Dear Inner Circle,

This year has been a bit of a dog of a year, in that it has felt like it has stretched itself out over seven in human years. To make up for this we will be stretching out Christmas Day over seven days, in the week prior to Christmas and it will be filled with all the Wayside Christmas love, hope and joy that we can possibly cram into it. We are doing this to make sure that everyone has a seat prepared for them at our table. In a year where numbers of guests will be strictly limited, we are preparing a space where everyone will be received equally as a distinguished guest.

My first job out of high school got off to quite an unexpected start. I had just completed year 12 and was looking forward to a few months of doing nothing. My dad reassured me that he wouldn’t be financing that option and announced that he had gotten me a job underpinning and re-blocking houses. I had no idea what that was, but soon learnt that it was about restoring the foundations of houses that were collapsing. It was tough work but, in many ways, even though I no longer work with grout and jackhammers, it set me on a path towards my future, except instead of helping to build houses, it has been about lives.

There’s nothing more worrying than holding up someone who has faced a series of battles as now being an icon of transformation. It moves someone from being a subject and locks them into being an object for adulation. Placing anyone on a pedestal is putting them in a position from which they can only fall.

Yet we delight in walking alongside someone whose life is moving towards better days and good health, assuring them that we value the person over their progress and reminding them that we would much rather be lost with them, than saved without them. Love is a gift freely offered with no guarantee of success.

There is however a young man moving around us with a twinkle in his eyes. He’s our quiet Christmas miracle.

The first time we met, he was in the middle of some of his very darkest days of a decade living on the streets. I recall being with him one day while he was in a stupor, lost in the grip of grief after the loss of his partner. His was a life that had seen him move from the stability and love of family, through to caring for a sick parent, a marriage breakdown, job loss, and then the death of a partner that skittled him all the way to the streets. The strong foundation that had once existed, was now crumbling away. After a harrowing decade on and off the streets, our workers helped him into emergency accommodation during the Coronavirus lockdown. This was a joint effort between our Community Services Centre staff and volunteers who loved him through his worst days and our Outreach teams who supported him during his stay in a hotel. Gaining stability and safety back into his life was a catalyst to enable him to gain the rest he needed and the strength to start on his own journey towards recovery. With our teams walking beside him, he has now moved through to permanent housing which has become a true home where he feels comfort and continues to heal. To the point where, this Christmas, for the first time in over a decade, he will celebrate with his family because he is no longer ashamed of his own situation. Miracles don’t occur with a magic spell and a flash of smoke around here, they grow, slowly, sometimes over years. Thank you for your love and support, that helps us walk this narrow, winding, and, sometimes tenuous path. We could not do it without you.

With just two weeks until Christmas, we want to continue to create these miracles this festive season and beyond. Your generosity enables us to be here day after day for our vulnerable members of the community, and to be there for however long it takes. Please, make a Christmas gift today. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

Donate to our Christmas Appeal today

Thank you, our beloved Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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