‘Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters’, Isa. 32. 20.
In sending out another report it is refreshing to sense the attitude of evangelists as they sow the seed. There are the inevitable disappointments which bring their measure of frustration. There are antagonism and hardness which constantly remind us of warfare with the kingdom of darkness. Yet the attitude of patient expectance and prayerful endurance is always there and the compensation of the Master’s presence makes all worth while. ‘All waters’: each environment, each community, each individual is different. Yet the ‘seed’ is good and the Lord of the Harvest is at work. Let us pray constantly that fruit may be seen.
There is much to report concerning the Lord’s work in the northern Province. The assembly at Donegall Road, Belfast, was greatly encouraged as good numbers gathered in to hear the gospel preached by Jim Hutchinson and Albert Aiken. A very interesting case, showing the way in which God works, was that of a young man. He had watched a television programme which dealt with cancer and its symptoms, and he became convinced he had it. So he thought it was time he was saved, came to the meetings, and the Lord saved him. A subsequent check-up showed him to be perfectly healthy. In a portable hall at Altnamackin, Co. Armagh, three professed faith in Christ as W. J. Nesbitt and T. W. Wright preached the gospel. As open-air preaching opened up on the sea front at Bangor, Co. Down, Harry Reid saw one man profess faith in Christ. The half-yearly conference at Enniskillen was larger than usual, for ministry and reports of the Lord’s work. Jim Flanigan also had ministry meetings on ‘Future Events’ which created good local interest.
At Gortade, Co. Londonderry, W. Jennings and J. Martin have seen four saved during eleven weeks of gospel work. In the city of Londonderry there was a disappointing response to the preaching of David Kane for seven weeks in the Lapwing Way Hall. However, some interesting contacts were made during visitation in the area. Three professed to be saved in meetings conducted by Eric Wishart in Dungannon. The assembly in Kingsmills has opened a new hall. The first meeting was a gospel message by Jim Hutchinson and this was followed on the Saturday by ministry by Jim Brown and Sam McBride. The weather has been very mixed for open-air work, but the annual two weeks on the harbour at Carnlough has continued, with help from a number of brethren who felt an exercise to help the small assembly there.
Open airs have also been conducted on the promenade at Newcastle, Co. Down, in association with the assembly there. Large numbers were present each morning for one week in a large tent, when Prof. David Gooding ministered on the Epistle of James. The Oul’ Llamas Fair at Ballycastle, N. Antrim, always draws large crowds and presents opportunity for open-air preaching and tract disbribution each year. Only eternity will reveal the results of such work. Large texts will be placed on the Belfast city buses for the fourteenth year in succession with a large number of the Belfast assemblies putting smaller texts inside the buses. These run all the year round, with fourteen buses carrying the word all over the city and into areas where it would not be possible to have open-air meetings. Let us pray especially for this witness. As the troubles continue, let us also pray for the safety of all who stand for the Lord.
News of a gospel effort held in Frances Street Hall, Newtownards, with J. Hutchinson and D. Gray. The attendance and attention were gratifying. Most evenings the hall was comfortably full, sometimes packed. 8,500 invitations, with gospel tracts, were distributed systematically in the town. There was cause for joy as Sunday School scholars, parents, Christians from other places, plus surrounding assemblies supported well. There was encouragement as some were restored to the Lord or saved.
News from David and Kay Stevens in Limerick. In the open-air witness in the town there have been encouraging signs of a renewed interest among the general public in the meetings held in the city centre. The new Arthur’s Quay Shopping Centre, which opened a year ago, has provided one or two more open-air sites which prove quieter than in main streets. This has come as an answer to prayer, for as yet there is no pedestrian precinct. Pray for the monthly open-airs in which a good number of the assembly usually become involved. After the set-backs experienced in the work in Nenagh it is good to report on the responsiveness of the people, both at the doors and in the open air. A team of five from Limerick spent a day there and many lengthy conversations relating to the gospel were held with the people. This is tough work, often discouraging, and our prayers would be a source of strength and encouragement.
