“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck”, Prov. 1. 8, 9. Like Timothy, 2 Tim. 1. 5, I received an invaluable heritage of spiritual truth from my Christian parents. To them I owe the continuing love which I have for the Word of God. As long as I can remember, my family gathered daily to read and discuss the Bible. I cannot recall a time when I did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Consciousness of faith in Christ came at the age of eight, when the late Mr. Hyslop conducted Gospel meetings for children in Maesteg Gospel Hall. Desire for service and baptism was encouraged by the spiritual leaders at the Berrow camps, held annually by the Bristol assemblies. It was at those camps that I first gave public utterance in testimony. I was received into assembly fellowship in Maesteg at thirteen years of age.
Immediately, I felt the need to serve the Lord, Acts 9. 20, and to study His Word more deeply. My heart became burdened for the town of Maesteg with its 22,000 population. I spent some time each week tracting and going from door to door. At no time did l find the work easy and indeed I was often discouraged, but I now look on that time as a period of training. Experience, techniques and ideas from that time have proved helpful in later years.
From an early age I felt called to preach the Word of God, even keeping notebooks of anecdotes, outlines and incidents which might prove helpful in the future. However, for effective service there has to be preparation. If this was true for the apostle Paul, Gal. 1. 17, how much more for us. I look back on two periods of preparation, the first in my home assembly at Maesteg and the second being four years in the assembly at Aberystwyth as a student.
At fifteen I had started publicly to preach the Gospel in gospel meetings, children’s meetings and the open-air in and around Maesteg. Here I gained valuable experience and received constant help and encouragement from older, more mature believers. At no time did I receive any suggestion that I should give up preaching. Thus during those years, I gained some confidence in public speaking. As a student, I was given further opportunities to evangelize and preach the Gospel. More importantly my eyes were opened to see what a great treasure trove the Bible is, as we went systematically through various books of the Bible in the weekly Bible Studies. There was study of depth and quality which I had not known before, and this brought new dimensions to my own personal Bible study.
It was while at Aberystwyth that I questioned my calling and ability to preach God’s Word. Like Gideon, Judges 6 and 7, I needed confirmation and I laid down the following rules for myself: that I would never ask to preach, volunteer my services or even hint that such might be my gift. I have at times even shown reluctance to preach, for I felt that if my calling is to preach then the Lord would open up avenues for service. Since my arrival in Coventry the Lord has rapidly confirmed my calling. I have been privileged to preach the Gospel, minister the Word and take children’s meetings in a number of local assemblies and I have been involved in camp work.
My wife and I feel certain that our calling is to serve the Lord in Coventry, at least for the present time. Together we have been able to do so much more for Him than ever we could have as individuals. Thus we are able to extend hospitality to the Lord’s people, 1 Pet. 4. 9, and work together among young people.
One of the ways in which God confirmed our calling to Coventry was the immediate oneness we felt with those to whom we attached ourselves in the small assembly. Their welcome was warm, and from the start they gave us opportunities to work for the Lord, principally among young people. This is certainly not an easy task, but the Lord has enabled us in this work to put to use abilities gained in secular life as teachers. Also without the practical and prayerful support of others in the assembly, we would be completely unable to maintain this work. We must always work together in fellowship with other believers and the local assembly, and not as isolated individuals, Acts 2. 42; 13. 2, 3.
The Lord has blessed many of our young people with salvation and the desire for baptism and service. Our aim has always been not only to win them for Christ, but to see them grow spiritually and become really active in the local assembly. This was the apostle Paul’s aim, as evidenced by his Epistles, and so it has to be our aim today.
It is my experience that joy in service comes only in giving all. Total commitment is expected by the Lord. Also His guiding hand is often seen in retrospect rather than prospect. I can look back and see that the Lord has been in control, guiding and leading until the present time. It is my privilege to serve my Saviour in a small and unspectacular way, hoping and praying that I will always be ready and available for whatever further service He wants me to do.
I must add in conclusion that I have felt a little hesitant in writing this article. It has been written in response to an editorial request to do so. If only one person is encouraged to do more for the Lord as a result, then it has been worthwhile and will bring glory to the Name of the Lord Jesus.
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