During the 1st and 2nd of June 2018 Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry and his family were invited to attend the
weekend event of the 'Big Church Day Out' at their Chesire event.
If you’re not familiar with the Big Church Day Out (BCDO) is the UK’s largest annual gathering of believers at an event which they say 'creates a space
for all denominations and ages to gather each year for two exciting days of worship and celebration'. Their website tells us:
"BCDO is held on two sites - Wiston House in West Sussex and Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire. In 2018, BCDO South celebrates its 10th event, plus we will
be returning to Cheshire for BCDO North’s second year. The Big Church Day Out has grown year after year, and in 2018 we will be expecting around 40,000
to come together over both the North and South events.
Whatever your age, denomination or musical taste, everyone is welcome to the join us at the Big Church Day Out for an amazing time away with your friends
and family, creating memories together that you will never forget."
One of the main reasons that Mr Chowdhry and his family were invited to the event was to see how the event operates and to discuss ways in which the
organisers could introduce Christians from Asian backgrounds to attend.
During their time at the event the Chowdhry's experienced a rousing and spiritually uplifting concert with some of the UK's largest Christian performers
including London Hillsong and Matt Redmond. International Gospel stars like For King and Country, Kari Jobe, Crowder and Travis Greene and of
course many others. Mr Chowdhry was shocked at the scale of the event with a total of 5 stages including one managed by UCB the UK's largest
Gospel radio station. Dozens of performers kept a weekend crowd of 25,000 people engaged with, rejoicing and praising God.
Food stalls of most varieties were available except for Asian food which may be a consequence of their low attendance from this demographic. Mr Chowdhry
was disappointed to see his family were the only Asian Family on the 1st of June and one of 4 Asian families on the 2nd of June all of the other Asian
families being of Indian descent.
A large arena of information, charitable and other Christian stalls helped make the event one that was extremely informative and useful. No doubt
creating a huge number of referrals for the NGO's and Charities present.
The day was also a great day for family fun and wider togetherness with opportunities to ride on a traditional carousel or Ferris wheel. Rock climbing,
short football in a small rubber enclosure or bubble football were some of the many fun and engaging activities available to visitors.
A children's marquee ensured that children gained Gospel teaching at a level appropriate for them and had the usual painting and creative arts activities
that aid learning while making the process an enjoyable one for them.
Most importantly the event also provided a place for Christians to buy clothing, household goods and other products with a Christian logo, theme or
message and an opportunity to buy the latest Gospel music and videos to help
Mr Chowdhry was able to see for himself the low Asian turnout at the event, which has no discriminatory practice that could cause such disinterest,
and has agreed to help the organisers attract more of our community to this wonderful event.
We will be working with the organisers to ensure that Asian Christians are given an opportunity to perform at the event. It is also our aim to
promote the event through this blog and various other media to encourage Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and other diverse Christians to try out the
event and become part of the wider Christian family with more zeal. We also hope to hold a BPCA stall at the event and will keep statistics of
the growing attendance of members of our community over the next few sets of events.
Mr Chowdhry, said:
"It is a shame that this event has been ignored inadvertently by the Asian community as BCDO certainly unites Christians of all denominations and brings them together under one platform.
"The event is one that could definitely do with some more cultural Christian performances, not just to increase the diversity to better reflect the real fabric of the Christian Church in the UK but to allow people to hear the word of God spoken in a range of international languages, reminding us all of how powerful our God really is.
"Pakistani and other Asian Christians must participate in events like this which not only allow our community to be recognised - removing the myth that only Muslims live in Pakistan - but also helps us to build the necessary bonds with our other brothers and sisters in Christ that we might grow out of our cultural norms and expand our understanding of Christ."
"I have been to a New Vine event before and it almost put me off large scale Christian concerts for good. One of the guest speakers encouraged visitors to sing the note E telling us that humming or singing the note in unison would somehow bring us closer to God, an event which disturbed my wife and I so much we left 3 days early having already paid for a full five days.
"The solid scriptural teaching at BDCO was unquestionably more spiritually sound than other experiences I have had at large gatherings. Moreover a comment by a young performer for London Hillsong when he said, 'I have not come here to entertain anyone but to praise God,' was for me a defining moment. People were in that moment drawn closer to God; it stopped being about the music and forced attendees to look at themselves introspectively as their hands reverently reached out to God in their desire to worship Him.
"We prayed, we praised and now most of all - we want to do it again, but this time we want to gather more of our brothers and sisters so together we can all give God a gift of praise, as He is so worthy. "
BPCA will endeavour to bring what we can to BCDO to inspire the Asian Christian community to come out and join other Christians, but in the meanwhile we would encourage you to learn more by viewing their website (click here)
Aid to the Church in Need held an information stall - their work for Pakistani Christians has been a real blessing.
You don't need to be a detective to know BCDO is a good idea!