Dartmoor Christian Camp
This camp is run by believers from Whipton Chapel, Exeter, and Belmont Hall, Harrow. They see the summer camp week as an activity that builds on the regular assembly Sunday School and young people’s works. The wish of the believers is to give the children that they are reaching an exciting, fun week away in a ‘Christian family’ environment.
This year was the fourteenth year of the camp. For the majority of this time it has been based at the Heatree House Christian Activity Centre in Dartmoor, Devon. This centre offers a good quality residential-type week with on-site adventure activities. This year there were sixty-seven people present on Camp with the vast majority of the forty children and young people (aged 10-18) from non-Christian, underprivileged homes. The two assemblies have had contact with some of the families for a substantial period of time. Over the years they have seen young people saved, baptized and brought into fellowship as a direct result of the work of the Camp.
The studies this year were based on ‘The Journeyings of the Israelites through the Wilderness’ in the morning Quiet Time sessions, and ‘Men who Prayed’ in the evening ‘Camp Circle’ meetings. The believers were very encouraged that subsequent to Camp 2007 one lad from Exeter professed salvation, one girl from Exeter was baptized and two girls from Harrow have asked for baptism.
South East London Area Missions Fellowship Day
On 9th June the ‘South East London Area Annual Missions Fellowship Day’ was held. The believers gathered with a sense of anticipation as they met for their annual meeting, looking to the Lord to challenge, encourage and inspire them as they heard of His work in many lands. They were not disappointed.
Graham Stock who works with the Haven of Hope, in Jos, Nigeria, was the first speaker. He started by sharing from Titus 2. 12 that the emphasis of the work was the need for sound teaching. He also emphasized the importance of our lives showing that we practice what we preach and that our concern is for the whole person. There is a DVD available showing much of the work of the Haven of Hope and giving a brief overview of the many ministries that they are engaged in, all of which grew out of the introduction of the Emmaus Bible Courses.
Andrew Renshaw serving in Sao Paulo, Brazil, gave his report next. His scripture was taken from Romans 1. 1 and emphasized the privilege we all have to serve the risen Lord. It was thrilling to hear that there are over 500 assemblies in Brazil. Those present heard of the work in Casa Branca, a staunchly Roman Catholic area, but where the assemblies have been established and are led by local brethren.
In this area camp work has become an integral and important part of building up the believers, and many camps are held throughout the year. During Carnival time it is very valuable to hold something positive for the young people to take them away from the many evil distractions that are available on every hand at that time.
Conferences are also highly valued and between three to four thousand believers will come for a long weekend of Bible teaching and fellowship.
The next report was from brother Doug Barnett. He works under the banner of ‘Grain of Wheat’, a ministry which works with children and young people in the Middle East and Gulf region. It seeks to reach the next generation with the gospel now as they have the potential to influence the future in a very positive way. Doug challenged us about our attitude to children and whether we see the potential in them as the future. Workers share and work with children who have been traumatized by war, devastated by fear and in deep despair. ‘Grain of Wheat’ seeks to hold ‘Just for Kids’ programmes in refugee camps an over 21,250 children have been reached in that way. They also held these programmes in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and in most of the Gulf States and many thousands of children heard the good news of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus. Leaders and Sunday School teachers are also trained at strategic conferences.
Back to Africa for the next speaker and this time to Angola where brother Brian Howden has been ministering.
Brian started by reading 1 Thessalonians 1. 8 and 2 Thessalonians 3. 1 commenting on the fact that many of the Angolan people have turned from idols to serve the living God.
As we are all aware, Angola is still recovering from forty years of civil war, and this has left a legacy of un-cleared land mines, very bad roads and much poverty. Brian stressed the need for many more missionaries with a vision to come and work with the one thousand three hundred assemblies in that country, teaching them sound biblical truth and building them up in their faith. Other issues that are common in Angola are corruption, even among the elders, adultery, polygamy and alcohol. We can, however, rejoice that there is openness to the gospel in Angola with many congregations being much larger than the local hall can accommodate and as a result it is often easier to preach in the open air.
A good introduction to the work of a missionary is gained by having the opportunity to have a short-term visit and an item at the conference was a video of such an event. This was organized by Medical Missionary News (MMN) which took a group to Rwanda. During this short time, the group had the opportunity to help with the unloading and sorting of a container that had arrived from MMN, to visit a refugee camp, to see the work among aids victims, to go to a Discipleship, Skills and Disability Centre and to make visits to some of the homes in the area. The narrator of this video was a young man who was very challenged by what he saw and experienced. It was deemed to be a very worthwhile and life-changing opportunity.
