Consett - Salvation Army (1878)

This is the first monthly report from the Salvation Army station here.

Here in the midst of a population of miners of the very roughest type, it has please God to give us a triumph perhaps without any equal even in the strange records of the past six months.

A closed up theatre was secured for the year at a rental that gave every hope of the expense being met on the spot.

In some other cases it seems as though there was no difficulty so sudden and glorious has been a success. Here it was not so. The darkness at first was felt and it was only before patient, unflinching faith and effort, that the great enemy fell. But we leave the sisters' letters to tell the tale:-

Things are not so pleasant as I should like them to be. Most of the people here are Irish.

We went out on Sunday and we had a good open-air meeting and in the afternoon the place was full.

I never saw such a lot of ignorant people before; lots of them seem like heathen. When we go to them and talk to them about their souls, they seem as if they did not understand what we meant and I feel it will take time to get to their hearts. I feel there is a work to be done here. Oh my God help us to do it!

Miss Jackson went to one man to ask him about his soul and he actually asked her where God was. It’s very hard work to get to the hearts of such ignorant people. I went to another man and ask him if he was saved and he looked at me so hard that he made me tremble and said to me, “do you ever think you will get to heaven?“ And I said “yes“, when he replied, “I would not like to swap with you.“ This is the way they talk.

At night we had a good company though. The power of God was in the meeting and it seemed hard work for Miss Jackson and myself, as we had to sing every hymn by ourselves. Both of us had a very bad cold and we made an awful row.

Before we could get off the stage on Sunday night the people were all flocking out like a lot of bees and we were very nearly left by ourselves. No one came out to be saved; that seemed to get over me more than anything. But we are leaning on the Lord for help. We had to shut up and go home and when we got outside there were a lot of people waiting there, who hooted us along the streets. A brother and a policeman sent them off and enabled us to get home.

On Monday night it was much better and masses of people were waiting for us in the open air. We had a good company inside; two came out and got saved. I feel that it only just wants the ice breaking and I believe we shall have a mighty smash. Oh my God hasten the time! Weak of ourselves but strong in the Lord. Oh this is a dark town!

The next letter was as follows;

We have had some good meetings during the week. The place has been full every night since Monday night. 26 have professed to find peace and many more in a pickle. Every night we have a policeman come inside and one stands at the door. They seem to be taken up with the work very much and I believe we shall soon have them crying for mercy. Oh for a mighty outbreaking in this town, for I feel it is needed.

The people seem so dark and ignorant. We have them crying and wanting to be saved, but don’t understand 'coming out'. Oh my God open the floodgates of heaven and let the converting power fall on these people. In a meeting at night you could hear the ticking of a clock, so anxious they seem to listen to every word.

The next letter describes the end of the first week and of the old state of things and the beginning of the new.

Glory be to Jesus! Happy to tell you that we have had some blessed meetings in the week.

On Saturday night we had a hallelujah love feast and we had a blessed time. The place was full. At the prayer meeting two young men came out and they made the place ring, crying “Lord save me“ and four followed and they all got saved. Glory be to Jesus!

On Sunday we commenced our 7 o’clock prayer meeting and there were 44 there and we had a blessed time, and at 10 o’clock in the open air we had one of the best meetings that ever I had yet and in the afternoon the place was full.

At night before I could get inside the hall, the people were cramming in all round the door, so that we had to go through a lady's house to get in the back way. When I got inside, I never witnessed such a scene. It seemed as if all the people were walking over one another and at last the place got so crowded that we had to shut the doors and many went away that could not get in. We had a powerful meeting. 26 came out and cried for mercy. Glory be to God!

Feeling weak of ourselves, but hallelujah! Strong in the Lord. Trusting the work will still go on.

Next we have a site of the work in full swing. 

Things here are better than ever, praise the Lord. Since Sunday 38 precious souls have got saved, glory be to Jesus. I never had such good meetings.

On Wednesday it was the Flower Show. I had an open-air meeting outside it. The people seemed to rush around us and we very soon had hundreds of people around us, praise the Lord

The young converts came up to the meetings grand. They walk around the streets grand like a lot of soldiers. We have got some of the biggest rough men in the town, glory be to Jesus.

If you were to see how they throw themselves down at the feet of Jesus, it would do your heart good to see them. The men shake and tremble while sitting on the forms. We have to lead them up to the penitent form and before we can get them up to the form they fall down, praise the Lord. The place is crowded every night, lots of people cannot get in. Some of the men that we have got used to act at the theatre but glory be to Jesus they are now acting for the Lord and both soldiers they are too.

