Dear Inner Circle,

Many of us are finding breathing difficult at the moment, due to the smoke that is filling the air from the bushfires and we are feeling the ill effects of what we cannot see as the smoke and ash enters and changes our bodies. These particulates can trigger heart attacks, respiratory problems and strokes, so please spare a thought for the people in our city sleeping rough who have nowhere to shelter, and precious little to protect them from the effects of it all through the Christmas period. Our teams are working overtime doing the best to offer all the comfort and protection they can. As Christmas approaches, we see twice the desperation in people, and so our selfless staff and volunteers offer twice the love and care needed to see these people through this time. If you’re ever losing your faith in humanity, I invite you to quietly pop into our Wayside Chapel cafe and order a cup of tea, or join in on our community lunch – you might just see angels in action.

I recently caught up with a woman who used to be living on the streets. She told me how once around this time of year she had wandered up to Wayside feeling pretty low. Sitting in the cafe, she quietly cried into a cup of coffee and planned how she could end it all. She was armed with enough pills to kill five people and after her cuppa she was going to head down to Rushcutters Bay to lay down and fall asleep forever by the harbour. That’s when a beautiful unknown woman approached her and asked her if she wanted to talk. She didn’t but she persisted, and the chat was enough to make her forget her plans. Later on, when she asked around to try and find out who spoke with her, no one knew anyone who had fitted her description. Another man I consider a brother told me how many years earlier he was in a dark place around Christmas and had similar plans. Sitting atop a bridge and waiting for the right moment to jump, a stranger approached him and simply asked if he was ok. He had the courage to be honest and so the young girl walked him up to the hospital and sat with him for hours until he received the care he so desperately needed. He has never seen her again.  Yet both my friends will tell you that they were there, their presence powerfully tangible. Sometimes angels appear right when we need them, as ordinary people who love in extraordinary ways. Both of my friends have been blessed by second chances and are now regulars at Wayside Chapel, giving back in the community and helping others, as they have been helped.

I’m often asked if I lose sleep in this role and to be honest, I often do. Most of my sleepless nights are in anticipation of those who are yet to fall by the Wayside, but will be coming through our doors soon. We believe in giving people second chances, and we walk beside people patiently until we see sparks of life. We love people back to life. No one deserves to be homeless, hungry, or alone at Christmas.

But I sleep even less at this time of year, when the sheer weight of responsibility falls upon me to have to ask something of you, our Inner Circle, who are the strength of our community. Your generosity year after year is truly awesome and enables us to be here day after day for all the beautiful and broken characters I like to tell you about in these notes. This is a time I do not ask for myself, but do so humbly and boldly on behalf of these wonderful people amongst us whom I have the privilege of celebrating and crying with over these past three years.

We are just $340,000 short of our target, and I ask you, our Inner Circle, to please give to our Christmas Appeal now.

Donate to our Christmas Appeal
For our part, we promise to meet your commitment by giving every person the opportunity to feel loved and supported during the worst time of their lives, and enable them to turn toward life and healing.

My deepest thanks for your support, Inner Circle.

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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