The Christian outreach at the Royal Bath & West show took place at the end of May this year. The show takes place over a four-day period and attracts in excess of 150,000 people on an annual basis. The show displays all aspects of farming and rural life as well as providing a good opportunity for traders to display their products. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Christian witness at the show.
How it all started
Following the success of the Christian Outreach at the Southampton Agricultural Show, a number of Christians in the local area decided to organize a Christian Outreach at the Royal Bath & West Show. The first outreach took place in 1977 and a report after the show stated that ‘the opportunity for witnessing to young people as well as to adults is great, and Christians are invited to unite to pray’.
The witness at the show developed over the years, with Counties evangelists having a significant input into the work, together with the help of local believers.
Work of Proclamation
At the end of the 2001 show, the group which had been involved in organizing the outreach for many years felt that it was time for others to continue the work. Several local believers with an exercise for outreach then took over the responsibility of maintaining the witness under the name ‘Proclamation’.
Over the past 5 years, Proclamation has been able to continue its work with the generous support of local assemblies and believers in the area. Each year, a 9m x 15m marquee has been used as the basis for the work. Inside the marquee, the main activities of the outreach take place, consisting primarily of a Bible-based display, a children’s area, free literature including New Testaments and booklets, as well as a small bookstall. Over half of the marquee is set aside for people to be invited to sit down and enjoy tea, coffee or cold drinks, the aim of which is that believers helping within the tent can then engage them in conversation. This has provided many contacts and opportunities to present the gospel.
Outside the marquee, we have the opportunity to give out tracts and witness to passers by, inviting them inside the marquee or engaging with them in conversation. This provides a constant stream of visitors who will then enjoy the rest and a discussion with the believers. The activities require a team of believers of about 20 people per day engaging in different activities. Over the last five years, displays on Mary Jones, Local Reformers (Muller, and others), Creation, Pilgrim’s Progress and the Life and Times of the Lord have been used. These displays have provided a very good starting point for visitors to engage in conversations on spiritual matters and have also inspired the activities for the Children’s Corner.
The show also provides opportunities to witness to traders. Many come back each year and make a point of visiting the tent. As a result, we have been able to develop good relationships with them.
During the course of the 2007 Show, over 7,000 tracts and 100 Gospels and New Testaments were distributed to people as well as other Christian literature. Many contacts have been made with people who had various misconceptions about Christianity. Discussions were encouraging and contacts are now being followed up. One contact has started to attend meetings at a local assembly.
This is only one of the agricultural shows around the country at which a Christian outreach is present. We would ask you to pray for this type of work as many people who would not otherwise have had any significant Christian contact have been reached.