THREE RIVERS – Deep in the dark of night, Dave Darling’s mind was fast at work.
His body was resting, and, for all practical purposes, he was asleep.
But he knows his mind kept poring over something that involved a mission.
And the word “haven” kept popping up.
When his body awoke, he knew what he had to do.
Darling defines haven: “It’s a refuge, a place for shelter.”
And the song, “The Haven of Rest,” also was high on his mind. The words of the song also hinted at what Darling had to do.
And recently, Olivia Parker offered to donate a large house at 203-205 Thornton St. to the Good Hope Baptist Church, the church Darling is the pastor of. She offered it because she had seen a project that Darling pushed to fruition – the Haven of Rest Community Mission, a mission that took two years to complete with the help of the entire community.
Darling said he, River of Life Pastor Auther Culpepper, Grace Fellowship Pastor Chris Walker (also pastor of the Whitsett Baptist Church) and Mike Pierson of the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce met for prayer.
And the vision of making apartments for the elderly, widows and widowers and the poor surfaced.
The prayer group visualized people sitting on the front porch enjoying the facility.
“We called Olivia Parker and said we would like to accept the gift,” Darling said.
“We are going to call it the Haven House,” he added.
“She gave it to us, and we went on a Saturday – we couldn’t get to the courthouse to get this done because it was closed,” he said.
Darling said they talked to Richard Dockery, a learned real estate man, who printed out all the documents for them.
Darling’s daughter-in-law served as a notary to verify the transfer of property.
“We got it done,” Darling said.
But the work is just beginning.
Darling likens the Haven House project to the Haven of Rest Community Mission, a similar project he and others took on two years ago.
“When we first looked at the mission, the floor was rotten and we’d fall through it. We had the Lord take control, and we had more than 25 volunteers, all by word of mouth,” he said.
Recently, the mission hosted a Christmas dinner that about 120 people attended. The dinner was followed by a Christmas concert on Dec. 30 – 82 people enjoyed the music.
Darling said he plans to have a grand opening for the mission in February.
“The Haven House is the same. We’ll give that property to the Lord. Our hearts are in it. We trust God to put it together for us,” Darling said.
He said the Lord works through people who donate their time, money or both.
He added that the rooms in the house already are set up to make apartments in the house.
“It will need to be leveled and redone. It has really high ceilings,” he said.
Air conditioning and electricians have advised Darling to lower the ceilings.
“I’m not 100 percent sure that’s what we are going to do for heating and cooling,” he said.
He added that he believes the old place dates back to the 1920s
“In back of the building, there is a garage apartment. We don’t need a garage, so we could take that out and create another apartment,” Darling said.
He said the building is solid with need of a little more electrical work.
“We want to make it safer,” he said.
He described a central large room where people could meet for dining and for Bible study.
“We would like for them to come together and share their needs,” he said.
“Today, people don’t sit at the table. When I was growing up, we sat down around the table. That was one of the things that was just a neat time for the family,” Darling said.
He noted that there is a washeteria area already on the building.
“Haven House will take a lot of help from volunteers – people getting involved,” he said.
A historical marker in front of the house recalls the 1948-49 Felix Longoria Affair. Darling said he checked with the Historical Commission and all his project is required to do is take care of the marker and keep the area around it trim and neat.
Darling said Mike Pierson will be instrumental in refurbishing the building.
“Mike is a good Christian friend we can share with,” he said.
Pierson’s connections to the federal prison will mean inmates doing a lot of the work.
“Mike will get the workforce together – he’ll see things we need; he’s a credible, awesome guy,” Darling said.
Currently, a dumpster is at the site, and cleaning up is under way.
“We have people living in poverty – man, it’s something else. I believe the church has to do something. I think the church needs to wake up and realize our responsibility,” Darling said.
“God will guide us for its best use,” Darling said.
“My great reward is I get to be part of something.”