Ian and Mary Robertson in Auchinleck now have 7 men in their rehabilitation unit. M was baptised and came into the assembly fellowship last year and is doing well, but B and D have lost the way again – they and others need lots of support and prayer. The Robertsons are now exercised about opening a residential rehab unit for women and are investigating possible properties in the town.
After more than ten years the Drop-in-Centre café has been closed as the numbers attending had steadily decreased. Many precious souls were exposed to the love and grace of God there, received kindness and heard the gospel. Some were saved and are going on for God serving Him locally and in other parts of the UK. Eternity will reveal all that God was doing through the ministry of that wee Drop-in-Centre — a light in a very dark place. The Charity Shop continues to provide work for the lads in rehab, and gives added opportunity to get known in the community. Mary has built up many friendships there; some have attended meetings and one woman has been saved and baptised and regularly attends the meetings in the hall and at their home. It also makes a financial contribution to the Helping Hand Trust which was set up when the rehab work was established.
In the assembly at Auchinleck there were baptisms in July. A few weeks later a lady, who had made a special effort to attend, said she had trusted Christ. Since then she has been regularly at the meetings, and on a few occasions her husband, too, has come. The "parents and toddlers" group has proved to be a great success, with children having to be put on a waiting list as the group are unable to cope with any more. Many good contacts have been made through this work and there have been some great opportunities to share the gospel. During the Easter and Summer school holidays separate weeks of children's meetings brought a good response from parents and children. At a Christmas dinner on a December Saturday around 70 meals were served to old and new friends, and once again the gospel was clearly preached. Pray that the Lord will bless all these different avenues of testimony.
N. Ireland & Eire
Ballinaloob Gospel Hall: The assembly held the Belmont Bible Exhibition in Cloughmills Community Centre from 11th-16th November with R Eadie and S Maze. Very good numbers attended and it proved very rewarding.
Ballintoy Gospel Hall: R Plant is expected for Children's Meetings during the week commencing 13th January.
Ballymagarrick Gospel Hall: D Gilliland had a week of excellent Ministry Meetings at the beginning of January with very large numbers attending.
Ballymena (Cambridge Avenue): R Plant spent the week commencing 6th January visiting a number of primary schools to speak at morning assembly, and this was much appreciated.
Ballymena (Cambridge Avenue): I McClean had a week of Children's Meetings which commenced on 13th January.
Ballymena (Harryville): Bible Readings were held from 6th-10th January with S Wells.
Ballywatermoy Gospel Hall: Ministry Meetings with M Radcliffe were held from 6th-10th January.
Buckna Gospel Hall: The Annual Conference was held on 26th December. A good number attended and the ministry given was thought to be both encouraging and challenging. The speakers were R McKeown, B Currie, D Gilliland, J Fleck, T McNeill and E Fairfield.
Bushmills Gospel Hall: Gospel Meetings commenced on 12th January with S Gilfillan and A Caldwell.
Sion Mills: D Gilliland preached to a full hall each night on the subject of "The Alphabet of the Christian life".
Lungs Gospel Hall: Gospel meetings commenced on 12th January with G Woods and D McGarvey.
Newtownstewart: A very large crowd gathered for the Annual Conference which was held on 1st January at a schoolhouse in Newtownstewart. The excellent Bible Reading was conducted by D McAllister. Ministry was provided by S Wells, A Davidson, M Penfold and A Nesbitt.
Omagh Gospel Hall: J Fleck was with the assembly for ministry at the end of the Old Year and the beginning of the New Year (30th December – 3rd January). A packed hall each night heard ministry on "Challenges of the New Year".
Limavady Gospel Hall: Gospel Meetings are expected to commence on 12th January in the Town Hall with D Gilliland and R McKeown.
Tivaconavey: The small assembly was encouraged by the recent series of Gospel Meetings held in the Gospel Hall. There were unsaved present each night, sometimes as many as 20. One young women of 20 trusted Christ. The meetings lasted for three weeks and the preachers were D McGarvey and R O'Neill.
