“While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat”, Matt. 13. 25. “As if a man should…sleep… and the seed should spring and grow up. he knoweth not how”. Mark 4. 26, 27.
These are thought provoking verses. They suggest the hidden unknown things relating to sowing and reaping. The one has to do with Perils - the other with Potentials. Each report that we publish illustrates something of both. Evangelists encounter influences that suggest unseen mysteries of evil. The seed is good - the sowing is earnest and true - but what of the fruit? We are sure that the perils that attend the work of God find their origin in the enemy. Satan himself. One of the particular perils is that of sowing tares, weeds that resemble the wheat, but are worthless, fit for the flames. Let us beware of Satan’s counterfeits, whether they are things or people. They spoil the full harvest. What of the potentials? The writer had the joy of speaking with the young lady, mentioned in the report, who unknown to the preacher, was saved. There was no doubt about her conversion. She was deeply convicted and the miracle took place. It was a thrill to listen to her. Truly the words “he knoweth not how” were very true. Let all take courage who serve the Lord in the complexities and perplexities of our age. The Potentials of the good seed of the Word are surely greater than the Perils of enemy activity. Fruit must abound!
The reports of activity from the North are consistent, and tell us that God is still blessing His Word. There are those who are finding Christ. At BANGOR, Co. Down, Albert Aiken saw six profess salvation during meetings held there. Well attended meetings were held at BALLYCLARE by T. McKelvey and J. G. Hutchinson, and God’s blessing was felt. Encouragement in their meetings was enjoyed by Eric Wishart and Samuel Thompson in a portable hall at LISBURN, Co. Antrim. Jim Brown and Jack Lennon were encouraged at BALLINALOOB Gospel Hall. Co. Antrim. Jack Noble and Eric McCullough held meetings in a tent at CROSSKEYS. At Red Lion Crossroads. LOUGHGALL, there had been no gospel meetings for years, but a good local interest was enjoyed as W. Nesbitt preached the gospel. This was also the case at MOUNTNORRIS, where Sam McBride held some special meetings. In a needy, difficult area, Reg Jordan and Stanley Haugh held meetings in a portable hall at DUN-DRUM, Co. Down. Jim Allen preached in a tent at COOKSTOWN with good numbers attending. Meetings were held at COLERAINE by Sam Ferguson and Norman Turkington. and at LIMAVADY by Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings. At both places numbers were good and there were times of blessing. At a portable hall at PLUMBRIDGE. Co. Tyrone, meetings were conducted by John Hawthorne and Tom McNeill and some blessing was seen. The assembly at Ebenezer, BANGOR, baptized eleven believers on two Lord’s Days since meetings were held there by Jim Allen. The Lord greatly blessed the preaching of the gospel. So the work goes on. Actual numbers saved are not given as blessing is mentioned. Yet we can be sure that “living stones” are being built into the Church of God in the effective evangelism of the Lord’s servants. Praise God for the power of the Gospel.
It is good in the Lord’s work to be able to pin-point the usefulness of certain types of ministry. Edward Jaminson of BELFAST reports on methods that give effective contacts. In Belfast the “lines” are open through a telephone ministry. People ring in with their problems and requests. Some instances of these are given. A man rang in to say that he had no beliefs of any kind, but he thought that they could send literature to help. A mother asked for prayer for her grown-up family who in earlier years had made professions, but seemed to have lost interest. The mother is very ill. Then this request from a man: “I would like to know how to be saved. Please help me with literature”. These just seem like telephone calls - yet often they are desperate cries for help. Pray that wise counsel will be given.
Contacts are also made through visiting the Military Hospital in BELFAST Each week visits are made. Two items for prayer! A number of lads were injured in a traffic accident, some seriously. Their parents have come over from England to visit them. A door of utterance for the gospel is being sought as they improve Then there is a young soldier lad. injured in an explosion. He was most friendly, and it is hoped to keep up contact when he leaves hospital. We may well ask, “Is there an answer in the gospel to so many human tragedies in this city?”. Yet we are sure that there is - indeed the only answer is in Christ the Saviour. May the Lord bless these efforts.
Reports from Tom Aitken, this time giving accounts of varying response to the gospel. If fruit was measured by immediate response to preaching, how often our judgment would be wrong. We are in the hands of the “Lord of the harvest” as He directs the labour. At CALDERBANK, Lanarks., Roy Marshall found evangelizing up-hill work. The homes of the villagers were faithfully visited, and some attended the meetings. Yet none openly professed salvation. This is a needy area with few in the assembly. In the FORGEWOOD area of Motherwell. Jim Aitken had quite a different experience Behind the conversion of a woman who was led to the Lord was the evident change in the life of her converted friend. This was of great influence in her response to the gospel. A man who was a backslider was also restored to the Lord. An interesting story surrounds a baptism held in a village assembly. A man and a young lady were baptized. The man had a remarkable conversion, and a number of workmates attended. The mother of the lady used her influence, and a number of unsaved friends were present. The local believers did their part also in inviting people from the village, So it was that at the meeting, with a packed hall, a deep sense of God’s presence was felt. It was a remarkable occasion, and much to praise the Lord for A good time of blessing was experienced by Peter Brandon at TILLICOULTRY with over twenty people professing conversion From the commencement there were encouraging attendances, and the interest was sustained right to the end.
