“He commanded us to preach unto the people.” Acts 10. 42.
The context of this sentence is the address of Peter in the house of Cornelius. It is well to notice that he is speaking directly about the risen Lord and those who were chosen to be witnesses of the resurrection. The whole passage has to do with giving a credible testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is He that gives the command to preach. Do we catch the urgency in this command? It is noticeable in many of the items reported, that there is this sense of compulsion in the activities described. Also the record of enthusiasm in sharing the Word with the lost. These two, compulsion and enthusiasm, surely express a burden and a willingness to fulfil the Lord’s command. His slightest wish should be our command. Yet He commands and we must obey. For work during the coming summer months we need to be constantly in prayer for those who, in the forefront of the battle, will be fulfilling the Risen Lord’s command. May God richly bless them!
We begin this report with a note from John Flynn. He and his wife have now joined the ranks of “retired” missionaries but he sends news of a visit to Merrion Hall, DUBLIN. A Friday evening meeting gave opportunity to show slides of a trip to Africa, called “From Cairo to Capetown”. He feels that one of their present ministries is to promote missionary interest. At the Sunday School on Sunday afternoon, which is conducted by Bob & Jean McAllister, there were about 20 Roman Catholic children present with others and this gave a good opportunity. Bob McAllister works on the Ballymun Estate on the outskirts of Dublin. The gospel meeting in the evening was fairly well attended. It was interesting to hear from him of the work of “Look and Live”, carried on from Merrion Hall, Dublin by Eric Davies and others. Through this work the Word of God is sent into many Roman Catholic homes. This National Bible Study Club offers Bible Lessons of various grades to children of all ages. These are sent out monthly and to date there are about 400 students regularly studying the Word. Founded by the late George Macdonald, the Lord has blessed this work over the past twenty years.
Bert and Wendy Gray still carry on the work of Postal Sunday School with their staff at MOUNTMELLICK. This is now called “Gleaners Bible Club”. The Bible Lessons cover a wide range of ages and are written to meet the many spiritual needs of young people. Over 10, 000 young people throughout Northern Ireland, Great Britain and abroad, receive these lessons and it is good to know that sound Bible teaching enters so many homes in this way. The Prize-giving meetings give opportunities for meeting with children and their parents and are often times of encouragement.
The news from the North from Jim Graham mainly concerns the beginnings of campaigns. It is mostly evident that there is preparation being made for the many opportunities during the summer months. At BUCKNA, Co. Antrim, J. Hawthorn and T. McNeil saw fair numbers coming in to meetings and some were unsaved. J. Hawthorn held meetings in Donegall Road assembly, BELFAST. Here the assembly needs encouragement and witnesses in a very needy area of the city. Good numbers gathered to hear the gospel preached by J. Martin and W. McNeil at CLONKEEN. In the County of Armagh the assembly at TEAGUY had a 16 week series of meetings. These were conducted by E. Wishart and R. Eadie and God gave blessing as some were saved. At the Kingsbridge assembly in BELFAST, the homecall of a number of brethren has left the meeting much weaker and there is much need of encouragement and prayer. E. Wishart held meetings here. In LUR-GAN, J. Brown and J. Lennox saw some interest in the gospel. In a portable hall at CARROWDORE, Co. Down, W. Armstrong and his son Donald saw something of the Lord’s blessing in the work. J. Thompson and S. McBride have preached in the renovated hall at RATHFRILAND and there was good interest in the gospel.
In a shop at SAINTFIELD, H. Andrews and R. Pickering preached the gospel and local people came in. During the early part of meetings held by A. Aiken in Wallace Avenue Hall, LISBURN, there was great encouragement when a man and his wife were saved. Blessing was seen at COLERAINE when D. Kane and D. Morgan preached the Word. The seed was sown faithfully at MONEYDIG by W. Nesbitt. In DONEGAL, G. Stewart and G. Patterson made use of their portable hall at FAHAN, near Buncrana. G. McKinley and B. Glendinning preached in a portable hall at DERNABORREY. In BELFAST, S. Ferguson and N. Turkington saw souls saved as they worked in the Bloomfield Assembly. Prayer again is asked for the activities in the gospel to be conducted at Botanic Gardens, BELFAST, D.V. in June. There is a great burden for this opportunity to preach God’s Word.