The final missionary was Andy Mayo from Serbia. He (along with other workers) is involved in providing consistent biblical teaching for leaders and potential leaders in former Yugoslavia and it was very evident from his report that there is a great need for this. Believers come to be taught from many of the newly constituted eastern block countries and they commit themselves to study the scriptures with Andy and his fellow workers for a year. Some were refugees, others were sent by their local assemblies and all had the privilege of learning from a variety of excellent Bible teachers. Each week they would all participate in some practical evangelism in addition to their study.
Although Andy and Faye are still involved with the work in Serbia, they have now returned to the UK having left the day to day work in the hands of local believers. The believers there are very committed to taking the gospel to the whole region. Andy told us of several men who had led ungodly lives, but had been saved and were now serving God. The believers at the conference rejoiced over these testimonies of God’s grace.
Finally, the conference concluded with ministry from Andrew Renshaw. He took as his theme Romans 1. 1, asking the question, ‘What sort of servant does God use today?’ Taking the example of Paul, he suggested that God uses servants who are humble, thankful, accountable, prayerful and obedient. The believers were encouraged and challenged.
Balloon Festival Outreach
(This report was compiled by the believers in Northampton)
Thanks to our great God, through the generosity of the saints, the ‘Green Pastures’ tent was present again at the Northampton Balloon Festival as the solitary gospel witness at an event devoted to secular pleasure. We thank God that all went without mishap or incident, apart from the need to take down the John 3. 16 balloon on the Friday morning to repair a puncture and then launch it again. The theme for this year, and next (DV), is ‘Freedom’. Visitor numbers to the festival, and consequently the tent, were well down this year. This was almost certainly due to two factors: 1. the £4 entry fee, the first year that this has been in place; 2. the weather, which was not very summerlike at all over the weekend.
However, many opportunities were taken to speak to people about spiritual matters and their need for salvation in particular. The reduction in numbers meant that more time was available to speak to each individual. The following are brief summaries of some of the contacts made:
T, an Omani, and one of the security crew covering the event, was spoken to several times during his many visits to the tent; he seemed quite interested in what he was told.
I, spent a while talking about creation matters and was introduced to the gospel in the process.
Mr. C and his work colleague H, a Czech lady, spent nearly an hour at the tent talking with a number of helpers and seemed quite interested. H asked for and was given a Bible together with some guidance as to where to start reading it; she also took some tracts.
For the first time this year in addition to the free literature available on display within the main tent a second tent was set up specifically for giving out free booklets and tracts. B and L, a couple from Windsor who were staying at a camper van convention in the town, spent some time at this tent. They were relying on good works as their hope for their future. B was an ‘ardent atheist’.
Evidence of false teaching was present on a number of occasions. P, another security person, and his friend M had conversation with a helper. M came from a ‘J.W.’ family and the errors of that doctrine were politely discussed.
S and E, were attending a Baptist Church in a town nearby, but apparently had no knowledge of the need for salvation
Kh and Ki (a lady), are both members of the Events Organizing Team. Ki claimed to be a believer and wanted Kh the ‘know the truth’. It transpired after some conversation that Kh believed he had been born again when he was 16, but it hadn’t worked out.
The Postal Bible School (PBS) corner was busy. With more time to talk to the children and their parents it was possible to encourage more of them to enrol in the PBS this year. There were 27 applications for PBS Introductory packs. Children completed a quiz based on the displays and also took part in a treasure hunt map competition. The winners of the latter were given Bibles or Bible story books, depending on their age.
Burton on Trent
The assembly at Winshill, has just held another week of children’s meetings. These were run by local brethren and were well supported by the assembly. Each evening children came in who had never been in the hall before. The believers were encouraged to see them learn scripture verses so well.
On Saturday September 15th the assembly held another ‘Family Focus’ day. As before the aim is for families in the local assemblies to get together and for the children to form lasting friendships. This time eighteen people came along to the local park, had a picnic and a good time of fellowship.
The assembly is also expecting the ‘Ayrshire Bible Exhibition’ in the first two weeks of November and would appreciate the prayers of the saints as arrangements are made to get into the local schools to present the gospel.
Earlier in the year, the assembly at Hemsworth took a Bible Exhibition into the local schools. At that time the schools invited the believers to visit them every three months to take an assembly. This has now been done twice. The whole school assembles to hear a story from the Bible and a gospel message. So far there have not been any objections at all from the schools involved. At the other end of the age scale the assembly now holds an old people’s tea and gospel meeting every three months on a Saturday afternoon. At the last tea there were twenty outsiders under the sound of the gospel, many of whom were unsaved.
