“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely”, Hosea 14. 4.
It is quite significant that in several of the reports sent in this time, mention is made of backsliders being restored at gospel meetings. This shows an aspect of God’s dealings with men which is very lovely. It does not suggest a second conversion for those who have been saved, and then wandered away from the Lord. But it does display the aspect of God’s forgiving love which is in response to repentance in a believer. Chilling influences of a sinful society often cool the love which should be for Christ alone. The barrenness of spiritual declension is often sadly seen in Christian life today. How beautiful and how relevant these promises of God to failing Israel become to us as we go on with Him. May 1984 be a year during which He has our best and first love—that nothing shall come between our lives and our Saviour and Lord.
The news from the North is plentiful, and J. Graham has sent in a number of interesting items. In the Gospel Hall, Albertbridge Road, BELFAST, H. Graham and W. Armstrong have had four weeks meetings. At the Musgrave Park Hospital, BELFAST, a gospel service is held every Friday evening. Patients are brought together and short clear gospel messages are given. These are recorded, and others not attending are able to hear. Recently up to 50 patients have been present. A very encouraging work! There was encouragement for A. Caulfield and A. McClean in meetings in BALLYCASTLE. Souls were saved in the early part of a gospel effort, held by A. Aiken and R. Watterson at PORTRUSH. Good numbers attended meetings with J. Martin and W. Jennings at DRUMNAHARE. Meetings were held by J. Thompson and D. Gilliland at SHANTAGHAM, and also by S. Ferguson and N. Turkington in the renovated hall at DROMORE. J. Flannigan was at the assembly at AHOVEY for three weeks ministry meetings. The Annual Conference and Bible Readings were held at LURGAN with large numbers of believers gathering, and profitable ministry was enjoyed. Earlier last year, T. McNeill visited the area around DRUMACANVER. As a result of this, the local assembly has been greatly encouraged by the good numbers that attend the weekly gospel meetings. At ENNISKILLEN and neighbouring Co. Tyrone four weeks of gospel meetings were held with A. Carew, London. The good numbers that gathered and the interesting times were encouraging. In DUNMULLAN, G. Patterson and J. Hawthorne saw blessing.
Jim Graham writes that the assemblies in the North will be the poorer as the result of the homecall of Tom McKelvey. Born in 1896 and saved in 1914, for 65 years he was in full time service for his Lord. He was engaged in gospel meetings with J. Hutchinson at BALLYWATER when he was taken ill. After a short time he was called home to be with his Lord. We shall remember in prayer those who have been bereaved. In MONKSTOWN, W. Armstrong and R. Cunningham held meetings in a portable hall erected on a large housing estate. Good numbers attended. Also in this hall, W. Barr and D. Broom held children’s meetings with about 100 coming in off the estate.
Various items of news come from Edward Jamieson in BELFAST. Between 40-60 soldiers are visited each week in the Military Hospital. The Word of God is distributed among them. This is an important work in this tragic area. Those contacted, needing prayer, included a young soldier who recently took an overdose; a soldier who has had brain surgery; a man who lost both his legs in a car-bomb accident and a number of lads involved in road traffic accidents—some with serious injuries. Interesting points are given relating to Deep Sea Evangelism. Each month 1,500 bags are sent out from Belfast, Cork and London. Where do they go and turn up? A young man picked one up on a Brazilian river beach. He requested a free Bible Course. A man from Poland picked one up on the shore. He wrote expressing thanks and requesting a Course. From the West Coast of Africa, particularly Nigeria, many replies still come in and requests for Bible Courses are frequent. And further replies still come in from the Algerian coastline of North Africa. It is good to pray for these entrances of the gospel into lands closed to foreign missionaries.
Robert Eyres sends news of work in the ORKNEYS. A conference was held at HARRAY with James Brown and Jim Boswell, and helpful ministry was given. J. Boswell continued with two weeks ministry in the KIRKWALL assembly. Children’s meetings were conducted in KIRKWALL by David McMasters, and the numbers were good. At STROMNESS, HARRAY and KIRKWALL David McMasters ministered the Word on prayer meeting nights. A change of address is given for believers, formerly known as the CULCABOCK assembly. They now meet in a new hall at CULLODEN and are called the CULLODEN assembly. There are 24 in fellowship and value prayer that they may move from strength to strength. In the DINGWALL assembly, a young brother whose parents are in fellowship has applied for baptism and desires fellowship. This gave cause for encouragement. A work among boys and girls has commenced in DINGWALL for the winter. A retired local brother engages on most evenings during the week in the running of the meetings, and is helped by local brethen. There is a very good interest.
