The Edinburgh Tattoo takes place every year at Edinburgh Castle and brings with it hundreds of bandsmen, soldiers and artists alongside the many thousands of people who come to see it take place. This year the Tattoo's showpiece event is set to pay tribute so our Patron HM the Queen's 90th birthday.
This year I was helping ASR Murray and Scottish Area Representative John Surtees run the SASRA rest room at the barracks where rehearsals take place. We run a small cafe where people can get free cups of tea or coffee with some home baking, or various other refreshements for sale. We had some books on tables alongside a stand at the side of the room, which included Bibles, tracts and other Christian literature, which included our most recent publication SASRA at the Somme.
The building was ideally positioned just off the main practice drill square so that soldiers and others taking part were able to pop in on short breaks, or to sit and relax on the longer ones. The first day was quiet with around 40 people coming into the rest room. We were able to have a few good chats with those who were using the room as a staging area for their work, such as the audio team. As it was quiet I decided to take the opportunity to visit members of the Scots Guards Regimental Support team and was able to tell them a bit about the work of a Scripture Reader and about the SASRA rest room. We got into other conversations, which led on well to being able to talk about the Gospel. I also met a number of soldiers from my old unit, a number of whom I knew from my time serving, who came to use the rest room and benefit from a free cup of coffee. It was a really great opportunity to be able to share my testimony with them and explain the Gospel.
The Tattoo sees many nations take part every year and this year there were bands from New Zealand, Norway, Jordan, Canada, alongside highland dancers from Scotland, and the Imps Motorcycle Display team.
ASR Murray and I had many conversations with members from these bands and groups. Most notable were the Imps who all come from London and are aged between 5 and 18. Many of them come from deprived backgrounds and had little or no contact with the church so hadn't heard the Gospel. We were able to give them Bibles, tracts and other books which they promised to read. They were so polite and thankful, and took a real shining to Kay (ASR Murray's wife), who built up a great rapport with them. Two of their adult leaders told us about how thankful they were for SASRA being at the Tattoo and spoke highly of their experiences with SASRA and former Area Representative Iain MacDonald, who had looked after them over the years.
One of the days, two Norwegian officers came in and had a chat with us. One of them was a Christian and took a booklet entitled 'What is a Christian?'. Over the three days I was at the SASRA rest room we saw hundreds of different people come for a tea or coffee. There were many short chats about the Gospel, with a good number of longer conversations about faith matters and the Christian message. The opportunities to share the Gospel with the assortment of bands and soldiers is rare, even for a Scripture Reader, as the bands often travel and are rarely in camp so the Tattoo really does provide a unique opportunity to reach these men and women. Please pray that God would water the seeds sown during our time in the SASRA rest room.
ASR Gavin Dickson