In 1975 a vision was written on the hearts of a newly spirit-filled couple, Roy and June Hendy: the vision they felt called to was to start a residential community. However, their own attempts to do this bore no fruit and they gave up hope of it ever happening. Then, in unexpected ways, God began to do it.
One by one, strangers joined their family: young offenders, homeless people, including alcoholics, unmarried mothers . . . all living in their large, comfortable family home with Roy and June’s children (then aged 10-17). These were days of great fervour, painful mistakes and exciting miracles. But out of this chaos the community known as House of the Open Door (HOD) was born.
“…Where brothers dwell in unity, there God commands a blessing” (Psalm 133)
By 1978 Roy and June’s family home was bursting at the seams and it was necessary to find a bigger house. One day someone came across an ad in the local newspaper for a house for sale in a quiet corner near the centre of Slough. It was big and cheap, and with a few financial miracles, in August 1978 the extended family moved into a twenty-bed roomed, dilapidated house in Slough with rotten floorboards, damp walls and paneless windows. (This is the date we think of as the start of our Community.)
Despite the mess, families and single people who were attracted to what they saw happening began to join us. Over the next twelve years, as the house was restored, God also worked at restoring our lives, building up a praying, committed Community, as well as blessing and repairing many who came and went. Those of us who stayed and made HOD our home, found that God was forging a unity which we soon realised could only be sustained by our prayer-life and our “family” life together. Eating, praying, relaxing, working together provided ample opportunity to grow in generosity of heart as we shared the “nitty-gritty” of our lives. In it all, whether staying at home to cook and clean or going out to earn a salary for the “common purse”, our desire was to have our hearts focused on Jesus.
During these formative years the seeds were sown of various ministries: music and drama, leading worship, youth work, prison visiting, teaching and preaching, a discipleship training course, and other practical giftings such as pottery and crafts.