Tony Dye says chaplaincy is not just an add-on concept. It’s considered to be integral to the services offered at VisionWest.
“Everyone here’s a minister, but I get to be a bit more upfront in matters of faith.”
As part of programmes like the workskills module at Mahi Ora, Tony hosts for the students a weekly lunch and discussion with a DVD course called Ordinary Heroes, which examines the role of faith and courage in the lives of regular people.
“People who come to Mahi Ora are referred here by WINZ if they’ve been out of work for six months or more.
“The faith approach is our point of difference which we’re really enthused about. Because we are a faith-based organization we try to keep that out in front in our dealings with clients – not to force faith and our beliefs onto clients, but as a positive influence for good.
“In my time here I have offered to pray with scores of people who come across our services and I can’t think of a single time I have been turned down – it seems a natural part of dealing with people and their challenges.
“People say they can sense a real compassion. They begin to see us as a community that they can trust.
Tony cites a story from one person he has connected with in his chaplaincy role.
“One guy, a Maori man, comes to mind – part of his journey has been learning to identify with his culture and he has responded well.
He had some difficult decisions to make … quite crucial decisions really some of them, including getting his daughter out of a bad environment where there was alcohol involved.
He writes concerning his experience with VisionWest:
I now have enough support systems to empower me. to right the wrongs. So grateful to the team at Vision West. What started as a course of employment has unwittingly been a course of new beginnings pertaining to my life, and that of my daughter.
Though my journey of self-discovery has just begun, I realise the enormity of the task ahead to achieve the achievable.
The difference is that I have direction with a purpose. This has only came about because I was fortunate enough to ask for help and by being in the right place at the right time with VisionWest and the Baptist Church collectively. How grateful I am to all the people involved in the kaupapa.