This month a number of people in the East Midlands feel a gap in their lives. It was at this time we got ready for July’s Royal Show at Stoneleigh. Equipment had to be checked, volunteer forms completed and a training day held.
The witness began in 1971 as an outreach from Christians at Work (Workers’ Christian Fellowship). One purpose was to give WCF members training in talking to people about the gospel. Each year, a team of 20-30 was accommodated in the homes of Christians within reach of the showground.
At first, the witness was based in a tent, but from 1976 a building of timber and steel cladding was erected annually. In 1985 the venture was taken over by a group of churches in the East and West Midlands under the name of Town and Country Christian Witness. Its organisation became more sophisticated.
The wooden construction used was replaced by a marquee for over 60 people sitting at tables. Under the able and imaginative leadership of Ray Nash, and with the support of trustees, the witness flourished. Each year around 70 volunteers came, mainly from East Midlands churches.
Literature was prepared that presented the gospel in an agricultural setting. For four days, free drinks were offered and hundreds of people chatted with. Many heard about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those with deep problems found sympathetic ears and loving hearts, and a solution different from those they had heard before. Sometimes they were put in touch with specialist support. Eternity alone will reveal how many thousands were introduced to gospel truth, and how many Christians learned to be better witnesses.
This continued from 1971 until 2009, except for 1975 (illness) and 2001 (foot and mouth). Then, in 2009 the Royal Agricultural Society of England announced that the Royal Show in its present form would cease. In the amazing providence of God, just a few weeks before the last occasion, the Lord unexpectedly called home Ray Nash.
As we remember all this, and especially Ray’s devoted contribution, we give God glory for all that was accomplished.