From this part of the world, we hear so many items which speak of the violence and its tragic results among the people who suffer, that it is refreshing to hear of the work of Edward Jamieson and others among many of the victims. Working among the soldiers, between forty and sixty of these men are visited in the Military Hospital. Sad cases are encountered. A man in his early twenties has suffered a complete mental breakdown. The strains of duty and family cares are a source of concern and anxiety to the security forces. They are a challenge to sympathy and understanding. It is good to hear of a member of the security forces, involved in a recent terrorist attack, who has showed interest in spiritual things. Relations of a young man recently killed have been contacted—some of them are Christians. Soldiers are followed up in their homes when they leave hospital. Members of the Police Force and Prison Service are contacted as all the hospitals in BELFAST are covered. A member of the force recently ambushed has made a remarkable recovery and is willing to talk about spiritual things. These incidents are mentioned to indicate the character of the work done and to stimulate prayer.
An item of news comes from George Best, a prison officer in Crumlin Road Prison, BELFAST, who was saved 8 years ago. He speaks of revival in the prisons. There are 29 born again Prison Officers in the prisons and all the time they hear of prisoners being saved. Ex I.R.A. and U.U.F. men have fellowship in Bible Study together. There is a feeling and a hope that this work of the Holy Spirit will spread outside the prisons.
Robert Eyres sends news of interest from this area. PETERHEAD assembly are seeing good interest in their gospel activities. On Lord’s Day there are always unsaved folk present at the gospel meeting. A regular attendance of 70 young people is seen at the Bible Class which is an encouraging feature of the assembly work. Frank Reid saw good interest during a visit to PAPA WES-TRAY, Orkney. In visitation he was able to read the scriptures in most of the homes. The interest extended to the gospel meetings. For some time now, the response among the teens to twenties has been most encouraging. At the SELIVOE meeting Shetland, a man who was saved is showing good interest and his wife is coming along to the meetings. One or two showed concern in DALE of WALLS. At KINGUSSIE, during two weeks meetings, Frank Reid and Sam Matthews found the area difficult and with the small assembly there, would value prayer. An interesting visit was paid to Caleb Street Gospel Hall, INVERNESS, by Geoffrey Bull for 1 week’s ministry. In the middle of the week he gave a report on a visit paid to Hong Kong. It was good to see pictures of, and hear of missionary brethren, David Smith and Boyd Aitken working out in the east.
T. Aitken has sent us reports and with them some observations on the work in these areas of Scotland. In Harley Street Gospel Hall, GLASGOW, Jim Allen held some good gospel meetings. Weather conditions were difficult, even Arctic, but people came in and some were saved. One of these was a young man from the far east. At Hayocks Gospel Hall, STEVENSTON, Robert Revie held evening meetings for children and adults. Some results were seen with both. John Stubbs had a useful effort at Shields Road Gospel Hall, LANARK with a fair number attending meetings but no evident conversions. In CHAPEL HALL, Reg. Jordan preached well each evening after recovering from an illness. George Gilland, on home visit from Australia, gave help. A few showed interest. In Ebenezer Gospel Hall, AIRDRIE, Robert Spiers saw souls saved in two weeks of meetings. A feature of this mission, as in so many others, was that most of those who confessed Christ were influenced by Christians who brought them to the meetings. Is there a lesson to learn here?
From Viewlands in PERTH, John Campbell and Jack Hay speak of working in a difficult residential area but the interest shown gave encouragement. One man accepted Christ — others are still concerned. Some now attend the gospel meeting in the town. In the village of DUNNING the gospel meetings are encouraging. The local headmaster and his wife and a few others came for the very first meeting. A good number of children and teenagers came in and seemed to show a good appreciation. The Prison Bible Class is still very encouraging. After a period during which there was no response, things have moved and there is a good interest.
T. Aitken comments on various general features of the work. The scope of work in most assemblies is designed to reach all ages. The gospel meeting is set to reach out to unbelievers, sometimes without too much success. Some assemblies near the cities are using a morning family service. Regular tract distribution still plays a vital part in witness. Sometimes a special midweek gospel service, with various features used, will bring in those who do not attend on Lord’s Days. Friendly contacts over a cup of tea are made. Our brother makes the valid point that it is evident that all who are saved need to feel the indebtedness that must be towards those that are lost. He throws out the challenge, that perhaps too many things stand between us and our commitment to the Lord’s service.
