Sermon #2020 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: A Great Door Opened
Meetings in England
October 7 - 19, 2012
Text: 1 Corinthians 16:9
Subject: Preaching Tour in Great Britain
Readings: Ron Wood and Merle Hart
“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and [there are] many adversaries.” (1 Corinthians 16:9)
For some reason, in His wise, good, adorable providence, our God has been pleased to grant this assembly a significant voice in His Kingdom in this generation.
Before I left here two weeks ago for the meetings in England and Ireland, I asked you to pray for God’s blessing upon the preaching of the Gospel, just as Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him (Colossians 4:2-4).
“2 ¶ Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:2-5)
I cannot tell you how very thankful I am to God for you, your continual, faithful intercessions on my behalf, and your generous support of your pastor in the work of this Gospel. I’ve come here tonight to tell you that the Lord has answered your prayers and mine. That which Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1st Corinthians 16:9, I declare to you.
“A great door and effectual is opened unto us.” — God is still working. He is still gathering His elect. He is still sending forth laborers into His vineyard. He is still ministering to His saints by our labors together. We had excellent meetings in every place.
“And there are many adversaries.” — Wherever the Gospel is preached there are always many adversaries. As John Gill put it, “The adversary Satan roars, and the posse of devils under him are employed one way or another to obstruct the Gospel if possible; and false teachers are raised up to oppose it.” That was true in Paul’s day; and it is true today. — Legalists, work-mongers, will-worshipping Arminians are always present to oppose the Gospel; but they never prevail against it.
Let me give you a brief report of the Lord’s work in these places.
After the morning worship service on October 7th, we said “Good-bye” to our beloved congregation here at Grace Baptist Church, jumped in the car and headed to Cincinnati to catch our 4:00 flight to Atlanta. After about an hour and forty-five minute layover in Atlanta, we boarded our plane at 7:25 PM and were on our way to England.
We arrived safely in Manchester, England 8:30 AM on Monday morning. Bro. Paul Forrest and his wife, Karen, picked us up around 9:30 and we started on the trip to Liverpool, which was almost two hours away. We had been told that we would not be able to get in our room at the motel until 2:00 PM, but when we checked with the desk clerk, she told us they had a room ready for us. Having been up since 6:00 AM the day before, we were thankful we could check in early. We went to bed as soon as we could and slept for about four hours. After going out and getting some “fish and chips”, we went back to our room and went back to bed.
Tuesday and Wednesday
October 9th and 10th
Tuesday evening’s service was at Stanley Park Church in Liverpool, England, where Bro. Eddie Roberts is pastor. The congregation there is quite small. As a result, they meet in the basement of the church; but the building itself is beautiful, with a large balcony and is designed to seat approximately 1000 people. God gave me liberty in preaching the Gospel at Stanley Park and the message was warmly received.
On Wednesday evening we traveled to Bebbington, England and I preached in a Brethren church, where Bro. Andrew Dyke is pastor. In that church there was a gentleman who was a retired pastor by the name of John Evans. Bro. Evans introduced me to the congregation. This is what he said.
“I have known Don Fortner for the past 10 years, though we have never met. I began reading books written by Pastor Fortner 10 years ago and his writings have transformed my thinking and my life, as well as the lives of several others who have also read what he has written. I seldom read a passage of Scripture that I do not have one of Pastor Fortner’s commentaries open to that passage to see what he has to say.”
The Word was well received by that congregation and many people seem to be blessed by the message. One dear lady came up to Shelby and said, “I wish my friend who is ill tonight could have been here to hear the message. She is quite elderly and loves to hear the preaching of the Word. We don’t hear “fiery preaching” much anymore and my friend would have loved it tonight.”
Thursday – Sunday,
October 11th -14th
Bro. Paul Forrest picked us up Thursday morning and took us to his home for cake and tea in celebration of his son’s 19th birthday. After a brief time with Paul and his family, we left for Dudley.
I preached Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning at Robert Street Baptist Church in Dudley, where Bro. Norman Wheeler is pastor. His wife, Hilda, is a very special lady who does everything to perfection. She saw to it that our every need was taken care of.
We met Bro. Wheeler about 7 or 8 years ago. Bro. Syd Buggins had given Norman a video of our messages. Bro. Wheeler said life hasn’t been the same since. His son, Paul, relayed to us how his father was affected by the messages and how they had affected the rest of the family. He said after his father had listened to that video, he and some other members of the family were at his father’s home after the evening service one Sunday. Bro. Wheeler said to them, “You have got to listen to this!” Paul said it had been a long day and they were tired and didn’t really want to listen, but to please his dad, they began to listen, and listen, and listen and could hardly quit. The rest is history. They now listen to the DVDs of our services on a regular basis and love what they hear.
Before I met Bro. Wheeler the first time, I called him when I heard that he had been quite sick. He has never failed to mention to me how much that phone call meant to him. I was struck by the fact that we never know what an impact that a seemingly insignificant incident, such as a phone call, can have on someone’s life.
It was so good to see the familiar faces of some of our friends we have known for a long time. Bro. Allan Jellett, pastor at Knebworth, and his wife, Christine, came to the service Friday night. Bro. Geoffrey Thomas, his wife, Valerie, came from Bournemouth, which was about 3 hours away. Their daughter, Rachel, also came from London and spent the weekend. Bro. John Graham, and his wife, Anne, came from London, along with two other families from their church.
