“I told them of the hand of God which was good upon me”, Neh. 2. 18 R.V.
Nehemiah stands out among the men of Scripture as one who had the interests of his God at heart. He could weep bitterly over the disasters of his faithless nation as he saw the walls of the beloved city broken down, 1. 4. He could carry in his heart his exercise concerning what he planned in regard to restoration—exercises planted there by his God, 2. 12. But when the time came to stir up the people to act, he did not moan about disasters and derelictions, nor did he harangue them because they did not share spontaneously his burden. No! He told them of the hand of his God which was good upon him. No wonder they responded, “Let us rise up and build”. Wonderful, infectious optimism! Pessimism kills inspiration—optimism inspires devotion and kindles action! Amidst all the disappointments in present day evangelism, let us look for the good hand of our God at work. Let us remember that it was for the joy that was set before Him, that Christ endured the cross, despising the shame, Heb. 12. 2. Thus it was that He reached the throne!
Some items of news from the North reflect the continued work that is being done in this tragic part of the British Isles. At BALLYSHIEL, Co. Antrim, J. Thompson and D. Gilliland had the joy of seeing local people coming in to hear the gospel preached. J. Allen also saw locals attending at LURGANHALL. Meetings were held at BALLYLINTAGH Gospel Hall, Co. Londonderry, by E. Wishart and S. Jennings. At Gortade a faithful spell of gospel preaching was conducted by J. Brown and J. Lennox. A visit to DUNGANNON, Co. Tyrone, for gospel meetings by S. Ferguson and N. Turkington was encouraging as some showed interest in the preaching of the Word. At FINTONA, S. McBride was encouraged by good attendances and a sense of the Lord’s blessing. Meetings were held by T. McKelvey and J. G. Hutchinson at KILLYCUR-RAGH, outside Cookstown, and each night good numbers gathered to hear the gospel preached. Conferences for ministry were held at BUCKNA and AHOGHILL. Large numbers of believers gathered together and the ministry of the Word was very much appreciated. A season of refreshing ministry was enjoyed at the Saturday night ministry meetings which have been held in the Gospel Hall, ARMAGH. The BELFAST Christmas Conference was the largest yet since moving to the King’s Hall, Balmoral. Bible readings on Romans 11 were conducted by A. McShane and J. Baker with ministry each evening by various speakers. At ALBERTBRIDGE, the hall was filled for Bible Readings, ministry and missionary reports over the New Year period. Readings in 2 Peter 1-3 were conducted by A. McShane and T. Smith. Various missionaries reported on the work. Ministry was given at ORMEAU Road meetings by J. Allen and J. Currie. At NEWTOWNBREDA ministry was given by A. Aiken and J. Allen.
Interesting news comes from Edward Jamieson concerning Deep Sea Evangelism. Each month some 2, 000 plastic bags containing gospel literature go out from Belfast, Cork and London. These are prepared by a group of believers from Wallace Avenue assembly, Lisburn. Great wisdom is needed by those making contact with crew members (preferably Christian), who will complete the task by carrying the bags out to sea. Interest is increasing, and replies requesting further gospel literature have been received from France, Morocco, Gaboon Ghana and the Mediterranean shores. One man from West Africa said that he had picked up the plastic envelope containing the Scriptures in December while on the beach. This was actually sent out in July 1982. He asked for more spiritual help. During Nov./Dec. over thirty contacts were made, the majority coming from North Africa coasts. The doors of these lands are virtually closed to missionary work. Literally, bread is cast on the waters. Let us pray that the returns shall be great in blessing to many people.
Between 40 to 60 soldiers are visited in hospital each week. Prayer is asked for survivors of the Ballykelly explosion. Wounds of some were horrific, yet spirits and morale were high. Remember one young man, Mark (19), paralysed from the waist downwards. He faces many difficulties as he adjusts to his restricted way of life. In this ministry, the Scriptures are placed in the hands of many who have been the victim of sudden tragedy.
Brief items of news are to hand from T. Aitken. At WHITBURN souls have been saved and backsliders restored in meetings held by Robert McPheat. A very happy occasion occurred one night when a man was saved. A few nights later his wife, a backslider, was restored. The atmosphere that night was deeply moving. Praise the Lord! John Spiers had good meetings at MADDIS-TON. Folk who had never been inside the hall came in during the meetings. New ground was broken. At several assemblies meetings held to take advantage of the Christmas season were very well attended. In various assemblies New Year Conferences were held. These were specially well attended on the whole, and the ministry given was stimulating and profitable to all who heard.