The foundations are being laid for the visit of the Lancashire Gospel Tent to BURY in June when, D.V., it is hoped that Stewart McKenzie and A. Pollard will be responsible. Prayer meetings are under way and the attendance at them is very good. This is also so for the second session of the Tent to be held at KEW near Stockport, where the work has been in progress for about three years. It is hoped that John Bake will conduct the 3 week effort. Gerald Bourne remarks that there are some encouraging signs of a deepening interest here and there among the assemblies and in the main, this is coming from the young people. Is this evidence that the “light diet” is failing to satisfy; that the “true manna” is being desired? This relevant question our brother asks.
From Moreton Chapel, MORETON, we have news of the homecall of one of the assembly’s founder members, C. G. Mates. He was saved over 50 years ago at what was believed to be the first tent campaign held there. He helped to build the Moreton Gospel Hall. His faithfulness to the Lord was seen in his commitment to every part of the work there. No job was too small for him to do. His car was at the service of all who needed transport to meetings — he was doing this the day before he died. The funeral service was a time of witness to the Lord and he will be missed by his family and the assembly which he served.
From H. Johns we learn of various activities in the assemblies. A Holiday Bible Club was held in Lyndhurst Chapel, BARNEHURST, during the children’s half-term holiday under the direction of Derek Bingham and Graham Young. About 120 children attended each day with good interest shown. Peter Brandon conducted a short mission at WELLING, and it proved to be a time of blessing. On the Saturday afternoon many gathered for prayer and preparation and about 150 were present for a Campaign meeting in the evening. At least one made a definite profession of faith in Christ. At a Sunday after-church rally, 200 gathered and one confessed Christ, others went into the enquiry room, and some also spoke of blessing received. The Report Meeting of the South East London Evangelistic Mobile Unit was held at the Gospel Hall, RICHMOND. About 60 gathered at both afternoon and evening meetings, and the local assembly provided tea. Clayton Dougan of Hailsham gave a searching message on Joshua 3. 5, “sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you”. It was a time of encouragement.
The assembly at CHESHUNT has been happy with the attendances at the current series of Young People’s Rallies. The programme of meetings was arranged to deal with a series of relevant spiritual questions and these have been answered with emphasis on the gospel message. People from assemblies at Bishop’s Stortford, Harlow, Hertford and Waltham Abbey gave good support and every opportunity was taken to bring unsaved young people to the Rallies. It is good to hear of regular visitation work around the hall at Cheshunt. Three brothers have this work very much on their hearts and painstakingly carry it out. Areas further away from the hall are how being tracted by a larger band of workers who endeavour to cover the various estates with a blanket distribution of Christian literature. Some literature has been produced by the assembly with messages and details of assembly meetings contained. One particular area has been the subject of exercise for some of the fellowship, and tentative plans are being made for at least a week of special meetings there for both children and adults.
Encouragement has come the way of the assembly at Lattimore Hall, ST. ALBANS, with several recent professions of faith in Christ. Also, since the new hall has been opened at BISHOP’S STORTFORD, there have been signs of blessings. The gospel meetings are much better attended, and a good number of young people are always there. Several young men have been contacted recently and are showing interest in spiritual things. Work among young people at Hare Street Gospel Hall, HARLOW, goes on well. Boys and girls classes are held on Monday evenings. Unruly behaviour has had to be faced, and also some damage to the hall, but the Word of God has been faithfully taught and there is much prayer in the assembly that these young people will eventually be saved. How often the worst become, through the grace of God, the most radiant.
A report from S. Mountstevens, MARGATE, tells the story of the fruit in a girl’s life “after many days”. At five years old she sat on his knee on Margate beach and said quite calmly, “Uncle Sid, when I grow up I want to be a witch”. The awfulness of this idea was pointed out to this little child, also pointing out the need of coming to God. She came to the beach mission for a few years after that. Recently the young lady now, was noticed sitting at the till of a store, smiling happily. It transpired, after enquiry, that she has been soundly saved and baptised in a local church. It is hoped that the restored link will eventually lead to her coming into an assembly fellowship. Our brother comments on the need of simplicity in young people’s and children’s work. He speaks of the devastating effect of much modern teaching, coming through to the children. There is dark ignorance of truth so often, yet they will respond to love and care. It is saddening to see the lack of young people and children at assembly meetings. Young converts need sound doctrinal instructions. It is asked: “Do we present the Word in simplicity?” The report ends, “If we want to build up our Sunday Schools and week-night children’s meetings the answer is simplicity. This could well apply to other areas of our assembly teaching.”
