Dear Inner Circle,

Our lives are all moderated to some degree by the seasons. Freezing cold creates a special kind of misery for those who sleep rough. Unrelenting heat also brings a challenging season familiar to those of our staff who have worked among the homeless for a long time. As temperatures and humidity rise, so does the tempo of those who live rough. We’ve seen anger flair and voices raised this week and yet our team of workers have offered our visitors nothing but love and care.

One of the proudest moments of my life was when I was asked to speak at a graduation ceremony from a Youth Work course. One of the graduates was a fellow I knew well and who I had invested much love, much time and more than a few tears on. He was raised by a single Dad who lived close by and who often asked us to babysit whenever he was offered some paid overtime. We loved this young kid but witnessed a breakdown in his teenage years when he faced serious charges and significant time locked up. As his criminal behaviour reached its peak, he became a father himself, and around the same time he ended up in the courtroom.

White flowers on branch - Wayside Chapel
Courtroom promises don’t usually amount to much but sometimes, perhaps when you least expect it, or when you find that your own heart has been hardened by multiple disappointments, something truly amazing can happen. Stepping into the courtroom, his partner’s mother placed his newborn into his arms and said, “You kiss this baby and tell him that you love him because you have no idea when the chance will come for you to love him again.” He cradled his newborn in his arms which brought an unimagined moment of clarity. As he kissed his son’s forehead he made a vow to change his life. He wanted to be a father, worthy of such a child and he wanted to be a person that brought pride to his partner. So as soon as he was able, he kind of “reversed mentored” himself. He knew that you can’t be what you can’t see and decided to seek the company of the few people he’d learned to respect. His turn around was not just located in this young fellow’s heart or head, but it translated to his feet and made a difference to his behaviour. How lucky am I to have had witnessed such a turnaround and to be able to share in this story!

Shortly we are opening the doors of our new Heart Café in Bondi Beach for the first time. We aim to do there what we saw active in the story I’ve just shared. We will not only provide young people with paid traineeships in hospitality but with all the support they need to break the vicious cycle of defeat and unemployment.

From tomorrow, we will be offering you, as part of our Inner Circle, the exclusive opportunity to preview the café and food with 50% off your bill. It’s a momentous occasion as our team have been working tirelessly for the last few months to get ready for service, and the café and menu are looking great.  We even had a write up in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food this week. We invite you to be one of the first to try our dishes knowing you are supporting Wayside Chapel and helping to bridge the gap from unemployment to mainstream employment for some of Sydney’s most disadvantaged young people.

We will open on Wednesday 14 November at 95 Roscoe St. Check out our sample menu here. We can’t wait to see you there.

Thanks for being part of the Inner Circle.

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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