“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion”, Matt. 9. 36.
In dealing with evangelism, what is seen in a crowd or in the life of an individual is all important. How much did Christ see when He viewed the multitude? Whatever He saw was enough to move Him deeply. Compassion, the outcome of an emotion akin to anger, drove Him to act. His actions were those of love. Could we see through His eyes, how much more fervent our response would be. The report this time is very full. Again we can thank God for so many who, at this critical time, are making Christ known to the people. How apt is the proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Let us pray for more of the compassion of the Master.
The needs of assemblies in the South are indicated in a report from Wendell Webb. He speaks of influences which are spoiling assembly work, and which bring confusion into young believers’ minds. Fewness in numbers makes this the more sad, and does emphasize the need of prayer. People are being saved—young people among them—but they seem to fall into other hands, and are not brought into assembly fellowship. It is estimated that there are 400-500 such young Christians in Cork city, gathering in house groups etc, but not meeting in the assembly. This is also happening in other towns. These facts are given as a cause for exercise. Let us pray for our brethren that not only shall souls be saved—we rejoice in this—but that New Testament churches may grow as the result. From our brother’s home, with the help of some young people from the assembly, letters and tracts are sent out each week to bereaved families. These names are extracted from the “deaths” column of local papers and generally cover the MUNSTER area. About 90 letters go out weekly, and these generally seem to be well accepted. The Annual St. Patrick’s Day Conference was held at CORK, and it was a good time with increased attendances. The speakers were E. Fairfield, R. Johnstone and Alan Gamble. There was a good spirit manifested, and also encouraging interest in the clear teaching of God’s Word.
A variety of news items has been sent in by Jim Graham. At Cregagh Street, BELFAST, good numbers attended meetings conducted by R. Johnstone and R. Eadie. It was encouraging to E. Wishart and S. Thompson to see some saved as they laboured at KINGSMOSS. In TYNAN, Co. Armagh, T. McNeill has worked for fourteen weeks. The hall has been packed each night and a number have been saved. In a portable hall on the outskirts of NEWRY, Co. Down, J. G. Hutchinson and T. McKelvey have preached the gospel. This is a difficult border area where believers faithfully carry on gospel work among old and young. As this report goes to press, A. Me Shaw and J. Hawthorne are preaching in LIMAVADY Hall, North Antrim, whilst J. Martin and W. Jennings work in a portable hall at THE BEAGH, near Maghera, and there are others who are working and need our prayers. The story of the growth of the Lord’s work in Maranatha Hall, BELFAST, is given and is most interesting. G. Murphy—for years a backslider from the Lord—had a deep exercise about a hall in the Sandy Row district where he with three other brethren had been holding open air meetings. In 1927, he heard of a hall for sale and purchased it for £10. Then in association with Frank Gilpin (now in Aspley Street Hall) it was moved to Watson Street from Lisburn Street at the extra cost of £7. 10s. This was the beginning of a work in the area, where the first large gospel tent was held with Frank Knox and Tom Graham for 10 weeks, and resulted in over 40 being saved. The first Sunday School was held in January 1928 with 50 scholars. A new hall was erected in 1939 and this has been renovated and extended. Now there is an active assembly, with gospel work among young and old and open air witness throughout the year in the district. How encouraging to hear of the continued faithfulness of the Lord as, over the years, the witness to Him has been maintained. Let us pray for a continued blessing.
