We give below reports from a few of the many scores of men who labour in the Gospel in these Islands, in fellowship with the Assemblies. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that they have gone forth looking to the Lord alone for guidance. Although we are glad to commend their labours to the prayers of readers, we think it well to mention that we do not administer any fund on their behalf.
The last half year of 1945 was a busy period for me. Seven weeks of services on the sands (Weston-super-Mare and Newquay) were followed by children’s missions at Luton, Stratford and St. Albans. At these places a willing ear was given to the gospel and I have received many letters telling of fruit following.
At Treboeth (Swansea) about 140 children (the majority boys) showed great interest and were no trouble at all. Several of these professed, also some girls. It was good to meet also some who were converted at Tom Moore’s meetings a year before and were “going on.” A short mission at Southend-on-Sea met with a good response – the children appeared to be well taught and ready.
We are exercised here in Chingford, as great opportunities open, but labourers are so few. We lose children through lack of teachers and visitors. The Sewardstone Mission was closed for a year following war damage, but is now partially repaired and used six nights (sometimes seven) a week.
I am sorry not to be able to keep in touch with all this young life – the 400 cards I send at Christmas-time do a little in this direction.
(Eric Swinstead – Chingford.)
In these days of consideration of the “youth” problem, it is good to be able to indicate the tremendous possibilities of work among boys and girls. During the past year I have been able to do more than ever before, holding eight series of meetings for them – in England, Scotland and Wales. In these at least 2,000 must have listened to the gospel a number of times, and of them over 90 made some profession of faith without any attempt at coercion.
In Cardiff great interest was aroused by the use of an amplifier in the streets before the meetings and this helped greatly in bringing them in. At Llanharan most of the children in the village must have been reached, and all those who professed were boys! At Troon more children were in the hall than for many years, and quite an interest was aroused in the town. A woman on a bus thanked me for “making her children so happy.”
At Ayr the hall was packed almost every night, many of the children coming out for Christ, four of them the children of believers.
A happy and new experience was to camp with about 100 young people from Scottish assemblies in the Island of Arran, giving talks to them every night, during which four came brightly out for the Lord.
An odd day spent in Birkenhead resulted in three deciding in the Sunday School and two 14-year-old girls in the Gospel meeting.
“Teach us what we shall do for the child” should be the earnest prayer of ALL in our assemblies today.
(A. Greenwood – Southport.)
Owing to heart trouble our brother, John Dan Jones, has had to go very carefully for the past eight months, but we are glad to learn that of late he has been able to engage in Gospel work again. He recently held a fortnight’s mission at Brynamon, preaching in Welsh. The Lord gave help and at the concluding meeting several adults confessed Christ. These Welsh meetings are characterised by great fervour and it is no uncommon thing for the services to start with prayer lasting from 5.45 to 6.30. Singing follows until 7 o’clock, when the preacher takes over until he has either exhausted his theme or exhausted himself. When his message is finished the congregation gives itself to prayer again until about 8.30 or 8.45, and sometimes a good deal later. Mr. Jones was also able to enjoy some fellowship with Mr. Stan Ford, at Penygros, where he was again able to minister in Welsh. Readers are asked to pray that the improvement in our brother’s health may continue and that he may be enabled to resume his valuable work among the Welsh speaking people in West Wales.
It is fully forty years ago since I left business to devote my life to the preaching of the Gospel, and during that period many changes have taken place. The multiplicity of forms of amusement have increased the difficulty of getting people interested in spiritual things, and the number of conversions to God as the result of one’s labours are fewer than they were. But it is good to encourage ourselves in the Lord, and to rest on His promise that “All that the Father hath given to Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”
To show how prayer is answered in unexpected ways, let me record a case of conversion in a tent mission last year. It was VJ night, and crowds of people were on the streets celebrating the event. A young Roman Catholic woman left her home bent on an evening’s pleasure, and seeing the well-lighted tent concluded it was a place of amusement, and entered. She soon discovered, to her horror, that a Protestant service was in progress. Her first impulse was to leave the place at once, but some power restrained her, and she waited till the close. She was deeply convicted of sin, and returned, after going away for a few hundred yards from the tent, to have a talk with me. The result was that she accepted Christ, and has had to endure much opposition from her family circle, who are all R.C.’s. We trust her conversion will be the beginning of a work of grace in the home. “ God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
(John McAlpine – Troon.)
On the borders of North-East Devon and South-West Somerset there lies a beautiful tract of country stretching north and south and east and west, roughly fifteen miles more or less either way; steep hills are everywhere intersected with charming valleys each possessing its own little trout stream.
To this district in the year 1863 came the late George Brealey, his heart aflame for God and with love for the souls for whom Christ died.
Cottage meetings were started at Clayhidon, Devon, and soon an old-fashioned cottage was secured and transformed into a little mission room.
