MIDLANDS AND SOUTH
Towcester is a town where there is no Gospel Hall. On Easter Saturday twentysix young people from various assemblies gathered in the town to distribute ‘Seed Sowers’ gospel literature. Over three thousand gospel texts were handed out and there were a good number of responses which were followed up with letters and suitable literature.
Over the last few months the assemblies in Wallingford and Bicester have held open-air meetings in Aylesbury and Oxford. There have been a number of opportunities for good conversations and for the distribution of gospel tracts. The assemblies have been encouraged to see the number of young brethren getting involved in preaching the gospel in this challenging arena of outreach.
The assembly in Wallingford recently rented a community centre and asked Michael Penfold to take up the creation/evolution issue. A good number of unsaved adults attended and showed interest. Radio Oxford did an interview and the local paper wrote a helpful article.
Getting people to talk in Northampton
The believers who meet in Osborne Road Gospel Hall, Northampton, recently adapted the Christianity Explored course and used it as the basis of outreach in their area. The believers felt compelled to use this method of outreach to supplement their existing gospel work as they felt that more and more people now want an opportunity to discuss and question the vital issues of life in a friendly, informal atmosphere.
WHERE? The ‘course’ was held each Tuesday evening for a six-week period in the Gospel Hall. Four tables were set up with, on average two to three believers and three to four visitors at each table. The evening started with a hot meal prepared by the sisters in the assembly followed by a thirty-minute presentation on the subject for that week.
WHAT? Six subjects were covered:
1. Jesus – Who is he?
2. Jesus – Why did he come?
3. Jesus – His crucifixion.
4. Jesus – His resurrection.
5. What is a Christian?
6. Being a Christian!
HOW? Three brothers gave the six presentations using a variety of methods: charts, overheads and PowerPoint. After each presentation (which always included a clear gospel message) there was time for an informal discussion at each table. There were some very heated discussions especially on the tables with University students.
WHO? The total number of those who attended at least one session was seventeen. The numbers varied between six and twelve, except for the half-term holiday week when the students were away and only three people attended. Although the course was advertised extensively, those who came in were as a result of personal invitations. The younger members of the assembly made most of the contacts. Those who attended were mostly unsaved university/A-level students. A couple attended who said they were Christians but wanted to know about basic issues. One or two backsliders came and also a young girl who as a result said she asked the Lord into her heart. A lady came and was very challenged by the message but decided she had to count the cost first.
Evaluation sheets were filled in at the end by those who attended. Everyone showed appreciation for the food, friendliness, information and the challenging discussions that had taken place. Each person attending the course was given a Bible and a copy of And God Said, a book about creation, to take away with them. The believers are now praying about how to follow this up in the future.
The assembly in Killamarsh had three special meetings in May with Ian Campbell. Two important topics were addressed, ‘Creation versus Evolution’ and ‘The Evidence for the Flood’. Eighteen thousand leaflets were distributed through a local free paper. The believers booked the local Community Centre for two of the evenings in an attempt to get people who would not normally come into the Gospel Hall to come to the meetings. Only twelve people attended, apart from assembly members. Most of those who came would have been believers from various denominations, but a number of good contacts were made. A neighbour of one family in the assembly came each evening, and a brother’s work colleague (who is very sceptical about Christian issues) also attended. This was very encouraging for the local believers. The subjects were well presented using PowerPoint, with the gospel message being applied very clearly.
Larkhill Gospel Hall, Liverpool, is planning (God willing) to hold a series of children’s meetings during the week commencing 22nd August 2005. The preceding week will be utilized to make the events known in the district. Similar efforts of outreach have been blessed on previous years with around fifty children attending and new contacts from around the district made. This year, it is planned to include teaching about the wonder of creation to counteract other views presented in schools; the focal point of the meetings will be gospel messages from various miracles in John’s Gospel.
The believers at Larkhill are also looking forward, for a second time, to taking their young people’s group away to Knock Christian Centre, Cumbria, from 29th August 2005 until 1st September 2005. Jim McMaster will present a series of gospel messages. Over recent years there has been a consistent interest from the teenage group, who have been attending a bi-weekly Bible Study since last September. Please pray that young souls will be saved and that the assembly might grow as a result of this work.
The assembly in David Street, Liverpool, is planning a week of children’s meetings in late August and would appreciate the prayers of the believers for this outreach.
Bethesda Hall, Swinton, Manchester, had a week’s Children’s Holiday Bible Club the week commencing the 25th of July 2005. The meetings were in the early evening and involved a gospel message, craft activities and other items that interested the children and present to them the truths of God’s word.
The believers in Caerphilly have been encouraged with the work among the parents and toddlers. The number of children being brought has grown to an average of twenty each week. The saints are now looking at ways to reach the parents through this outreach.
The girls’ class has been another source of encouragement despite the fact that the numbers tailed off towards the end of the session. Some girls completed an Emmaus course on John’s Gospel during the final meeting.
