Our founding story
by Reverend John Proctor, Alabaré Chairman
In 1985, in the early days of the Alabaré Christian Community, we had moved to Wilton and established an ecumenical House of Prayer. We had not been around very long when we received a phone call from the local Baptist minister asking if we could provide accommodation for a homeless man.
My first reaction was one of total surprise and I was lost for words. I recall asking, “Why us?” The response came, “Well, you are a Christian Community, aren’t you?” This had never been a part of our vision but we wanted to be truly ecumenical and work with the local Christian churches so I heard myself saying “Yes.”
My wife came alongside and started asking me questions, so I enquired a little further. To my horror I discovered that this homeless man was an alcoholic man of the road. I immediately retorted, “Well, aren’t you a Christian Community?” meaning his church, and he said, “Well, yes, but we have all tried these past two years and no one else is prepared to do any more”. You can imagine I felt even worse about what I was committing my family to. I immediately began searching for excuses as to why it was not be suitable. We had three young children all under five. We were both working full time. We had no experience in this area.
In the end we took Bob in to live with us on the one condition he would not drink while he was with us. Bob spent two years with us on and off and became a great friend of the children. We discovered he was just another man with a fist full of problems. On a good day he was great; on a bad day it was difficult. Eventually Bob moved on to a treatment centre.
Within a week we were asked to take in an expectant mother, Mary, whose husband had been sent to jail. And so it continued until we felt we could do no more. Our jobs and our family were too demanding to afford the time that was necessary. After a year of prayer and reflection we embarked on an Appeal to raise the funds to buy a home in which we could accommodate these referrals. That was the birth of Alabaré Christian Care Centres which later became Alabaré Christian Care & Support.
Had we known at any stage along the journey what was in store for us we would certainly have said no at every step. Why? We would not have felt qualified. We would not have the time. But looking back God has journeyed with us every step of the way, and we can see his hand at work in the lives of so many people whom we have helped and who have helped us.
"I was in a really bad place when I met you. I was only 21 and I didn’t know what to do. Being pregnant was scary enough, but with my husband in prison, and being evicted from our home, I didn’t know where to turn. I had no family and no money. But you took me in and gave me that lifeline. Now my son is grown up and has a family of his own, his own house and a good job. Alabaré gave me the strength and hope to realise that I could take control of my life and build a future for myself." Mary