The Postal Bible School was introduced into the county of Norfolk in 1976 by David Dixon. Being a rural county it was believed that children with no access to a Sunday School would benefit from studying the scriptures in their own homes.
Since those early days the Lord has been gracious in maintaining this work and there are currently 150 students doing the lessons on a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis. In recent years several adults have expressed an interest in following a Bible course and these have been provided with Manna, New Life and Gleaners lessons. This has resulted in over thirty adults currently being on the register. Students’ ages range from 3 to 79. The work is not confined just to Norfolk but has branched out to reach people living in Suffolk and many other parts of the country.
In November a Family Day was held in Norwich to which students were invited giving them the opportunity to meet their teachers, play games, enjoy a tea and listen to a Bible story at the end. One hundred and five attended the day and certificates were given out to students who had completed lessons in the last year.
The assembly at Hesters Way, Cheltenham have been greatly encouraged in their witness and work for the Lord over the last three months in particular.
Since changing the day and the time of the Bethany Kids Klub and following visits made by the leaders to parents and guardians of the children, the result has been a definite growth in numbers as well as in interest. With the enthusiasm of the children and help of a brother from Northern Ireland who has come to the assembly, it has been quite thrilling to note the way things are developing. They would value prayer for this work and for the families of the children.
The prize-giving for the Bethany Kids Klub took place in the Carol Service. This really boosted the number of outsiders at the Carol Service and Frank Lonney gave a simple, well explained gospel message. Many contacts were made and reestablished with the visitors and they hope to see these people coming again soon to the Gospel Meeting on Sunday afternoons.
In October they had their Annual Conference with John Grant and Rutherford Rabey. An excellent number turned out on the day to hear Christ-exalting, challenging and instructive ministry. John Grant continued with some beautiful truth about Christ in John’s Gospel which warmed the hearts of the saints. These meetings were also encouraging through the further fellowship of believers from surrounding counties.
The Saturday rallies in November and December were also encouraging with excellent ministry from Archie Carew and Frank Lonney.
A Missionary Conference was held in January with Brian Howden (Angola), Martin Baker (Eastern Europe), Wesley Downs (Manchester) and Harry Reid (Brazil) as the speakers.
2010 is the jubilee year of the testimony in the hall at Hesters Way, and they are looking to the Lord for His continued goodness to them as an assembly.
Over the past year the assembly at Hemsworth Gospel Hall have had a great time of outreach. Seven schools in
the locality were visited with the Open Air Mission Bible Exhibition spending all day in each school. During the day all the children in each school came into the exhibition where the gospel was shared by the assembly members. Around 1,500 children, teachers and helpers heard the gospel. This work was then followed up with regular visits to the school during the year by Robert Plant, from the Harrogate assembly, to take the school assemblies, on occasions visiting five schools in a day and reaching around 1,000 children and teachers. There were many opportunities to share the gospel and a good, working relationship with the schools has now developed. The same outreach in the schools is planned DV for 2010; please pray for this ongoing work.
At the other end of the age ‘spectrum’, on a number of Saturday afternoons throughout the year, the assembly have a full, sit down tea followed by a gospel meeting for the old folk of Hemsworth. This has proved to be a time of great blessing as numbers of unsaved have increased to around twenty or more. They always hear a good, sound gospel message preached by local brethren.
The Friday Night Young People’s Meetings have recommenced in Winchester. This year’s meetings are entitled, ‘Tell me, when shall these things be?’ A significant number of young people (and some older ones too!) attend regularly. This series is intended to help young people get an understanding of future events and God’s prophetic timeline.
For the first time since the Gospel Hall in Broadway, Merriott (between Yeovil and Ilminster), was built in 1849, the small assembly has seen someone baptized in the hall. Over forty people came to witness the man’s confession of faith, including a number from the village. The assembly has also seen another man come to know Christ as Saviour. Both of these men are in their 30’s. There are still others coming along who are not saved and much of the village has been given tracts and invitations to special gospel meetings.