News of activities in the South is encouraging. Successful missions were held by Stewart McKenzie in the WISHAW and MOTHERWELL area with a number of souls saved and backsliders restored. A young man from Mauritius, who came over 9 years ago to train as a nurse and who is working in a Lanarks hospital, attended most of the meetings in WISHAW. He had never heard the gospel before, but he trusted the Lord in his own home and has since been baptized and added to the assembly. Three backsliders were restored, after being away from the Lord for a number of years, and one of them has been received back into fellowship. In Forgewood, MOTHERWELL, a teenage girl trusted Christ, and another woman with a drink problem, contacted just before the campaign, accepted the Lord and attended all the meetings for two weeks. At Ebenezer, MOTHERWELL, a man who had attended meetings at Forgewood was saved during the first weekend, and he and two others were baptized on the last night of the campaign. Jim Aitken has done much visitation work in SHOTTS and UDDINGSTON. In between times he visits homes in the upperward of the county that are open to him. While conducting teaching meetings at BUILLIESTON, John Spiers had the joy of leading a woman to the Lord in her own home. At BONNYBRIDGE, J. Smyth had exceptionally well attended meetings. A number were saved, and at least one backslider was restored. Meetings continued for another week owing to the good response from the people. R. McPheat spent October 1983 with the ARMADALE assembly conducting gospel meetings; the attendances were promising but results were disappointing. Jack Campbell and Jack Hay spent at least one month with the GLENROTHES assembly. Unsaved attended and the children’s meetings were good. It was encouraging to Robert Revie at PATNA to see a young widow and a young unmarried woman saved. Good meetings were held with the children at Elim Hall, KILMARNOCK, with Ian Wallace and Rutherford Raby. Also at Central Hall, KILMARNOCK, good children’s meetings were conducted with the help of several brethren. DUMFRIES assembly reports that the Sunday night open-air meetings during summer 1983 were encouraging. Good interest was shown as a result of tract distribution, and replies were received requesting further information.
Gerald Bourne sends news covering various activities. A Bible Study Group, principally for the instruction of young people, has been in existence for many years in the Lancashire meeting at ASTLEY BRIDGE, BOLTON. F. Whitmore was associated with the work for many years with E. Ogden. 1983 saw numbers averaging between 25-30 from April to November. The Epistle to the Galatians was studied with the help of H. Cooper and T. Whittingham. Good times were enjoyed. Three weeks of gospel meetings were held with Frank Lonney at CHEETHAM Gospel Hall, Manchester. Many unsaved were present and interest was good. One lady is known to have made a response. Follow-up work goes on. Saturday night meetings have commenced for the winter months in the City of MANCHESTER. Each Saturday a meeting is arranged in one of various halls, and the attendance encourages. Most pleasing is the number of young people present. It is thought that the Friday night Bible Study, with young people in mind and which has also recommenced, has contributed to the large number of young people attending other meetings. May the Lord continue to strengthen this vital work. John Baker writes of an encouraging Tent Crusade at WAIVERTREE, Liverpool, during the summer of 1983. At times 500 gathered in a 400-seater tent. The challenge of the gospel was faithfully given, and at least two responded. An interesting contact came when a passer-by saw “John Baker” printed on the notice board. It turned out that he was at Junior School with our brother. A visit was made to his home. It was over 30 years ago that they first met. Meetings were held at Hebron Hall, WALLASEY. Several unsaved were present each evening including a number of Roman Catholics. The children’s meetings went well, and a weekly boys and girls meeting continues.
In CONSETT, Co. Durham, during meetings with S. McKenzie three trusted the Lord for salvation. These were a young daughter from a Christian family, a teenage girl and a man who had been reading the Scriptures on his own and had been “convinced” by the words of Christ.
Several interesting reports have been sent in from individual assemblies. We are glad to receive them. From WINSHILL, Burton-on-Trent, comes news of a two weeks gospel campaign with Jim Burnett of Edinburgh. Much visitation work with tract distribution had already been done by younger brethren in preparation, and this was continued by Jim Burnett. At one house, after some conversation, a lady confessed faith in Christ. Each night a clear, sound gospel message was given. Unsaved were present most nights. At the final meeting one lady accepted the Saviour. An opportunity to take morning assembly was given by a headmaster at a local school. Much prayer follows this work. News from Kings Road Chapel, RUSHALL, Walsall, of the restoration of believers gathering as an assembly. In autumn 1982, the building was handed over to some of charismatic persuasion, and meetings ceased to function except for the women’s work. This Ladies Thursday meeting continued to run as a separate work. So it is now that the normal assembly functions have been recommenced. This is a cause for praise to the Lord.
At the Falcon Lodge Chapel, SUTTON COLDFIELD, a Senior Citizens meeting was held, and over 70 elderly people attended. It was a happy occasion, and it was sensed that the Holy Spirit was at work in the hearts of these folk. Some were deeply moved by all that was done, and appreciated very much the kindness shown to them. Community singing was enjoyed and this went well. The gospel was faithfully presented and it was a joyous occasion. News comes of a children’s campaign with S. Mountstevens at Netherfield Gospel Hall, NOTTINGHAM. The attendances were fine and parents attended with the children. A cause for rejoicing came when a daughter of a family in fellowship accepted Jesus as Saviour. As a result of the campaign the Sunday School has increased. Also a Friday evening children’s work continues with encouraging numbers. J. Baker held meetings at REDDITCH. A good number of children gathered. Many homes were visited in the area and some good contacts were made. This was on a very large old housing estate.
