Sometimes, the best way to help others is by getting them to help you. This is the basis for the ‘Occupational Therapy Department’ at Bont Elim Community Church in Pontarddulais. Pastor Jason Beynon gives us an insight into the work of the department and his own personal journey.
The Foyer, where I normally sit, has a massive cross in it and is right on the busy crossroads. The cross is well lit as a symbol to the local hurting world that, no matter what they are going through, there is always hope.
Twenty-seven years ago, I was a teenager with an alcohol problem and I did not have that hope. Despite holding down a job, I was drinking myself stupid behind the scenes. The very fellowship that I now pastor, loved me out of that addiction. I was told to be thankful for every new day, to live in the day and to stay positive by being with positive people doing positive things. It has worked. Some days are amazing and other days, even now, are very hard. I’ve learned to work through the waves, swim against the tide and stay safe on bad days.
They say that it takes one to know one and along the way, I have met with many like-minded people. Some have just gravitated to me, whilst others have been referred on by a mutual friend or someone who has come and witnessed the fruit of the Lord’s hand upon my life. I’m quick to stress, this is all as a result of God’s love for me. I’m the recipient of Amazing Grace. My hope is that people see me and see the love of Jesus shining through. I’m also hoping that while I dream big dreams and allow an amazing God to work in and through me, other people around me will actually have their lives changed by the fruit of the ongoing miracle that is taking place.
And so, we work. When we bought our current building in 2012, there was a lot of work to be done to allow us to fulfil our vision. We bring in tradesmen to do what we cannot do, but we do as much as we can ourselves by involving those who can be helped by keeping busy. In this way, much of the work on site is our ‘occupational therapy’. It keeps us sane and safe as we journey together, making a way where there appears to be no way. Many projects start with a quotation from an external builder. We then fall over with the enormity of a quote that we cannot afford and then the miracle starts. We have an amazing Elder and Treasurer (Mike), who sources the very best deals and obtains good quality materials at great prices. We smile nicely at tradesmen who gift us time and only get paid for part of their work while we, the willing occupational therapy department, provide the labour in between. Much of what visitors see in our ‘nearly finished’ building is evidence of hard work by volunteers. Imagine the feeling of wellbeing when sitting in the coffee house, declaring to a friend, “I painted that ceiling!”.
On the ‘Room 5’ project, the team emptied a thousand barrows of rubble into the skip before everyone else started to see the potential of a baptistry. At this time, the hole was six foot down, six foot across and nearly thirteen foot in length.
As we come to the end of renovating our building, we have a vision for continuing our occupational therapy work. With the help of some local businesses and gifts of raw materials, we propose to partially take down our out-buildings (in a former life, they were the external toilets), so that we can create our desired workshops. We currently have grant applications in for power tools to completely kit out these workshops with a production line for recycling old wooden pallets and using them to make bins and benches for local parks and public places. Along the way, this will provide a means for a group of us to have another chapter of our journey together as well as do something very worthwhile in the community.
It is the hope that along the way, some of those who come and volunteer will show a flare for carpentry. At this stage, we want to help them improve their skills at a local night-school as well as working with us. We pray that along the way, the miracle recipients will meet the Miracle Maker. This journey often starts with a desire of individuals to simply stay safe, do something positive, however it can result in friendships that remain for life, or better still, life-changing friendship with the Saviour.