A History of ‘The Haven’

Mark Lacey, Nassau, The Bahamas

Precious Seed

The Haven ministry to the chronically addicted in Nassau, Bahamas, was started by a group from the assemblies in Nassau, in 1986. It was the result of prayer meetings seeking God's guidance concerning the ravaging effects of the cocaine epidemic sweeping through The Bahamas at that time.

The Haven opened in 1988. Initially, it was not much more than a hostel, sheltering those under its roof and sharing the love of Christ with them. Gradually, a structured Programme emerged where by the addicted and alcoholic are ministered to in five main areas: mentally; physically; spiritually; academically; and vocationally.

The twelve-month residential Programme is split into two six-month periods. In the mornings of the first six months the students work through a weekly Bible study specifically prepared for them. Apart from the spiritual benefits this weekly study helps to improve their concentration, memorization, problem-solving abilities and literacy skills. Also during the morning periods each student is counselled by the Director. Group Sessions are held for students to express their views and to listen to those of their fellow students.

In the afternoons of this first phase the students find practical therapy and gain practical skills from The Haven's Carpentry Workshop where they produce a range of patio furniture. These products are ordered by the major hotels, Government Ministries and the general public. The profits partially assist the overheads of The Haven. (The main financial burden being provided by faith in the Lord.) Each student is also taught to cook and maintain his personal laundry and private space.

The following six months begins the return of the student back to society. Help is given in securing full-time employment, establishing a home assembly and the reestablishment of family relationships, if possible. This is the time when the 'tools' taught in Phase One to the students are put into practice and the effects overseen by The Haven staff. The student is still living at The Haven but enjoys an increasing amount of liberty to pursue his plans for integrating himself back into the community. Finally, upon graduation, the student's friends and family are invited to a graduation ceremony held at The Haven's home assembly in Nassau, Shirley Heights Gospel Chapel. These are great times of testimony to what the Lord has done in the student's life since entering The Haven Programme. It is also an opportunity to preach the gospel to the unsaved and to hand over the graduating student to his assembly and the charge of its elders.

Since the inception of The Haven Programme the Lord has richly blessed the efforts of those who had a burden and vision for the addicted and alcoholic and many have come to know the Lord as their Saviour through the Programme. Many have been returned to society as Christian husbands, and fathers and are active in their assemblies and youth groups.

The best way to sum up the 'success' rate of The Haven Programme is to recall the parable of the sower, his seed and the soils in Matthew 13 verses 1-9. The successes of the students at The Haven are as mixed as those in the parable! Many who prematurely leave the Haven Programme, for varying reasons, often return several months, or even years later, to work the Programme again. One student returned seven times before graduating and going on to serve the Lord full-time while another, found on the city dump, went straight through the Programme and is now a member of staff at The Haven. Yet another student stayed only one week yet his experience of the love of Christ at The Haven led him to the Lord and he has never looked back.

To date The Haven has been housed in an old borrowed four-bedroomed clapperboard house in the inner-city area of Nassau. Ten years ago The Haven was told that the family who owned the house wanted to sell the land and building for redevelopment. Since then plans have formed to move and expand the ministry on to a new site of its own.

A search led to a property that was an old brickworks south of the city. A walled acre and-a-half of property, with a two-story building in reasonable condition but dilapidated outbuildings was found and was felt to hold great promise and potential. The Lord's hand was clearly seen in the negotiations and the deposit required found and so the site was obtained for the new Haven. Here The Haven could double the residential capacity for its students, construct a purpose-built Carpentry Workshop and a Graduates' Residence, for those who have graduated but needed more time to return to the community, and land for new ministries as the Lord leads.

Progress toward the move to the new site is about 85% complete. Brass Tacks have sent personnel to assist in some of the major refurbishments and the students, staff and director have all been actively involved in the preparations of the new residential centre. The new Carpentry Workshop is also nearing completion.

The prayers of the Lord's people have been greatly appreciated as too their financial support The Haven would welcome new prayer partners to pray for these desperate souls and for the director and the staff as they seek to reach them for the Lord. Further details can be obtained from the director Mark Lacey by e-mailing laceymh@coralwave.com or through Echoes of Service.