Where it all began
The Salvation Army first began work in the Macquarie Park community in September 2001 when Craig and Danni Stephens, members of the Ryde Salvation Army Corps (church) compelled by the sacrifical love of Jesus Christ, decided to approach the Local Area Commander of Ryde Police with a simple but powerful question ... how could The Salvation Army best serve the City of Ryde, in other words howm could the local church best add value to the local community?
Enter the Ivanhoe Estate
Ryde Police quickly directed them to the Ivanhoe Estate, the largest area of Public Housing in the City. This estate had been on the radar of the local police for many of the wrong reasons, with high rates of crime, violence, property damage and drug related crime all happening in its vicinity. Many elderly residents reported feeling unsafe to leave their homes afetr dark, and the incidence of emergency services call outs was high. The estate was full of beautiful individuals and families doing their very best, but without doubt the Ivanhoe Estate was a community facing significant challenges.
A vision becomes reality
In their first drive into the Ivanhoe Estate, the Stephens were amazed at what they discovered. Weeks before whilst in a time of prayer they had seen a picture in their mind, as clear as day. The picture was of a house, a very specific design and colour of house. As they drove into the community they were amazed to find that almost every property exactly resembled the house they had seen whilst in prayer weeks before they had ever stepped foot into the estate. It was obvious that God was in this endeavour and had led them to be in this place. But now the real work was about to begin.
Getting to know the nieghbourhood
In the Ivanhoe Estate, The Salvation Army had found a community in need of love, support, care and freedom. The work began immediately as The Salvation Army began meeting tenants, hosting neighbourhod BBQ's, running movie nights, working to build community and trust. But the challenge remained that desite the best efforts of the Stephens and other voluteers as soon as they would run a postive and meaningful event, they would pack up, get in their car, and drive 'home' which was outsude the estate. It quickly became apparent that to truly support the community to find freedom that a greater commitment would need to be made. The Salvation Army would need to literally move in to the community.
A bold request
A radical decision was made. The Salvaton Army should approach the Department of Housing (now Housing NSW) and request the lease of a property with the express purpose of housing a live-in mission, a family who love, serve and be responsive to needs of the community. A request was made and no more than four weeks later the green lights was given. A miracle had happened and a commitment was made that the next available town house in the Ivanhoe Estate would be leased to The Salvation Army.
No 47 is born
That town house would be 47 Ivanhoe Place, right at the bottom of the Ivanhoe Estate and in September 2001 The Salvation Army picked up the keys and the Stephens family moved into the neighbourhood. Over the last 12 years the community of Macquarie Park has transfomed. The lives and stories of the residents tell a tale of freedom through faith in Jesus, freedom through community formation, and freedom through love in action. The Stephens family have since moved on to continue helping people find freedom from addiction on the Central Coast. But the story doesn't end there. Nathan & Karen Moulds now team lead the work of The Salvation Army in Macquarie Park and are no less committed to the Ivanhoe Estate and the families and neighbours who call it home.