From Derek Taylor there is news of assembly life in this area. At WYLAM, Northumberland, last year the assembly held a week of children’s meetings. The average nightly attendance was 60-70. The speaker was a local brother, well gifted to speak to children. The parents night was also well attended. At HOUGHTON-LE-SPRING, Co. Durham, they have a Sunday School of 40-50 children. This is held as part of a family service which follows the Breaking of Bread. The children have their classes while the speaker talks to the parents. A campaign was held last Easter with the Open Air Campaigners and a number of children made professions. At HARTLEPOOL the assembly seek to reach the parents through the children on special occasions. A campaign was held with J. Speirs of Forth. Good numbers of parents attended the prize givings at the end of the campaign. At CONSETT, numbers at the week-night children’s meetings are larger than the Sunday School, possibly because many who attend are from Catholic families and are not able to come on Sundays. NORTH SHIELDS, Tyne & Weir, held a children’s campaign in the autumn of 1982, the speaker being a local brother. 4, 000 homes were visited prior to the campaign and the attendance reached 60. Sad to say there was no increase of attendance at Sunday School or week-night meetings. At WHITLEY BAY, the assembly has a small Sunday School with children collected by bus. The Friday Youth meetings are well attended—some have been saved. This work has resulted in between 10 and 50 unsaved attending the gospel meetings each Sunday for the last two years.
News comes from J. Harrold in the MATLOCK assembly. A summer children’s mission and youth outreach was held. Attendances were small and workers felt that the “enemy” was at work, and definite prayer was the only answer. In the evenings young people were contacted and several were won for Christ. Some aspects of this work continue including a coffee bar outreach on a regular basis. Through this effort, quite a number are being contacted. Some interesting open-air meetings were held in the local park during the summer months. These were held each Monday afternoon, and many visitors were given tracts. Some good personal contacts were made. One of these was with a boy called Ian. Years ago he was in the Sunday School, but now, as grown up, he attends the meeting each Sunday evening. He with others needs so much prayer. Monday visits to four Old People’s Homes prove fruitful, and some very good contacts are made. Our brother still continues to send out many thousands of tracts and booklets, and these reach out to many different needs in the lives of unsaved folk. Here are items that call for much follow-up in prayer.
News of WARWICKSHIRE Postal Sunday School from Ivor Cooper. This is showing encouraging signs of growth with over 70 children in regular correspondence. At the Town and Country Festival, P.S.S. had a corner in “The Way” Christian Outreach Tent. 304 introductory lessons were taken, with over 30 having been completed. This with other contacts gives great encouragement. To give an up-to-date look to this work, the name has been changed to “Dynamite Club”—inspired by the word “power” in Romans 1. 16. So this important work goes on. The Worcestershire Postal Sunday School also has cause for encouragement. So often with this kind of work, there is no “face to face” contact with the children involved. Correspondence is the only touch. Yet heartening news often comes to the teacher. One girl wrote recently that she would like to rejoin. She had been away for some time, and had given up the lessons. But during this time she had been converted and would be baptized. She felt now that P.S.S. material could help her go on with the Lord. So much prayer is needed that the reading of God’s Word shall bring blessing.
Some interesting items of news are to hand from South East Evangelistic Mobile Unit. They reflect the importance of this type of evangelism in terms of personal contacts. At GROVE PARK a number of contacts were made with young people. A woman also listened with interest. She had trusted the Saviour, but in recent years had drifted away. She was much moved by messages and conversation. At BLACKHEATH one damp Tuesday evening, workers were able to explain the truths of the gospel and salvation through faith in Christ to three young fellows. On another occasion three groups of young people were contacted, and four asked a worker to pray for them. At LEWISHAM a group of Jamiacan lads tried to disorganize the witness. They were disinterested with no knowledge of the Scriptures, and derided any ideas of education or religion. Yet later, one was interested enough to listen to an outline of the gospel. At TRAFALGAR SQUARE, a German lady visitor was interested in the gospel, and was encouraged to go to the Gospel Hall on the Sunday. An interesting visit was made to WOOLWICH. A soldier contacted said he was an atheist. Four “punks” were interested, one of whom said that she would like to become a new person. She was given a Gospel of John and tracts. These contacts reveal the need of a cross-section of society—each different yet each desperate. Are they chance meetings? Workers may never see them again. Only eternity will show the true impact made by the living Word of God. Let us pray for this work.
Stephen Gillham tells of a children’s campaign in SWANAGE. Numbers increased each evening to about 99. The Sunday evening saw the hall filled with children and parents. A regular work has continued, but numbers have not been as good as expected. Prayer is sought for faithful workers who will do everything to meet the need of Swanage children. A week of meetings was held in WEYMOUTH, and assemblies have been visited together with annual visits to several schools. Four days in LYME REGIS proved a little disappointing with a very small response from the children in the area, and not the opening in the local schools previously experienced. Prayer is much needed for this place. Real progress is reported on the TRICKETTS CROSS estate at WESTMOORS. A plot of land has been acquired in the centre of the estate. There is a deep concern that the spiritual work shall develop as well as means for building.
