Tyne and Wear
From Gateshead, brother Jim McMaster writes, ‘As always, the backbone of the work continues to be the outreach to the homeless population of the area, most of whom are suffering deeply from drug and alcohol addiction problems. One of the most encouraging aspects of the last year has been the exercise of other believers to join me, particularly for the Sunday night soup kitchen; there are now a regular eight people from local assemblies who are committed to this great work. Not only do these believers aid in the practical aspects of feeding and distributing the material help but, without exception, each one is devotedly focused on bringing the gospel to these very needy souls. Due to the proximity of the city centre to the Gospel Hall we have had a steady stream of regulars into the meeting from the soup kitchen to hear the gospel. The Lord has graciously touched many lives in this way and several are showing a deepening concern for their soul. Please pray for James who is earnestly seeking the truth, but is blinded by modern philosophy. Haggis has been antagonistic to the gospel for many years, but recent events have softened his heart and he has an open ear now to the gospel. We have many names on our list that we regularly pray for and are thankful for all who share this burden with us. This is so important as 2011 has seen one of our most tragic years with more than ten of our regulars losing their lives, either as a result of addiction or violence on the street. Mark is a typical example. One Sunday evening I spent a long time sharing the gospel with him and his girlfriend, but, one week later, when I was looking for him at the kitchen his friends reported his sudden death as a result of a drug overdose. On many occasions I have the tragic duty of attending these funerals which are most miserable occasions without the Lord. The Good News van continues to be the focus of the work and it is now recognized all over the city, and speaks volumes just by its presence. Many believers have been involved in the collection and supply of the materials we use and some have asked for a list of the items we need most. Firstly, we are always on the lookout for good quality Bibles and New Testaments. We are constantly able to put the word of God into the hands of these people. We also try and use good Christian books, CDs and DVDs to get the gospel into the hands of our dear friends. Mostly the need is for sleeping bags, blankets, socks, and boxer shorts. Hygiene packs too are in very high demand, and we are thankful to those who spend lots of time collecting and compiling these for us’.
The saints at Mayo Road Gospel Hall held gospel meetings with Jonathan Black and Leslie Craig. These meetings were run alongside a Bible exhibition. Around 200 people came along to the exhibition, most of which had responded to invitations given out on the street. Each night some who had visited the exhibition were back under the preaching of the gospel. Many Bibles were distributed in various languages. Prayer is valued for such contacts that God will work and save in South East London.
Jonathan also conducted Gospel Meetings at Bermondsey Gospel Hall, along with a Bible exhibition. In this area it proved difficult to get people into the Hall but there were a few who came to the meetings. The assembly worked hard in the distribution of invitations and literature and each night packs were given out at the local tube station containing John chapter 3 verse 16 and gospel tracts.
The assembly at Manor Road, Guildford, held a holiday Bible club and had the joy of seeing over thirty infant and junior schoolchildren attend each day. The sessions entitled, ‘On your Marks’, were designed to tie in with a 2012 Olympic theme. Each of the two-and-a-half hour sessions with Ray Tate were packed with things for the children to do and it was encouraging to see the attention given to God’s word. Stories from Mark’s Gospel were used to point to who the Lord Jesus really is; the greatness of His Person, and the gracious forgiveness He offers through His death and resurrection. There was a good turnout of parents for the prize-giving on the Wednesday and they were most appreciative of the time their children had enjoyed with the believers. The Young People’s Group also had a good session with Ray on the Monday evening as they were challenged to see the marvel of God’s creation, as opposed to the theory of evolution that they had all been taught at school.
As mentioned in the previous issue, last September, the small assembly at Tredegar, hosted a Bible Exhibition, and over 500 came along to see it. 350 of these were local schoolchildren, and, as a result of this, the believers were invited into the local schools to help with Bible Explorers and lunch time clubs. This has enabled over 200 children to receive consecutive Bible teaching. Also, as a result of these contacts, the assembly has seen a number of people come along to the meetings, and, at the Carol Service, out of twenty-four present, sixteen were unsaved. In days where we seem to have fewer people coming along to gospel meetings, these efforts should be an encouragement and challenge to us all. There are seven believers in assembly fellowship in Tredegar.
The assembly at Cwmbran has had the great joy of having four young people baptized in recent months. All of these were students for whom many had been praying. Please pray for their continued progress.
In February 2011, Ian Rees and his family moved to a house just outside Narberth, with the desire to take the gospel to the communities of a spiritually-dark Pembrokeshire. Having found a room to rent in Tenby, where there is currently no evangelical witness, meetings have been arranged for each Sunday evening. Titled, ‘The Pulpit’, the meetings are advertised as a place and time where the scriptures are read and explained. On the first night, twenty-two people were present, fifteen of which were believers from other assemblies, who were a great encouragement. Seven people came in as a result of the leafleting the local area by some young people who came to help with the work.
The believers in the assembly at Inverurie distributed Precious Seed calendars in Newmachar. This was an opportunity for the assembly to work together, and being ‘fellow-labourers in the gospel’ was an encouragement to all involved.
The last issue, Feb. 2012, contained a report concerning a man from Newcastle West, Mike, who had started attending the meetings in March 2011, and had been coming to the gospel meeting on a regular basis.
Although he was reading the scriptures and asked a lot of questions, Mike seemed very mixed up in his understanding of the gospel. We can rejoice with the believers and thank the Lord that he finally saw his need of salvation and trusted the Lord as His Saviour after a gospel meeting.
Please continue to pray for Mike. He is going to have many tests in the early days of his new-found joy, but we can be confident that the Lord will give help. Please pray that as he studies the scriptures, the Lord will continue to bless him.
