“He shall not fail”, Isa. 42. 4
“He must increase”, John 3. 30.
Another year of reports begins. Facing the problems and possibilities of serving the Lord, it is good to commence with certainties. Because work for God is beset with difficulties, we often give way to doubts regarding its relevance and effectiveness. In these two brief scriptural statements we have truth enough to banish doubt and establish confidence. Although centuries separate their uttering, they concern one glorious Person—Jehovah’s Perfect Servant. The first indicates success; the second supremacy. How wonderful are the qualities of service which the prophet calls attention to in Isa. 42. Each is clearly defined, and the summit of all is the unfailing success of the Servant. “He shall not fail”. How necessary for us to commit our oft weak and failing efforts into the hands of God’s Chosen One, our Lord Jesus Christ. Where we fail, He must succeed, and He will bring to perfection that which concerns us. It was given to John to prepare the way for the One whose coming Isaiah foretold. The great imperative of his mission was clearly to present Christ as the Messiah, the Sent One of God, Jehovah’s Servant. In his brief self-effacing comment we have his mission epitomised. With him, as with all who serve the Lord, ministry finds its true goal when Christ is supreme. May these two great certainties concerning Him whom we love and serve captivate us during 1983.
Some items of news come from A. Grey, Mountmellick. The Annual Conference at PORTARLINGTON was encouraging with many believers attending. A team, led by D. Prosser of South Wales, visited the town and there were signs that the Lord is at work. One young married man opened his home for members of the team to discuss the Scriptures with him. He came to meetings in the Hall, and has now made a very clear confession of faith in the Lord. He was a Roman Catholic, but now has left and is sure that the Lord is going to save his wife. Pray for this home. At Parklands and Courtdown Caravan Parks, good numbers of children attended the meetings and good contacts were made with teenagers and adults. Prayer is asked for a local teenage girl who professed faith in Christ. Postal Sunday School Camp was encouraging with about 40 young people and leaders at OVOCA Manor, Co. Wexford. George Hall of Belfast gave searching messages each day. The young people, varying in ages, appreciated the talks. One Roman Catholic girl, brought by a friend, had never been to a meeting on camp before; she asked for a Bible and is doing Postal Sunday School lessons. Let us remember this work at headquarters in Mountmellick.
A number of brief items of interest come to hand from Jim Graham. Meetings held at Albertbridge Road Gospel Hall, BELFAST, were disappointing in spite of concentrated visitation in the district. Several efforts are reported from Co. Antrim. A spell of meetings were held in a portable hall at BALLEYROGEY with W. Armstrong and T. Blair. J. G. Hutchinson and T. McKelvey had good meetings in the old school hall at STRAID. The attendances were encouraging, and four at least were saved. Brethren have been busy in Co. Down. J. Wells and W. Jennings were cheered by good interest in the meetings at BALLYKEEL (Moume). Five weeks meetings were held in LISNABREEN, BANGOR, by T. Meekin. A growing interest was shown and some professed to be saved. E. Wishart and S. Thompson held meetings at the Gospel Hall, COMBER, and increasing interest was noted. In the needy town of SAINTFIELD, M. Wishart and M. Curser held encouraging meetings in the Court House. At LURGAN, Co. Armagh, J. Allen had good attendance in gospel meetings. The locals came in to hear the gospel. Large numbers continued to attend Saturday ministry meetings held at ARMAGH City. Two items come from Co. Fermanagh. In BALLINAMALLARD Gospel Hall, J. Kells and G. Stewart saw blessing. At ENNISKILLEN, A. Carew held gospel meetings. There was good interest and encouraging numbers at meetings held by J. Lennox and J. Brown at MAGHERAFELT Gospel Hall, Co. Londonderry. The Annual LURGAN Bible Reading and Conference saw very good attendances—the portion for study was Acts 1-4.
Behind these many brief items of report, lies much prayer and labour for the Lord. May He bless all done in His Name. News comes from Edward Jamieson of different avenues of contact through the gospel. A “Words of Comfort” ministry seeks to reach those who have been bereaved. Death notices are taken from about three newspapers and about 30 believers send out this literature with a letter of comfort to bereaved families. Each week some 300 homes receive the Word this way. Letters come in expressing thanks, and often asking for counsel. This work needs much wisdom and prayer. Again mention is made of hospital visitation, especially members of the R.U.C. who are patients in any of the BELFAST hospitals. Such visits bring contact with the deepest forms of tragedy. Prayer is asked for a couple whose daughter, Karen, was gunned down outside her Church Hall. Three weeks after this incident, she went home to be with the Lord. Her father trusted the Saviour while she was in hospital.