We have a report from R. H. Fry, Dublin, concerning the work of the National Bible Study Club. Eric Davis wrote to say, Tt is with thanksgiving that we now write with an update on all that God is graciously doing among children and adults alike’. The lessons sent to Nigeria continue to bring encouraging results. The work amongst the children in the Ballymun flats complex in North Dublin, has now expanded into two rooms, making it more practical to deal with different age groups. Numbers are increasing steadily in the sphere of Adult Bible Studies. Some of the older club members are working their way steadily through an Emmaus course. The little group in Co. Clare continues well with their study of the Word. The comments on their papers show their progress in their spiritual life. R. H. Fry speaks of a boys’ and girls’ camp in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, which was connected with Limerick Gospel Hall. It proved a wonderful week-end with about 55 young people present. These reports highlight the increasing openings for the gospel in the Republic, and the deep need for prayer for those who put their hands to this evangelism.
The 46th Annual Cork Conference was held over the St. Patrick’s weekend in March, at Bandon. Ministry was given by Jim Hutchinson and A. C. Gooding, with Waldemar Bolkoski (Poland) giving an informative report on the Lord’s work in that land. The conference was well attended yet again, with over 200 believers present.
The assembly that meets in Cork city held a centenary conference during May. Gilbert Stewart gave a report on the history of the assembly and although the believers have met in the present hall for the past 100 years, the testimony has been held in many other locations in the city for many more years than this. Considering that there are only 15 in fellowship, at least 70 believers attended and searching ministry was given by Jim Hutchinson. A further week of Bible readings was led by Cyril Hocking. The readings were well handled by Cyril Hocking, with a lively and enthusiastic participation from those who gathered. Open-air work is carried on in Cork and Bandon; the assembly at Skibbereen engages in open-air work in the various towns around West Cork. The assembly in Bandon is small and things are difficult with the ever strong presence of the Roman Catholic church, and the strong Jehovah Witness movement which is at present active in the town. We can gain from these reports the sense of need for prayer for those who labour.
Items of news come from Jim Anderson, Annbank. Meetings were held with Robert Revie in Mossblown. The meetings were intended as a follow up to those held in the portable hall eighteen months before. Large numbers of children plus a good number of adults attended at that time. In spite of this background the going was hard. It seemed that the people would rather attend meetings during the dark evenings. Annbank assembly tracts the village every month with the result that Robert had many addresses on which to call. This produced many promises to come but few materialised. Dreadful weather during the third week did not help. In spite of the disappointments there were results. A six teen-year-old girl from a non-Christian home, who had been coming to Sunday School and Bible Class for some time, came under deep conviction as George Smith took the opening meeting. Twice that week she was taken to hear Billy Graham at Glasgow, and on the second occasion made a profession. At the beginning of the third week a middle-aged women professed faith in Christ and attended every night afterwards. As always the Ayrshire assemblies rallied round well and open-air meetings were conducted each night prior to the meetings. The hall was well situated for a different site to be used for these each night, but terrible weather prevented meetings on the last two nights.
When Peter Brandon conducted last year’s Ayrshire Gospel Outreach, at Saltcoats, among other opportunites given to him was a visit to Greenock Prison, followed by the invitation for him to return for a week. That offer was taken up early in May, and Peter had two-hourly sessions daily, one with the remand prisoners and one for those serving sentences. The results were quite startling, some half-dozen professing to trust the Saviour and others left under conviction. During May the Gourock assembly had a visit from George Meikle for three weeks of gospel meetings. Both adults and children were reached and there was good preaching. Unsaved came in each night and there were two professions of faith in Christ. There were also baptisms. For three months open-air meetings are conducted in Gourock Park on Sunday afternoons. Tony and Mrs. Renshaw, who were very much helpers in the campaign are continuing to support a follow up children’s work in the Gospel Hall in the town. Prayer would be valued that the small assembly will grow. It is encouraging to hear of 12 people who were baptized in the Bishopriggs Gospel Hall during April.
The Lancashire Gospel Tent was pitched in the town of Clitheroe during the month of June. The castle grounds gave a beautiful setting but the weather was poor. Stuart McKenzie and Peter Smith were responsible for the work which was well supported. Peter Smith spoke to an average of 40 children each night and this ended with a parents’ night when about 60 gathered. The press was also present on this occasion. Good support from local assemblies was appreciated, especially with the adult work. Stuart McKenzie made some good contacts and many conversations resulted from the preaching. One lad professed faith in Christ, and one young man, recently saved, gained assurance and was established in the faith. The small assembly in Clitheroe was encouraged by the many aspects of the work.
