Keith & Susanne Lewis write: Glyncoch is a community of some 1000 houses a couple of miles outside of Pontypridd a medium size town in the Welsh valleys. It was originally a council estate and the majority of the houses are still social housing. Within a few months of moving in we were invited to join the committee of the Tenants and Residents Association and since then we have worked with them on many small projects – brightening up the estate with flowers, hosting shows, arranging coach trips etc.
Over the last 3 and a half years we have found ourselves mostly drawn to working in partnership with other organisations on the estate – what Paul Keeble in his book calls “Mission With”. Our activities are very ordinary and low-key stuff, but these are things that are valued by the community and have helped us start to move from being incomers towards being seen as trusted members of the community. It has also been a period of listening and learning how thing work here, the different factions that exist and something of the grievances that have led to these groupings. We try to avoid being seen as part of any one faction and look for opportunities to work towards reconciliation.
Over time we have built up relationships which have in some cases started to move beyond the superficial to a deeper sharing of concerns. Early in 2018 the chair of the Tenants and Residents association, a woman much respected in the community, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Susanne had the privilege of drawing alongside her through the last 7 months of her life offering spiritual and practical help. In September we joined with many others from the community in helping to organise an event to remember her life and mourn her passing.
In January this year we learned that Susanne’s nephew had tragically died at the age of 26. It has been a very painful time but has led to us identifying more closely with the pain and anguish felt by many other families on this estate.
As summer approaches we are making plans for this year’s camping trips. This will be the third year when we have gone on holidays either for a week or a weekend with neighbours. While these are small scale (up to 8 adults and children joining us) they have been very special times of sharing life experiences together. Since none of the families have cars we have previously borrowed a church minibus for these trips. This minibus is no longer available (it died during our last trip) so we are looking for an alternative minibus at a reasonable cost.
Please pray for
● Reconciliation between the different factions.
● Greater participation of the community in working to address its needs and experience shalom.
● Someone who will lend/hire us their minibus.
● New families to join us camping this year.