Over and over they expressed their gratitude for the ministry of Grace Baptist Church. They said they listen to our service by DVD every week. They said they feel like they know the people in the church here and feel that they, too, are a part of Grace Baptist Church.
Everywhere we went, people asked us about different people in the congregation. One asked, “Who is Merle Hart? He must be a fine man. I hear his name so often.” Another asked, “How is Bob Poncer getting along since he had his leg amputated?” And the widow ladies keep asking, “How is Bobbie Estes doing?” We never cease to be amazed at the love and concern of God’s people all over the world for one another, though they have never met nor spoken face to face.
After the service at Dudley Sunday morning, we had lunch together. I then showed the people pictures of Doug, Faith and our grandchildren and also the members of our congregation. The people were so glad to finally put faces with the familiar names they hear so often.
About 3:00 PM Sunday afternoon we said our goodbyes to the dear brethren in Dudley. Paul and Matthew Wheeler drove us to catch our plane in Birmingham for Belfast, where Bro. Russell Smyth was to pick us up. When we arrived in Belfast, I phoned Russell to let him know we were there. He said he was just pulling into the airport. After waiting a lengthy period of time, I phoned him again, only to find that he we were at two different airports. We finally got together and headed for Ballymoney.
It was a special treat to be warmly greeted by our dear friend, Bro. Stewart Boyd, who had ridden with Russell to the airport to pick us up. When we first met Bro. Boyd about 7 or 8 years ago, we thought perhaps we would not have the privilege of seeing him again this side of heaven. He has had a serious heart condition since he was 46 years old and was extremely weak and frail the first time we met. He was finally able to get a diffibulator in May and has been feeling much stronger ever since. This time he looked the best we have seen him, and seems to have more energy and feel better than he has felt in a long time. He is able to even go fly fishing again with Russell Smyth. Something he had thought he would never be able to do again. Bro. Stewart loves the Gospel of God’s grace and spends much of his time reading, writing, and sharing the Gospel with others. He is a source of great encouragement and we are always blessed by being in his presence.
Someone gave Bro. Russell Smyth a cassette tape by me several years ago. He started listening to it in his car. After listening to it a few minutes he said, “That is rubbish,” and tossed it out the window. After a while someone gave him another one of our cassettes. He did the same thing: — called it rubbish, and tossed it out the window. A third time he was given a cassette. This time he put it in and listened and God spoke to him. And he has loved the message of the Gospel every since. After a while, he gave some tapes to his friend, Bro. Stewart Boyd. Bro. Stewart was a follower of Garner Ted Armstrong. Stewart began to listen and God taught him the Gospel. Bro. Stewart said he is eternally grateful that Russell gave him those tapes.
Monday – Tuesday
October 15th - 16th
I preached Monday and Tuesday night for the Sovereign Grace Fellowship at Ballymoney, Northern Ireland. The service was held in a very nice room at Orange Hall in Ballymoney. We were delighted with the attendance at these services. The meeting was particularly well attended on Monday night, with many new faces of people we had not seen before. Some people came because they had seen the advertisement in the local paper and others came because of Free Grace Radio. Some people drove many miles to come to the meetings. Three such men were there who had driven two to three hours. Bro. David Burrows came from Dungannon about one and half hours away and brought two men with him each evening. One gentleman (Robert Roberts) who came was pastor of Reformed Presbyterian Church in Enniskellen. Also, Ian Farley, pastor of a Pentecostal Church of God was there Monday night and brought his wife back with him on Tuesday night. Nigel Newell and his wife, Elizabeth, drove up from Belfast each evening. Also in attendance were Bro. Russell Smyth, his wife, Sharon, their son, Johnnie, and their daughter, Katherine. The Lord was pleased to save Katherine after we were there this past April. One lady attended who told us that she was warned not to come hear Don Fortner preach, because he was an antinomian. She said she had found him on Free Grace Radio and had downloaded hundreds of his messages on her MP3 player and listens to him all the time. She said, “I will get in trouble for coming, but I don’t care if they do get upset. I love his preaching.” The Lord granted me liberty to preach and the Word was well received both evenings.
After a big Irish breakfast on Wednesday morning, Russell and Sharon Smyth drove us to Dublin. We thoroughly enjoyed that time of fellowship with them in the car. Time spent with our dear friends made the four hour trip go by quickly and we were in Dublin before we knew it. We had a late lunch with Russell and Sharon when we got to Dublin and then had to say goodbye before they started on the long drive back to Ballymoney.
Thursday morning we were up at 3:00 AM (which is 10:00 PM Danville time) to prepare to leave for the airport to return HOME. We were thankful we had no problems getting through security or immigration. Our trip home was long, but uneventful. We got home around 11:00 Thursday evening. As always it was wonderful to get home and sleep in our own bed.
Once again our hearts were full to overflowing with the blessings of God upon the past 12 days. As we travelled home, we rehashed the blessings we had experienced. We are thankful for the privilege of making the trip once again, of preaching the Gospel to so many people and for God’s manifest blessings on the Word to the hearts of those who heard it. We are also thankful for his goodness in protecting us, strengthening us for the daily demands, and supplying our every need. How we thank God for the privilege we had of seeing our old friends, for making new ones, and for bringing us home to our family and friends here, whom we love and cherish and miss so much when we are apart. From time to time God gives us a small glimpse of what he is doing in the hearts and lives of men and women around the world, but not until eternity will we fully know what he has done through the ministry of Grace Baptist Church of Danville.
College Grove Grace Church —— Pastor Gary Bell.
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.”
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