The next two letters need no comment they tell the simple story of a glorious triumph too manifest and complete to need a more detailed description.

I am happy to tell you that the work is still going on, praise the Lord!

At our 7 o’clock prayer meeting we had a blessed time. There were 83 great rough men whom God had saved. I know it will do your heart good to see them pray in the meetings.

In the open air, at 10 o’clock, about 12 of them stood in the streets and told their old companions what the Lord has done for them and that He could do the same for them. It made my heart leap for joy to see them, glory be to Jesus!

In the afternoon the theatre was crowded out; they were packed in all round. The platform was crowded with our own converts. I hardly knew what to do with the people. The place was crowded inside and there were hundreds outside waiting to get in and could not. So while I had the meeting inside, Sister Jackson had to lead an open-air meeting outside. Glory be to Jesus.

And it was the same at night. 16 got saved and now telling the people what the Lord has done for them.

A week later –

I’m very happy to tell you that the work is going on grand here, praise the Lord.

Last Thursday, at our 12 o’clock meeting we had 64 men and women present. We had a pleasant time. Glory be to Jesus!

At our 7 o’clock meeting on Sunday there was 110 present; in the open air at 10 there was 100 of our own converts standing in the rain and telling the people what the Lord had done for them.

At night, 17 came out and cried for mercy, three at the 7 o’clock meeting and one in the afternoon.

In haste. Place is crowded every night. Weak of ourselves, but strong in the Lord, Consett for Jesus.

From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', October 1878, pages 261-3.

Never did I witness such scenes as I have in six weeks here. One man who used to act on the stage as a clown came and threw himself down at the feet of Jesus and cried for mercy and God set his captive soul at liberty, praise the Lord.

Since then the Lord has laid bold of drunkards, backsliders, and wife-beaters. Some that used to delight in spending their Sabbath in public houses, today are singing the praises of God.

.At our five o'clock prayer-meeting in the morning there were 116 whom God had laid hold of, and who are willing to do anything for God.

One of our brothers, before he was washed in the Blood, had a craving so great that he sold a horse and a donkey for drink; but, praise the Lord, he is now drinking from the fountain of Life.

The town is all on fire, so great is the power of God in the town. In six weeks the Lord has saved very nearly 400 precious souls, the worst of characters. Oh! for a mighty outpouring of God's Holy Spirit, that it might run through Consett like fire.

The place is crowded every night. Hundreds have to go away that cannot get in. While we hold the meetings inside, we have had to have meetings outside as well, feeling that there is a work to do in Consett that nothing else can do but the power of God.

From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', November 1878, pages 289.

Never did I witness such a scene as I did on December 1st when we closed our meeting at night, we went in for a good hot prayer-meeting. We began singing that good old hymn, 'Do you think I will make a Christian Mission hero?' And while singing it, the power of God came down, and 43 fell at the foot of the Cross and cried for mercy and God set their captive souls at liberty. Praise His name.

From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', January 1879, pages 8.

Consett.- I (Ballington Booth) scarcely know how to describe it, it must be one of the best works ever heard of; we only commenced here a little more than twelve months ago, and the town seems to have been turned upside-down. Rich and poor, and middle-class folks of every sort have sought and found the Saviour. I turned in on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13 and 14, and I shall never forget it. Saturday night we had a grand procession through a lot of market folks, who were buying and selling at stalls of every description. A large crowd followed to the experience meeting inside, which was one of a novel kind after a little singing from the 74th hymn in the supplement, with the chorus. 

"Stand like the Brave, stand like the Brave. Stand like the Brave with thy face to the foe."

A lot of big fellows began to stand up in front of the platform, until all the room was taken up. I counted thirteen in one row, standing like the Brave. I said to Sister Jackson, "Does all that lot want to speak at once? " She said "Yes.'' And at it they went; while one spoke, the others stood to be looked at. And, thank God, they felt, and I felt, and I think God felt that they were worth looking at. Here were men of every sort, the auctioneer, the clerk, the saw-maker, the miner, and the farm labourer. One man said I have been saved 12 months and a week. Another was a saved Roman Catholic. All sorts of dress, from the broadcloth to the white slop, with the short-cropped hair, and the thick knotted neckerchief, of all colours, round the neck. When these had spoken, we had

Another row standing in the same form, until the whole place was moved with the power of the Holy Ghost.

...Good meeting at Consett all day, one soul in the afternoon, and four at night. This is the sort of work God is doing by the Salvation Army in the North.

From, 'The Salvationist', October 1879, pages 266-7.

For future reports see, 'The War Cry' which began January 1880.

Additional Information

I do not know where the meetings were held.

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