Fortwilliam Gospel Hall: T Topley and D Radcliffe had a short series of Gospel Meetings from 1st-13th December. The meetings were well supported with many visitors attending each evening, some of whom had never been in the hall before. There was help to preach and the assembly was encouraged.
Sandringham Gospel Hall: In December, the assembly here enjoyed weekend visits from brethren J Fleck and S Gilfillan whose ministry and gospel preaching were much appreciated. The Annual New Year's Eve Ministry Meeting was the largest ever with the hall filled plus the anteroom. Brethren S Harper and E Fairfield had excellent words of ministry. There were representatives from at least 10 local assemblies present and the assembly at Sandringham was much encouraged by the ministry and support.
Ballymagarrick: The assembly organised a special Gospel Meeting coming up to Christmas for everyone in the locality, with D Gilliland as the speaker. A large number of unsaved attended.
Kilkeel: The Gospel Meetings conducted by A Wilson and N Fleck finished well with blessing being seen in salvation.
Kilkeel: The assembly held its Annual Conference on Boxing Day with very profitable ministry being given by S McBride, A Davidson, B Smith, A Nesbitt, W Nesbitt and M Penfold.
Newry: Just prior to Christmas, the assembly held a special Gospel Meeting for friends, neighbours and relatives. The response was excellent and D Gilliland gave a very clear message in the gospel.
"If the Lord will…"
Ballywalter Gospel Hall: Special Gospel Meetings are planned to commence in March in the Gospel Hall. Prayer appreciated. Details will follow.
Andrew Shanks had the opportunity to place a Scripture text on a billboard at the main roadside through Newcastle West, on display from the middle to the end of December. Pray that God would move people's hearts in response to this, and to the clear gospel verses on many calendars which show local scenes for each month, and which have been distributed throughout the area. They also contain details of the various assembly gatherings and an invitation to all.
England & Wales
Prison Work in the North-east
For 17 years now the authorities have granted Jim McMaster free access to Durham Prison and its inmates. Interest in the Friday Bible Class continues unabated with a steady list of those waiting to take up any vacant spaces. Often the personal contact in the cells yields the best interaction and the greatest encouragement, however. Pray for J serving a long sentence for drug running. He attended a Gospel Hall Sunday School in Lanarkshire many years ago. Pray for another J who is very open to the gospel. He is a nephew of Duncan Donaldson, a notorious character in Jim's home town who had a remarkable conversion many years ago. Another J is an ex-policeman who was suicidal on his arrival but several weeks of patient visitation now sees him very interested in studying the Scriptures in his cell. Permission has just been granted to begin a concerted campaign of Emmaus Bible Study courses. This will allow Jim to place posters for the courses all over jail and give the opportunity to enroll as many men as possible. Pray that the Lord will grant wisdom and discernment in this important development of this work for the Lord.
Manchester and Wythenshaw
Wesley and Alison Downs thank the Lord for the support they get from the team which continues to go out each week onto the streets of Manchester to places where homeless people are sleeping rough. They provide them with spiritual and material help in the form of hot drinks, food, sleeping bags, clothing and hygiene packs provided by the saints. Many good spiritual conversations are had there, for the gospel message is the priority and their only true hope.
The work in the assembly in Wythenshawe continues with the "drop-in" on Monday and Wednesday mornings and the parent and toddlers' group on Friday morning, giving many contacts with local people. Often over twenty adults attend these events with their children which can mean quite a crowd - among them Indian, Chinese, Bulgarian, and Czech people. Some previous Sunday School scholars, now grown up with children, come along and make regular contact with believers from the assembly. These are wonderful opportunities to show the love of Christ and witness for the Lord as He gives help, through telling Bible stories, singing choruses, and distributing Bibles and other literature. Alison and other members of the assembly faithfully run this work. Pray for June, the Chinese lady who was saved through this witness at the "drop-in". She is due to move to the south in the New Year. Pray also that her husband will be saved.