Hope House is located at 7 Alexander Park on the Doury Road housing estate in Ballymena.
Originally constructed as an ordinary terraced house amongst rows of similar properties, this remarkable place is now anything but ordinary.
The words ‘HOPE HOUSE’ can be clearly seen by anyone who passes by. A mere glance suggests that it is a place where the weary may find rest, the broken in spirit can experience regeneration and people who are lost can meet the Saviour.
The project was opened by members of High Kirk Presbyterian Church four years ago and is run by the congregation’s Outreach Worker, Lorraine McAlister and her dedicated team of volunteers.
Many people had prayer walked the Doury Road estate in the years before and people in the fellowship felt that God was calling them take ‘church’ out into the community.
Talking about how Hope House began, Lorraine told us:
“We moved into the neighbourhood four years ago past in September, quite apprehensively because we weren’t sure how it would go. A Bible Study had been started during Christianity Explored in the home of a lady called Winnie Glass, who lives on the estate. We were sitting on the hearth in her house and after Christianity Explored, we continued that Bible Study.”
“Eventually, we moved it from Winnie’s into Hope House. The Bible study, which is the most important thing that we do takes place on a Thursday night. When we are all there, there are about 22 of us which is totally amazing”, she enthused.
“Hope House has become the bridge between the community and the Church.”
Lorraine took delight in telling us that, for many people, Hope House has become the bridge between the community and the Church.
“I have seen many people coming to faith which has been wonderful. Members of the Travelling Community who had never had a Bible in their hand before, have had their lives changed. That’s been amazing to see”, she added.
Hope House is always busy – with loads of activities happening almost every day.
Lorraine adds: “On Monday night, we have a Good News Club for the kids where they come in to do wee crafts and learn about Jesus. On Tuesday night, we are starting guitar lessons for primary school aged children, which will be taught by Willis McDowell and Bob McCahon.”
“We have had art classes and some of the completed pieces have been displayed at Clothworthy House and Antrim Castle. We have also created a lovely elephant for the memorial garden. I have seen people who never thought they would be able to do anything get the confidence to move forward and realise that their life has a worth and a value.”
She went on to say: “We have a drop in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. People just drop in for tea, coffee, toast and a chat. They cry, laugh, we pray together; they come with problems in the knowledge that Hope House is a safe space for them for them to bring things before our great God. We have had flower arranging, healthy eating classes and walking classes – it has been amazing to see God at work.”
A monthly Praise Service can be attended by as many as 60 people with a forthcoming housing-led regeneration programme certain to bring even more opportunities for outreach in the area.
Enthusiastic about the future, Lorraine said: “For many years, the Doury Road has been known as a place that is beset by drug use and other social problems and needs. However, I really believe that God’s spirit is moving on that estate and we want to see more and more people coming to know Jesus.”
For more information on High Kirk Presbyterian Church, visit their website here.