Dear Inner Circle,

Not all moments are created equal. As I was heading to bed this week, the phone rang and my heart dropped. The name on the face of my phone filled me with a sick feeling as I guessed the content of the incoming call. I love these folks, I had the special joy of performing their wedding over a decade ago. Some people harden their hearts in response to a tough life but some are inspired and equipped to be an example of compassion and kindness. Mercifully, these two met each other and fell in love and together they care for everyone around them. It is my honour to know, support and be inspired by them. I have witnessed them give the very clothes on their backs to people who were doing it tougher than them. This is no metaphor, I saw them give their meagre possessions and even clothes to others. To be merely in the presence of some people, is to be changed. I had often been paralysed by the beauty of this couple as they showed me the heights to which the human spirit can soar.  Recently they were blessed with the news that after five sons, they were having a daughter. The little girl arrived, a perfect baby. A routine check-up tore the rug out from underneath them – their daughter was ill and would not live for longer than two years. I christened this little angel and witnessed her stubborn will to live. She lived for five years, changing everyone who had the privilege of knowing her. She even managed to attend her first and only day of school a few weeks ago. It was a highlight of her short life. The phone call I received from the couple this week was a request for me in to join them at hospital as they turned off her life support. I watched as this bravest of families gave their little girl the permission to stop fighting. I saw courage and love. The family embraced their daughter as she left them. This was holy ground. We wept. We prayed the kind of prayers that come when there are no words.

During our Sunday church gathering a set of seven-year-old twins shyly but proudly, walked to the front of the chapel to present Wayside’s official “grandfather” Graham Long with a jar full of cash. They had spent the weekend baking and selling cakes at a stall, raising money for “our church to help the homeless people”. The kids held a jar with $335 high in the air. What a triumph! What an achievement! What beautiful kids! Next time you’re tempted to lament all that is going wrong in the world, think of these kids. Our congregation recognised a priceless gift and sang a song of blessing while the children stood at Graham’s side. Awesome!

We aren’t afraid to speak up. To spend time at Wayside is to fall in love with people from all walks of life. Some have collapsed into addiction, some are recovering, some are living on the streets, and many are all alone in this world. Every day we see how compassion, love and practical support can change lives. Many people who visit Wayside remain unheard in our society but it doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say. Over the next few weeks, we will be speaking up about what more we can ask from a NSW government in the lead up to the election on Saturday, 23 March. We believe our state can do more to better support people facing homelessness and drug-related issues. We invite you to join us in that journey. It begins with a Community Forum at Wayside Chapel Kings Cross next Thursday, 7 March where Dr Marianne Jauncey from the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre will be joining me for an open and honest conversation on why we need a drug treatment summit. We’d love to see you there. The event is free, but please register your interest here.

Last year after Mardi Gras we were sitting around having a discussion out the front of Wayside, when four near-naked men walked up the road and started chatting with some of our regulars. No one batted an eyelid, and as they ambled up the road one of our group remarked “We really accept everyone just as they are, don’t we?” We sure do. If you are out celebrating this weekend have a wonderful and safe time.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Jon Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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