From travelling by train to walking the streets of the Becontree Estate, Jeff Potter’s journey continues.
Still carrying the good news of Jesus, Jeff settles into a different kind of ride than he’s used to. For twenty years, he’s worked the railways as a chaplain, but his feet are now busy familiarising themselves with the uniform streets and avenues of the world’s largest council housing estate.
Heaven with the Gate Open
Built in the 1920s to clear the East End slums and as housing for soldiers returning from WW1, nearly 30,000 homes provided many of their residents with running water, indoor toilets and private gardens for the first time…One residents’ mother likened the estate to ‘Heaven with the gate open’.
Dudley Moore, Max Bygraves and the former Archbishop of Canterbury all hail from Becontree, though the area was dubbed Corned Beef City due to the remaining poverty of its community. Efforts were made by the council to keep a high standard of behaviour by enforcing regulations such as keeping gardens neat and hanging lightbulbs near the front windows of bedrooms to prevent inappropriate shadows being seen from the street!
The Ford factory provided most of the jobs in the area but since its closure in 2013, unemployment is high. Still under-resourced in social amenities like schools, shops and other communal facilities, this huge estate has never quite met the dreams of the town planners.
Heaven’s Gate is Open
Jeff is now following in the steps of many before him as Team Leader for Bethel Christian Centre. Instead of walking along a platform to chat with a conductor, he’ll be walking up a path to ring on a residents’ front door.
Jeff is glad of the new journey he is on...
The work is a joy and the team are a great encouragement. I’ve noticed that the opportunities to speak of the Lord and give your own story of how you came to faith are far more abundant than when working in an industrial setting, which is a freedom I greatly appreciate.
On Thursdays, 30-40 residents come to Community Lounge for lunch, games and chat. The Bethel team know that only Jesus can meet the needs of a community: Heaven’s gate is open to all who believe and trust in the Gatekeeper.
Pray that as Jeff gets into stride, God guides his steps to many who need Jesus.