“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”, 2 Cor. 5. 17.
In this first report of 1979 we are looking back on late summer and autumn activities. We have some interesting cases of conversion to record. Each is a miracle in itself. In a world where political and social reform are proving so powerless to remedy the ills of our sin-sick society, it is good to reflect upon the agencies of dynamic power contained in the Christian Gospel. We are not offering reforms, but are engaged in activities which, through the power of the Holy Spirit, produce such radical change in human experience - nothing less than “new creation”. We can give God thanks for all the evidences we have seen of His power to save. We can take fresh heart as, on the threshold of a new year, we seek His guidance in, and His blessing on all the work that lies ahead. Who knows? - 1979 may be the year of His coming. Let us pray that many lives may be changed through the redeeming power of our living Saviour.
In BANDON, Alex Farrell held ten days ministry meetings during October. The subject was John’s Gospel, and there was encouragement for the believers and blessing for the unsaved. Attendances were good and a number of Roman Catholics came. One young woman confessed faith in Christ. At the beginning of a gospel effort in SKIBBEREEN conducted by T. McKelvie and J. Hutchinson, attendances were excellent and a number of Roman Catholics attended. This campaign was planned to continue for some weeks. Open-air work in CORK was carried on by workers from SKIBBEREEN and CORK. Passers-by received a good number of tracts. The house-to-house visitation in Cork continues, and interesting contacts have been made. Most of the homes visited are Roman Catholic, but there has been very little opposition. The prayers of all will be valued for this work.
A series of meetings was held by Jim Hutchinson and Jim Allen (Malaysia) in a tent pitched between DROMORE and BANBRIDGE. The tent was filled each night and some came out for Christ. In the hall at GRANSHAW, Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings held some meetings for a number of weeks. The Lord gave blessing, and some professed faith in the Saviour. At a housing estate near to GLENGORMLEY, John Thompson and Sam Ferguson held meetings in a tent and some encouraging numbers attended. The Lord’s blessing was felt during the meetings.
An interesting report has been sent from T. Aitken-Forth. Two special efforts took place in MOTHER-WELL. Hedley Murphy had good numbers at Roman Road Hall. An uplifting time was experienced as some were saved, a woman found new assurance and a man was restored to the Lord. Jim Smyth worked at Shields Road and the power of the Lord was felt. Five adults accepted Christ as Saviour. Joe Mersom had good meetings at ARMADALE. Two teenage girls came to Christ and another found the assurance of salvation. The father of one of the girls now attends the meetings. Pray for his conversion. A great joy was felt in an assembly in the West of Scotland as with John Spiers as evangelist they held their first gospel effort in 20 years. Four folk came out for Christ. Six young people were baptized on the last night of the meetings.
There follow three instances of the wonderful way God works to save people, (i) After visiting an assembly in ministry the speaker was invited back to supper. Much discussion took place concerning the coming of the Lord. The speaker returned for another meeting the next week, and at supper a further discussion took place. Great joy came as the son of the house asked how he could find Christ. He was easily led to the Saviour, (ii) An inmate of a state prison, Tommy had done almost 13 years. He was a man under Satan’s control. He came out of prison to a life of utter misery, trusted by no one. Drink drowned his sorrows until money failed and he was often without food. A Christian befriended him and got him to read a Bible. As he read the words “Father forgive them”, he was completely broken down. One Tuesday evening he accepted Christ as Saviour and joy filled his life. He has since been baptized and is in fellowship in the assembly at FORTH. He needs much prayer, (iii) The first thought of God came to Sam Lurensky while he was serving a seven year sentence in DUMFRIES prison. When he was released, he joined some squatters in a London house and lived a life selling himself to drugs. Among them was a girl from a Christian home who led him away from drugs. (She afterwards became his wife.) Coming back to Dumfries, a priest who had helped him previously put him in touch with a lady who led him to Christ. Today Sam, his wife and brother-in-law are in happy assembly fellowship. Praise God that He has power to change such lives today.
