‘Joy shall be in heaven .. .’, Luke 15. 7. ‘Rejoice because your names are written in heaven’, Luke 10. 20.
How much do affairs on earth touch the movements of heaven? Often we can feel that heaven is a long way off – remote to our activities and ways. The coming into the world of our Lord Jesus certainly brought heaven and earth together. To us He is known as the One who came from heaven, out from the Father. Equally we know Him today as the One who went into heaven, passed through the heavens, and now is at God’s right hand. Thus it could not be otherwise than that the affairs of earth and heaven are linked in Christ. When a soul comes to Christ, like a roaming sheep being found or the prodigal coming home, it begets joy in human spheres. But how wonderful to catch the joy of heaven as one is rescued from Satan’s power and brought into the kingdom of His dear Son. The highest joys of salvation are experienced in heaven.
Yet there is joy, great joy, on earth when someone is saved by divine grace. And the Lord Jesus told His disciples that their greatest rejoicing must be that their names are recorded in heaven. How good it is when we read these reports, to grasp the fact that in the salvation of just one needy soul, and may there be many, the joy of heaven and the rejoicing of earth are in true accord. We joy in God!
From Jim Graham, Belfast, we have a number of items which tell of the activities of the Lord’s servants in the North. Blessing was experienced by A. McShane and J. Wallace as they laboured in Cambridge Avenue Hall, Ballymena. At Antrim town, A. Aiken had good numbers with local townspeople showing interest. About six miles from Belfast, at Ballymagarrick, Co. Down, E. Wishart preached the gospel. At a series of meetings conducted by E. and J. Wishart in Wallace Avenue Hall, Lisburn, there was encouragement as a man who travelled 20 miles from Bangor each night to hear the gospel was saved. In Plantation Assembly, Lisburn, at meetings held with J. Walmsley and H. Wilson, there was blessing as a boy professed faith in Christ. At Shanaghan, mid-Down, J. G. Hutchinson and R. Eadie held nine weeks of gospel meetings and a man was saved who had been the subject of prayer for years. Others also were saved and this gave great joy and encouragement to the believers. There was encouragement at Portavogie as God’s blessing was seen in meetings with S. Ferguson and N. Turkington.
The border town of Newry has been much in the news over past years and the assembly has carried on under very adverse conditions. Children’s work has been engaged in, not only in Newry but also at other centres including Bessbrook. The brethren have now built a new hall on the Banbridge side of Newry where conditions are more suitable for the carrying on of the testimony. Many local people who would not normally hear the gospel attended the opening when J. G. Hutchmson faithfully preached the word. A. McShane followed with a week’s ministry and also the gospel was preached by S. McBride and J. Rogers. In Co. Londonderry, J. Martin and W. Jennings saw blessing in well attended meetings at Ballyronan and D. Hull also saw blessing in three weeks well attended meetings at Aughrim.
In Belfast, at Newtownbreda assembly, J. E. Fairfield and J. Hawthorne preached the gospel faithfully. The area around was well visited and a number of locals attended. The Annual Christmas Day Conference in Cregagh Street Hall, Belfast, was smaller than usual but the ministry given by J. G. Hutchinson, J. Walmsley, W. J. Nesbitt and W. Halliday was considered to be helpful and practical. The Belfast Christmas Conference was the largest ever, held at the King’s Hall, and a marked feature of the conference was the large number of young people present. The readings on 2 Tim. 1-2, were conducted by A. McShane and A. Leckie. Various brethren shared the ministry. This was a good conference and gave much encouragement to the convenors. The New Year’s Eve Conference at Laganvale Hall was packed and searching ministry was given by G. Hall and J. Allen. At Maranatha, the hall was packed when H. Andrews gave a challenging gospel message.
Some interesting news of various forms of witness comes from Edward Jaminson in Belfast. Hospital visitation in the Royal Victoria and City Hospitals and others, continues to offer opportunities for testimony. Contacts are made with both Christians and unbelievers and members of the security forces are included. Some are seriously ill such as one who has had a serious blood condition and has had a bone marrow transplant. Much prayer on his behalf is that he will find the Saviour and also enjoy recovery. Some of the members of the security forces visited are seriously injured but there arc serious opportunities for witness. This is an important work for the Lord, demanding much thought and prayer.
The printing and publishing ministry continues. As the result of Good News having been distributed by household delivery into each house in the West Belfast and Malone areas of the city, there has been an increase in telephone calls and good numbers of requests for free bible courses. The telephone ministry is fruitful, with 40 to 60 calls each day. Its objective is to bring the gospel into the homes of fellow countrymen. So many personal and family problems are shared in this way, sometimes by people in desperate trouble, and the word of God is prayerfully given.