This became the birthplace of scores of souls until quickly its proportions became far too small and in answer to earnest prayer a commodious hall was built, every stone an answer to prayer, and this was opened on New Year’s Day, 1866, i.e., 80 years ago.
While the work at Clayhidon went from strength to strength, Macedonian calls came from other parts of the hills – Sheldon, Browndown, Bishopswood, etc. – and here, too, halls were eventually put up, and each became a soul-saving centre.
Today the Mission comprises seven such halls.
In those far away days there was no compulsory education, and only one or two very indifferent dame schools served the neighbourhood.
George Brealey immediately saw that if people were to be anything of Christians they must at least know how to read their Bibles tolerably well, and so numbers of day schools were established at different parts where a good elementary education was combined with a thorough grounding in Scriptural principles and very many young people were brought to the Lord through the direct agency of the schools.
For years these were supported by the late Geo. Muller, of Bristol.
With the advent of the Board Schools, the mission schools one by one were closed, their work being done, one only remaining, at Bishopswood. This, in modern parlance, is an “unprovided” school under the joint auspices of the Blackdown Mission and the County Education Authority.
When George Brealey first went to the hills he received a salary from a committee of Christian gentlemen, but this was withdrawn when the young converts were instructed in the whole counsels of God – baptism, the Lord’s Table, assembly fellowship on New Testament lines, etc.
From that time forward the pioneer went forward in simple dependence upon the Lord alone, and since then both under him and his successors this has been characteristic of the mission.
At the present time three little assemblies are established, but each of the seven halls is within reasonable reach of a meeting for the breaking of bread.
The largest assembly is at Clayhidon, where the work was first started and which has always been the centre; here rather over 70 are in fellowship.
The usual activities found in the Acts of the Apostles are carried on over the hills with all those which, such as Sunday Schools, Women’s Meetings, etc., find their germ in N.T. teaching.
As far as the New Testament is understood, its simple principles are taught and practised, and for these the mission stands.
At the death of George Brealey, the Superintendency of the mission fell to his son, Walter, who had worked with him for many years, and particularly as headmaster of the school at Clayhidon.
Following his home-call in 1916, much of the responsibility fell upon Walter Brealey’s younger son, Douglas, until, in 1920, he responded to what he deemed to be the call of God, and the unanimous desire of friends on the hills, and with the fellowship of many interested friends, and returned to Clayhidon as Hon. Superintendent.
We are thankful that after over 80 years quite a live and vigorous work still obtains, and with the help of many local workers and numerous visitors the testimony is being maintained, souls are being saved, and led on in the ways that be in Christ.
“Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.”
Your prayers are earnestly asked that those showers, may indeed fall, not only upon the Blackdown Hills, again, but over our beloved land generally.
Being mistaken for a Parliamentary Candidate, was. one of many interesting experiences during a recent tour of South Wales. Whilst distributing tracts in a. main street, people gathered around me announcing in whispers audible to me, “He’s one of them.” The mistake had at least the happy effect that the tracts were eagerly taken. The tour included Cardiff, Rumney Cogan, Merthyr, Newport, Cefn Forest, and Dowlais. We were greatly encouraged by several professing Christ, by applications for baptism and fellowship, and by backsliders being restored. Visits, from house to house, special calls on families, and casual contacts in the street provided fruitful opportunities. Two women confessed Christ at a tea-table. Hospital visits brought cheer to some, we believe.
Walking in the country one day with Mr. A. Lewis, of Dowlais, we came across two Spaniards. (There is a Spanish colony in the district.) Hastily mustering the remnants of Spanish I learnt years ago, I greeted them in their native tongue, much to their delight. They invited us to sit and talk, and we discovered that, curiously enough, one of the Spaniards worked with a brother of Mr. Lewis. This brother had some: months before asked Mr. Lewis to pray for this man, and he had been doing so ever since, although he had never seen him. As a result of the contact, the Spaniard came to the meetings bringing another with, him. We may surely believe that the Hand of the Lord was in this “chance” encounter and that the Lord has purposes of blessing for the man.
(T. J. Allen – Teignmouth.)
We quote a letter from Mr. J. D. Disney, of Brimscombe. We know of others who have found such a. method attended with happy results : –
“Here is a suggestion which I think would be helpful to others. It is a simple method and we have found it very successful. We arranged to devote one prayer meeting in each month to special prayer for work in the Homelands and another for work abroad. We asked one of our younger brethren to act as correspondent in each case and collect items of interest, such as news in the various magazines and personal letters from workers, which are read at the Prayer Meetings. This has not only increased the believers’ interest in the work and in the workers,, but has helped these younger brethren to take a. definite part in Assembly service and thus stir up the gift that is within them. I am sure this has. helped to maintain life and vigour in the Prayer Meetings and I heartily commend it to others.”
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