Barrow and Jarrow
The assemblies at Barrow and Jarrow have much for which to give thanks. Their annual youth camp was held at The Quinta Hall in Shropshire. Gordon McCracken of Glasgow spoke to the children. The ages of the group were between 8-19 years old. The believers had the joy of seeing four individuals trust Christ as Saviour. The eldest of these, a nineteen-year-old, has been the focus of much prayer for some time. He has since been baptized along with two others. Two mothers who attend the youth work at their respective assembly also attended the camp. Neither made a profession of salvation so pray that they will see their need for the Saviour. The mother from Jarrow asked questions when her thirteen-year-old daughter told her she’d ‘just asked the Saviour into her heart’.
DUNBAR, LOTHIAN Stephen Grant, Robert Miller and Jim Paterson, Jnr. had another series of gospel meetings in Dunbar from late June into July. The meetings were well attended with unsaved folk present each evening. The support of believers who travelled to the meetings and from others on holiday in the area was really appreciated. Graeme Paterson was responsible for the children’s meetings which were the largest held in recent years with some young people in their early teens also attending. This was in spite of opposition from the Dunbar Churches Children’s Work Co-ordinator who prevented access to the local school, because the gospel preaching was not in conjunction with a Dunbar church. Each child who did not have a Bible received one at the final meeting, and every home in the town received an invitation and an attractive scripture text.
In July and August, Dan Gillies had tent meetings in Thornhill near Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire, Kinlochleven, about 20 miles south of Fort William, then at Edzell Woods. Unsaved people including teenagers heard the gospel at each of these places and believers supported the meetings well despite the long distances involved. At Kinlochleven, a man who attended the tent regularly with his wife, professed salvation and has been to the assembly meetings at Fort William. This requires a fifty-mile round journey to pick him up as there is no suitable public transport. He has since been baptized, much to the encouragement of the very small assembly there.
Praise God for the many who heard the gospel; for at least one soul saved; for preserving His servants, the tent and caravan over these weeks.
Give thanks to the Lord for the work done in several locations during July and early August to bring the word of God to hundreds of young people. Pray that the seed sown will yet bear fruit in their lives. There were camps for three weeks in Shetland, for five weeks with different groups from Ayrshire, Tayside and Aberdeenshire in Faskally House, Pitlochry. In addition to this there were one-week camps from Ayrshire and Ladybank (Fife) on sites in England. The organizers of these camps had the joy of seeing children and teenagers trusting Christ for salvation, and others, already saved, leaving camp with decisions to be baptized and to be added to local assemblies.
Adamsdown Gospel Hall, Cardiff
For the seventh year running the assembly organized a Holiday Bible Club. The two-hour daily sessions were very successful and popular with the children. After a time of lively games and quizzes, the children were told a Bible story and given a memory verse to learn. It was encouraging to see how well they sat and listened. Many children attended all five sessions, but as word got around, the numbers attending increased every day.
Many new contacts were made with families in the area, as many of the children did not attend the Sunday school. One grandmother in a wheelchair brought children every day and stayed for the whole session. She was keen to learn the memory verse so she accepted a Bible to take home and the assembly was thrilled when she arrived the next Sunday for the Gospel Meeting. The children enjoyed the week and that was confirmed on the Friday when one child asked with a forlorn expression on his face, ‘Is this the last day?’
The assembly was also greatly encouraged when a local man trusted the Saviour after the mid-week prayer meeting. He had been attending the evening meetings of the assembly for several weeks.
The assemblies in the Bridgend area are currently arranging for the ‘Counties GSUS Live Exhibition’ to visit six or seven comprehensive schools in Bridgend County Borough between late October and early December, DV. If you aren’t familiar with this exhibition you can find details at www.gsuslive.co.uk. The exhibition is housed in a large trailer and will be based at schools for a week each, allowing time for a lesson each for RE classes, especially years 7-9. It is an interactive computer-based facility which encourages the children to explore how New Testament teaching is relevant to contemporary issues which they face.
Beginning with the half-term in Bridgend, the exhibition will be in South Wales for a year – in different areas, so this is a great opportunity to go into schools with the Christian message.
Report on Schools work from Charles Davidson, Cardy, Northern Ireland (N.I.)
It is always encouraging to approach such a vast subject as children’s work and do so in the knowledge that it is a work which is expanding and that God is blessing in a wonderful way. Approximately one million children start school every year in the UK. This gives believers the opportunity to tell them about God and His written word, the Bible.
The general perception is that teaching RE is something that was done years ago but that it would no longer be acceptable to mention the name of our Lord Jesus Christ or to speak freely about the scriptures. This is not the case in N.I. and even in the latest ‘Core Syllabus for Religious Education’ it clearly states that, ‘The Bible is the word of God and God is the Creator of all things’.