Two brief items of news from the Republic. Each reveals a significant contact with unsaved folk. Colin Sheldon was involved with the Counties Bible Exhibition in Dublin. Ninety secondary schools were visited in the Dublin area prior to the occasion. During the days of the exhibition 9 of these schools came to inspect. These schools have now opened their doors to Colin to visit the classes concerned. This gives opportunity to take religious classes and to be responsible for the period. The plan is to use the sketch board for 10-12 minutes and then to spend the rest of the time in discussion with the students. This presents a wonderful opportunity to take the gospel to the classrooms.
A gospel outreach is conducted by some sisters in Co. Galway and this has continued for over twenty years. A good pan of the county has been covered in visitation and gospel tracts as well as bible portions have been made available to many people, but there is still much ground to be covered. Prayer is needed for this work, especially that workers will be sent to this very needy part, so dark and hopeless without the truth of the gospel.
News from South West Scotland is sent in by Jim Anderson. A campaign was conducted by Stewart McKenzie in Bethany Hall, Gourock. Unsaved people were present each night and this encouraged the believers to extend the campaign for one week, to four weeks. While there were no known professions of conversion during the meetings, some people showed a real interest while one young man was brought into the assurance of salvation. It was especially encouraging to see one who professed conversion during a previous campaign two years ago, now baptised and in fellowship. John Spiers conducted a campaign in his own assembly, Ebenezer, Motherwell. There were two weeks special dinners for different groups from the community and then two weeks of bible teaching. Altogether about 200 strangers attended, and two girls, one elderly man and an elderly woman professed faith in Christ. Quite a number still attend the services since the campaign ended.
George Forbes conducts a number of children’s meetings in addition to spending much time in visitation work. Some 7300 children have been reached in a variety of places throughout the South West. At Galston, Ayrshire, meetings were held nightly, one for children and one for teenagers. The latter meetings saw about 30 gathered. At Kilconnel, Dumfrieshire, a woman who had previously attended meetings conducted by Sam Ferguson of Ulster, professed conversion. Stewart McKenzie spoke at the Stranraer New Year Conference and stayed over the weekend. After the Sunday evening meeting he was called to a home where he had the joy of pointing a couple to the Saviour. The woman belonged to the town and was home on holiday visiting her parents. They were taken to the gospel meeting by an uncle and aunt and afterwards Stewart saw them saved.
Joe Baxter spent a busy three weeks at Elim Hall, Kilmarnock. The daytime was devoted to visitation when a number of interesting contacts were made. This resulted in quite a number of unsaved people attending the meetings and the gospel was faithfully preached each evening. Although there were no known results in the hall, a visit to a farmhouse outside the town was the means of confirming a profession of faith made a short time before by the lady owner and a young man who lodges there. This has resulted in the lad attending the gospel meetings during and since the campaign. Two most encouraging features were the 180 senior citizens who attended a special meeting with tea provided and a message from Joe Baxter in which he gave his testimony. Then a special meeting for youth when over 70 young people listened to the word of God. Eternity will reveal the fruits of such testimony.
From a newsletter it is good to hear of the work of the Scottish Postal Sunday School and Bible Class. Arthur Pollard writes that they rejoice that God’s word has been distributed and studied by many as lessons have been completed. Letters are received from the children, some telling of conversion. News came of a couple accepting the Saviour through helping their boy with the lessons. There has been a significant increase in the number of scholars from south of the border-maybe a change of name is needed! Camp during 1987 summer saw 145 children, teenagers and adults joining together as a result of contacts made through doing the lessons. The work calls for much prayer but there are encouragements. A teenager in nursing training wrote, ‘I have accepted Christ as my Saviour. There is a feeling of security in knowing that He is with me always and that He never forgets me.’
In Aberdeen the 115ch. Annual Conference for New Year took place and J. Anderson, J. Flanigan and T. Wilson ministered the word of the Lord. F. Haggerty gave a report on the Lord’s work in Bolivia and F. Kelling spoke on the work in Eastern Europe. AH sessions were well attended and in the final session unsaved were present when J. Flanigan preached the gospel. Invitations to this meeting had been distributed by believers from all assemblies.
In Fountain Hall, Woodside, a 27-year-old man who has been living in Aberdeen for the past four years, began to attend the meetings regularly. On a visit home to Carrickfergus, N. Ireland, last year he was under great conviction, particularly as the result of his mother’s death. His brother who was a Christian was a great influence in leading him to the Lord. His life has changed and he now brings his unsaved girlfriend to the gospel meetings. The believers pray much for his spiritual growth. In Victoria Hall, Torry, five young folks have been baptised recently to the encouragement of the assembly. At Invcrurie there is more encouragement with two baptisms.
