“Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding … your labour is not in vain in the Lord”, 1 Cor. 15. 58.
This report looks back to the year that is past; 1979, whether for good or ill, has gone into eternity. Opportunities lost can never be recovered. How many people who hav listened to the Word are already in eternity? Some are lost forever - this is a solemn consideration. Reflection often sobers us, especially when we think how much more could have been done. Yet we stand at the threshold of a new year with all its prospects. The task of evangelism will not get easier. We perhaps can say with Paul, “a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries”, 1 Cor. 16. 9. The need for stedfastness in doing the Lord’s work has never been greater. “Always abounding” speaks of a readiness to do the Lord’s will at all times, whatever the cost. Yet no labour is vain if done with single-heartedness for Him. Our prayers go out to all that have shared their experiences with us during the past year. May 1980 be a year of blessing in His service. May we all, grasping the opportunities that are ours, reach out into the unlimited possibilities of His blessing and “occupy” till He comes.
We can praise God that the disturbances in Ulster do not prevent the furtherance of the Lord’s work. Large numbers gathered each night to hear the gospel preached by Albert McShane and Jim Allen at LOWER CASTLEREAGH, BELFAST. This gave encouragement. The assembly at BALLYHACKAMORE, BELFAST, were exercised about a weeknight gospel meeting. After three weeks’ special effort to launch it, a number of young people attend as well as older folk from the district. The Sunday gospel meeting seems to benefit also from the effort. Let us pray for its continuance. At BANGOR, Co. Down, a series of gospel meetings were held in Ebenezer Gospel Hall by J. Finnegan. At Wallace Avenue Gospel Hall, LISBURN, Robert McLuckie held meetings. During the summer months well-attended tent meetings were held by Sam Ferguson and Norman Turkington at CARRYDUFF. At BALLY-MAGARRICK Jim Martin and Wilson Jennings held special meetings. The Lord gave blessing at BALLYNAHINCH, where Sam Thompson and Reggie Thompson held meetings. At WARINGSTOWN, Co. Down, Eric Wishart had some profitable meetings. An encouraging feature was the great interest shown by the assembly in the preaching of the Word.
From the far north and Michael Browne there is some interesting news of Bible Stall work at the 1979 Agricultural Shows. The centre piece of the stall was Matthew 4. 4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. People at the WEST MAINLAND Show were much friendlier than before. One Bible was bought by the nearby Oxfam stallholder, and a teenage boy has since been seen carrying it in a Kirkwall street. An interesting conversation was held with a spiritist, who said he could play actual tapes of St. Paul and St. Magnus—long deceased. The evident confusion in this man’s life was sad. Only one person who was a believer came to the stand. It was interesting to meet believers from the assembly at the ST. MARGARET’S Show. An act of kindness is often a link in a chain of blessing. As a girl debated whether she had enough money to buy an Emmaus Course, a brother bought one for her. Later she returned to the stall to buy two more. She needs much prayer as her home is on an isolated farm with no church contacts. Encouraging contacts were made at the DOUNBY Show. A partially sighted young man, visiting the islands, received a large print copy of “Confidence”. The evidence of the “drink problem” was seen in some who visited the COUNTY Show. All contacts made demand much of our prayers.
Following a tent campaign in MINNIGAFF, Newton Stewart, by John Gordon, (reported in last issue), the authorities have granted use of a room in the school for winter meetings with the children. This gives a useful follow-up.
A two week campaign was conducted by Stewart McKenzie at HELENSBURGH, Dunbarton. Consistently good attendances of children and adults were seen. Numbers ranged from 80-100 with the children, and 45-65 with adults. Several unsaved adults came throughout, and eventually four people accepted Christ as Saviour. There are about 50 in fellowship here and it gave a great sense of encourage-merit to see the interest. Prayer is asked for a special need at BATHGATE. After building a portable hall, George Meikie and David Lock sought permission to hold meetings in this place. The authorities refused. However, at BLACKRIDGE an encouraging time was held with the children. A campaign was conducted by Stan Ford in Hebron Hall, PORT GLASGOW, as the second part of the Renfrew 1979 Gospel Campaign. The meetings continued for three weeks and numbers were encouraging. Some came to Christ.
Some good news of conversions at DUMFRIES. One Sunday, after the breaking of bread, an older lady accepted Christ as Saviour. A young- man who was travelling home in a bus with some Christian friends confessed Christ as they witnessed to him. Again, two believers as they testified at their place of work had the joy of seeing one of their work-mates accept Christ as Saviour. What value there is in personal testimony to the living, vital power of Christ to save!