We do, however, live in an era where these truths are not believed by those who are responsible for teaching in the classroom and although there is no problem within the system for the children being taught, they rarely are. However, if someone offers to teach them in a sensible manner, the opportunities are there to do so.
All schools have assemblies at least once a week and some years ago these would have been taken by the local clergy. With the passing of time this has stopped due to lack of interest on their part. This in turn has led to the openings we have encountered for taking these assemblies in our area. We offer to come to the school and tell the Bible stories in the assemblies. The children respond very enthusiastically as they are not used to hearing these stories told with energy and conviction and with a message that can challenge them. Many schools have increased their pupil numbers in recent years and it was incredible in a school last term to count thirty-six teachers listening along with the children to God’s word.
The format is usually choruses first (they really enjoy the challenge of learning these with the added entertainment of me being tone deaf!) and then the Bible story, followed by a verse and then a quiz. We always close in prayer and altogether these take approximately 30 minutes.
In some of the schools we leave ‘question bags’ and we never cease to be amazed by the quality of the questions the children ask. They are not stupid questions just genuine childlike interest to learn about God.
At this early stage of life the children are ever inquisitive and soak up information like a sponge. They do not question what they are told; they just accept it as truth which is why it is vital that they are told the truth from the scriptures and taught about their need of a Saviour.
Derek Malcolm writes, ‘I have just returned from spending twelve days in Turkey. The primary reason for my visit was to liaise with colleagues over the on-going Bible teaching work and the writing ministry in which I am involved. However, this visit also gave opportunity to meet a good number of both Turkish believers and foreign workers, some of whom were very close to the brothers who were martyred in Malatya on 18th April 2007. I will summarize my impressions in the following paragraphs:
THE TURKISH CHURCH
First, we should know that the Turkish church is aware of fellow believers throughout the world and is deeply grateful to the Lord for their genuine interest in prayer as it passes through a very difficult time. There is no doubt that the Malatya incident has affected many believers deeply. There is a mixture of fear and courage. The testimonies of the bereaved widows and their loving messages of forgiveness in the face of evil not only impacted the non-Christians but also the believers. There is an increased fear on one hand, and an increased boldness on the other.
The church leaders have been effective in standing together in unity and encouraging the believers. There have, however, been many threats against a number of these leaders. Some are receiving police protection. The question that is being asked at the moment is, ‘Do the killings in Malatya herald the beginning of a very vicious attack on the church in Turkey, or was it a one-off outpouring of violence?’ The answer is that none of us really knows. There has been a steady increase in violence and threats to Turkish believers over the last five years, and this has not stopped since Malatya. In fact, it continues to increase. Recently a newspaper article published the names and addresses of some of the believers living in certain cities. You can imagine that this level of exposure is very concerning. There have been claims by the leader of the five young men who carried out the killings in Malatya that they also had other targets. These included the names of foreign and Turkish believers in other towns.
After about three or four days front page coverage, the news has moved on. There are a number of critical issues in politics at the moment. However, almost every day there is an article here or there referring to the events in Malatya. Some articles remain sympathetic to those murdered and there is a genuine soul-searching going on. However, there is an increasingly loud voice from the fervent nationalists as time separates us from the incident. They want Turkey for the Turks and consider Turks as being Muslim. Protestant missionary work is viewed as very dangerous, a threat to national security and as a continued interference of the ‘Christian’ West to destabilize the country. The young man who was injured when jumping from the balcony on the morning of the massacre (this was the ringleader who probably did most of the killing), was photographed leaving the hospital shouting, ‘I did it for my country and my religion’. His statement, which was leaked to the press, contained some of the most incredible lies against the believers. He claimed they were dealing in prostitution and drugs and accused them of trying to involve him. He claimed his actions were justified in order to protect his country. Other articles in the press have expressed with varying degrees the sentiment that these Christians deserved what they got.
Suzanne, the wife of Tilman, the German brother who was martyred, continues to stay on in Malatya with her three children. She receives police protection and colleagues in Turkey take turns to spend time with her. Necati’s widow and her two children are staying with relatives elsewhere. There will be a very full and public enquiry in the Turkish courts starting at some point in the near future. Every detail will no doubt be gone through and reported again in the press. This will be a very painful time for the bereaved, and to an extent, for every Protestant believer in Turkey. No date has been set as yet for this enquiry but we need to be in prayer already for a fair hearing, protection for the believers who will be asked to testify, and also that this whole incident will be used for the ultimate spiritual good of the country and the advance of the gospel.