It was the summer of 2007. I clearly remember looking at this building as I stood in front of it. It was long and had glass doors running down the side of the building. The front seemed like a double door. It was nothing much to look at from the outside, except that it had a flight of steps leading to a brightly lit wide open double door. But what drew my attention was that every door was open wide and had light streaming through. It seemed as though the place inside was lit with a thousand lights and it exuded a happy and peaceful atmosphere. What was even more interesting was, there were people walking into the building with what looked like Bibles in their hands. I knew deep down in my heart that I was going to be a part of this building somehow somewhere…… How? I did not know at the time.
I saw the building again in 2010 and in 2011. Amazingly nothing had changed. It was still the same piece of architecture with the same peace and tranquility. I pondered how I would be connected to something as beautiful and peaceful as this. I just knew in my heart there was a deeper meaning and a purpose to this building and it somehow involved me.
I was walking the pathway that you see to the left of the picture. It was dusk and the lights had just come on around me. The pathways were lit with lamps that reflected the tranquility of the gardens. As I walked up the pathway I looked to my left and passing ‘The Retreat’ cottages I had an overwhelming peace. I said to myself, ‘The people are safe, every light is on and the people in the cottages are peaceful and resting free, from neglect and abuse.’ I carried on walking up the pathway and came to the centre and I stood before a flight of steps leading to a building with wide open double doors. It seemed bright and cheerful, in fact very peaceful. I peered in and observed that there were people sitting down meditating, some were just having a one to one discussion and it appeared to be that they were being ministered to. I wondered who owned the property as it had such a peace about it.
I decided to follow the path to my right and passed what looked like a farm. Something told me that this was a farm centre where people with varying abilities, physical, emotional and intellectual, undertook meaningful community work everyday to give back to the local community.
I kept on walking to my right and I realised that the pathway led me down to a ‘Community Cafe’. I saw people, those that were down and out, some poor, some with heavy hearts, some so focussed on eating their food as if there was no tomorrow, and some others sitting under trees with a care worker talking. All of them were eating bowls. It appeared they were eating soup and noodles. There they sat, lonely souls, but together, safe and at peace. There was such an intensity in the air with the people just eating their noodles!
There was a gentle breeze and I looked up to see lanterns hanging from the trees, throwing out a soft glow of yellow light. It seemed that the lanterns were at peace and danced happily in the wind. ‘Truly’, I said to myself, ‘this is some place! A ‘Sanctuary’ of some sort, a place of hope and refuge.’
Enjoying the still beauty of the place, I headed to the main pathway that led back to the centre building. The building stood like a fortress, at peace and bathed in light. I walked up to the roundabout at the centre of the driveway wondering who it belonged to and stood mesmerized by its presence. I thought ‘What a beautiful place, open 24/7!.’
While I stood there, a lady came up to me on my right. I actually did not see her approach me, she may have come from the garden centre. ‘This can be yours you know,’ she said. I looked at her not really knowing how to respond. ‘Really?’, I replied puzzled by her statement. I did not know who she was. I had never met her before. ‘Yes’, she replied. She proceeded to open the palm of my hand and placing a large silver key stated ‘This can be yours from tomorrow if you will only believe.’
I felt a tremendous excitement and a burden well up within me. But what was more astonishing was I realised that I was standing in front of the exact same building I had seen in 2007. I realised standing there with the key in my hand…that the task was a huge one. I turned to look to the lady that had given me the key as I had so many questions, but she had gone…………
I woke up with this excitement in heart!
It all made sense now. For so long I had searched for a purpose in my life. It had taken 5 years from the birth of the original vision to now for the full picture to be revealed. It made sense! The vision was for me to run with but I was going to need a team of people to catch the fire and believe they could benefit the West Australian community at large.
I looked at the time…. It was approximately 3 am on Friday 22 June 2012. I had the first thing to do now… To get my full vision down on paper…. to activate by faith what God had placed in my heart. …. Switching on my bed lamp, I retraced my steps on paper, remembering so vividly, the place, the trees, the wind blowing, the people, the light, the lanterns, the slurping sound of the noodles, the lady, the key ……..’The Sanctuary’!
Ps. Maria Daniel
Construction of Bethel Conference Centre – a centre for life-skills training and free education to members of the community
Consolidation of services currently operating from various locations into the Sanctuary
Consolidation of Joshie’s Hub which includes a learning centre for children with disabilities, petting farm and community garden
Community Kitchen development. The ongoing provision of non-perishable food currently undertaken will be extended to cooked food at the community kitchen for distribution to the homeless, marginalised families and individuals.
Manna Kitchen Manager
Media and Website Manager
Life Skills Coach
Community Education Program Coordinator
Community Food Outreach Coordinator
Services and Placement Coordinator
Janitorial Service Coordinators
Petting Farm Manager