Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"Our God . . . is able", Daniel 3. 17.
This report has been collected together at a time of national strife and chaos. How impotent the government of the country seems in the face of determined resistance and anarchy! We are able to turn from such evidences of powerlessness, and consider the mighty power of our God. Let us remember that He is our God—this blessed relationship is ours in Christ. He is able. We have reports this time of new ventures of faith and work, and of blessing in many places. One writer said very strikingly about the area of work in which he is engaged, "we are in a war situation in this area—a spiritual war". Behind the evidences of outward evil and chaos lie powers of darkness directed by Satan himself. Yet God is able. No situation takes Him by surprise—there is no chaos in the government of heaven. Let us in prayer and pursuit lay hold on His unfailing ability to bring salvation to all who believe in Him.
We are much indebted to those who regularly collect material for reports, and to help in collecting this material we give below addresses of those responsible in each area of the country. If you notice that your area is not covered and that you can help in this way it will be appreciated.
Ian Munro, "Roebank", Castle Road, Invergordon IV18 OLW.
Central and Southern Scotland
T. Aitken, 60, Cloglands, Forth, Lanarks.
J. Graham, 45, Beechgrove Drive, Belfast, N. Ireland.
J. S. Wallace, 8, Cambridge Avenue, Ballymena, N. Ireland.
E. Webb, "Sunnyside", Innishanon, Co. Cork, Eire.
D. Taylor, 50, Broomfield Avenue, Battle Hill Estate, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear.
H. Oakey, 38, Wilton Road. Huyton, Liverpool L36 5XB.
A. T. Shearman, 161, Bilford Road, Worcester.
London & Home Counties
J. Riddle, 111, Penton Drive. Cheshunt, Herts. EN8 9RU.
S. Mountstevens, 12, Beechcroft Gardens, Off Cornwall Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 7HE.
J. A. Harman, 9, Orion Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8LG.
L. Dan, 33, Priory Road, Lower Compton, Plymouth.
W. Beale, "Avalon", 3, Railway Terrace, Fforestfach, Swansea SA5 5BJ.
Ireland. From BELFAST comes news of a series of meetings held in Kingsbridge Gospel Hall by J. Flanagan and J. Flynn (Ethiopia). God gave blessing both in salvation and restoration. At Derriaghy Gospel Hall T. McNeil and J. Hawthorne had good numbers and saw blessing in a series of meetings. Meetings have been held by Sam McBride at Ballymacashon Gospel Hall. Also in Bloomfield Gospel Hall a series of meetings was held by J. Hawthorne and D. Kane. At BALLY-DOUGAN, Co. Armagh, blessing was experienced in some meetings, and souls were saved. Behind all the activities, from 6 a.m. until midnight each day, there was always someone praying. Believers formed a prayer chain and the power of this exercise was proved. Meetings were held in BANGOR, Co.Down, by S. Maze (Antigua) and Norns Stewart (New Zealand) at Lisnabreen Gospel Hall in association with Ebenezer Gospel Hall. God gave blessing to His Word. From ordinary gospel meetings in two different halls news comes of God's blessing. A lady came in to a Sunday evening service and was led to the Lord. Another lady was saved on a Thursday evening after Jack Andrews had given the message. Prayer is asked for follow-up work in these efforts.
Scotland. In LANARKSHIRE during the Christmas season, many opportunities were taken by the assemblies to visit hospitals, witnessing to sick and elderly folk. Both patients and staff were able to hear again the gospel message. At LIVINGSTON in West Lothian the weekly senior citizens meeting has continued to prove useful with about 70 attending. A Christmas dinner was laid on for them and 100 came in, enjoying a good meal, and then listening to a clear gospel message. It was not difficult to gain their interest after the kindness shown to them. At FORTH a Christmas Eve service was held and at least sixty unsaved were gathered in. A cup of tea and some carol singing prepared the way for J. Anderson of Annbank to give a challenging message. BOTHWELL and NEWMAINS assemblies both combined their prize-giving service with a Christmas service. Parents were invited and came in good numbers, and a time of blessing was enjoyed. The weather badly influenced the New Year Conferences Good times were experienced at MOTHERWELL,LARKHALL,WHITBURN, and NEW STEVENSTON. People turned out well, and the ministry given was helpful and stimulating. FALKIRK among others had to cancel theirs because of the weather. As a result of follow-up meetings held at Cononbridge by Frank Reid, a man in his thirties, who had been seeking salvation, found Christ. He has since been baptized and is in fellowship in DINGWALL. A carol service was held on the Friday evening before Christmas in the village of CONTIN by a retired brother from Dingwall. Almost everyone in the village who had a child was present, and the place was packed with parents and children. This presented a unique opportunity to preach Christ. Although there is no assembly in INVER-GORDON a few Christians have access to a local hospital for gospel witness. On Christmas Eve they visited and gave to each of the patients a small present as well as conducting a service in each of the wards. These services proved a blessing to aged patients. Pray that they may find the Saviour.