It is not often that people move out of Jehovah’s Witness circles once they are ensnared by this pernicious system. Yet in FALKIRK in recent times there has been a move by some to Christ. Some have come into assembly fellowship, and others to other gatherings. We can be glad and praise God for all who have been released. At TARBOLTON. Ayr. Mr. Clark of Belfast saw blessing in that villagers responded and a woman was saved. A man of 80 came throughout the meetings, and still continues to attend. An excellent response was seen at BARRHEAD, Renfrew, where Jim Flanigan held meetings. Here, a number professed to be saved. The effort ended with a baptismal service. At STONYKIRK, the very reverse of things was experienced by John Gordon. During the whole fortnight, not one unsaved person from the village came in. Not daunted, the meetings continued in the open air with good fellowship from the local believers. Maybe more heard that way! In the small town of PEEBLES a very profitable month was held in the assembly with John Spiers. The assembly got together en bloc and did door-to-door work. Many good contacts were made that way. There is much to pray for in these items from over the border, yet also causes for praise to the Lord.
The Lancashire Gospel Tent was pitched at Crumpsall Park, MANCHESTER, during June. Robert Revie was the evangelist responsible for the meetings. The district around CHEETHAM assembly had been well and regularly worked in door-to-door visitation. Also before the campaign an intense “door knocking” activity took place. There is no doubt that this largely contributed to the encouraging number of strangers who came in to the meetings, not only once, but continually throughout the month. It was estimated that on one occasion. 40 people were present from the district. Robert Revie supplemented the efforts with daily programmes of visitation which also yielded fruit. The three people who trusted the Saviour were saved in the home after attending the meetings. Alistair Young led the children’s work, and there was a good response each night, averaging 70-80 children. The majority of these had never heard the gospel before! It was felt that the month’s campaign was most encouraging, and that the work here is definitely not finished. We believe that God will bless the consistent, faithful presentation of the gospel with fruit after many days. At CLITHEROE, Lancs., a fortnight’s mission gave many opportunities for witness. The meetings in the hall were disappointing but in contact with the schools and the openings in the town some profitable times were enjoyed. Pray that the small assembly here may see the fruit of some of these labours.
The Annual Christian Witness Tent was again erected at MALVERN. Worcs.. for the Three Counties Show. The site was the same as last year, and a great opportunity for contacts with the crowds was given. The display was excellent and there were many features which furthered the telling out of the gospel. Several thousand people passed through the tent, and a good number stopped at the refreshment tables for a cup of tea and a chat. The evangelists had some good conversations. It was felt by several who spoke with interested visitors that the contact was just another link in the chain of events, which under God’s hand would eventually lead to conversion. Worcestershire Postal Sunday School was represented as usual, and it was encouraging to see the number of children who came and were enrolled with their first introductory lesson. About 450 were taken and to date about 40 have returned their first completed lesson. This represents a much better response than last year. It is hoped to send out reminders, and that many more will be added. Prepaid postcards have been received back from about 40 adults, asking for follow-up Christian literature. This has been sent and it is hoped that further contacts will be made. Pray for the many contacts made and for the Gospels and other literature distributed. On the ABBEYDALE Estate. Gloucester. R. Chilvers and M. Hencher had great encouragement in a tent campaign. Two weeks of intense activity including coffee mornings and visits to local schools proved worthwhile. About 140 children came in to the children’s meetings, and parents and teenagers responded well. This is a new work in a very needy area, and needs much prayer. From the New Street assembly in BIRMINGHAM, comes news of a first ever Senior Citizens tea. It was a venture of faith and was well rewarded in that a good number came and there was a very good interest shown. Since the event there have been those who have come to the Women’s Meeting and also to the Gospel Meeting on Sundays. There was much encouragement.
More news to hand from the South West London Evangelistic Mobile Unit. The new Unit has now been delivered, and in the goodness of God most of the cost has been met. During a witness at VICTORIA Station some good contacts were made. Interest was not generally good, but a nominal Christian was spoken to and an ex-alcoholic, saved six years ago made himself known. A sick man from Epsom took several tracts, and a Rumanian was given a booklet which he said he would send to his mother in Rumania. Although not perhaps a spectacular occasion, the Lord’s presence and help were enjoyed On another occasion, a young man on drugs was contacted. He was terribly mixed up in his mind, but was able to quote Scripture. He needs prayer. Two girls came into the van for a chat, and one of them was led to the Saviour. So. with the new unit in operation, the work goes on - pray that God will give increasing blessing.
