Bangor, a popular seaside resort in Co. Down, has been growing much in recent years and the Ebenezer assembly was concerned about the spiritual needs of the people on one of the new estates. A new hall was erected and it was thought wise to commence the work with a special Gospel effort. A. McShane and N. Turkington were the preachers, but despite much visitation by the local believers it was most difficult to get those from around the hall really interested in the meetings. However some who had been brought from a distance professed salvation.
T. McKelvey and J. Hutchinson had a special effort in the Gospel Hall at Ballymagarrick, a farming area a few miles from Belfast. Prior to this there was a great deal of exercise on the part of the assembly as it had been a number of years since they had seen many saved as a result of their activity in the Gospel. From the start the attendance and interest were most gratifying and extra seating had to be used. The meetings continued nightly for thirteen weeks, a good many local folk attending and the power of God being manifest in that quite a number professed conversion.
Like many other provincial towns Comber has for many years been considered difficult for Gospel work. J. K. Duff and N. Tinsley preached there recently, and here again it proved hard to bring local folk in. There was encouragement however as a number confessed to exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The assembly at Ebenezer Hall, Belfast, was for many years a large company active in the Gospel, the large hall often being filled and many were saved. Time has brought changes, for many of the believers have now moved from the district and numbers are reduced. Recently J. Thompson and J. Hawthorne were responsible for special meetings. Some unsaved came in and others were contacted in their homes among them being some who experienced the joy of salvation.
R. Beattie and J. Finegan had fellowship in the preaching of the Gospel for six weeks with the small assembly at Tassagh, Co. Armagh. A number of unsaved folk came to hear the good news, yet there were no known cases of conversion; nevertheless the Seed has been sown.
A Lyttle and J. Brown held eight weeks of well attended Gospel meetings in the hall at Fintona, Co. Tyrone. Mild weather helped and there were between forty and fifty unsaved present nightly. Visitation in the district was also encouraging. A number were concerned about salvation and of these five spoke of accepting the Saviour.
Good numbers also listened to J. Martin and E. Wishart preaching in the border town of Strabane, which is predominantly Roman Catholic. The assembly was encouraged and some professed salvation.
Twenty-one years ago a few missionary minded brethren started a missionary study class in the ante-room of the Windsor Gospel Hall, Belfast. From this humble beginning the work has developed and this year well over one thousand believers gathered for the annual missionary conference. Reports were given by various brethren on furlough, and J. Allen (who has since sailed for Malaysia) told of his exercise regarding the work of the Lord in that land.
S. Lewis and S. Patterson held meetings in the portable hall near Killygordon, Co. Donegal. Numbers were good and a young married woman trusted the Lord. Her husband has shown signs of concern about his soul. The desire of the evangelists is that the small assembly at Magheracom may be built up.
Conferences mean more to believers in the isles than to those in more populated parts of the mainland. The highlight of the winter is the New Year gathering at Lerwick, and numbers were larger this year than for some time past.
Interest in missionary work has been increased by a Missionary Youth Group, which is in addition to the Sisters Missionary Fellowship. This group attracts teenagers who have shown a keen interest in making household articles. Opportunity is also afforded to keep them informed on current missionary topics.
Regular Gospel meetings have been held in various centres where there is no assembly.
P. Brandon was at Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, for three weeks at the end of last year. The ministry of the Word was searching and proved of great benefit to the believers. The Gospel also was preached with power and a goodly number professed faith in Christ. A few backsliders were restored.
In Salsburgh, a little town not far from the great industrial belt of Lanarkshire, R. Walker co-operated with the small local assembly in a Gospel campaign of three weeks’ duration. The believers had sustained the loss of an esteemed elder, but his testimony made the work of door-to-door visitation and contacting neighbours much easier. Unsaved folk gathered each night, yet there have been as yet no open professions of faith as a result.
At Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, J. Aitken was responsible for a Gospel campaign lasting two weeks. Every house in Helensburgh and Cardross was visited and tracted. Good companies of unsaved heard the message and one young man was saved.
On the Saturday after the New Year a Young Peoples’ Rally was held at Dumfries. The interest shown by believers from the surrounding area was encouraging, some coming from the denominations out of curiosity.
The number of parents attending the Sunday School Socials in Wigtownshire has encouraged the believers. The opportunities thus presented of introducing the parents to the company of believers should never be overlooked.
A large company, representative of many West Country assemblies, met at Wolseley Hall, Plymouth, at the end of last year to bid farewell to R. Wood and his family as they left for the Belgian Congo. The ministry encouraged the Lord’s servants and challenged many who listened. Their former sphere of service in Angola having been closed to them, the missionary and his family had responded to the opportunity in the Congo in spite of the problems and changes involved.
Occasions such as this should inspire us to be more consistent and faithful in our prayers for those who serve the Lord in lands afar.
Many assemblies welcome the opportunities given in their locality to witness in institutions, hospitals or homes. One such is Abbey Chapel, Tavistock, where for some time believers have visited a large home for the elderly every Lord’s Day. In 1967 the authorities asked the assembly to conduct a Carol Service in the home at which civic representatives would be present, and this was so successful that the invitation was repeated in 1968. Once again in addition to the matron, members of the staff and residents, there were representatives of the authorities present. In days of apathy and sometimes opposition to the Gospel, we should be thankful to God for liberty to preach throughout the year in places like this.
At Torrington, North Devon, F. Holmes and others associated with him have been blessed in the running of a nursery school. This gives an opportunity to sow the good seed of the Word in the minds and hearts of youngsters at their most impressionable age. Some belittle the effectiveness of work among tiny children, but surely the results of the impact of evil in their lives which confront us daily, counter any such reluctance on our part carefully to bring them the words of God. Our brother feels that this may be the one open door for the Gospel in that area. Is there a similar opening in your area – an area which you may have felt to be indifferent to the claims of the Saviour?
A special outreach was made at Christmas by a strong team of young believers from the Enfield Highway Gospel Hall. Every night for a week they toured the area with a mobile unit, visiting every house and flat with tracts whilst carols were played over the amplifier. Many interesting contacts were made and some nights over eight hundred tracts were given out.
This is what the Saviour meant when He said “Go … and preach the Gospel”.
His heart! His hands! Shepherd work requires the development of both of these, and makes constant demands upon both. The true shepherds of God’s people – and God’s leaders are always shepherds -are men of selfless devotion to the care of the flock; intense in love; wise in judgment; skilful to guide to the “green pastures” and beside “the still waters”; and courageous as the appointed guardians of the sheep against the attack of every enemy. W. Trew in Precious Seed, Sept. 1949.
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