A three week special effort was held at Roman Road Hall, MOTHERWELL, with Peter Brandon. A feature of the effort was the permission granted to hold open air meetings in the shopping centre in the town during the afternoons. Many people came into the hall and at least six were saved. The assembly has been known for its door-to-door visitation work in recent times. At WHITBURN, during two week’s mission with Robert McPheat, two young men trusted the Saviour. The wife of one of these is a backslider, and did not come to the meetings. Prayer goes on for her restoration. A young man from SANQUHAR, whose father owns three public houses in the area, was gloriously saved while at Edinburgh University. He invited his father to his baptism but he flatly refused to come. As the young man stepped down into the waters, the first person he saw was his father sitting, with tears running down his face. Praise God for this testimony—pray that God will save in this family. Renfrewshire Gospel Campaign held their second campaign for’82 in Bethany Hall, GOUROCK, with Robert McPheat for three weeks in September. After Church Sunday night rallies were held in Gamble Hall with about 150 attending. Some were awakened, and at least two made definite professions. Good news from the assembly at BISHOPTON. A plot of ground and planning permission to build has been granted. The location is the centre of the village. Pray for God’s guidance and blessing in this venture. We have a note regarding John Gordon who was commended to full-time service as an evangelist by the HOPEMAN assembly. He now finds it necessary to return to employment. He still hopes to continue in the Lord’s work as time and opportunity permits. We shall remember our brother in prayer.
Some interesting items come from this area. In October, J. Smythe of Livingstone had a week’s special Gospel meetings in the FLIXTON assembly, MANCHESTER. All the meetings were well attended and some interest was shown. A couple from the assembly invited their neighbours, an Irish couple, to attend the meetings. As a result of this they have attended Sunday evening meetings since. Also following the meetings a believer has asked for baptism. It was felt that the Lord was working during this effort, and the assembly are now exercised concerning future outreach. A good result is coming out of Friday night Young Peoples meetings held in MANCHESTER City centre. These are well attended, and the fellowship enjoyed among these young people leads them to attend the Saturday evening meetings held during the winter in city assemblies. Following the Gospel Tent campaign held during the summer in CRUMPSALL, well attended children’s meetings have been held on Friday nights in a hired school. There was joy in the CHEETHAM assembly when a sister who had been in contact with the meeting 30 years ago was baptized. She was contacted through means of telephone work which a brother conducts from his home. It appears that this method of witness is well used, and attracts many callers. We can praise God for the Lord’s ability to use differing methods of outreach to bring needy lives to Himself.
We have news of the commendation to full-time service for the Lord of Stanley Burditt, from Gospel Hall, Kingsthorpe, NORTHAMPTON. Our brother’s concern is for evangelism in Cornwall. He has been in assembly fellowship for 27 years. An interesting item of news comes from NORTHLEIGH, Oxon. The testimony in this village began 75 years ago when three families from the local Wesleyan Church, following a series of Bible Readings held in a cottage by a brother who had gone into the district, left the Church. Meeting in this same cottage, an assembly was soon formed. The local Squire then gave a plot of ground on which a galvanised metal hut was erected. Numbers varied over the years, increasing by 1972 to justify the erection of a new hall on the same site. Today there is an active assembly here, which, apart from the usual meetings, has outreach activities, Sunday School, week-night children’s meetings for two age-groups, and women’s meetings. These are all well attended. A recent visit by S. Mountstevens for a ten-day campaign greatly stimulated the children’s work. Each night, the meetings attended by upwards of 60 children were marked by a sense of real enjoyment. On the final night the prize-giving was held in the Village Hall, and parents were present. On each occasion a simple but clear gospel message was given. Some stayed behind one evening for counselling, one girl clearly stating that she wished to trust the Lord. The good seed of the Word of God was sown in many young hearts. The assembly are looking to the Lord to give the increase in His own good time and way.
News comes from SWINDON of their annual Missionary Conference. Brethren Hughes of Brazil, Martin Baker of Eastern Europe and Raymond of Zambia gave interesting and enlightening reports. A Yugoslavian homeworker gave a brief report by interpretation, and Mr. Archbold reported on the work of the R.M.A.F. This conference proved to be a time of blessing. In WROUGHTON assembly, Jim Allen of Belfast held a week’s ministry, followed by three weeks gospel effort. Several unsaved folk attended, and on one occasion these outnumbered the local believers. In door-to-door work, friendly responses and promises were forthcoming, but sadly not fulfilled. Jim Allen was joined by Colin Stewart of Bicester for the WROUGHTON Annual Conference, and this was a happy time of blessing. At Florence Street, SWINDON, Jim Allen took the subject, “Evolution or Creation”, and with his scientific background he was able to expound the subject and give full glory to our great Creator God. At LOCKERIDGE assembly, a good company gathered to hear S. Bums (S.I.M.) and this greatly encouraged local believers. A week’s children’s meetings was held at Liddington Street, SWINDON, with David Wilcox. On the Sunday afternoon 22 parents gathered for the opening meeting. Evening meetings were well attended.
Some interesting news comes from S. Mountstevens. Good numbers attended meetings held in DEAL, and several came for counselling. The conversion of John Paul, a 14 year old, was interesting. He came under deep conviction on two successive nights before finally accepting Jesus as Saviour. The autumn months were busy with assembly campaigns. At WELLING the children’s campaign was disappointing. In an area where 100 children could be expected, numbers were down to eight, and the highest around 24. There was much heart-searching which was profitable if painful. A little six year old asked to become a Christian on the final night.