Some good items of news have been sent in by Tom Aitken of Forth. About 1½ years ago STRATHCLYDE Regional Council opened an Alcoholic Advice and Information Centre in a school annexe in BURNBANK, under the leadership of a brother in assembly fellowship. The work he has been able to do has enjoyed the Lord’s blessing since its inception. Some 16 people have professed salvation and many others have showed deep interest. Eight of those saved have been baptized and are now in assembly fellowship. Others are in churches of their choice in the locality. The believers in Ebenezer Hall, BURNBANK, have been thrilled as four of these confessed the Lord in baptism and then were received into fellowship. It is good to see them with a thirst for the Word of God. They now take part intelligently in the various meetings. At the Baptismal Service of one recently, there were present some 25 associated with the Centre. Some still continue to attend. Prayer is that more shall find Christ in this way. A good mission was conducted by G. Meikie at Shields Road, MOTHERWELL. A number of young people were saved, one of whom has since been baptized. Another young man, previously baptized, has been received into fellowship. At BELLSHILL, Jim Smyth had good meetings where young people were saved. Both of these assemblies were very much encouraged not the least by the number of unsaved who attended. On the first night at Bellshill, two daughters of a couple in fellowship at New Stevenston were saved, and shortly afterwards their son was saved. Blessing continues at SPRINGBURN where John Spiers is working. Some were saved and a couple were received into fellowship. A work was done in the life of a young man whose marriage is in ruins. James Aitken had good numbers at FORTH. Sadly, those who came only did so once, so deeper work in their hearts was not possible. Two young men, however, came a number of times, but no professions were made. Here is an extract from a letter received from Roy Marshall and Dan Gillies concerning a month’s visit to the Island of MULL. “The Island of MULL and BUNESSAN proved to be just as dark, if not darker, than we had thought. Drunkenness and immorality are rife, and there seems to be a total lack of the fear of God. In spite of this we were well received, and had the pleasure of seeing some gathered each night. One woman came nine times consecutively. The children, too, were encouraging. We leave the results with the Lord of the Harvest.” This year marked the 40th anniversary of the AYR Bible readings, and the memories of these occasions were many. They commenced in the Old Victoria Hall in the main street with W. W. Fereday, Harold St. John and later with E. W. Rogers all of whom are now at home with the Lord. Numbers began in a small way, but now the Gospel Halls cannot contain the increased numbers. “We have gone on from year to year,” says T. H. Cooper, “from strength to strength till now the Ayr Bible Readings have firmly been established in the heads and hearts of Christians from far and near, as a time of spiritual revival, renewal and refreshment”. So it was with thankfulness that this year’s gatherings took place with many attending, with good help being given by A. Leckie and J. Hunter on 2 Peter and Studies in Prophetic subjects. These gatherings are a testimony to God’s faithfulness over the years.
Several items have been received from G. Bourne in the MANCHESTER area. The fortnightly Young People’s meetings, held on Friday evenings in the centre of the city throughout the winter months were well attended. Various speakers gave sound Bible teaching with up to 100 present on each occasion. These meetings are connected with the Manchester and district Sunday Schools’ Camp. Recently the WYTHENSHAW assembly arranged a week’s meetings for young people and about 60 attended each night. On the Sundays preceding and following, family services were held with encouraging results. One lad who attended professed salvation after the gospel meeting on the final Sunday. The meetings were conducted by the local assembly brethren, and a good spirit of fellowship was enjoyed as a result. Arrangements are well under way for a second Tent Campaign to be held in CRUMPSALL PARK, Manchester, during the month of July when J. Smyth and D. Locke of Scotland are to be responsible. Encouraging prayer meetings have been held during recent months, and a plan of wide visitation is being arranged for the coming months.