We have news from the North East from W. Mowat. Jack Hay preached the gospel for five weeks at Cullen. A public hall in the town centre was taken for the meetings. These were very well attended with unsaved present each evening. There seemed to be an evident interest, and while the gospel was presented clearly and powerfully, it proved to be a time of sowing the seed rather than reaping. David McMaster engaged in preaching the gospel for two weeks in Portessie when again the attendances were very encouraging but this again proved an occasion of sowing the seed.
The New Year Conference meetings at Buckie saw a very good attendance of believers who enjoyed a time of profitable and practical ministry followed by a report of gospel work in Holland by brother Lou Swaan. The mints-try was also shared by brethren D. Gililand and R. Cameron.
From Howard Barnes comes news of work in this area. The small assemblies at Wrexham and Johnstown are mutually encouraged by monthly Saturday night ministry meetings at each other’s halls. One particular activity at Johnstown is regular tract distribution when many local people are contacted, both English and Welsh.
The assembly at Ellesmere Port (Bethany Hall), is celebrating 60 years of testimony in the town. From small beginnings there has been steady progress making it necessary to demolish the original buildings and to replace with a much larger one on the same site. The new building has every facility needed for assembly activities. There are a number of young men who are keen to serve the Lord and monthly open-air meetings are held in the town centre at which a number have been arrested with the gospel. Regular tract distribution in the town centre also takes place. A senior citizen’s gospel meeting is held once a month when older folk are invited in for tea prior to the gospel meeting. Numbers attending average 30 to 40. On December 6th the assembly was responsible for a broadcast on Radio Merseysitle, the local radio station. This was well received over a wide area.
The Wirral Christian Rallies added a new venue for their meetings. The believers at Jireh, Bebington, expressed an interest in having fellowship with the ministry. The Saturday night meetings in Liverpool have been reorganized and local assemblies are now responsible for their rally and a combined programme is printed. Sadly, numbers are disappointing but the ministry is appreciated by those who attend. The assembly at Kirby marked 25 years testimony in their present building by a gospel campaign led by Peter Brandon. All the homes in the district were visited in advance with particular attention being paid to inviting people who had had contact with the assembly through Sunday school etc. The numbers attending the meetings were good. A number were restored to the Lord and the assembly was encouraged.
From G. Bourne, Manchester, we hear that the Greater Manchester New Year Conference held in Mount Chapel was well attended. A. M. S. Gooding and A. Maunder were responsible fur the ministry. The bible reading on Worship was very profitable. Although the individual and collective aspects were considered, the collective aspect predominated the reading, suggesting that there was a burden on the part of the brethren present. The afternoon ministry covered subjects of the Lord’s Supper, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Prophecy and the Gift of Tongues. In the evening The Divorce Problem and further ministry on Church Order (1 Cor. 14), were dealt with. It was felt without doubt that the thought provoking ministry created much exercise.
From Derek Taylor we have some items of news. The assembly at Consett was encouraged with the baptism of one young man and two young women, each on separate occasions. Two were contacted partly through the local comprehensive school Christian Union and the third had come up through the Sunday school and bible class. In this assembly a children’s campaign was held with S. Mountstevens. Evenings saw the children’s ‘Rainbow Club’ with a Saturday games session. Ministry of the word was given and the Sunday gospel meeting was conducted. Three local schools were visited and four morning assemblies were taken. Over 1000 children heard the gospel. Although there was no visible fruit, it was felt that valuable work was done and the good seed of the word of God was sown for a future harvest. It was pleasing to see that relationships built with new children were continuing.
A report looks back to a Sunday school camp held at Bromley Grange, Stockfield, in connection with Pallion Road Gospel Hall, Sunderland. Bill Smith, London, spoke to the children on ‘Jesus and people like us’ (from the Gospels), in the mornings, and ‘What the world considers foolish’ (from the Book of Judges), in evenings. It was felt that all attending camp were spiritually strengthened and the children returned from camp determined to be more involved with the assembly and were eager to give expression to their Christianity. Although no one actually professed salvation at camp, a boy decided for Christ 3 days later. Prayer was answered in many ways. The weather was very good, safety was enjoyed and there was a sense of the Lord’s presence throughout the week.
The assembly at Wollaston, Stourbridge, has recently been encouraged. A Holiday Club was held during the autumn (1987) half term week and 80 children attended each day. The prize giving on the final night saw the hall packed with children and parents. As the result of this the Sunday school has grown. A special family service was arranged two weeks later and over 80 people attended. Prayer is that there will be genuine conversions as the result of the real interest in the area by both adults and children.