An encouraging missionary week-end was held in the North East in September. News of work in Zaire, Ethiopia, Korea and Brazil was given. N. Lane of Medical Missionary News gave report of medical work on the field, and D. Boak of Echoes of Service gave an insight into the work of the staff at Bath. A sense of warm fellowship was experienced, and a greater incentive to intelligent prayer for those engaged in work on the mission field. At BLYTH, Northumberland, a week’s meetings was held by Norman Mellish. The children responded well with an average of 80 present each night. As a result of the campaign, the mid-week children’s meeting has increased in numbers. The assembly at BYKER, small in numbers, has lately had cause for encouragement. During the summer months a young lady began to attend the gospel meetings. She brought a young fellow with her and eventually both were saved. They both are keen to win others for the Saviour and several young people now attend the gospel meetings. Pray for plans being made for future witness here, with the help of the North East Assembly Outreach. Two teenage lads and a fellow of 21 were recently saved at WALKER. This young fellow is a real triumph of God’s grace as he had often been in trouble with the police. Now he goes on well and has been baptized. At SOUTH SHIELDS, children’s meetings were held during “Blackberry Week”. An average of 90 children attended the meetings each day, and some of the parents came to the Family Service. Blessing was reaped I Two girls came to the Saviour and the Sunday School has increased its numbers.
At SOUTH-PORT, a fortnight’s gospel campaign was conducted by Stewart McKenzie to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Hall. Senior Citizens’ meetings, a youth rally, school assemblies and a 50th Anniversary Reunion for past and present members of the Sunday School as well as nightly meetings for children and adults made for a busy fortnight. Encouragements were given as a ten year old girl and two adults came to the Saviour. One of these was a 64 year old man who came out after a Senior Citizens’ meeting. The other was a middle-aged woman who was first contacted when she approached a Christian couple for change to make a ‘phone call. The change was given and also an invitation to the meetings. They brought the lady themselves - wise evangelism - and on her second visit she was saved.
News still comes in of last year’s camp and tent work. The Manchester and District Sunday School Camp was held at ABEROFYLE, Scotland, where 222 campers gathered. B. Deen was the evangelist and 15 young people came out for Christ. Teaching ministry was given by T. Renshaw. In the BOLTON area, as the result of the labours of J. Clunas with the Lancashire Tent about 30 people confessed Christ as Saviour. Rod Sharpe conducted the Young People’s meetings. For five weeks during July and August J. Smyth and G. Meikie revisited MANCHESTER with the tent. A number of strangers came in and an unusual feature of the work was the number of men who showed interest. Over 100 children attended on many evenings as G. Meikie conducted the meetings. At least three folks professed faith in Christ.
Three items of interest come from Ken Brighton who labours in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. He tells of gospel witness on the CANALS. About 2,000 miles of inland waterways provide holidays for many people during the summer months. A team of young Christians, who have been trained in personal evangelism, seeks to contact the fishermen by the banks, crews of the boats, British Waterways staff, and also general sightseers at the locks. On board their boat the workers often pray together for the seed that has been sown. There were those who definitely trusted Christ on a trip from OXFORD to Leamington Spa and back. They need our prayers. Prayer is asked that the Lord will supply a narrow boat so that those who labour in this way can make full use of the canals between May and September.
The second item concerns work at OXFORD St. GILES fair. This is the largest two day street fair in Great Britain, and affords great opportunities for witness. Many contacts are made with people from all over the world, and literature supplied by the S.G.M. is distributed in different languages. Gospel records, published by Gospel Recordings, are given away and the Gospel is heralded out from an improvised pulpit. Helped by Oxfordshire Police, a good position is allowed. With willing fellowship from faithful Christians a good testimony is given. Finally we hear of the work of a Holiday Bible Club. At BRACKNELL each day fora week about 130 children gathered to hear the truth of creation explained. Visual Aids were used to give a clear understanding of Genesis in the face of evolutionary teaching, so often taught in schools. We can pray that the word spoken in these different ways will bring many to Christ.
A need has been felt for some time by believers who live in the WALLINGFORD area for an assembly in the town. All have travelled some distance to other assemblies. For four years or so they have met once a week for prayer and Bible-study. A Sunday School was commenced in a home and many local children attend. A Scout Hut has now been hired for Lord’s Day. Despite house-to-house visitation, local interest has been poor. Prayer would be much valued.
From Ivor Powell comes news of a most happy and fruitful mission in the small assembly at NETHERFIELD, Notts., from September 10th to 20th. Large numbers of children attended the meetings. Great opportunities were given to speak to hundreds of children in various school assemblies. Doors are wide open in the schools of our land. We can pray that many young people will come to Christ. A family service was held and an unsaved husband confessed Christ. Also an unsaved wife confessed to her husband, “I have trusted Christ”. The whole assembly was deeply moved. On the final day, news came of three Christians who desired to come back into assembly fellowship. Door-to-door work has been done in NORTHAMPTON AND DAVENTRY. There has been a good response, and a willingness to listen on the doorstep. Many were relieved that this was not a visit from Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. A Jewess living in Northampton requested a copy of the Scriptures. A lady at Daventry not only comes herself to the gospel meeting but brings her neighbours as well. “I firmly believe”, says Ivor Powell, “that meeting people in their homes is one of God’s great methods of reaching people for the Saviour”.