As in past years, New Year in Scotland saw the opportunity for many of the believers to enjoy times of Bible teaching. A number of assemblies have their annual conference at this time of year and, despite the challenges with the weather this year, many of the saints were encouraged, refreshed and built up. Such events are a valuable part of assembly life and often provide a banquet of spiritual food and, no doubt, the risk of some spiritual indigestion, but how privileged the Lord’s people are to have access to such rich teaching and times of fellowship in the word of God.
The assembly at High Parks Gospel Hall, Hamilton, enjoyed ministry from John Grant, Ian Lewis and Fraser Munro. In Aberdeen there were conference meetings in Victoria Gospel Hall and Fernilea Gospel Hall where Jabe Nicholson (USA) and Alistair Sinclair taught the scriptures. The assembly at Kirkcaldy held their annual conference with ministry from Sandy Foster, Ian Steele and Tom Wilson. The assembly at New Stevenston also held their annual conference on New Year’s Day when the speakers were Craig Munro, David Gilliland and Alan Summers.
Other ministry conferences and meetings were held in Auchinleck (Ian Steele, Alan Summers, Andrew deVille), Cowdenbeath (Wesley Downs and Tom Wilson), Larkhall (Stephen Grant, Robert Cargill, Roy Marshall), Innerleven (David Gilliland, Colin Hutchison, Robert Revie), Prestwick (Gordon Dunbar, John Grant, Stuart MacDonald), and Whitburn (Stephen Arbuthnot, David Gilliland, Ian Lewis).
In December, Craig Munro and Jack Hay had the privilege of sharing responsibility for a baptismal meeting at Innerleven Gospel Hall. Two ladies were baptized that evening; one of whom had professed to be saved at tent meetings in Craig’s garden in Crosshill eighteen months ago, after hearing the gospel regularly at Innerleven. Sowers and reapers rejoiced together. It was an encouraging evening.
The South West
In November Jack Hay had an opportunity to be responsible for the Pause for Thought slot on the breakfast-time programme on West Sound. These short messages went out twice each morning, and feedback has been positive.
In the lead up to Christmas, the Perth assembly, had the opportunity to preach the gospel in three sheltered housing complexes, and on Christmas Eve, a gospel meeting was held at 11 p.m. in the new Gospel Hall.
There was also a gospel meeting held in the village of Comrie on Christmas Eve and in both places a good number of strangers heard the word of God.
Ian Campbell held a week of meetings in Bangor in a hotel on the theme of Creation and Evolution. A PowerPoint presentation was used to help illustrate the message and around one hundred attended each night, a good number of whom were unsaved.
In Ireland, despite the difficulties of 2009 (near economic collapse, high unemployment, banks being bailed out by the Government, major problems in the Catholic Church with four Bishops now resigned, and so many people losing their homes) the believers at Newcastle West, County Limerick, have experienced something of the greatness of God.
The children’s work has seen steady growth. There is a very good group of children nearly all of whom come from unsaved families. They held a Christmas concert which went very well and the kids did a great job. Just over ninety attended, and six new families were in for the first time. It is their hope that these will come out to other meetings now that the ice has been broken. One family said they would like to send their son to the Friday night youth group. He came to the Easter Club last year, but is now too old for Kids Club. Apparently, he has a couple of friends that would probably come along as well. This will be a great help as currently the youth group is all girls.
EDGE is the Friday night youth group that started last year. (Experience and Discover God Every day). Six teenage girls come along each Friday night. They were all previously in the Kids Club, so it is good to see the continued contact with them.
Over Christmas a gospel calendar was delivered to each home in the town. The town is visited three times a year with gospel literature as well as door to door contact A bi-weekly Bible study is starting, for the particular benefit of two of the men in the meeting who are showing signs of spiritual growth and participation in the meetings. The intention of these studies is to help in preparing messages. It is good to see the Lord raising up a couple of men that will be able to help in the teaching of the word.