Items of news are to hand from Peter Smith in Harrogate. He speaks of continued openings in local Primary Schools and these have grown to 23. He was also able to share the gospel with a group of 5th. formers at the Grammar School for a double lesson. A day was spent also at the Queen Elizabeth Boys’ Grammar School, Wakefield, speaking at various sessions. These are wonderful opportunities. Tract work has been engaged in in 14 new villages. The third children’s campaign was held in Kirk Hammerton. The response on the doors was very friendly, with invitations to talk. People spoke of help that they had found in the Joyful News calendars. Two children’s campaigns were held in Harrogate, one in the assembly and the other in Woodlands Primary School. Here some 60 children attended, and such was the interest that the school has been booked again for November.
From Derek Taylor we have a report of a two weeks’ gospel effort by the Red Row assembly with R. Pickering, Belfast. Believers were encouraged in that unbelievers were present at almost every meeting. The gospel was presented clearly and simply, and many were challenged, although there were no definite professions. During the campaign a lady was baptized and 46 were present. Another lady was restored to the Lord. From Forest Hall, Newcastle, comes news of a children’s series with Jim McMaster. Good numbers of children came along. The interest was keen, many learnt memory verses and all listened very well. There were those who trusted the Lord either during the meetings or afterwards. It was an added joy when three sons of a family recently come into fellowship, asked for baptism. The assembly at Wallsend opened their baptistry and there was a good company witnessed the event. Later the baptistry was opened again when the eldest son of an assembly family was baptized. It was good to see a number of young people present on this occasion.
From Ivor Powell, we have news of opportunities in Northamptonshire. He speaks of the joy of hearing of blessing from missions held in past years. The way opens continually for sowing the good seed. Each month there is a regular visit on the Grange Estate, Daventry, leaving Christian literature in many homes. Numbers attending the monthly family services are good. Ivor speaks of encouragement at both gospel and ministry meetings, when people have come to say that the message just seemed to be personally for them. A few weeks ago our brother and his wife had the joy of sitting down with an anxious enquirer, and through the scriptures, pointing her to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many open doors to schools and holiday clubs and our brother would welcome prayer.
The annual Three Counties Show took place at Malvern, giving the opportunity of erecting again ‘The Way’ Christian Witness tent. There were many thousands who passed through the tent giving opportunity for contacts and conversations. Periods of singing and preaching were held this year and numbers listened to the message. The Postal Bible School had their stall and many children took the starter packs. Some have enrolled since for lessons. Christian literature was distributed and many useful conversations were enjoyed.
From S. Mountstevens we have reports of two tent campaigns for children. At Wainscot, Kent, over 30 met together each night. Interest was good and the memorization of texts was encouraging. The power of the Spirit of God was felt in the meetings. A boy of 11 made earnest enquiry regarding spiritual things and listened with interest to what was said. Our brother speaks of the wonderful way in which the Lord has guided and provided for the summer work. A visit for the fifth time to Baldock, Herts., gave cause for praise but one matter for prayer also. It is worth mentioning this case in detail. Four years ago a young lad of 11, Steven, remained in the tent after the meeting and was seen to be writing on the tent pole. He wrote, T would like to be a Christian’. He was spoken to and this seemed a genuine cry for help. Against the background of persuasions from his friends to join them at football he was shown the way of salvation. Afterwards he left with his friends. He is now about 14 years old and this year seemed to be disturbed within. He stood by the tent door and was challenged as to what he would do with Christ. His friends tugged at his coat to join them, but he remained for most of the message and then left. This highlights the pressures those who want to become Christians face. Pray for this lad. This year at Baldock proved to be very profitable with 40 - 50 children gathering and good interest shown. There was good learning of the verses of Scriptures.
It is good to have a report of the second Annual Missionary Meetings in North London, held at Tottenham. Many from London and the Home Counties came for the day of meetings and the fellowship was warm and happy. There was blessing and encouragement for all who attended. A full programme, commencing with morning prayer, was filled with sessions of reports given by missionaries and homeworkers with a climax of ministry given by Roy Hill, Bristol. The comprehensive bookstall proved helpful and the reports given were clear and instructive. These left a real challenge and a call for continual prayer on the home front.