Some matters for praise and prayer are to hand from Ruth Bourne in BIRMINGHAM concerning work among Bengali immigrants. A significant statistic given is that there are now 28 mosques in the heart of this Midland city. One item for praise is the refusal of a request to make the “call to Prayer” five times each day from a local mosque. One man, Abdul, is an illustration of the way that the Holy Spirit seems to be working among men. This man became a Jehovah’s Witness. As a result of prayer and two dreams, in which he says that he saw the Lord Jesus, he is now reading the New Testament eagerly and seems to be trusting in the Lord. His wife and children need our prayers. There are other examples of such interest, and it highlights the need for a Bengali couple to work in Birmingham, particularly a man to work among the men. These need a meeting and Bible study in their own language. Work among the children is limited to holiday times. Two converted Muslim girls still visit Audrey Smith’s flat each week for prayer and Bible study. Prayer is so much needed that there will be a breakthrough among the women-folk. As far as is known, not one woman has so far trusted the Lord. At Quarry Lane, NORTHFIELD, Birmingham, there was a good gathering for the Annual Conference. Helpful ministry was given by Alex Wiseman and Robert McPheat. There was blessing as Robert McPheat preached on the Lord’s Day, when a young man obeyed the Lord in baptism. Three nights of challenging ministry followed, and good support was given by other assemblies. An encouraging Annual Conference was held at LUDLOW. There are few assemblies in the “Welsh Marches”, and the small assembly here saw a good number attend when A. Maunder and D. West gave some helpful ministry. At OLDBURY, the new hall was opened, and there is great hope for increase in the work here. The opening Conference was a time of happy fellowship and blessing. Opportunity was given to view the building and after tea a history of the work was given and ministry by Dr. J. Wedderburn. The testimony here commenced in the midtwenties, and over the years has continued, at first in Market Street and then in West Bromwich Street. Already more people from outside are being seen at the gospel meeting, and contacts are being made with young people in the district. The Sunday School has been strengthened by the move, and prayer is sought that the work will continue.
Some interesting news comes from this area. A. C. Gooding gave a series of addresses at Hare Street, HARLOW, on the tabernacle. A further series on prophetic subjects was given at Carlton Avenue, WESTCLIFF, being illustrated by the use of a chart. A. Leckie gave ministry on the four gospels at WALTHAM ABBEY. These meetings were well attended. The Saturday evening minstry meetings at CHESHUNT during 1982/83 were well attended throughout. The title of the meetings was interesting, “The Son of Man—Studies in Luke’s Gospel”. The new Gospel Hall at BISHOP’S STORTFORD is nearing completion, and is already in use. Considering the size of assembly, this is a big undertaking, but God has greatly encouraged and helped His people. Three young sisters from CHESHUNT were recently baptized. This gave great joy to the assembly, where the Bible Class and Young People’s work have given cause for thanksgiving. Regular systematic visitation in the district with gospel literature has given opportunity for doorstep conversation on spiritual matters. These items of news have been sent by John Riddle. Some concentrated visitation work from Brook Lane Chapel, BROMLEY, on the Downham Estate, has borne fruit as children and parents have come in to the meetings. From S. Mountstevens of MARGATE we have some interesting news re work among children. In the small assembly at FINNINGHAM Gospel Hall (Suffolk), village children attended in good numbers. Three of them made professions of faith, and the interest throughout was most encouraging. At UXBRIDGE Gospel Hall a ten-day effort brought about 140 children together and over 50 of these are now Sunday School children. Follow up work needs prayer. It was encouraging when a girl of 11 came to our brother and reaffirmed that she had trusted Christ 18 months ago when he was there. The Mountstevens have moved to a large housing estate to live, and through contacts with children, of whom there are literally hundreds, the Sunday School has increased in the MARGATE assembly. A drug taker who visits their home for counsel needs prayer.
Some interesting news of the ministry of the Word comes from John Brett of SWINDON. After conducting a gospel campaign at The Park, SWINDON, John Baker joined with John Glenville for the Good Friday Conference. A time of blessing was enjoyed by all. There was also blessing at NESTON on the same day when C. Ingleby and D. Hinton gave helpful ministry. An interesting baptismal service took place at The Park, Swindon, when a former pupil of Sakeji School baptized his wife—a matter for rejoicing. Stan Burditt gave an encouraging word and challenge to relatives and neighbours present. At BICESTER on Easter Monday, E. Hughes and T. Smith gave ministry, and blessing was enjoyed. Conferences were held at NORTHLEIGH, with J. Sinclair and G. Bull, and also at WROUGHTON, where R. Hill and J. Flanigan ministered the Word. The assembly at ROCKHAMPTON had an encouraging time when they held their Annual Conference at Thornbury. Over 200 gathered together and helpful ministry was given by J. Flanigan and J. Sinclair. At WROUGHTON, gatherings were held for missionary reports where Roy Wood spoke on ANGOLA and Michael Browne spoke of INDIA. Cyril Hocking also showed slides on Israel. Thus the work in this area continues. At Manvers Hall, BATH, an encouraging meeting of Postal Sunday School workers was held. Its aims were to discuss the various needs of the work and also to report on what the Lord is doing through this means. Bert and Wendy Gray were present from Mountmellick and also leaders and workers from Postal Sunday Schools in various parts. The discussion was brief but useful. The reports were stimulating, and suggested that much could be done among young people in this way. A challenging epilogue was given by Ken Rudge, St. Austell. News comes from J. Harman that prison work progresses with regular visits to DORCHESTER and PORTLAND prisons. A Bible Class is held for young offenders in the Borstal at Portland. Several are engaged in regular Bible Study. On release, many of the men who have become interested in spiritual things are followed up with contacts arranged in their home towns. The open air work in WEYMOUTH will be now under way. Pray for the preaching of the Word.
