In a short visit to a few assemblies in England last month (the first in several years), I was struck to see how small they had become. Places that not so many years ago would have had 40 or 50 in fellowship are down to a dozen or so saints gathered to the Lord’s Name. No doubt the denominations would report the same drift in this materialistic, pleasure-loving society, not just in England but in western Europe in general. This underlined to me the importance of helping struggling assemblies by visiting and giving encouragement.
Here in France, not only are assemblies small, but they are often very isolated. For some years now we have organized regular conferences in the region of Marseille. In November, the subject was the House of God in the Old and the New Testaments. We travelled two and half hours to get there and a few saints came from Cannes to the east, nearly two hours away. There were just fifteen of us for the day. Last week we again had an all-day conference and this time we were 25. We were greatly encouraged by the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Dover from Rathmines, Dublin who came with brother Jim Smith from the United States. Brother Smith is a fluent French speaker, having labored in the gospel in Quebec and New Brunswick some years ago. We appreciated the help of our brethren in this conference and also here in the assembly in Perpignan.
I may have previously mentioned the little magazine that I edit every three months called “La Sentinelle,” devoted to the ministry of the Word. By this means I am in contact with several isolated believers who desire better things and who have very little fellowship. One can see that my ministry is among small assemblies and isolated Christians, as well as seeking to further the gospel in this part of France.
Cults in France are very active, particularly the self-styled Jehovah’s Witnesses. In Perpignan they claim to have over one thousand members propagating their heretical teaching. Some believers have said that they admire the zeal of these people, but in reality, these cult followers are obliged to distribute their literature. Failing to do so, they are threatened with excommunication and the terrors of Armageddon. Their lives are regimented and controlled in what is a centralized totalitarian system. We have met former members whose lives have been wrecked through their involvement in this and other false cults.
Last summer, we held a short series of gospel meetings in the hall in Perpignan, followed by a few nights in the gospel tent in the village of Vinça, about 20 miles from Perpignan. We were helped by brethren from Northern Ireland who covered large areas with Seed Sower texts. As a result, we have seen one or two now coming regularly to the gospel meetings at the Hall. During the summer months, I maintain an open air testimony on two squares in the town of Perpignan and there are always good numbers listening. One older brother, who would always be present to encourage, has just been called home. He was never in fellowship but had a good testimony in the Gypsy quarter, where he lived and where I preach the gospel.
I have applied for land in different villages in the area for the tent. Please pray that we will obtain suitable sites for Gospel meetings.
Despite the difficulties, we usually get three or four unsaved into the gospel meeting. At present there is a lady who comes each week. At the age of 84 she converted to Mormonism, but is disillusioned by it. Physically frail but mentally very alert, we trust that the Spirit of God will bring her to repentance and saving faith in Christ.
Lord willing, I am returning to Morocco next week to visit Arab saints in different cities. I was there in January seeking to give help in meetings held in homes of different believers.