On June 23rd the small assembly at Kirkby-in-Ashfield held their second Evangelism Day assisted by Stephen Baker, (Liverpool). Twenty young people from across the East Midlands gathered with the saints at Kirkby for prayer before going out with the gospel into the streets of the town. The believers were encouraged by favourable weather which enabled them to have an open-air testimony in the town centre. The opening of a new supermarket has increased the use of the pedestrian precinct and made the witness more worthwhile. Tracts and invitations were distributed and a number of people, congregating and passing, heard the message preached. It was encouraging too that some of the younger men were able to give a short gospel message.
After a break for lunch, when there was a downpour, but the weather brightened for the afternoon which was spent tracting a number of areas within the town. About 2,000 tracts were distributed, concentrating particularly on areas of the town not normally covered.
The believers were encouraged by the continuing support of the young people, their fervency of prayer, and the faithfulness of their labours.
The first Harby Bible Study weekend took place from the 7th-9th September at the Harby Centre, near Melton Mowbray, in conjunction with the assembly at Kirkby-in-Ashfield. Over sixty young people attended with ministry from 1 and 2 Timothy led by Richard Collings (Caerphilly). The small assemblies at Kirkby and Grantham were encouraged by the support on the Lord’s Day. The ministry and the topics discussed were a challenge to those present. It is hoped to hold a second such weekend next year, DV.
The York Street assembly in Leicester held its annual camps activities during the month of August. Separate camps for girls and boys were held at the Harby Centre, over a two-week period. The girls’ camp was one of the largest in recent years. It was led by Michael Buckeridge (Grantham), and the boys’ camp by Mark Hill (Warsash). There was a good interest throughout and it is hoped that salvation may result from the seed sown on these occasions.
The assembly at Bethesda Hall, Worsley Road, Swinton, were encouraged by the number of believers who attended their Missionary and Home Workers Conference, at which Stephen Baker, from Liverpool, and Saad Bassem, from Egypt, gave challenging reports. On the Sunday following the conference, a Gospel Luncheon was held, at which brother Bassem spoke. One lady present was a ninety-two-year-old, who came along as a result of an invitation posted through her letter box. The saints rejoiced with heaven as later that day, this lady repented of her sin and took Christ as Saviour. A real change has been seen in her life, and she has started to attend the midweek Bible study and prayer meeting.
The assembly has also seen others from different religious backgrounds coming along, getting saved, and being brought into fellowship. Recently, after reading their notice board, a converted Muslim from Tanzania has started coming to the Sunday Family Service, and other meetings. The assembly are finding Footprints for First Steps, from Precious Seed Publications, a great help as they seek to teach new converts, and those from other backgrounds, in their Bible studies.
On 30th July the Olympic Torch passed by Clifton Hall, South Norwood. The believers took the opportunity to open the hall for a Coffee Morning, and distributed tracts to people passing by, as well as those waiting for the procession. Many tracts were distributed, and a few people came into the Hall. On September 16th the nearby main road was closed to traffic for the Thornton Heath Festival, and, again, the believers took advantage of that to distribute tracts in the afternoon. This coincided with the commencement of a two-week Bible Exhibition in the hall. The Festival was a very multi-cultural event, and again many invitations were distributed.
As a result of the exercise of a few believers, and with the help of some more, the word of God was distributed to many souls during the summer’s special events in the city. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, and the Paralympics all provided opportunities. Many thousands of tracts were given away each day in a variety of locations around central London. These included Greenwich, Earls Court, Lords, Wembley, Horse Guards, Green Park, Hampton Court, Hyde Park, where there was a steady stream of people going to the ‘Big screens’, Stratford, and West Ham, where there were large volumes of people walking to the Olympic park. Around 300,000 tracts were distributed and a number of Bibles were given away. The website, www.londongoforgold.com, has had over two hundred visitors. We trust that among the huge crowds there will be individuals who will turn to the Saviour. Generally, the police were friendly and helpful, however Olympics officials and Trading Standards officers tried to interfere on a number of occasions. Thankfully, the Lord gave help and these difficulties did eventually diminish. There were no such difficulties at either of the two open-air meetings held in Trafalgar Square. These were good times, and while many that passed were indiffierent, some stopped to listen, and a variety of discussions took place.
At Eaton Dorney, shuttle buses ran to the venue for water sports from the three train stations – Windsor and Eton Riverside, Slough, and Maidenhead. This required an early start (tracting before 7am!) and a couple of believers at each venue. Most mornings more than four thousand tracts had been given out before 9am. Some good conversations were held, and two Bibles requested by station staff were provided.