In October, the assembly had a Fellowship Retreat. This was well received by everyone and all the assembly were able to attend. A camp site was rented near Cork, about one and a half hours from Newcastle West. William Burnett (Canada) took the ministry over the weekend with studies in the life of Daniel.
From there being no assembly just over ten years ago, they now have outgrown their little assembly building, and are looking to the Lord to show the way forward. What a wonderful problem to have!
As the numbers attending the meetings have grown considerably, Michael and Shirley McKillen’s semidetached house in Gorey, which was being used for gatherings, has become too small and they have recently found rented accommodation in the town to have their meetings.
It was also a great joy, after much prayer and seeking the Lord’s will, for the assembly to meet for the very first time in the town and ‘Break Bread’ together in obedience to the Lord’s request. No doubt they all would value prayer that the Lord Jesus will be honoured and glorified in the progress of the testimony in Gorey.
Harry Reid recently revisited the villages of Gort, Loughrea, Athleague and Rosscommon. It was very encouraging to hear how the Brazilians in those places had appreciated the calendars in their own language. In Athleague there is a large abattoir that employs a large number of Brazilian workers. Prayer would be valued that the ‘Good Seed’ will germinate in the hearts of the dear unsaved to the honour and glory of the Lord Jesus.
During a visit by Wendel Webb, to the village of Dvin, a young widow lady of about 24 years of age was saved. Her name is Eveta and she has since been baptized. At that time a property became available in Dvin to purchase and after much discussion with the brethren in Yerevan and in Dvin took place, it was decided that this property would be most suitable for the work. An offer was made and accepted by the vendor.
As the house is unfinished there is a lot of work to be done on it to make it fit for purpose, i.e., electric wiring, windows, floors have to be completed and much more. However, this work will commence in Spring, if the Lord will.
Wendell also had meetings in Yerevan, and the Lord’s Day afternoon meeting in Dvin. It was a joy to be able to sit down with a young woman called Sona after the gospel meeting and having explained the way of salvation to her, to witness her accepting Christ as her Saviour. She too has since been baptized. This young woman is to become daughter-in-law to one of the first converts in the village, the schoolteacher called Allis who was saved in February 2006. She has a good testimony to the power of the gospel with her family and in the village, and has testified to seeing the Lord answer her prayers.
There is much prayer needed especially for relationships between brethren. Pray for the assembly in Gyumri and in Yerevan. At present there is not much fellowship between the two, and this is a great source of disappointment. Brother Dan Gilles from Scotland visited Armenia in October and the Lord blessed that visit. It was during his time there that the young ladies mentioned above obeyed the Lord in baptism.
In early February, Sandy McEachern, Canada, spoke at The Reason Retreat, a weekend with around thirty teenagers in Cyprus. Most of these teens have been saved in recent years through the outreach of Logos School, but do not come from Christian homes and have little support from their families. This was a great opportunity to be able to take them on a little ‘getaway’, provide them with good meals, fun games and excellent Bible teaching. There were some there who were not Christians, but who were interested enough to come and listen and bring their questions. Some Muslims, some atheists, some Orthodox; pray for salvation!
The theme verses were, ‘Always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you’, 1 Pet. 3. 15 NKJV, and ‘Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord’, Isa. 1. 18 NKJV. Each of the four meetings began with some singing, then Sandy spoke for about forty minutes, followed by an open discussion for about half an hour.
Alina, a 14-year old girl from Russia, was saved. Although Alina didn’t meet the age limit for the retreat, she begged to be allowed to go along. She said that her atheist family was going through a difficult time, and she needed time with God. She was so nonchalant when she told the believers she got saved that it hardly registered, but seeing her joy at school, there is no mistaking the reality of her profession. Praise the Lord!