Philip Lambert writes, telling of two tent missions held in the heart of WILTSHIRE which attracted a large number of children, and brought a good response from young people and adults. A number made definite professions of faith in Christ. As a follow up, 45 children are now doing Postal Sunday School lessons. Door-to-door visitation was engaged in as a further follow-up to these activities. An encouraging mission with children was held in GLOUCESTER bringing a good measure of interest. One mother, who had been right through the Sunday School in past years, attended nightly with her children. A special request for prayer for her family is made.
From W. Beale we have a stimulating report of activities in the SWANSEA area. A regular monthly witness is being maintained in the SWANSEA City Shopping Centre by young people from local assemblies. Many passers-by stand to listen to the singing of the gospel message. The weekly witness of the Mobile Unit in the City Centre has recently encountered opposition, but also has brought encouragements. Personal contact was made with a young man just out of prison. Workers are in touch with him and are prayerfully seeking to help him. The monthly Senior Citizens Meeting, held at the Gospel Hall, FFORESTFACH, is creating a real interest in the district. An average of 80/90 attend and listen to the message. The winter programme of services in Eventide Homes, shared by the SWANSEA and District assemblies, are in full swing. There are some very useful personal contacts being made with these needy old folks. In the Jireh Gospel Hall, LOUGHOR, Paul Young conducted meetings for children. These were well attended with an average of 50 children gathering each evening. On the two young people’s evenings, over 70 came together, and two stopped behind for counselling. One was a backslider and the other wanted to know about being saved. Three Saturday evening Rallies saw good numbers attending, and on the two Sundays the “after-church” meetings were full. The Senior Citizens’ Tea was a useful time, and on the final night numbers of parents and senior citizens gathered with the children to crown an encouraging campaign. The children’s meetings and Sunday School have benefited greatly by the work done. John Baker sends a report regarding the small assembly at BLACKWOOD - only two brethren are there now. He has been using his free days to get round the district in door-to-door work. There is so much need for prayer for an increase here.
Peter Ellis sends some useful items of information. The assembly in DARTMOUTH, where just 15 are in fellowship, have had the joy of baptizing a married couple. The husband was saved during the Plymouth summer camp. The TORRE assembly baptized a Korean lady, and her unsaved husband and three children were among the 60 that gathered for the occasion. Two came forward for help after the meeting. At BRIDFORD MILLS meeting, a small assembly with 15 in fellowship, about 90 attended a special Harvest Supper. Although so few, they have opened again a small outreach hall in the centre of the village. A monthly gospel service is held there, and already unsaved have come in. Conversation with a brother from a small country assembly revealed that because of population shift in the area small assemblies are suffering. Help would be appreciated from larger gatherings, especially at the Lord’s table. A Senior Citizens’ Tea was held in the Gospel Hall, TEIGN-MOUTH, and about 80 gathered. Slides were shown and a gospel epilogue given. Devon assemblies need prayer. It is good to have a report of village work in BOVEY TRACEY area. With the good summer weather about 31 villages were visited. Afternoons were given door-to-door work, and the evenings were used for preaching in village centres. Invitations into the houses are often given and opportunities for personal witness are possible. Some seek comfort, others need counsel regarding false cults, etc. One such woman accepted Christ in her home and boldly confessed her faith to those at the Christian Witness Stand at WIDDICOMBE fair. Praise the Lord for every opportunity to tell others. News from L. Dan at Plymouth tells of a work for the Lord at Dame Hannah Rogers School for handicapped children at IVYBRIDGE. Two sisters and a brother from the Saltash assembly visit the school on a regular basis, taking with them some young people to help with the singing. These children, handicapped to various degrees, attend meetings organized for them, and the gospel is shared with them. It was good at the Yealmpton show to meet with a house mother from the school at their display Stand. She told of the needs of the children and the care and compassion needed in this often exhausting work. At West Hill Gospel Hall, PLYMOUTH, two weeks campaign was conducted with Ivor Cooper. It was an extensive programme of meetings filling each day that began with prayer at 7. 15 a.m. Visits to schools and residential homes were made. Lunch time sessions in the shopping precincts gave good contacts with passers-by. The numbers at young people’s meetings grew steadily, and the fellowship from the local workers was wonderful. As a result of this hard working campaign the assembly young people’s work has been strengthened. A telephone ministry has been commenced in PLYMOUTH by Leonard Dan, and it is planned to have daily messages at the ready for needy folk who respond to the invitation to ring in. Clear gospel themes will be given to such.
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