Throughout the whole of the UK the Christmas season gave many good opportunities for tens of thousands of gospel tracts to be distributed, and also gospel calendars which will now be hanging in many homes. Christmas carol services too were very well attended by local people who joined in singing the beautiful traditional carols and heard a message from the Word of God explaining the true meaning and purpose of our Lord's coming into the world. Pray that the Lord will bless His Word presented in these appropriate and friendly ways.
This year again many New Year Conferences were arranged by assemblies throughout the country from north to south and east to west. Wholesome teaching from the Scriptures coupled with refreshing fellowship with other believers brought blessing to many in the large audiences. It was especially encouraging to see so many younger believers present, listening and taking notes, many of whom had travelled from quite distant parts of the UK to be present where the Word of God was taught. Pray that they especially will be preserved and motivated to live for the Lord in a darkening society which holds many pitfalls. As a new year has begun we can all look back and be thankful for the Lord's goodness in the past, and look forward with anticipation of further help from the Lord to continue with His interests at heart, serving Him until He comes again.
N. IRELAND & EIRE
During December, many assemblies and individuals distributed thousands of calendars over the Province with many homes and businesses being reached that would not normally have much contact with the gospel. Prayer is requested that the good Word of God might bring blessing to these needy souls as many verses will be read over the year.
Ballymena (Cambridge Avenue): A Gospel Meeting, known as "The Last Meeting of the Year", was held at 11.00pm on New Year's Eve. The hall was well filled and J Rogers preached to many unsaved family and friends. The meeting concluded at 12.15am with refreshments.
Dromore Gospel Hall: W Martin had 5 nights of ministry on "Assembly Principles". The meetings were most helpful and very encouraging, with many attending over the week.
Ebenezer (Bangor) Gospel Hall: S Jennings had 6 nights of ministry on "Jacob's Blessings for his Sons" from Genesis 49. The meetings were most edifying and instructive and were very well attended.
Kilkeel Gospel Hall: The Annual Conference was held on 26th December. Speakers: E Russell, A Nesbitt, M Penfold, M Turkington, T Wright and S Nelson.
Newtownstewart: A very large number attended the Annual New Year's Day Conference which was held as usual in a local school. After a prayer meeting, a Bible Study on Hebrews 8 was conducted by D Gilliland. The speakers for ministry were R Wilson, W Martin, D Gilliland and M Penfold.
Omagh Gospel Hall: The Gospel Meetings, which were held in a portable hall in Bankmore Road, concluded on 11th December. The speakers were D McAllister and L Craig. Good numbers attended each evening, but these were mostly believers from neighbouring assemblies. It was disappointing that very few locals were present - this may have been partly due to the very adverse weather conditions which prevailed at the time.
Belfast: The Annual Christmas Conference was held in the Assembly Buildings on 28th and 29th December. The Bible Readings in the afternoons majored on the subject of prayer, dealing with 2 Chronicles 6 and John 17. Lively and helpful discussion was led by J Fleck and N Mellish. The ministry in the evening sessions was challenging and needful. The Conveners are thankful for a good conference when the Lord's help was experienced and His people were blessed.
ENGLAND & WALES
Wesley and Alison Downes ask for continued prayer for their work at the Mill in Stockport. Looking back on 2015 they have much to be thankful for and they give God the glory for all that has been done. Those attending the Mill just now include some needy folks such as A whose partner has cancer and has been moved by the love shown him; D who used to be a circus clown – he sometimes mocks but does listen to God's Word; M who comes 4 days a week and has chosen a favourite song for himself - he in turn has been mocked by his friends for this – he seems troubled about his soul. Others on the residential programme are making progress but also need prayer. Pray too that guidance will be given as to who else should be admitted to this programme soon.
For their work on Tyneside Jim and Janet McMaster are grateful for all the prayerful and practical help they have received and in turn passed on to the homeless, the addicted and those in Durham prison. Last year has been one of their most challenging. They have had several deaths to cope with, one of whom was Tony, converted two years ago, baptised and brought into fellowship in the assembly. His earlier lifestyle led to complications and he died suddenly one Lord's Day. More people are attending the Gospel Meeting on Sunday evenings as Jim takes the van to its usual location, transports them to Bensham Gospel Hall, then afterwards returns to where they are fed and supplied with basic necessities. On the van is now written Because He died for me ... He wants me to tell you that He died for you too. This work is dangerous and Jim is grateful for others who share it – all need our prayers for safety as well as effectiveness. Prison work takes all the time Jim can manage to give it. Fridays are taken up with visiting individual cells and explaining the gospel, sometimes to men on the brink of eternity. The Tuesday afternoon Bible Class is oversubscribed and help would be welcomed; some have professed salvation there recently. The biggest challenge facing such men is on release from prison. "For the man in jail the hardest day is not the day he comes IN but it is the day he goes OUT". Great wisdom and maturity is essential for effective help in this area of care and rehab. It is an urgent need for which prayer is requested.
Brethren from the south-east of England have made two trips to the migrant camp in Calais in recent months to give out gospel literature in numerous foreign languages along with some of the basic necessities of life. The camp has around 6,000 people, 18 mosques, one Orthodox church and a single 'evangelical' church. The need is tremendous. Further trips are planned and prayer would be appreciated.
Cloverley Bible Study Weekend, led by Colin Clarke and Mark Hill, was held in December. A company of 90 believers had a profitable time studying the life of the Lord Jesus from Jericho to Jerusalem. On Lord's Day morning the company divided up to gather with four local assemblies to remember the Lord.