People from all over the world were given tracts to read, and it is hoped that these have now been taken back to many countries, including those where the gospel is not easily spread. From time to time it was possible to enter into conversation with those passing by. On a number of occasions this was with those who have been exposed to false teaching. In contrast, one young man said he used to read his Bible – and then added, a little sheepishly, that it was when he was in Belmarsh, a UK maximum security prison! He was encouraged to read the tract as a reminder of what he had previously learnt, and we trust that, along with many others, we were a ‘link in the chain’ of the Lord working in people’s lives.
The believers at Efford Christian Fellowship, Plymouth, have held a coffee morning for the past six years, and around twenty people come along each week. The majority who attend are retired people who live nearby. Many are widows and widowers who are lonely, and they appreciate getting outside of their ‘four walls’. As a result of this work, they also provide a monthly ‘over 55’s meal’, where approximately fifty older people attend for lunch – giving a good opportunity to share the gospel. A number of these friends sometimes also join them for an occasional walk to a local beauty spot and, as the most do not have their own transport, an afternoon out is quite a treat for them. The Assembly minibus is used and locations chosen where a cafe is available so they can obtain a drink and snack – this gives another opportunity to sit together and talk. Some describe it as an ‘amble’ rather than a ‘ramble’, but the point of the exercise is not just to provide an activity, but to befriend people and engage them in conversation about the Lord.
Jim McMaster reports, ‘Recently I was asked to write about “An average day in the life of Jim McMaster’ but the more I tried the more I realized that there was no such thing as an “average day”. As we reach out to the addicts on the streets and in the hostels the chaotic lifestyle of such people means that much of what we do is reactive and, by definition, unplanned. Crisis after crisis cast us on the Lord for grace and wisdom, and often new challenges are faced daily. However, opportunities abound to tell out the gospel, both personally and by way of public declaration in open-air meetings. During the Olympics several of the football events were held in Newcastle. We were greatly encouraged to be joined by several of the local believers in three days of special tract distribution and open-air meetings in the city centre. Many contacts and conversations encouraged all who were involved, and thousands of tracts were distributed.
I have been greatly encouraged by the work in the prison. Not only do I continue to enjoy unrestricted freedom to the men at all times but the Bible Class has been particularly blessed by the Lord. Maybe a little example may help you understand the encouragement at the moment.
About two months ago I paid a visit to a cell looking for a street contact that had just come to prison, the intention being to recruit him to the Bible Class. After 12 years I can pretty much find my way around the prison blindfolded but, on this occasion, I missed the intended cell by one. As I entered the cell there were two men I had never met before, one in his early thirties and the other in his fifties. They were as surprised as I was and when I had explained the purpose of my visit you can imagine my surprise when both shouted, “Praise the Lord”. The younger man (Leigh) is a criminal of some reputation, and we had crossed paths many times. He explained to me that two months previously he had come to jail and has decided to read the Bible. He said that one night he had understood His need and had trusted Christ as His Saviour. Immediately, he started to devour the scripture and pray, and as a result had attracted some opposition to his new-found joy. He had prayed for one month for the Lord to send someone to help him. He was transferred from one wing to another, and was praying he would be paired up with someone who would be sympathetic to his new-found faith. As he entered the new cell the man in his fifties (Jacob) was his new buddy. Immediately, Leigh saw a Bible and, before he had time to say anything, Jacob said, “Now, I am a Christian, you better get used to it, no swearing and no TV when I read my Bible”. Jacob is a backslider who, as a result of a drink problem, had come to jail for driving offences. During his short time so far in the jail the Lord had taken dealings with him and he had purposed in his heart to return to the Lord and serve Him even in the jail. Leigh burst into tears when he found another Christian, and from that day to this, they have been a great encouragement to each other. Leigh is an outspoken witness, and has attracted some unkind comments even from the staff, but is fixed in his determination to witness to anyone. Both have been greatly encouraged at the Bible Class these last eight weeks. Last week, Jacob left the prison and I was able to speak with him prior to his departure. He told me that he had taken all his belongings with him, except one photograph that he had left on the wall of the cell. It was the last picture taken of him before he came to jail. He was at a wedding, and he told me that he was very drunk when the picture was taken. He explained that he was leaving the picture on the wall because he was leaving the old Jacob behind in the prison, and living a new life for the Lord Jesus. Please pray for these two men’.
Last year, Graham Paterson acquired a bus, which is being used for taking the gospel to children. So far this summer Glenmavis, Shawhead (Coatbridge), Salsburgh, Inchture and Tayport have been visited and response from the children has been very good. The children seem delighted to sit on the bus and hear the gospel. At Salsburgh the meetings were held in the school grounds immediately after school, and over half of the school attended.
