The Emergency Services Show 2019
For those not already aware, the Emergency Services Show is an exhibition event held over two consecutive days each year in September. Thousands of delegates from across the UK converge on the Birmingham NEC to see exhibitors show off the latest, greatest and most essential equipment and resources for Emergency and Rescue Services. As the Christian Ambulance Association (CAA) has sought to widen its reach since being established about three years ago, this event appeared to be a worthwhile opportunity to put ourselves out there as the first national organisation to support Christians in the UK Ambulance sector.
Any doubts as to whether introducing CAA at the Emergency Services Show (ESS) was a good idea or not were soon dispelled, and a steady stream of visitors attended our exhibition stand over the two day event. Many engaged in a wide range of conversations, many others outside of the Ambulance Service were surprised to see us there; this in itself led to some wonderful discussions, and even a time for prayer - initiated by staff from the Police and Fire Commissioner’s Office in Derbyshire! One of the most encouraging aspects of attending the event - other than raising the profile of CAA and the subsequent increases in our membership - was that our presence was seen to be a real encouragement to others. This was something we had greatly underestimated and definitely challenged us to “believe God for more” in terms of our expectations around what He wanted to do in and through us there.
Another unexpected opportunity was the offer of presenting a seminar on behalf of the group. As a group we hadn’t really considered (initially) that we might be welcomed to speak on such a national platform so soon, but this could not have been further from the truth. Feedback from the organisers was overwhelmingly positive, with particular appreciation being shown for our support of their theme for this year - staff health and wellbeing. Of the 30-35 people that attended our seminar, a handful really engaged in our Q&A session (hosted by Simon); this followed on from a brief presentation of my own experiences as a Christian in the Ambulance service, the important place faith has in the workplace and the importance of valuing community within the workplace too. Responses at the time, and follow-up feedback from the organisers, really valued our approach of vulnerability and drawing on personal experiences in order to build bridges and share common ground around the area of faith, health and well-being. There were no objections to the gospel message, the Name of Jesus or direct affirmation of God’s love being mentioned in passing - it was an incredible privilege to point to Christ in those moments, and ones which we pray bear much fruit in building His Kingdom in the years to come! One lady who attended the seminar later told us that she’d been messaging her friends in Texas, USA, about the encouragement she’d received from our seminar - so the reach was definitely far wider than we could have anticipated!
Encouraged by these responses, we are going to be attending next year’s ESS, which is being held on 23rd and 24th September 2020 - so make it an early date for your diaries! To maximise our time at the event, we are looking to set aside a time for worship, praise and testimony during the evening of the 23rd September 2020 in a nearby church venue. Planning for this is very much in its infancy, but we will continue to keep you updated with how that’s progressing. If anyone would be willing to help out with any of the planning and preparation for next year’s events (or our attendance at the ESS itself), then it would be great to hear from you! There’s a lot involved in the months leading up to and during the event itself, and it would be great to share some of those tasks that presently fall upon a small number of people. Even by taking on a small part, it really does help to share the workload; so even if you only have a few hours to spare, please get in touch with us at the usual CAA mailing address.
Attending the ESS was a step into the unknown for us this year, and yet, God provided for us throughout the event in so many ways. We have so much to give thanks for to God, we were and are truly blessed.
We now have a stock of Newsletters and Business Cards, so if anyone can make use of them then please drop us a line and we'll get them out to you to help promote CAA where you are.
Ben (Paramedic, London Ambulance Service). https://twitter.com/ChristianAmbUK and http://www.christianambulancenetwork.com/