In the early years of this century the Stroud Valley in Gloucestershire was a hive of industry mainly concerned with the manufacture of cloth, and at that time good numbers of believers gathered with assemblies in that area. Indeed some of the older believers can still remember times when queues were seen waiting to attend the evening meetings at Brimscombe Chapel, both for the preaching of the Gospel and for the ministry of the Word.
The picture today is, alas, vastly different. The cloth industry has moved to another locality with a consequent shift of population; the ease of transport has enabled people who were previously confined to the valley to travel for pleasure, whilst young people brought up in the assemblies have been forced to leave home and obtain employment elsewhere. This has left the assemblies not only numerically small but also composed in the main of elderly believers. Conditions have become very difficult for such gatherings – they have little strength and there is a need to strengthen the things that remain. This is one area where there is ample opportunity for brethren who are retired to engage in service for their Lord.
During the past winter the believers in the Valley were greatly cheered by the visit of G. Fenn as he ministered concerning the typical teaching portrayed in the tabernacle. As it was revealed that every detail of this structure spoke of His glory, one couple became so interested that they determined to construct a model for themselves.
In an endeavour to make the Saviour known in this area, D. Hyslop purposes to pitch a tent in various centres this summer. Sites have been made available in Stroud and Tetbury and others are being sought.
In every part of the country new estates are being erected as the authorities attempt to satisfy the housing needs of the people. In so many cases, however, the Lord’s people seem to have made little or no attempt to meet the spiritual needs of the persons re-housed, and as a result children are growing up who have no knowledge of the Saviour or of their need of Him. Taking the country as a whole we have utterly failed to discharge our responsibility in this matter.
A few years ago believers meeting at Albert Hall, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, were concerned for the spiritual welfare of the children on a new estate. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to hire a local school but they persisted and when a new school was erected in the autumn of 1963 they were granted permission to hold a weeknight meeting. The result was extremely encouraging, for over two hundred attended each week and numbers increased during this last season. A few of these have spoken of accepting the Saviour.
During this period the homes around Albert Hall have become empty as the occupants have been re-housed on the new estate, and the hall itself is due to be demolished. A site has been provided on the estate and it is hoped to commence building this year. With the weeknight work already established great things are anticipated in the Gospel work among the young.
The assembly at Pheasey Estate, North Birmingham, held a special Gospel campaign directed at children during a fortnight in the spring. An introductory games afternoon on the first Saturday was well attended and during the following evenings an average of one hundred youngsters came to see the floodlit flannelgraph. Some professed to have come to a personal knowledge of the Saviour, and the campaign proved a rewarding time for those who had prayed for and laboured in the area during the past years.
The believers meeting at the Gospel Hall in Larne, Co. Antrim, were much encouraged during seven weeks of well-attended Gospel meetings taken by H. S. Paisley. The gatherings on Lord’s Day evenings were held in the nearby town hall which was filled on each occasion. Many of those who came were not regular attenders at the Gospel Hall and quite a number professed faith in the Saviour, including a young couple who were in the town on their honeymoon. Two weeks of ministry meetings followed and these were equally well attended.
At Buckna in the same county, T. Wallace and R. Neill spoke of the saving power of the Lord Jesus for eight weeks. Some strangers were present but those who professed to have been saved were nearly all young people connected with the believers.
J. G. Hutchinson proclaimed the Gospel for a similar period in the border town of Strabane, Co. Tyrone. Here God was pleased to work in the salvation of both men and women.
Some years ago a farmer living near the village of Stranocum in the northern part of Co. Antrim erected a small hall at the side of his home, and this has been used both for Sunday School work and for Gospel preaching on Lord’s Day evenings. Recently special meetings were held by J. Martin and T. McNeill for more than two months. Numbers were so good that the farmer’s barn had to be used instead. Here also a number spoke of having accepted the Saviour.
Kirlish is an out-of-the-way district of Co. Tyrone where the Gospel is not often preached although there is an interest in spiritual matters. W. Nesbitt and R. Armstrong were helped as they told forth the good news and a few professed faith in the Lord Jesus.
St. Austell is one of the very few places in Cornwall where believers gather together in assembly fellowship. This testimony commenced some sixty years ago, the present hall being erected forty years ago. To commemorate this, a special rally was held in May when a goodly company both joined in thanksgiving for the way the witness has been maintained and also listened to the ministry of the Word.
Two baptismal services which were held during the past winter have encouraged the assembly at Plann near Kilmarnock. These occasions saw ten believers bring joy to the heart of their Lord and Saviour by their obedience in this ordinance and their subsequent reception into fellowship with the assembly. Those concerned included several members of one family among whom God had been acting in marvellous grace. This began when a young married believer brought his relatives to the normal Gospel meeting. He had the joy of seeing two cousins and the wife of one of them saved, and a few weeks afterwards the aged parents of one of these trusted the Saviour as well.
A special series of meetings entitled ‘Christ is the Answer’ was held in the town hall, Falkirk, on Lord’s Day evenings during April. The evangelist was J. Robb of Jedburgh and a spirit of earnestness was evident throughout, the Lord being pleased to bless in the salvation of quite a number.
At Cambuslang, Lanark, and Maddiston, Stirling, meetings were specially convened to cater for Old Age Pensioners, folk who are so often lost sight of. In each case tea was provided and afterwards goodly companies listened to the simple preaching of the Gospel.
We would remind readers of the childrens’ magazine ‘Young Gleaners’ which is published in connection with the Postal Sunday School Work in Eire. This magazine has proved popular with young ones wherever it has been introduced, and has been the means of taking the Gospel into many homes. Full details can be obtained from B. G. Russell, Highfield, Fletcher’s Green, Sevenoaks, Kent.
The previous reports have told of those who have professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their own Saviour, and we trust that this has been the experience of every reader. Only thus can sins be forgiven, eternal life obtained and a place reserved in the glory of heaven. If this blessed experience has been ours, have we then been obedient to the Saviour’s command to witness to our salvation by being baptised?
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