In 2011, Joy and I were commended to the Lord’s work from Ballymena, Northern Ireland. With our two children, Tom and Annabelle, we moved to London to preach the gospel. London is a city of around 10 million people and is reckoned to be the most linguistically diverse capital in the world with over 300 languages spoken.
Our work is mostly based in the southeast of the city where assemblies are small and it is difficult to get local people to attend gospel meetings. Because of the culture of indifference to the gospel, we spend much of our time “going out” with the gospel to the people. The laws of our country give us total freedom to preach in public places and we consider it a great privilege and responsibility to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the crowds.
Each Thursday we spend time in the center of the city distributing tracts in the morning. This is followed by two open-airs at lunchtime in the busy pedestrian zones of Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, or Covent Garden, where many sit listening to the message as they eat their lunch. We always have some response to the open-air preaching. Some mock, some are intrigued, and often, as a result, there are ensuing conversations. We also talk to the homeless in two areas of the city and provide packs with socks and gospel tracts. We have found this is a good way of gaining their confidence, giving us opportunity to preach the gospel to these poor souls who often don’t know where to turn. In whatever state we find these men and women, many rejected by family and feeling totally alone, we can tell them of God’s love and a Savior Who died for their sins. We also recognize we may be speaking to some for the last time as their addiction and poor health renders them very vulnerable on the streets.
Our work also involves door-to-door visitation with John 3:16 packs and a reply card that offers a free Bible. Many Bibles have been given out in Sydenham, a busy residential area of South London. Recently when we had four weeks of gospel meetings in that area; we had some of the Bible contacts along each night. Once a week we give Bible teaching for believers who are saved but not in assembly fellowship. This is challenging and often frustrating as their attendance can be sporadic.
Another aspect of our gospel outreach is our portable Bible exhibition which we have taken to a number of London assemblies. We set up for one week and invite local people to come and view the Bible and its message. Many receive a free Bible and then are given an invitation to come back to the week of gospel meetings that follow. The exhibition is a great way to get people introduced to the message and to come into the hall and meet the Christians. On average, 150 people from the area visit the Bible exhibition each week.
In October we had the Bible exhibition in Bermondsey, our local assembly, and were pleased with the response as over 160 people came in from the area. Nearly all were new contacts and there were many foreign languages. Gospel literature and Bibles were distributed in English, as well as in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Chinese, and Greek – all within one week! Every child was also given a pack with a John’s Gospel included. We have an open-air in Bermondsey market each Friday followed by door-to-door visitation in the local housing estates. The people in this area are mainly indifferent toward the gospel, but we have met some with whom we are able to visit each week. One man we visit is an alcoholic and his house is often full of drinking friends, but we have liberty to talk to them about the gospel and their need to repent and trust Jesus Christ for salvation.
We will appreciate prayer that the gospel will soon yield fruit unto salvation and, along with the different avenues mentioned, please pray that a site may be made available for a gospel tent in the city so that many more can be reached with the gospel. London is like many cities – sinful, yet thankfully the laws permit the gospel still to go forth and so where sin abounds, grace superabounds!
Pray also for the assemblies in London that they may be strengthened and built up in their faith. In all our labors we are constantly reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus: “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).