The assembly at Cranham Drive, Worcester, was able to make full use of the Christmas season for special efforts to reach the people on the estate of Warndon. A Sunday evening carol service was held in connection with the children from the playgroup. The children took part and as parents and friends joined the children the hall was packed to capacity. A clear gospel message was given. The following Sunday the carol service involved the children from the Sunday school. Again the hall was full with many interested parents and the message of the gospel was given in song and words. These two weeks gave one of the best ever opportunities of sharing the gospel with people from die estate. A meeting was held on Christmas morning and it was good to see locals again coming in as a good number gathered. A recently commenced outreach work has given a number of contacts and there is a desire on the part of the assembly to extend the fruitfulness of the testimony on this needy estate.
Various items have been sent in by Don Roberts, Cardiff. Good news from the small assembly at Abertridwr where Glyn Morgan conducted a gospel campaign based on the theme, ‘Marriage and the Family Life’. The numbers were encouraging and it is believed that several ladies were brought under conviction.
November 14th 1987, was not only a special occasion as a reunion for the Cardiff Sunday School Camps, but also the 40th anniversary of the commencement of the camps. The speaker tor the evening was David Ihtfe and it was a good occasion as old friends joined together. The Animal Missionary- Conference at Llandaff North, Cardiff, was well attended. Reports were heard concerning the work in Spain, Africa and Italy and the word was ministered by Eric Bermejo. The Cardiff Christian Rallies carol service witnessed an attendance of over 700 drawn from Cardiff, the Valleys, Newport, Bridgend and Swansea. Unsaved were present and a stirring gospel message was given by John Baker. Throughout Cardiff the Christinas season was used as a means of testimony and many people at the respective assemblies were seen attending for the first time.
A good number of believers gathered for the New Year Conference at Adamsdown, Cardiff. Ministry was given to profit by Colin Lacey and Malcolm Horlock. More encouraging news comes from Plasscy Street, Penarth, where the young people’s work is growing since two brethren cast in their lot with believers there. The work at Caerau still continues to grow with another lady having been baptised, making the number in fellowship there now 21. A relatively new work on the new Thorn hill estate saw a lady baptised. Tile number in fellowship here is now 17 and the Sunday school is 30 strong. The work at Pencoed still continues to encourage believers there with over 30 at the weekly family service and hopes for a new site for a building. A new opening has been made into an old people’s home. The doors into nine old people’s homes have opened both for Fairwater Gospel Hal I and Canton Gospel Hall. This kind of work is on the increase and lends itself to many good opportunities to preach the gospel. The young believers from the Swansea and Neath assemblies, supported by those from other assemblies in south west Wales, united for open air witness in Swansea city centre on the Saturday before Christians. It is really encouraging to sec the zeal and enthusiasm shown by so many young people to tell others about Christ. Reports say that there was a mixed reception. Some stood and listened to the messages, many received suitable Christian literature but others were too engrossed in their shopping to listen or even accept a tract. However the good seed of the word of God was sown among the people.
One or two interesting items come from Paul Young. For the second year the Dinas Powis Holiday Club was held. The numbers were up to 90 on most days and on the final price giving night there were many parents who heard the challenge of the gospel- A prison service at Cardiff Gaol was conducted with Trevor Davis and young people from Dinas. There was joy in the assembly as a girl became a Christian.
Paul speaks of opportunities to get into the universities and college situations with the gospel, lit was able to speak at West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education and also at Trinity College, Carmarthen. In both of these those present seemed deeply challenged. There was also an opportunity to take the carol service at Swansea University with about 250 present. There was good attention. Now we need to pray that God will bless His word in these places.
Although very small, the assembly at Aberystwyth seeks to maintain a clear gospel testimony. For many years a monthly service has been held on Lord’s Day afternoon, at Bodlondeb, the local old people’s home. During the term time the students participate, but at other times Prof, and Mrs Heading carry on the work. There is always a keen anticipation of these visits by the old folk that attend and those with a clearer mental perception express their appreciation. Recently some of the students in fellowship in the assembly have been allowed local hospital radio facilities every Lord’s Day afternoon when they have complete freedom for the gospel. Because of the recent influx of students who are keen to spread the gospel there was desire to recommence open air activities. A feature of the latter activity for many years was the production of tracts by local brethren.
Two brief items from John Powell. About 20 parents came along to the carol service held at West Hill Gospel Hall. It was good to see so many there. Reports indicate that good numbers attended similar services in the Plymouth area. We can trust that the Lord will bless the messages given on these occasions. An outcome of youth work at summer camps has resulted in an exercise for special youth rallies. These are being held each month at West Hill Gospel Hall under the name of ‘Cross Ways’. Challenging subjects are being considered and good numbers of young people, including recent converts, attend.