– Tamara Neely
Heritage is not a word I have had much occasion to use, being a youngish sort of person.Â Sort of summons up ideas of old stately homes and a distinguished family tree â€“ also things I do not have much personal experience of. Â However, Iâ€™ve been resident here at the property owned by YWAM Harpenden for 12 years and in that time Iâ€™ve come to love the fact that when we acquired this place, we purchased more than a piece of land and some buildings: we acquired a history, and not an insignificant one at that. Â
Highfield Oval was originally built in the first decade of the 1900s as an orphanage. Â The 14 buildings around our drive were home to hundreds of needy children up until the 1970â€™s. Â Since YWAM has occupied these acres, we have had regular visits from former residents who have vivid memories â€“ both positive and negative – of the place.Â It can be an emotional experience â€“ one doesnâ€™t end up in an orphanage without some kind of trauma â€“ but also cathartic, and even a blessing, to return.Â
ÂI remember a roofer who came here on a job last year who was shocked to realize this was the place he lived as a baby, and that the sister who was in charge of his house, and was registered as his godmother still lived nearby.Â Another man found himself doing deliveries in Harpenden and came up to see if his old home was still standing.Â He had recently come out of a life of crime, having been dramatically saved in prison, and was astonished to find a community of believers living here. Â As someone involved in the management of YWAM Harpenden, it is such a privilege to feel we are caring for more than just bricks and mortar â€“ itâ€™s memories and heritage for many people.Â
ÂVisitors to Highfield Oval regularly comment on how peaceful it is here.Â Like those who built and originally managed this place, we donâ€™t always get it right, but our intention is to use this property for the glory of God and to see His purposes accomplished.Â Undoubtedly, it is the spirit of God residing here, in the hearts and history of those who have lived here and loved Him, which brings that peace.