There was disappointment felt in the Good News Club due to the disruptive behaviour of the children. A disturbing incident took place which thankfully came to nothing but had the potential to lead to significant problems; as a result the work had been suspended until September.
Stephen Grant and Jim Paterson Jnr., have held gospel meetings in Dunbar, East Lothian, from 1st July 2005 until 16th July 2005. The meetings were held each night with children’s meetings also held Monday to Friday. Graeme Paterson helped with the children’s work. The portable Gospel Hall was located in the centre of the town in an area of high visibility. During the month of June every home in the town was visited with tracts and invitations and during the fortnight of meetings homes were visited in the area in an attempt to speak personally to as many people as possible. The assembly in Dunbar closed over thirty years ago and the town has had very little evangelism since, although every home in the town and surrounding villages have been visited with tracts and Seed Sowers literature during the last few years.
In the year 2004 the assembly in Lossiemouth were able to thank the Lord for fifty years in their current hall in James Street. The assembly arranged many special events during the year which culminated in a two-week gospel campaign in the last week of November and the first week in December 2004. In the middle Friday of the campaign the assembly hosted a Sunday School reunion which was a great success in terms of numbers; the saints were able to renew many old contacts. God blessed the campaign when a young man trusted the Lord; he has since been baptized but is not yet in fellowship.
The believers had the fear that with so many special events last year 2005 could turn into something of an anticlimax and the temptation would be to forget the blessings of God in normal everyday assembly life. So they thank God for another good year with the Sunday School with an average of thirty to forty children coming each week and all the special family services arranged have been well attended by the parents and guardians of the children. One sister continues to organize a monthly girls class for older girls and has the joy of seeing up to fifty attending on these occasions. The same sister together with another sister (they are both teachers at the local primary school) has been given the opportunity of running the Scripture Union classes in the school. Both of these activities have been blessed with the salvation of some of these young ones and time will prove the reality of their profession.
After Ian Affleck’s recent visit to Malaysia, Singapore and India with Phil Coulson, the assembly decided that a report meeting in Lossiemouth should be directed towards everyone in the town with a special emphasis on gospel outreach. One young couple who were Phil’s hosts in Singapore had come over to England due to the fact that an aunt was unwell and they wanted the opportunity to tell her about the gospel. Phil invited them to the North of Scotland and the brother gave a word of testimony at the report meeting. The meeting was a great success and most felt the challenge in relation to salvation. Thanks can be given to God for the eight townspeople who came; however the assembly feel that they should have allowed more time to advertise the meeting properly as they are convinced that others would have come if they had known.
The assembly continues week by week with the gospel meeting and although not many come in they are thankful to the Lord that some unsaved attend on most occasions. The key lesson is that the people who come only come because some saints are still interested in them and invite them along.
During April, the assembly at Peterhead had three weeks of gospel meetings with Ian Jackson. The local theatre was the venue for the Saturday night meetings where the gospel was approached from the standpoint of Christian apologetics. The subject was ‘What is Man?’ and the questions, ‘Where have I come from?’, ‘What am I doing here?’ and ‘Where am I going?’ were considered. There was an excellent attendance with many unsaved present each evening. The emptiness and despair of atheism and evolutionary thinking was contrasted vividly with the believers’ joy in past sins forgiven, present purpose in life and glorious future in heaven. The assembly was greatly encouraged when a number of souls professed salvation. These included a couple of lads connected with believers in the assembly, a lady whose grandson comes to Sunday School (he has been saved since the meetings finished) and a man of 92! The lady has subsequently asked for baptism.
The Cullen assembly has been encouraged by sustained interest in the special meetings being held (approximately monthly) in the nearby village of Portknockie. Nine believers have been baptized over the past few months, three adults and the rest in their teens. Another teenager was also baptized in Portessie. Bible Class work has greatly contributed to these young people’s step of obedience to the Lord.
In Shetland, the Brae assembly had gospel meetings during the last two weeks of April with Stephen Grant. The consistent attendance of unsaved people from the locality was good, with most of them having attended gospel meetings toward the end of last year. Some showed good interest in the gospel and the believers were encouraged. Frank Lonney also had children’s meetings in Hillswick, a small rural community in the north of Shetland with encouraging numbers of children and adults attending the meetings. On the last night there were twenty-two children and twenty adults present, an excellent response from that scattered community.
The busy winter session of meetings in Ballymena Gospel Hall, Cambridge Avenue, Ballymena has now come to an end. The Saturday night ministry meetings are reported to have been very helpful, with many young people in attendance. The Sunday School term ended with a special ‘Parents and Friends’ meeting. A number of non- Christian parents came to see their children repeat Bible memory verses. It is interesting to find that the Sunday School at Cambridge Avenue is now attended by more children from non- Christian homes than from Christian homes. The assembly is considering new ways of reaching the people of the town, whether by open-air work, special meetings in neutral venues, radio work, and tract work. There are also new opportunities among the Romanian and Ukrainian workers residing in the town.