Graham also had the joy of seeing the Lord’s hand at work during camp visits in July and August in Shetland, Tayside Christian Youth Camp at Faskally, Cardy (NI) and Peterborough Camp at Chepstow. A few young people made professions of faith and some have since been baptized.
John Speirs and John McQuoid were responsible for gospel and ministry meetings at Northfield for two weeks in July, this year. On the final night even the ‘prayer tent’, used as an overflow, was completely full. Some people were sitting in their cars listening to the message. Some of those who confessed Christ have significant problems, so please pray that they may be blessed, and grow in their faith.
A team of young people, led by Stevie Moore and Derek Watson, had interesting conversations with people around the town, and many heard the gospel. One lady professed salvation as she talked to some team members on the street. She came with her young child to a gospel meeting in Shimna Gospel Hall, but it was all completely new to her. Pray that she will respond to the welcome, and come back again. The children’s work in two caravan parks with Colin and Rosemary Sheldon once again proved to be a time of blessing. Five little ones professed faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is encouraging to hear of a young man of 15, saved five years ago at Northfield, being baptized and coming into fellowship in a Co. Antrim assembly.
There are encouraging signs in the work in Tenby. Ian Rees has been preaching through Genesis in the community centre every Sunday. There is now a core of seventeen who come along, and about ten who are occasional visitors. Most of these are believers from denominations such as Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, and Pentecostal. None of the churches in Tenby have a Sunday evening service, so these folk go to their own churches in the morning and come to hear the word in the evening. Most of them have never experienced a systematic approach to a book of the Bible, and are thrilled to see the way things are unfolding. One lady, in her seventies, has commented that she cannot sleep at night for excitement as she sees truth opening up. This is the power of the word of God. Speaking about Sodom in chapter 19, and stressing that any physical relationship outside marriage is wrong, a lady came up to Ian afterwards wanting to ‘confess’ that she was living with a man to whom she was not married. The word of God has its effect! There are four or five, however, who come along who are not believers and know that. One, a Pakistani gentleman called Max, works as a kitchen assistant in one of the hotels. He was in need of a resident’s visa and came across Ian one day and asked to be visited. Ian read the scriptures, and prayed with him, asking that that the visa would arrive; it did so five days later. He has not missed a Sunday evening since! He has not been permitted by his employers to take Sunday afternoon/evening off, so he forgoes his lunch break and tea break so that he can leave early. He arrives at the meeting at 6.30, and heads back to the hotel for 7.30. Pray for his salvation. Another lady, not a believer, has bought herself a Bible and comes every week without fail.
This year has been a good season at the agricultural shows, with many souls receiving gospel literature. Many have stopped and talked, and listened as the gospel was explained to them for the first time. There was also good interest from some of the neighbouring exhibitors, some of whom talked for a long time. There was cause for rejoicing, when, at the Cappamore show, Co. Limerick, a 15-year-old professed to be saved at the stand. The gospel was clearly presented by two of the brethren on the stand as ‘S’ and her friend listened. While her friend was not interested, ‘S’ kept listening, and after nearly an hour trusted the Lord as her Saviour. Like many Catholic young people, she had been wearing a bracelet which displayed pictures of different saints and Mary, believing that by wearing it it was bringing her closer to God. Having trusted Christ, she gave that bracelet to one of the brethren, explaining she ‘did not need it any more’. ‘S’ lives in the village of Cappamore, and as far as it is known, she is the only believer in the area. The nearest place where she can get some regular spiritual contact is Limerick, 25 minutes away. Please pray as the Christians in Limerick try to follow up the contact.
In Newcastle West, after seeing a notice in the newspaper, a local man, Maurice, has been attending a Christianity Explored course, much to the encouragement of the believers.
Currently, the assembly rents a local community building which is shared with other tenants and, although this has served their needs well, they believe the Lord has opened up the way for them to rent premises in the town centre where they will be the sole tenants. The premises would give the assembly a great visual presence in the town, and they believe that even doing the needful renovations there would be a testimony.
In Gorey, the assembly have had the great privilege of baptizing six believers at the beach. Around sixty gathered to watch.
Michael McKillen reflects, ‘The spiritual and economic climate in Ireland remains troubled and, indeed, is causing a significant change in Irish culture. Continued revelations of the scandals in the Roman Catholic church have greatly weakened its grasp on society. This is allowing more opportunity for discussion of what the Bible actually says. However, it seems to be the case that it is leading to increased secularism, agnosticism, or atheism. This may well be a crucial moment in the spiritual history of this nation. Please continue to pray’.