A report from Philip Lambert tells of an effective open air meeting in TROWBRIDGE Park. There were good contracts made and it was thrilling to lead a mother to Christ. Her son became a Christian the following night. There was great enthusiasm for the Family Day 1982, held in good weather on Spring Bank Holiday at TROWBRIDGE. It was estimated that about 1500 gathered with over 600 young people. There were organized games in the afternoon, and a useful Christian exhibition area. The evening rally was an “overflow”, and a powerful message was given by Peter Brandon. Stephen Gillham conducted children’s meetings and a youth rally with about 450 young people attending. There were those who accepted Christ as Saviour and a great sense of the Lord’s presence was experienced. In the small village of STEEPLE ASHTON, there was a good response from the children, and there is much prayer that families will learn to know the Saviour. We can pray with them in this. From WEYMOUTH, J. Harman sends news of commencement of summer open air meetings. Permission to carry on during the summer was granted, and this is cause for praising the Lord. The number of helpers has dwindled, but many have stopped to listen to the Word with interest as it has been preached. Stephen Gillham sends reports of encouragement in some fields of labour At WESTMOORS the hall was completely full for a Senior House Party re-union, when over 100 young people gathered for a happy time of fellowship. The Postal Sunday School, (Adventure Time Club) Annual Prize Giving at DORCHESTER was well attended. At WINTON about 40 children attended a Holiday Bible Club each day. many of them new contacts. There was a good response at the family service. An eight-day visit to Drummond Hall, BOSCOMBE. was encouraging. Here the children’s mission. Senior Citizens and Family Services were all well attended.
News from Paul Young of progress in the work at MAESTEG. There is plenty of opportunity for evangelism in this needy area. Door-to-door work and personal witness provide useful contacts. Two such “contacts” out of the blue are mentioned. A widow, recently moving back to Maesteg, was given the address of the Gospel Hall by the Tedington branch of the Gideons. Then, a young lady came seeking help. She and a friend had become involved in witchcraft, and sensing its evil wanted to pull out. Prayer is needed here that Satan’s power shall be broken. The children’s meetings are well attended in spite of the attractions of a local “disco”, which has now closed down. Youth meetings are held weekly and about 12 attend. The Postal Sunday School Camp gave opportunity for solid teaching on such subjects as Prayer, the Holy Spirit, Baptism, etc., and there was blessing among the young people from West Wales. A week’s holiday Bible Club was held at the Gospel Hall for children. A 1½-hour session was held each morning and these culminated in a visual presentation of the gospel. These times gave opportunity to build relationships with the children who have been coming regularly to the Good News Club. Opportunities have been given to speak at the Steelworks’ Christian Union at Port Talbot. Also there was an opportunity at the Comprehensive School C.U. at Maesteg. Many needs were represented, and those Christians who are seeking to give a faithful witness in these places need our prayers. One joyful note to end our brother’s report. At WORCESTER, after the gospel service, unknown to him, a young lady was deeply concerned, and eventually trusted Christ in her own home. She is going on well with the Lord, and her non-Christian parents have noticed the difference.
We have a good report of a month’s activities by Stan Ford in the SWANSEA area. Especially of interest was the daily visit for two weeks to PENLAN school, where the morning assembly gave good opportunities for witnessing to the children. Meetings were held at Morva. LLANELLI, where numbers were very good. Also at TREBOETH, where a baptism was held. At FFORESTFACH a Senior Citizens’ Tea gave a good opportunity, and about 70 gathered. This was felt to be an encouraging gathering with good interest shown. During this period of testimony there were a number of conversions. and some backsliders were restored to the Lord. Children’s meetings and adult services were conducted by John Baker at PORT TALBOT. The Swansea and District Assemblies are planning a “Witness Tent” at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, which will be held in Swansea in August. The tent will be manned by English and Welsh speaking workers for the purpose of distributing Scriptures in both languages, and also for personal witness. Much work will go into the preparation, and there is a conscious need of prayer.
Just one note from the County this time. John Hadley erected his tent this summer at WHITSTONE. This is a needy area with a small assembly meeting in the village. The Commendation Meeting for our brother to the summer work was also the occasion for the commendation of his daughter Ruth to the Lord’s work in ANGOLA. This was a wonderful time of fellowship with a deep sense of the Lord’s presence throughout. Each Cornish assembly was represented, and others also came from other parts. There was an offering as a token of fellowship, and this amounted to over £500. The way has opened up wonderfully for Ruth Hadley to respond to the call of the Lord to this needy and difficult country, and she will be followed by the prayers of many.
One footnote to close this report. We have a note from Bedford Row Gospel Hall. WORTHING, West Sussex, to say that the weekly prayer meeting on Thursdays at 7.30 p.m. and the Breaking of Bread on Sunday mornings at 10.45 am have now recommenced. A full programme of meetings will be instituted as soon as repairs to the hall have been completed.
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