We have a useful report from Stephen Gillham. The opportunities in schools continue to give much encouragement. Over 16000 children heard and saw the Christmas presentation during the 5 weeks of visits over the period. During the Spring term 89 school assemblies were spoken to, over half of which were over the Easter holiday. Few schools had prepared their children in any way to understand the meaning of Easter and it was a great privilege to explain a little the meaning of the cross and the resurrection. The summer term has seen a similar number of opportunities for visiting. Recently there has been a particular encouragement with the response. A 6-year-old recited almost word for word to his parents, the bible story that he had heard in one of the school assemblies. One Head Teacher spoke of the help that her staff were receiving from these assemblies in learning themselves how to present the message of the Bible in a way that children could understand. A letter from a retiring Head said, ‘Thank you very much for the very real contribution you have made to the children’s lives in this school’. Most of the children contacted are under 13. Much prayer and preparation are needed for this work. We can join in this with our prayers.
A four day Bible Exhibition at the Evangelistic Hall, Llanelli, proved to be a remarkable experience in practical fellowship, involving other assemblies in the area. Visits by schoolchildren occupied most of the day and very appreciative comments were made by Head Teachers and their staff. Over 1000 visits were received; a wonderful sense of the Lord’s presence was felt and an effectual number of personal contacts and opportunities for conversation and enquiries in matters relating to the Word of God and the gospel were enjoyed.
Encouraging reports were given at the annual meeting of the South West Wales Evangelistic Mobile Unit. Several interesting contacts have been made during the weekly open-air witness in Swansea city centre. One or two very sad cases were mentioned of people who approached workers with their problems. These are being followed up by assembly visitors. Paul Young brought a word of ministry at the close. W. Longville was at George Street Gospel Hall fellowship meetings where he reported on his work in Dartmoor Prison and joined Eric Parmenter in the evening ministry. Armine Road Gospel Hall, Fforestfach, held a series of meetings conducted by Eric Parmenter on the Messianic Psalms. These were supported by other assemblies in South Wales and many were helped with these meditations. In addition to the weekly open-air meetings in Swansea centre it has been encouraging to hear of young people from the Swansea and Neath assemblies conducting regular open-air services, and they are having encouraging conversations as they witness to those who stand by. Alan Nute and Bernard Osborne gave helpful ministry at the Annual Conference in the Castleton Gospel Hall, Mumbles.
From Don Roberts comes news of activities in Cardiff and district. The Cardiff Christian Rallies season has now finished. The attendances have averaged between 60 and 80, these mainly young people. The ministry has been helpful and practical. The United Cardiff Assemblies Ministry Conference enjoyed practical ministry from Peter Maiden and Ivan Steeds. Reports were given at the homeworkers Conference by David Richards, John Hall and Jim Eldergill-, and ministry was given by D. S. Watts from Stoke-on-Trent. David Newell and Colin Lacey gave ministry at the Llandaff North conference. This was followed by two special addresses, given by David Newell on the charismatic movement, during the week-end.
At Nantgarw, a gospel campaign was conducted by David Richards and Phil Harding and many new contacts were made. This was followed by a children’s campaign with Sid Mountstevens. The gospel meetings at Deri, conducted by Joe Baxter, were so well received that they were extended for another two weeks. Unsaved were present nearly every night. Since these meetings a man has been saved. Joe Baxter continued in the area with a gospel campaign for two weeks at Glan-y-Llyn. a man from Scotland was saved. A week’s ministry with Fred Epps, Canterbury, followed.
From John Powell, Plymouth, we have news of a week’s mission at Plympton, Underwood Chapel, with Geoff Carr. Two well attended Family Services and a Youth Rally, when about 60 young people were present, made for a very busy Sunday. During the week the church was challenged by addresses through the book of Habakkuk, and again attendances were very good. At the ladies’ meetings many spoke to the evangelist, and one lady said that she had joined in the prayer of commitment with him. Friday again saw the chapel filled with people and many spoke with Geoff afterwards. The children’s meetings were disappointing in numbers but the evengelist’s enthusiasm seemed never affected by numbers. The week-end finished with a visit to Dartmoor prison.