How often have we seen gospel opportunities develop through the school contacts of believers’ children! Monica and Peter are examples of such contacts. Anna brought her friend, Alzbetta, from school to Sunday School and her parents then came to the gospel meeting. They are a Slovakian family and while communication isn’t always simple, nevertheless they came. Alzbetta has come to the weekly children’s club and her Mum has asked if the saints could get her daughter a Bible ‘just like Anna’s’!. Please pray for Alzbetta and her parents.
Our brother Harry Reid was able to visit Gort, Roscommon and Athleague. As on previous occasions, he was very well received by the dear Brazilian people in each of these towns. It seems that the greatest concentration of the Brazilians is in the town of Gort (half an hour’s drive south of Galway) where time was spent going around the housing schemes from door to door with tracts, gospel CDs and calendars all in the Portuguese language.
Out of the thousands of items distributed, it is encouraging to hear that not one has been refused. The people were so friendly and some even on the initial contact extended an invitation into their homes for coffee. Sadly, the economic situation in Ireland has meant that some of the Brazilian people who found it difficult to get work have returned to their homeland, but there are still a number coming to the country and it is evident that this door remains open for the spread of the gospel for the foreseeable future.
Roscommon is some seventy miles north-east of Gort, and Athleague is located about fifteen miles west of Roscommon. In Athleague there is a huge abattoir called KEPAK where almost a million animals are slaughtered each year. Around seventy Brazilian men work in the slaughterhouse, and, as on other visits, they were happy to receive the gospels in their mother tongue.
Brother Jonathan Kelso writes, ‘Andi and I spoke with a young man, Florine from Gura Raului, who came seeking spiritual help today. He is a believer who has been struggling for quite a considerable period of time with a drink problem. About one week ago he pushed a knife in below his ribs and did himself quite a lot of harm. We called to see him after that and I could see he was miserable; I questioned him as to his desire to be back walking with God and his answer was very encouraging. He called us himself and made this arrangement to come and talk. We prayed together and discussed scriptures in relation to his present condition – he so much wants his ‘first love’ back again’.
Earlier in the day Jonathan had given a lift to a Romanian man who was also recovering from a knife wound. He had been waiting to get a train in Sibiu when a group of young men approached him. One of the men stabbed him, injuring his heart and the gang took off with his money. He was given some Christian literature.
One man called Ioan came to the meeting in Orlat for the first time recently. A few times, Jonathan has gone to the pharmacy with Ioan’s wife and bought heart medicine for Ioan, but up until this point Jonathan had never seen him face to face. Those who knew him told how he used to be greatly feared in the community because of his aggressive and tough character. In the meeting Jonathan had a bag of sweets for whoever was the best behaved and referring to how Ioan was sitting up and listening very well he told the boys and girls that if he continued to sit listening the way he had begun he might then get the sweets instead of them. Ioan’s attention was genuine, never losing his concentration once, and yes, he got the sweets! Please pray for this man; what a trophy of grace Ioan would be if he trusted Christ.
In another meeting in Orlat, two teenage girls waited after the meeting to talk. They both explained that they wanted to repent of their sins and get right with God. Anna-Maria, 16 years, and Angela, 19 years, both made professions of faith. Both of these girls have been very good attendees from the commencement of the meetings and we praise the Lord that His word is beginning to take effect in the hearts of those who are listening.
After almost twenty-eight years serving the Lord in France, Ronnie and Heather Skeene, from Figeac, are returning to the UK. During their time in the country they have had the joy of seeing assemblies planted and strengthened in three locations; Istres, Gramat and most recently in Figeac. There are now around thirty in the assembly at Figeac and others coming along who are, as yet, not in fellowship. The rented building in which the assembly meets is becoming too small and they would value prayer as regarding larger premises. Many of those saved, have been contacts developed through ‘friendship evangelism’, which takes patience and time, but the Lord has blessed this with salvation.
Dandenong Gospel Hall in Melbourne, Australia, recently celebrated fifty years of assembly testimony. The believers combined this with their annual general meeting dinner and it was an occasion for much thanksgiving to God for His faithfulness over these many years. The assembly now has over eighty in fellowship from fourteen different nationalities and continues with several gospel outreach ministries and upholding scriptural principles. Website: www.dandenonggospelhall.com
Over the next four months the world is coming to the UK! As they attend the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, are you ready to share with them the ‘Greatest News on Earth?’ How are you going to turn conversations into opportunities to witness? Have you thought about it? And what opportunities might the Jubilee Year present?
Paul on Mars Hill was not ignorant of what was going on around him. He was able to use the customs and beliefs of the people as an opportunity to bring before ignorant, hell-bound sinners the glorious message of how they might be saved through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
So have you given thought to how you might take opportunities to speak a word for your Saviour? To be able to plant the living word in someone’s ear? Will you be carrying some gospel leaflets with you every day and praying you will be able to pass them on? There are many Christians who have been planning how they might use this summer’s events as opportunities for evangelism.
Steve and Judi Buckeridge from Dachet and Johnny and Joy Black from Bermondsey have been doing just this. They have arranged the writing of two specific tracts and a calendar that shows outreach events that are being planned can be seen at http://www.keepandshare.com/calendar/show_event.php?i=1975988 As well as witnessing, this is an opportunity for us to pray. Can we rediscover the power of prevailing prayer? Whilst our nation has neglected and rejected much of its Christian heritage, let us resolve not to allow that to deflect us. We know that man’s deepest needs are not met by the fading glory associated with human endeavour or achievement, but by our Saviour.
Remember the words of the Lord Jesus? ‘Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest’. One might sow, another reap, but it would be sad if due to lack of faith we waited four months before we got out – will you miss out on the joy?