Some useful points of news have been sent in by J. Harman, concerning the assembly at Bethany Gospel Hall, WEYMOUTH. The assembly has been considerably reduced in numbers. Yet at a recent report meeting various aspects of the work were mentioned for prayer, and it was surprising to realise that, though small in number, the same amount of work appears to be done. There were 10 reports including Sunday School, teenagers, women’s, senior citizens etc. There does not seem to be the same response to the gospel at present, but our responsibility is to sow the seed and the Lord will give the increase. During the winter months the gospel meeting time was changed to 3. 30 p.m. and the numbers increased. Older folk who would not come out in the dark were glad to come. J. Harman visits the village assemblies regularly, and although these are small, the faith of the believers is still unshaken.
Enthusiasm in the work of the Lord always encourages in these days of so much apathy. W. Beale writes of the encouragement he has gained from observing the zeal of many young people in the South Wales assemblies. In addition to the united open air witness, maintained by a keen group in the SWANSEA City Centre, the vision has now been grasped by young people from the assemblies in the NEATH area. Following a visit by an outreach workers team last year, a monthly open-air witness is carried on at strategic points in the town centre on a Saturday afternoon. Reports show that hundreds of tracts are distributed and many stand to listen to the messages. Brian Jenkins has been a help to many of the smaller assemblies in the area and the assembly at CARMARTHEN has been encouraged by a series of ministry meetings with Jack Hunter.
A report from the South West Wales Evangelistic Unit tells of useful work done during the past year. The regular Monday stand in the Kingsway, SWANSEA, gives good opportunities for contacts. Interesting conversations take place, including some with those who spread Satan’s errors. Literature plays a great part in this work and thousands of tracts are distributed. Opposition has been experienced at times but the word goes forth and many interesting stories could be told of those who come for help and go away with blessing. Workers are needed, but there is abundant cause for thanksgiving to God in this activity. W. Beale says that there are many open doors for evangelism in West Wales but there are few assemblies here. It is here that the Mobile Unit is so useful. The PORTHCAWL assembly has had encouragement in the baptism of four adults by Paul Wilkes, people who have been saved over the past 3 years. They are now in happy fellowship.
It is good to hear from L. Dan, PLYMOUTH, that the telephone ministry recently commenced is well under way. This is really an “ansaphone”, with a 2 minute outgoing message and then an opportunity to leave a request for a visit or an Emmaus Course offered free. Cards have been printed to advertise and prayer has been answered as there is an increased response. There is also advertisement in the local press. The lines are open to share the love of Christ with those whose need is often desperate. Stan Burditt mentions items of work in CORNWALL. No reply has yet been received regarding an application for a stand at the one day Show at HOLSWORTHY, Devon. A tent of witness would be erected and various stands would illustrate the work including Postal Sunday School. The Gospel Van would be in attendance. Prayer is asked for this matter. Our brother has access to two more Retired Homes and these are open for monthly visitation. Four days were spent in the TRURO assembly and the Holy Spirit was felt to be working in many directions. We have news of the activities of the SALTASH assembly. Young people’s work is encouraging, over 200 being contacted each week. Unsaved come in to the gospel meetings and visits to Old People’s Homes and Senior Citizen’s work continues. The possibilities of the work are great.
We have a note from Stuart Jamieson giving recent developments in the work at MURCHISON Hospital. 1983 proved to be a year of much thanksgiving for the believers there. Large numbers have not been converted, but there have been those both of patients and staff, who were without a knowledge of God, but are now proving the reality of their conversion by living changed lives. These have included a number of terminally ill young people who are now with the Lord. There are also some long term patients on TB treatment who have formed their Ward Bible-study group. The threat of a Beer-hall to be built opposite the hospital is cause for much prayer. Assembly meetings are well attended here and baptisms take place, yet there is a need for young people with a clear realisation of God’s claims on their lives. At PORT ELISABETH, two new gospel halls, one in a coloured suburb and one in a white suburb, are to open. The children’s work in this area is also expanding. Recently meetings have been held at GRAFF RENEIT in the Karoo with the intention of supplementing those who have been saved in the past few years. There has been good interest evident and prayer is sought for this work.