Church Link News: June 2014
Welcome to the June edition of the Church Link News. This addition to our monthly Alabaré Network News is written specifically to honour and thank our church congregation supporters who share our dedication to our vision of “a society where everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a fulfilling life”.
As you have just read, we start this month's communication on a sad note as we say GOODBYE to our Senior Chaplain Canon Jonathan Martin. He has been a nurturing force in Alabaré's spiritual path, and will be greatly missed. We hope that you will keep in touch Jonathan!
A Last Word From Our Senior Chaplain
Barbara welcomed me as I arrived at the Drop In at Trowbridge yesterday. I have no idea who she is, but along with her colleague in a wheelchair she gave me the warmest of welcomes. The place hums. As I fell up the stairs you could smell the food cooking, and the first offer I received was of a cup of tea from volunteer chaplain Barrie, who was busy fixing a brew for visitors and staff alike. I sat down and enjoyed the privilege of a natter with 3 or 4 gentlemen who clearly regarded this place as home, and it felt like home in spite of the difficulties. Volunteers and staff cooking food, visitors chatting , eating, reading newspapers, a place with a generosity of spirit that was broad enough to embrace many.
I’d come to complete the induction process for our volunteer chaplaincy team, Barrie and Dorothy, so I went through to the office to catch up with Heather and Kelly. As ever the office was a hive of activity, with people and dogs popping in and out to make phone calls, seek advice, and get direction. Yes this was definitely home, a place of welcome, of hospitality, and guidance that was dispensed with love. I could see Jesus sitting back and enjoying the moment.
As a chaplain I think I know my place most of the time. Customers first, my business – completing the induction process of new chaplains, second. There seemed to be a lull, so I seized the moment. All was well, thank God. Chaplains and team understood each other; the chaplaincy team were certainly finding their feet, including investigating some realistic options for the relocation of the Drop In.
The view from staff was that the numbers of the homeless were definitely on the rise, in a very significant way, an increase of 20 or so over the last few months was the number we talked about. As we chatted in came the Mayor of Trowbridge, Councillor David Halik, who is hugely supportive of Alabaré, having taken part in the recent sleepover. David had very recently presented Alabaré with an award for ‘Service to the Community’. These words described why Alabaré were nominated and won the Award. ‘Alabaré provides a vital resource for people who are homeless or financially vulnerable in Trowbridge. People who go there can always be greeted by a ready smile, a listening ear and a hot meal. The volunteers who help run the drop in centre are extremely caring and dedicated people and very often ask for no reward for themselves. There is a genuine need in Trowbridge for this type of resource and we would like to encourage and support them in their invaluable work.’
In Riverside House a bell has been hung. It is rung when we need to gather together to celebrate. I think the bell should be rung again and again for Trowbridge Drop in Centre. It should be rung in celebration and thanksgiving, that in spite of the difficult conditions, so very many are being given the opportunity to live fulfilling lives.
Meet the Trowbridge Chaplains
Hi, we are Reverends Barrie and Dorothy Dearlove, who have taken over as Chaplains at the Drop in Centre in Trowbridge. We are Yorkshire born and bred, and proud of it. So what are we doing in Trowbridge you may ask? Our testimony of how God has saved, restored and moved us around is a very long story, so will be very brief.
I, Dorothy was not raised in a Christian environment, but had loving parents. Sometime in the 80’s I started attending church, and came to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour in 1992.
I, Barrie, started attending the Methodist Church around the age of 20 but didn’t come to know Jesus really until I was 56, through a place called Hollybush Christian Fellowship, in North Yorkshire.
In 1994, we were both attending Hollybush, where the Lord brought us together and we married in April 1996. In 1998, we followed the Lord’s leading to move to Canada to attend Bible College for formal training, leaving our home, families and all our possessions to follow Him. Returning to UK in 2002, we became involved in working with addicts at Teen Challenge, a Christian rehab programme, based in South Wales. After this, we spent a few years as itinerant preachers before moving to Devon to live and work in a homeless unit near Barnstaple.
In 2005, we moved back to join our home church, Hollybush, and again worked in an itinerant capacity. Then in 2010, we felt the Lord was directing us move away again from all we knew and just follow His lead. The way opened for us to move to Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, a place we never knew existed. We again found ourselves being involved with homelessness, this time as volunteers with young people’s hostels in Trowbridge. It was at one of these places where we met Mike Bateman (he was delivering bread to the hostel; I saw the Christian fish symbol in his car and spoke to him). Liz and Mike became good friends as we worked towards helping the homeless in Trowbridge.
Liz then introduced us to the Chaplaincy of Alabaré, and when she and Mike decided to move house, asked if we would take over at the Drop in Centre in Trowbridge. It is a role that we have fitted into very easily, and been accepted very well. We can now see how the years of our working with addicts and the homeless, as well as helping out in church life, has been preparing us for this work. Homelessness is never a straight forward issue, and the people we meet all have their stories. Most of the time you feel helpless and wish there was so much more you could do, but the people we meet and minister to just need to feel accepted, be treated as ‘normal’ and to know the love of God for them. Our role is to come alongside the clients, share a cup of tea and a chat. We can’t solve their housing problems, but can listen and show empathy.
As we open our hearts to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He shows us how to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Jesus walked amongst the rejects of society and ministered to all who came to him. Most of the people who come into Drop in Centres don’t come through the church door. Jesus touched lepers, helped blind beggars, and loved the unlovable. We are just doing what He would have done whilst He walked the earth, and the rewards are to see the smiles on people that have no hope. To hear them say thank you to us for caring for them. We just keep telling them it is because God loves us that we can love them, and that He loves them too.
Barrie and Dorothy Dearlove
A hymn from the Junction
Ash attends the Junction in Andover, and is part of the Sound Wave music project. this is his performance of his favourite hymn;