Isle of Man. More news is to hand of the new venture at Port St. Mary. (This was mentioned in an earlier issue of Precious Seed.) The work is progressing and the opening of the hall is planned for March 24th. There will be ministry of the Word given by three brethren from England with others. Transport over to the island is being arranged with charter flight from Blackpool. The prayers and fellowship of many have been appreciated by believers there and also a further anonymous gift of £10 from Bath. Let us pray that this testimony will bring blessing to many.
North-West England. We have reports of good attendances at special Christmas services in MANCHESTER. The assembly at FLIXTON had a very encouraging time at their Carol Service with an overflow of people into the porch. The Manchester New Year Conference was hit by bad weather conditions. But in spite of a blizzard and uncertain transport conditions, numbers were reasonable, and J. B. Hewitt and David West gave valuable help in both Bible Readings and Ministry.
In LIVERPOOL, the "Men's Circle'' held at Ramilies Road Chapel continues to provide a much valued and appreciated time for fellowship together. A good time was had at a Christmas party provided by the members. This year's New Year Conference at Bethany, HUYTON, was again a time of spiritual refreshment. A good number were able to gather despite very wintry weather. The Liverpool Assemblies Winter Rallies held at Bethany from October to December were very well attended, when profitable ministry was enjoyed. Since recommencing on January 20th, the weather has been very severe, thus affecting attendances. Sadly the speaker expected on that day suddenly in a motor accident on the journey to the meeting went to be with the Lord. This was Mr. Nigel West of Pamber Heath; we continue to remember his family and friends. Busy preparation is in progress for the Annual Merseyside Tent Crusade in June for three weeks with John Clunas; prayer would be appreciated.
Midlands. From KIDDERMINSTER comes a story of God's faithfulness and the work of His people. On Saturday January 13th, a new hall was opened on the Off-more Estate amidst much rejoicing. The beginnings of the testimony go back to 1962 when three young brethren held a tent campaign on the Comberton Estate, Kidderminster. Good interest was shown and for two years following, door-to-door work was carried on by various local believers who felt the need. Another tent campaign was held in 1964, and following this a room was rented in the Cricket Ground to carry on the testimony. Gradually the work strengthened, and in 1970 meetings began in Offmore Community Centre. Five people broke bread together on the first Sunday morning. People came in to the Gospel Services, the women's work grew and interest developed in the Sunday School. Souls were saved and believers were baptized. Eventually a piece of ground was acquired next door to the Community Centre. Behind all this there is a wonderful story of God's guidance, provision and the generosity of His people. On the opening day about 200 gathered to hear how the Lord had so wonderfully blessed, and to give Him praise. Those who gather at Offmore would value prayer that the Lord will supply the remaining financial needs and that His blessing will continue upon the work on this needy estate.
Worthwhile Carol Services were held at Charles Street, WORCESTER, on the two Sundays preceding Christmas. Through the activities of the children many parents came and on both occasions the hall was packed to capacity. At each service a challenging gospel message was given and the interest was encouraging. From DAVENTRY comes a report of a funeral service which Ivor Powell describes as just a thanksgiving service. When our brother first met this man he was hard and self-righteous, having no time for Christ. Then at 89 years of age, after a spell in hospital, he was led to the Saviour. For 6 years he was a changed man and the Lord called him home at 95. At the funeral the hall was packed and unsaved relatives were greatly impressed by the testimony. At ASTON, Birmingham, Stewart McKenzie held a campaign in November 1978. Much preparatory work took place but the response was poor. Amidst the disappointment, however, a woman from the nearby flats trusted Christ; a married woman and a teenage girl, brought in by a relation, also accepted the Saviour.