From John Baker comes news of meetings at ABERGAVENNY. An open-air effort on Market Day reached hundreds of passers by. Three brethren worked together, including a text carrier. This witness made an impact. Frank Lon-ney reports of further work done in LUDLOW. Revisiting of contacts previously made took place, and trading of the whole area round the Hall. A middle-aged couple come regularly to the Gospel meeting. Work with the teenagers was done, teaching of future events with aid of a chart. Workers are needed here, and also much prayer. At BARGOED, Frank Lon-ney baptized a young man of 18, who has been very much prayed for. To a packed hall David Richards gave a powerful message. This young man is now in fellowship at DERI. Paul Young speaks of the hardness of the past three months, but with cause for encouragement. In the children’s meeting two have asked about becoming Christians, and one girl says she has given her heart to the Lord. The work at MAES-TEG progresses with children’s meetings and youth work doing well. The recently formed Sunday School slowly builds up. Good opportunities for counselling, etc., come out of door-to-door tract distribution. Team work in door-to-door work was led by David Prosser at NEATH, and a similar work was done with John Spiers, Graham Poland and John McConnell (N.Z.) with the TREBOETH assembly. A four day seminar on teaching evangelism was a help to young and older believers.
The SALTASH May Fayre, held in the streets, gave opportunity to reach many with the gospel. A stall, depicting the Sower and his Seed was used, and tracts and invitations to meetings were distributed. Some interesting contacts were made. Consequently a number of “second generation” children are attending the meetings. Junior Sunday at SALTASH Gospel Hall saw about 70 children attending with the Hall filled to capacity. Interest was shown by parents in the various activities of the children. Ken Rudge gave a clear gospel message. We have news of proposed visitation work in connection with CORNWALL Postal Sunday School from Leslie Powell. He and Jeremy Dawes are concerned to reach out to villages and towns with literature during the summer months. An intensive coverage is planned both for children and adults. Young people from all Plymouth assemblies are to help with this work. At HORRABRIDGE the first visit took place. About 750 P.S. forms were distributed. Pray that God will further this work. Stan Burditt, commended from Northampton to the Lord’s work, is working with a newly equipped caravan in NORTH CORNWALL. He is visiting groups of children already doing Postal Sunday School Lessons. He is also distributing P.S.S. literature in the villages, and seeking entrance to schools in LAUNCESTON area. Remember the work in prayer. One or two interesting items come out of a report given by John Hadley at a meeting of brethren from CORNISH assemblies held at ST. AUSTELL. Our brother will be taking responsibility for a Witness Stand at the Royal Cornwall Show at WADEBRIDGE. Prayer is sought that this will prove a powerful witness. At BODMIN a Missionary Conference was held for Roy and Karen Wood who still return to share in the work in ANGOLA. They flew out to this country with food and other essential supplies for Ruth Hadley and those working with her. Four young ladies were baptized at BODMIN. These had passed right through the Sunday School, and are now in the Bible Class. Also on this occasion, a lady from WHITSTONE was baptized. The small assembly from this place, joining with those at BODMIN, shared a happy time of fellowship.