An interesting item of news concerns a tracting ministry in HOUNSLOW conducted by J. Harrold. Our brother says that he learnt the secret of this work from his Bible Class teacher. The work involves writing to as many Christians as possible, sending samples of tracts and offering the literature freely for evangelical work. During 1978, over 310,000 tracts were sent out and thousands of Gospels and Scripture portions. Some of this material has been sent overseas. A work is also done among Asian people living in the area. Mrs. Harrold and three other ladies have commenced a monthly coffee evening in the home. There is also a “Young Adventurers” work for the children. There are many Hindustan and Sikh people round about, and much prayer is needed in seeking to contact and help them. If any are interested in receiving free literature for gospel activities, please contact, J. Harrold, 24, Roseville Avenue, Hounslow, Middx.
News comes in of a children’s mission held at CALNE in October. Each night the hall was filled with 120 to 150 children, as Philip Lambert shared the gospel with them. There was a good interest, and several made a profession of faith in Christ. At a family service a number of parents were present and heard the gospel preached.
Some interesting news of work at Wick-bdurne Chapel, LITTLEHAMPTON. About nineteen years ago a work was commenced on the Wickbourne Estate by a number of believers from the Parkside assembly. Much blessing is now being enjoyed among young and old. Happy unity is felt in the assembly and the growth of the church is an evidence of the Lord’s hand in blessing. Especially important is the overall provision for work among children and young people. While there is deep thankfulness for God’s goodness, prayer is sought that growth will continue.
News to hand of the work of the South West Wales Evangelistic Unit. Amidst differing reactions to the preaching of the gospel the work has gone on. During the early summer, workers visited EBBW VALE where a gospel outreach was taking place. Open-air meetings were held in the town centre with encouraging results. Visits were also made to ABERGAVENNY, PENDINE and FERRYSIDE. Regular visits were made to South West Wales thus maintaining a continual contact not only with the local assembly fellowships, but also with the residents. These visits help to supplement the assembly outreach, although the numbers who man the Unit are few. The FFORESTFACH assembly made use of the Unit during the summer months. Each Tuesday evening local housing estates were visited. Some hostility was shown but one young man was especially interested. Prayer is much needed for more workers and also for souls to be saved.
At Ebenezer Gospel Hall, CARDIFF, a week of outreach was held, following regular weekly open-air meetings and door-to-door visitation. John Spiers and two members of Gospel Literature Outreach acted as team leaders to young people and the district was covered street by street. Each morning began at 9.30 with prayer, and then work was done in pairs. About thirty asked for Bibles, and followup visits show that they are read. The Sunday School and Women’s Meeting have benefited. The district has been since visited, and 150 houses asking for followup have been contacted. Open-air meetings were held in every street during the summer. Houses were visited while meetings were in progress. At a junction of five roads in the town young people distributed tracts each Sunday evening. During September a group spent a week in door-to-door activity. The assembly work has thus been strengthened. At HENGOED, a week’s meetings was held by John Baker. Visitation work proved effective and a Seventh Day Adventist came to meetings. Through accompanying John Baker in visitation, a young lad of 16 came eventually to the Saviour.
News comes of the commencement of an assembly at the Seamen’s Chapel, APPLEDORE, Devon. For six years there has been a gospel witness in this place. For the first time, the believers had the joy of breaking bread together on July 30th 1978. There is constant outreach work with women and children. Sunday evening community hymn singing sessions were held during the summer and many residents and visitors were reached in this way; one woman from the locality has been saved. Prayer is sought both for the work and also for the financial needs that the purchase of the building involves.
At SALTASH during October a useful campaign was conducted by S. Mountstevens. The local believers, especially the young people, gave consistent help. Two weeks meetings with children were encouraging, with 105 children packing the hall each night. A good number of parents were contacted and many attended the prize giving night. Two effective visits were made to local schools. Numbers in the Sunday School have since increased. An interesting case of conversion was of a boy of 12. He showed great concern and said, “I need help and only Jesus can help me”. He was a constant trouble at home, but his confession of Jesus as His Saviour was definite and he goes on well with the Lord. We can remember him in our prayers.
We end this report with news of the work of the Lord in a family from BODMIN. They will all be baptized at St Austell. The three children of the house were saved and gave consistent witness to the Lord in the home. Eventually “mum and dad” were converted and now all are going to confess the Lord in baptism. How tremendous- - a household where the power of God has been seen!