There has been an assembly in LUDLOW for many years but through home-calls and other causes numbers have become much depleted. Now the Gospel Hall is in a condition beyond economic repair, But all is not lost! The Lord has directed the believers to an area of housing development where there is no evangelical witness. A site is to be purchased and a Christian architect has drawn up plans for a new building. With this vision the believers seek prayer support both for the sale of the old building and for the purchase of the new one.
News comes from Ruth Bourne in BIRMINGHAM concerning the continued work there among immigrants. Each week new Bengali families are being met. There are said to be about 22,000 of these now in Birmingham. Mostly, even the men do not speak English and many are just illiterate. The need is felt for a Christian Bengali national to work amongst them. It would be good if he were a convert from Islam. One visiting Christian girl was able to read on to cassette tapes the whole of John's Gospel, and also to make a cassette to be used by Gospel Recordings for a record.
There are many needs, and many sad stories could be told. The opposition has been broken down, and many hearts have been softened. Prayer is earnestly sought both for workers and the work.
London Area. News regarding the SOUTH-EAST LONDON Evangelistic Mobile Unit suggests that the work has been affected at times by a shortage of workers. Once or twice runs have had to be cancelled, and some times the activities have been undermanned. Prayer is requested that a deeper interest in the work might be stimulated in the hearts of the workers, and that others may join this means of evangelism. Several items of news are interesting. At FAVERSHAM the van was parked in the market square, and many hundreds heard the word spoken. Interest was shown by a group of teenagers who were contacted personally. Also a local newspaper reporter showed interest as he was spoken to. In the afternoon a meeting was held on the green of a housing estate and a group of children was spoken to. At CAMBERWELL GREEN a Nigerian brother joined the team and offered himself for the work. An Irish lady was contacted. She knew the Scriptures, but was in much need of spiritual help. At GROVE PARK the police intervened to prevent the use of the loudspeaker. In this matter as in others, the leaders feel in need of wisdom and guidance. At WOOLWICH some interesting contacts were made. One man spoken to proved to be an Indian Hindu. Another man, with a broken marriage, was in a desperate condition. He was counselled as he said that he was losing his faith. A Roman Catholic lad who was being misled by Jehovah's Witnesses sought for Bible help, and was counselled. At ALD-WYCH many heard the Gospel. A young man, grandson of a famous dance-band leader, was particularly interested. He had just returned from Russia having been imprisoned for a few days, where an American had given him a New Testament in jail. Much material for prayer is here.
At HOUNSLOW the work among Asians is continuing. J. Harrold reports of the increasing number of contacts that are being made in the district. One family tragically lost a boy of about 4 years with leukemia. When visited, the mother was found reading a John's Gospel. Her husband, who found a Bible at work, is now reading with interest. This sadness has given a meaningful access to the family. Our brother asks for much prayer for this work. Some of the children come to Sunday School. The women are contacted through coffee mornings and other meetings. These people need friendship and love. We can pray that some will find Christ. Christmas activities at HOUNSLOW proved an effective witness to the people. 21 streets were visited with carol singing and tract distribution. At a family service about 120 packed into the Gospel Hall, and with bright singing and a clear gospel message a time of blessing was enjoyed.
South England. From Stephen Gillham comes a report of a busy three weeks at Acland Road, DORCHESTER. Rarely had so many adults been seen at special Sunday and Tuesday services. The opportunities for sowing the Seed were tremendous. There are about twelve people who are interested, but as yet they have made no profession. The children's meetings were well attended, and new faces have since been seen at Sunday School. Assembly life was much stimulated and prayer is sought that the growth of the work may continue. At WESTMOORS a week of children's meetings was very encouraging with about 100 children attending. Many of these children had never been in before. The opportunities here are very great especially in view of the large estate being built at the rear of the chapel. A very happy mission was held in THORNCOMBE, a village set in Dorset. Most of the village children came in and there were possibilities of new children for the Sunday School. The adult meetings were well attended, many villagers being present over the three weeks. The assembly has since commenced a women's meeting. Prayer is asked for the 12 to 15 women who meet every week, and also for the work done in visitation with Christian literature. At TRICKETTS CROSS, regular children's meetings are being held during the winter months with about 50 children present. The numbers attending the monthly Family Service are slowly on the increase.