contact the middle-age groups. Emphasis is put on personal contact with householders.
Further news comes of the work with the spastic children at IVYBRIDGE; one teenager—Kevin—has trusted Christ as Saviour. He has speech difficulties and is unable to write but he has definitely opened his life to the Saviour. We can join with those who labour to praise God.
Believers in PENZANCE have moved premises. The week before Christmas they arrived on Sunday morning to find part of the ceiling fallen in. The exercise of the brethren was to leave the building and seek other accommodation. Indications were that the Lord was directing towards the CARBIS BAY area. This seemed confirmed when they were able to hire the Memorial Hall for the Lord's Day as long as required. A Sunday School commenced and there has been the joy of seeing strangers at the Gospel Meeting. A plot of land to build is being sought and the Lord's guidance is awaited in this matter. The new assembly address is, The Memorial Hall, Trencron Lane, CARBIS BAY, St. Ives. Breaking of bread is at 11 a.m., Sunday School at 2.15 p.m., Gospel Meeting at 6 p.m. Visitors to the area are very welcome.