As a consequence of believers refusing to join in the riots both during and since the revolution many have suffered much; in some cases their homes were looted and then torched. One brother had his shop and the stock destroyed; however, with God’s help he has now started to run his business from the basement of his old shop premises. In such difficult times, our Egyptian brethren and sisters are very appreciative of our prayers.
In Assuit, the brethren are meeting for prayer every day in the new building which has now been completed but not yet equipped. One brother, a full-time commended worker, is living in the premises as a security guard until full authorization is granted for the building to open as a place for worship.
The work of rebuilding the Gospel Halls in the villages of El Nechala and Koumareeb in southern Egypt, has started. The existing buildings are over seventy years old and originally built out of mud bricks and wattle. In some areas the roofs were beginning to disintegrate and fall into the building. Until recently it was a crime to repair any Christian meeting place, but the believers are working day and night to complete the task before the newly elected government begins to rule the country under Sharia law.
A conference for young people was also held in the Red Sea area of Hurgada, at the beginning of the year. Over three hundred and forty were present from all over Egypt. They had the great joy of baptizing three believers in the Red Sea very early one morning. At present there are a keen group of believers meeting in various homes in this area and work has begun to lay the foundations of a new gospel hall.
At the annual El Zouia Gospel Conference, approximately two hundred and sixty unsaved people from the garbage tip area of Cairo were present. Forty-two made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus, and many have since been baptized. Many of these new ‘living stones’ have become the ‘foundation stones’ of the newly planted assemblies in El Zouia and Hadana.
Please remember that in this country the believers face constant opposition, threats to their own lives and those of their families, bullying of children at school, having to meet in secret desert places for fear, and being shot by fanatics from other religions. Please pray.
The assembly in Francistown had the joy of receiving into fellowship a young man, James, who was saved and baptized in Serowe, but then came to Francistown in January of this year. Another young brother, Stanley, also from Serowe, has requested baptism. The assembly meetings have been continuing well, with the Sunday School and gospel outreach every Sunday afternoon during government school term-time.
Jonathan Kelso reports, ‘Starting a new school can be an exciting, yet daunting experience. Yesterday, the 17th of September, Ruth accompanied Adina, Rebekah, and Joshua to enrol for their respective classes at the local school and gradinita) in Orlat. I would have liked to have been there, but I had brought a man to hospital in Sibiu for an appointment. Things didn’t go so well on their first day at school, with quite a lot of confusion regarding the previous discussions we had had with certain members of staff concerning our children coming to the school and what this would entail. Joshua’s enrolment at the gradinita was more straightforward, but, for him, it is quite a leap back in time, being in a little classroom with very juvenile toys he would have played with when he was at playschool two years ago, back home. He is in a class with boys and girls his own age and seems to have a nice teacher, so we hope that this will be a good opportunity for him to make some friends and also ‘springboard’ him into learning the language. We were asked to come and talk with the headmaster concerning Adina and Rebekah attending the school. He was quite ‘cold’ and unwelcoming, which didn’t do anything to ease the pressure already building up in the girls. Rebekah was put into class 5 and Adina into class 6 and their first full day at school turned out to be not so bad. The pressure is now on for the girls to learn the Romanian language as quickly as possible so as to keep up at school, and we would value prayer for this matter.
In early September, a little baby, Anisoara Andrea, of only two-and-a-half months died in the home of a family connected with the assembly in Gura Raului. Her mother is a girl we know well, who is only eighteen years old; the baby was born prematurely and was in intensive care from the time she was born. I spoke at the night gathering in the home on Thursday, and also at the funeral on Saturday, which presented great opportunity to make clear the message of the gospel. We used our van as the hearse to bring the tiny coffin to the burial ground’.
Following a visit to Brazil, Harry and Jean Reid report as follows: ‘It was a real joy to be able to revisit the region where we spent years in the early seventies. In Pirassununga and Ibate it was delightful to see some of the Sunday school children who were saved in the early seventies, now engaged in the ministry of teaching the word, and preaching the gospel. In Manaus, a large city of over two million inhabitants and around 1000 miles from the mouth of the river Amazon, there is a little assembly in one of the outlying areas, Cidade de Deus, where Jenair and Carla have been labouring faithfully for a number of years. This is the assembly to which Noe has been added, (Reports, PSI August 2012). Bom Jesus is a locality right in the heart of the forest, some 70 miles from Manaus and to get there involves crossing two large rivers, the rivers Solimoes and Negro, then a further one hour drive into the Amazon forest. Jenair carries on a weekly visit to Bom Jesus, and has an opportunity to preach in two schools, reaching some 500 pupils and teachers with the gospel’.