News of some follow-up work from MANCHESTER. After a successful Sunday School Camp in Scotland, Derick Bingham, the camp evangelist, felt a desire to provide teaching for the young people. Four Sunday evenings were arranged for this in one of the large halls in the city centre. Great blessing was experienced, with 200 to 300 young people gathering. As a result, the meetings were extended to the end of December. The ministry centred on teaching from the life of Christ. The Camp committee were greatly encouraged. A three-week campaign was held by John Baker at Cheetham assembly, MANCHESTER. Energetic preparation work was done by the assembly, including two weeks special children’s meetings conducted by the young men of the assembly, before John Baker came. Also a very well attended missionary conference was held. Believers at the gospel hall, ST. ANNES-ON-SEA, were very much encouraged in their first ever children’s campaign. An average of 60 children attended as B. Deen of Cumbria conducted the meetings. Leaflets were given out at the local schools, and prayer was abundantly answered as parents showed interest. Prayer is requested for follow-up work among these parents and children.
It is good to hear of the exercise of believers in a local assembly to reach out to their own locality with the gospel. At SHREWSBURY those concerned met first for definite prayer—they brought their burden into the Lord’s presence. Then they planned a week of concerted activities designed to contact children, teenagers and adults in different ways. Workers took some of their annual holiday to give help. One outstanding feature of the effort was visits made to local schools. The door was found to be wide open. Four primary schools, including one Roman Catholic, and three senior schools were visited with most encouraging reception. One headmaster, as he had listened, said that he had been made to realize that Jesus was alive. Senior Citizen Homes were contacted. 1500 homes were visited in door-to-door distribution of gospels and literature. The response to the special meetings was tremendous. About 150-200 children attended their meetings and perhaps more encouraging, about 70-150 adults and teenagers attended the meetings—about half of them were unsaved. The final Sunday evening meeting was a wonderful time, with 180-200 gathering. What was the overall result of the effort? Two people definitely accepted Christ as Saviour. There was great encouragement in the impact made upon the locality—the assembly showed that they were alive. Also, the fellowship of the assembly was stimulated and strengthened. To God be the glory. Let us pray for such work.
From BROWNHILLS, Staffs., comes news of a campaign with Stewart McKenzie at School Avenue Gospel Hall. Attendances of children grew over the two weeks, and as a sequel brethren have commenced weekly children’s meetings. Some encouraging contacts were made. A backslider who was once in fellowship came to most of the meetings.
North Stafford is rather an isolated region geographically. There are five assemblies associated with the Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle areas—Crewe and Stafford are not far away. There has been a unity of purpose in gospel outreach expressed in the operations of the North Staffordshire Tent, and interest in the ministry of the Word has been fostered by monthly rallies for Christians, held in each hall in turn. Peter Brandon was the evangelist at KIDSGROVE where the tent was erected during July-August 1979. Numbers were good and unsaved folk from the district came in. There were 170 present at the final Sunday evening meeting. About 14 professed conversion during the campaign.
The North Staffordshire Young People’s Camp was held at PENDINE with Stewart McKenzie as the “padre”—about 55 campers and 17 workers attended. The theme of instruction was the Cross. Two professed conversion and there was a sense of blessing throughout. In October, Ivor Powell visited TRENT VALE assembly for a week’s mission among young people. Numbers averaged 100 each week-night. The teenage special and Sunday evenings were especially well attended. The Lord gave definite help and several professed faith in Christ. Let us remember this group of assemblies in prayer.
We have news of work in WARWICKSHIRE. Bob Telford held a tent campaign in KIN ETON where there is no assembly. There was good interest and 180-200 children came to the meetings. About 80 gathered at the adult meetings and the interest throughout was good. Since the campaign about 20 people are meeting in a house for regular Bible Study. This is a needy place and needs our prayers. Through two weeks of visiting various schools, 1000 teenagers, 14-16 year olds, were reached with the gospel. Interesting contacts were made, and several correspondence courses were requested. A good exercise has been the monthly visitation of South Warwickshire villages. Young people became willingly involved in the activities, and in door-to-door work gospels and tracts were distributed. There were some interesting conversations.
At Hope Chapel, KINGS HEATH, Birmingham, special meetings entitled “Truth for Today” were conducted by W. Galyer and B. Jenkins. The children’s meetings were well attended, and a boost in the Sunday School numbers since has been part of the harvest reaped. Faithful and powerful gospel preaching was given, and the final “After-Church” Rally was a fine climax to the meetings. A Senior Citizen’s Tea gave some useful contacts. There is much need of prayer for this “city” assembly.