From J. Harman we have a good report concerning WEYMOUTH Summer Schools Outreach 1982. As in past years, the main mission involved the support of teams from Universities and Colleges but even in the period before their arrival at the beginning of July, Tim Coombs was going round the classrooms to visit groups of language school students. A very good reception was given. Tim was pleased to meet Libyan and Swedish students during this period, and with some young Christians made contact with students in the town and on the seafront. Getting the teams together, accommodating them and feeding them, is an essential part of the work, but it was accomplished and a good number of teams were available. Coffee bar work was done in the town. In one, 80 students paid a visit on the first Saturday. Following this, a useful number gave better opportunities for personal conversation. On most evenings, evangelistic Bible Studies were held with students who were interested in discussing the Scriptures and the claims of Christ. Friendships were built up with individuals, and a lot of serious conversations took place. Towards the end of the mission, Jutta, a German girl, gave her heart to the Lord. Also very interested were a Belgian student lad on a sailing boat; Marwan, a Jordanian student; his friends Monzir and Laurant who had been interested last year. At an extra Coffee Bar in the town, Daniel an English lad, made a profession and two conversions followed—John Goumas from Athens whose parents are Christians and Valery a boy from France. Also two Portugese families and four girls from the Norwegian Christian Summer School were contacted. 20 visits were made to various classes with real interest shown. Here is much material for prayer that lasting work shall be done.
Brief items of news come from W. Beale. J. Alwyn Jones of Trinidad conducted special meetings in the Evangelistic Hall at LLANELLI. Tom Roberts of Bahamas held special gospel meetings at George Street Gospel Hall, SWANSEA, and at Heol-y-Gors SWANSEA when many came in to hear the message. A Sunday School scholar at Heol-y-Gors trusted in the Saviour. The believers in the Gospel Hall, FFORESTFACH, were encouraged with the numbers of unsaved who came in during a series of gospel meetings conducted by Robert McLuckie, Belfast. The power of God was evident during these meetings.
John Baker held a three week’s campaign in ST. AUSTELL. The first week was given to visitation, and good contacts were made with promises to come. The second week saw the children’s meetings increase from 18 to 38. This was a great encouragement and a children’s meeting has commenced as a result. Adult meetings were poorly attended at first although there were always unsaved in. Several believers brought unsaved relatives, friends and neighbours, and some were under conviction. In the final week, numbers improved, and a number of Methodists came in each night. They commented that they had rarely heard the gospel preached this way, and that the atmosphere of the place inspired them to come again. The Senior Citizens’ Tea on the first Lord’s Day and the Parents’ tea on the second were well attended and the place was full. On the final night there was a good crowd in, and a Roman Catholic man was there who said he wished he had come before. Prayer is asked for the daily contacts made with neighbours, friends and relations that effective testimony may be given to the Lord. Pray that the good seed sown may definitely bring forth fruit. At a baptism following, 72 people gathered including some Methodists who were showing an interest in baptism. The candidate’s family were all there—all unsaved, and also a woman who was in fellowship years ago and shows interest in returning.
From Martin Baker comes news concerning work in EASTERN EUROPE. A journey into POLAND was made with Michael Browne and believers from Belgian assemblies taking relief to needy saints there. Later, Martin Baker, his wife and Mrs. Schneidrook visited believers for a while in N. E. Yugoslavia. A full report is given of a visit among assemblies in HUNGARY and RUMANIA. The Lord has blessed gospel work in RUMANIA during the past year. New assemblies have been formed south of BUCHAREST, near the Danube. There are now ten in the southern province. There has been further expansion in the North East. In an assembly where 300-400 meet in the city in the centre of the country, 47 believers were baptized in June/July. Over 60 have requested baptism. This blessing of conversion, baptism and planting of new assemblies, is set against the background of the imprisonment, earlier this year, of eleven brethren (in connection with Bible distribution) and their subsequent release in August. Returning through HUNGARY, a joyous renewal of fellowship was experienced in the large assembly of 500 in BUDAPEST. Plans have been finalized to build assembly premises on the same site in “O” Utca near the centre of the city. Prayer is needed that financial needs will be met and that the spiritual work will continue to grow. News regarding POLAND. Assemblies which were able to return to the simplicity of meeting as autonomous local churches in 1980, mainly in the south of the country, continue. There are also two in the Warsaw area. It is the concern of our brethren to help and encourage these believers both in their spiritual work and practically with food and clothing relief. Such relief, received from the U.K. and other parts of Western Europe, is used first for the needs of Christians, and then to those in need around them. Thus effective new ways of gospel witness have opened up. At least one new assembly has been recently registered as the work progresses. It is hoped others will follow. Prayer is needed that the Lord will raise up new workers as evangelists, and that many new self-propagating assemblies will be planted in the North East.