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In March of 1983, Rev. Alan Berry wrote to supporters of the brand new Bethany Christian Trust, with plans to move into the first operational hostel...

Now and then... 40 years on.

As part of our 40th Anniversary commemorations, we present to you The First Bethany Letter, transcribed with formatting changes limited.

Prayer Letter No. 1 issued by Rev. A. Berry

March, 1983

Over the last 6 years I have become increasingly concerned about the tremendous accommodation problems that are present in a large city like Edinburgh. From the one extreme of the totally homeless who arrive at the manse to the other end of the spectrum of the anxious parent whose son/daughter is coming to the big city to study or work. People come on the telephone asking if we can help. So often the answer to those appeals is ‘I’ll try my best or I’ll pray about it’.

I could tell you of people who live in cubicles that would be considered restrictive for animals… or introduce you to men who for years have had to share a room with 4 or 5 with about one third the room that we had in the army, and a lot less privacy… or young folk who have been pushed from pillar to post all their lives because of parent marriage breakdown or deaths. I’m intentionally keeping these details vague for the sake of confidentiality but the needs are by no means vague. I am well aware of the fact that we cannot meet every need but it is my firm belief before God that we must move out in faith to meet some of them. With this in mind, a new Trust has been set up called Bethany Christian Trust. The name Bethany implies a ‘Place of Quiet Rest’ which was what Jesus found in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The Trust is independent of any particular church, but we hope it will be supported by many. After much prayer, planning and investigation the Trustees have taken a big step of faith. We have purchased a 10 room building in Casselbank Street, Leith. It have been used for some years as a commercial hotel and thus has planning permission for the use we have in mind. We have negotiated a price which includes furniture and equipment. The Hostel will be operated on the basis of an ‘extended christian family.’

Below are some important items for prayer:-

  1. The Lord has been very gracious in bringing us to an excellent young couple who are willing to serve the Lord in this venture. They are Mr. & Mrs. Miki Coiley who are members of South Leith Baptist Church. Mrs. Rosemary Coiley will be Warden. I know that she would greatly appreciate your prayers as they receive applications for residence and aim under God to set the tone of the hostel. Although this is meeting a physical need we see it as a spiritual work.
  2. As Trustees we have been amazed at how many details have to be sorted out. We take occupancy on 4th April, 1983 and a great deal of work needs to be done before then. We plan the official opening to be on Sat. 7th May, 1983 at 12 noon and would be delighted if you were able to be at this short informal ceremony.
  3. Finance. If you are interested in helping with this work then full details of the needs are available from any of the Trustees. We would greatly appreciate either outright gifts or Interest Free Loans.
  4. The Trust document and the Trustees have other far-reaching ideas in relation to the sad plight of some elderly folks, the unemployed, retired Christian workers etc. With your help we can reach these goals so much quicker.
  5. When the hostel opens we will also need to have a few volunteers to facilitate off-duty time for the Warden and holidays etc. These people too will have a share in setting the tone for the hostel. Pray that the right people come forward.

Thank you for reading this letter. Above all please pray that in every detail we may be sensitive to the Lord’s leading, not running ahead of Him nor lagging behind.

Yours in His Service,

Alan O. Berry

Read the original letter