During the summer of 1979, several assemblies in the NORTH LONDON area united in fellowship for a gospel effort. The tent was erected at TOTTENHAM, near to a complex of high rise flats known as the Broadwater Farm Estate. All age groups were catered for, and all meetings were well attended. One lady was wonderfully saved. Several others were blessed and encouraged. There is much follow-up work to be done, and much prayer is sought for this needy estate. These huge complexes of housing, where thousands of people are concentrated, are often untouched fields of evangelism. In their pagan darkness, they present a tremendous challenge to our prayers and activities.
Brief news from HOUNSLOW tells of a husband and wife and their friend who, through “Challenge” visitation, have been coming to the Sunday evening meetings. J. Harrold reports that in the work of sending out gospel tracts, about 500, 000 have been sent in this way during 1979. He asks us to join with him in praise to God and in prayer for this work.
Strange encounters often come about in the work of personal evangelism. S. Mountstevens asks for prayer for a 40 year old man who is undergoing treatment for a sex-change, He seems wretchedly unhappy and gives for his reason that he has never been satisfied with being a man. He accepted a gospel of John and other literature with a promise to read. This need is mentioned to stimulate prayer fellowship. The devil works in so many ways to wreck the balance of people’s lives in our sin-troubled society. During the past summer our brother reports that for 4 J weeks good numbers gathered on the sands at MARGATE for “beach meetings”. Many texts were memorized, and portions of the Word were taken home. At the MARGATE assembly the Sunday School has increased its numbers, and an extra meeting for teenagers has commenced. There is one footnote that shows the need for care in modern evangelizing. On the Hand-Outs for the meetings the workers felt it necessary to add the following: “No connection with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons or other false cults”. Do we need to spell out our terms more clearly as we seek to reach people for Christ?
News of the Lord’s work in WILTSHIRE. Philip Lambert had an interesting tent campaign in the village of CHAPMANSLADE. During the three week campaign over 80 children attended, some of them coming from the local Comprehensive School where our brother takes R.E. once each month. There were those who trusted Christ, some who later attended the North Wiltshire Youth Camp, and prayer is asked for them. The Senior Citizen’s Tea provided some good opportunities for conversation. Please pray for the Wednesday Club for children, which is continuing. At MALMESBURY a number of people were saved including one family—this in the face of opposition to the mission. Extensive visitation work was carried out and good contacts were made each night. Over 80 attended the Tent Supper. A return visit was made to MALMESBURY, and the children’s club was well attended but the adults disappointed. The Tent is used as the “spearhead” of evangelism while the days are spent in door-to-door work, open-air meetings, and other personal work. Prayer is needed for follow-up work in a local School Hall.
At SWINDON and district Missionary Conference, Roy Wood of Angola and John Flynn of Ethiopia and Eire gave good help. It was a well attended conference and good prayer-interest was stirred. A young man of 16 has been baptized and received into fellowship at WROUGHTON assembly. The Annual Conference here was well attended, and some Christ—exalting ministry was given by John Glenville and Bernard Osborne. A children’s mission was conducted at KINGSDOWN by four local brethren. The children showed good interest and many of them received New Testaments. Then a two weeks similar mission took place at WROUGHTON, and well planned scriptural instruction brought out a good response from the children.
An echo of praise comes from Stephen Gilham for blessing enjoyed at DORSET Adventure Time Camp. He said that it will remain long in their minds. With a good group of leaders, there were 65 campers for the Senior week and 75 for the Junior week. At least 6 people during each week came to Christ. Young Christians were much helped, and at least two have since asked for baptism. Some also have been restored again to Christ.
A Gospel Mission was held by Ivor Powell at LLANELLI, and it proved to be a time of great encouragement. A real sense of the Lord’s presence was experienced and a number of strangers came in. One partially blind man had a good conversation with our brother, and came twice to the meetings. After being visited he seemed to be very definitely seeking. Mr. Powell is still in contact with him, and feels that he could well have trusted Christ. Good children’s meetings were held following visits to various schools.
One item of news from this needy area. From ANGLESEY comes details of children’s meetings held by David Prosser and others at RHOSNEIGR. These were held indoors, and each day 50-60 children came. By the end of the week about 12 of them had trusted Christ. Open-air meetings also took place on the beach. The greatest benefit of these meetings was felt to be in the conversations held afterwards. A special need for prayer is a woman who had two conversations with workers. She has problems in her marriage and many spiritual problems.
Just one small item from these counties. The believers at West Hill Gospel Hall, PLYMOUTH, had special meetings with Stan Ford. These were well attended with about 40-60 gathering together. Helpful ministry was given on The Acts.