United States Of America
The biennial Rise Up Conference was held in the days between Christmas and New Year in Dearborn, MI, USA. Around 500 attended from all over N. America as well as a group from the Izumi assembly in Osaka, Japan.
The theme of the conference was ‘Rise up and Choose’. The plenary session speakers were Alan Gamble, Scotland, and Roy Hill, England. Other sessions were taken by Bill Yuille and Willie Burnett, Canada, and Mike Attwood from USA. As well as these main sessions there were many seminars where the ministry was greatly appreciated. A large percentage of the attendees were under the age of 30 and the convenors were encouraged to see so many young people interested in studying the word. Many spoke of blessing and guidance as a result of the conference.
About fifty miles east of the capital, Colombo, lies the district of Hatton. There is a growing assembly, accommodated in the home of an earnest servant of God called Sivakumar. In Mid-March 2009 when preaching on one of the tea plantations, he was set on by around twenty men and attacked with iron bars and a machete. On his release from the hospital after almost a week the police arrested him on a breach of the peace charge (preaching the gospel), and he spent the night in a tiny cell with five criminals. Our brethren were able to involve a politician who went to the police station and arranged his release, for which we give thanks to God.
There are other little groups of believers here and there, people who were contacted when they requested literature. They are now being instructed in New Testament truth, with the prayer that they will see the need to meet according to the biblical pattern. Just after Christmas they had the joy of witnessing eight being baptized in a stream at Hatton.
About 8,000 calendars have been distributed by saints in and around Cahul. Some of the places where calendars have been handed out include the central Town Building. This is a place where many important people are located. The saints knock at the door and say that they have a gift for them and for their office and they gladly receive the calendars. Some have phoned and asked for more. The communists are receiving calendars as well.
Sarata Noua. This is a village about one hour from Cahul. About five years ago a girl called Corina wrote to the believers; she was fifteen years old and the best pupil in her school. The believers decided to visit her school to distribute calendars and meet her and others who were interested in the gospel. They visited her parents who also heard the gospel. Corina is now in Chisinau the capital of Moldova as a student. Please pray for her, her village and the headmistress who received the saints well in the school. Durlesti, Caracui, Orac, Andrusul de Sus, Taraclia de Salcie, Brinza, Valeni and Costuleni are villages where there are some brethren who are faithful to the Lord.
In early November, Alan Madgwick visited the believers in Flagstaff, Kokstad. A good number were gathered together to remember the Lord. It was really hot in the hall, which has an iron roof and no ceiling. They had learnt of a group of believers in another district, who would like to join with them. These believers are from a place where a new minister had arrived who was bringing in false doctrine and they wanted to leave. The brethren are going to meet with them and find out more. The saints at Lusikisiki had also arranged a baptismal service, where five people had asked to be baptized. It is always good to hear of believers seeking to follow the Lord’s commands.
In September and October, a series of meetings on prophetic subjects was held, by our brother John Griffiths from Treorchy, Wales. On the first night the subject was The Rapture. Stephen, the brother of the translator, was saved. He had dabbled with drugs and his wife is a Roman Catholic. He has been attending every meeting since and his wife has been along with him on one Lord’s Day morning. She works in the evenings and cannot make it to the gospel meeting. Please make this a matter of prayer. The change in Stephen is incredible; he is drug-free, reading his Bible, attending all the meetings, witnessing at home and at work and reading Bible stories at bedtime to his five children.
The assembly of seven believers have put in a new kitchen and commenced building an extension for Sunday School work.
Mark Hill has decided to resign from the Precious Seed Committee to concentrate his time in other areas of ministry. The Committee reluctantly accepts his decision and while thanking him for his work and time over the past few years on our behalf we wish him God’s blessing in his future service for the Lord. We also thank his wife, Heather, for the supporting role she played in her foregoing the time he spent on Precious Seed work. We are grateful to them both.
Roy Hill, Chairman, Precious Seed Committee