One or two brief items come from this area. Bruce Anderson tells an interesting happening at the Bath & West Show when working with David Wilcox; it was heard that at least three had accepted Christ as Saviour. One of them was a woman in middle life and also her teenage daughter. The other was a little girl of eight. She came into the tent unnoticed, picked up some literature, took it away, read it and trusted the Lord Jesus for herself. She came back the next day to tell all about it. Those who counselled were quite happy with her understanding of what she had done. She was enrolled later in Postal Sunday School and is receiving Bible teaching material through the post. A lovely sequel to this event was when the girl turned up at Cambridge Show and introduced her mother who appreciated what had been done. Praise the Lord! Two items of news come from Bryan Jenkins. At TRETHOMAS a good number of children gathered, and although they were noisy there was good interest shown. Three twelve year-old girls are known to have made a profession. Adults were more difficult to attract, but good meetings were enjoyed with Senior Citizens and with teenagers. At LOUGHOR meetings were smaller but equally blessed. Adults came into the meetings on almost all evenings, especially for the Senior Citizens’ tea. This service was broadcast for the Commercial Radio Station, as also was the Family Service/Prize Giving. The last service was also broadcast on the Hospital Radio. The Lord blessed, in that one lady trusted the Saviour after the meeting. Cause for encouragement!
Some up to date news comes from the assemblies in this county. The work continues at BODMIN. There have been conversions during the year. Door-to-door work was conducted in December. The work continues in the Sunday School and Bible class, and prayer is that the work will grow. The land at the rear of the Hall is available for any future extensions. At FALMOUTH the young people’s gatherings continue. In this area lies the greatest hope for expansion. The women’s meeting goes along steadily, and a clear gospel message is always given to those who gather. It is the bright spot in the week for many elderly ladies who gather, and the only time that they hear the gospel. At SALTASH three baptismal services have been held in which young people have obeyed the Lord in baptism. Encouraging numbers continue at the Senior Citizens Teas. Services are held regularly in Old People’s Homes in Saltash, and interest is maintained. Good numbers attend the ladies’ hour and the interest gives cause for thanksgiving. At ST. AUSTELL the work goes on and strengthens. It is hoped that plans will be passed for extensions to existing buildings. The winter monthly ministry meetings were well supported from assemblies in Devon and Cornwall. It was a joy to see so many young people keen to know more of the Word. The campaign, conducted by John Baker, was stimulating and brought blessing. There is cause for thankfulness in the work at TRURO. There are now 39 in fellowship. Special outreach work has been done in the Threemilestone area. Three Old People’s Homes in Truro are regularly visited by Peter Stanton and others where the Gospel is faithfully preached. The young people gave help in the Carol Service. The Sunday School is encouraging with an average of 40 children. There is a good work done with teenagers on a Friday evening. Much to praise the Lord for! Although small, WHITSTONE enjoyed opportunities for outreach with a summer Gospel Tent Campaign with John Hadley. The farewell meeting for Ruth Hadley as she departed for Angola was held in the Tent and was an encouraging time. Thus the testimony goes on in this rather remote but very needy part of England. Pray that it shall grow.
Some encouraging news of POLAND comes from Michael Browne. Special teaching, given in the South of Poland, on the needs of Christian Leadership in the assembly brought exercise and the adjustment of action in two assemblies. The testimony given was that, from the time these things were acted upon, the Lord gave times of revival in the assemblies. There were revival conditions also in assemblies that had not felt God’s movements for years. “I cannot remember”, our brother said, “ever seeing such holy joy, brokenness, sensitivity to spiritual things, and eagerness for the Word of God”. Thirty have professed salvation in the last few months. Some have been baptized and added to the assemblies—some of these were of the worst characters in the district but have been gloriously saved. One young man who had lived a terribly immoral life, and who had also served time in prison, wept as he gave public testimony to the saving power of Christ. It was good to see the keenness of the believers to get to the meetings at all costs. Much has been done to meet the practical and economic needs of Polish assemblies. Believers from various countries have sent in aid. There is much to praise God for, but needs still exist and there is much that demands constant prayer.
It is good to have news from Ruth Hadley as she is seeking to settle down to work for the Lord in ANGOLA. Speaking of her four months experience in Biula, she comments on the Lord’s faithful stfpport in her needs. She says that amidst the tears and joys of first days, the Lord’s presence has been most precious and prayer fellowship has been a source of courage and strength. Progress in Chokwe language has seemed very slow but each step forward gives incentive to plod on. This is a sphere in which we can pray that the Lord will help. Through increase of language knowledge, relationships can be built and the gospel can be effectively shared. There are problems. The mail service is very slow and erratic, many letters taking over two months to reach their destination. So we have news of our young sister “settling in”, with the call to pray that Ruth will find great blessing in this sphere of service for the Lord.