Dear Inner Circle,

As I snuck in early on Monday to get back into the hot seat again and deal with the work awaiting me on my desk, I exchanged a few greetings and holiday stories with some of the unsung heroes of Wayside. Not all of our heroes work on the front line in the rough end of humanity. We’d be in a lot of trouble if we didn’t have people who do the paperwork that ensures the invoices are all paid up and our systems are in order. Their work goes largely unnoticed but let me assure you they apply the same passion as those who work directly with the public. Wayside wouldn’t be what it is today if everyone wanted to be on the front line and no one wanted to do the dishes – I am eternally grateful for the dedication of ALL our amazing people.

On my first day back, I ducked down to assist with opening the building and was struck immediately that while I had just returned from a holiday, few of our visitors had ever known such a thing. With little or no money there can be an incredible monotony to life. Add to this, the exposure to the incessant heat, and naturally tempers fray and calm is elusive. Every day our staff make sure that the air-conditioning is turned up to high and the ice water is flowing. In such matters our philosophy becomes practical. Feeling “warm and fuzzy” about humanity isn’t enough when people are hot, exhausted and frustrated. Our philosophy counts for nothing unless it is embodied in acts of kindness. Unbearable conditions that threaten to bring out the worst, often reveal the best in people. Not all, not often, not many, but some, recognise that in such acts of kindness they can truly be accepted into a community of no “us and them”. We can’t give people a holiday, but we can certainly offer them some relief and connection when everything is lost.

Blue sky, sun visible through the leaves of grass
A few years ago I was contacted by an elderly man who’s only wish in life was to be reunited with his grandson, but sadly his own child did not want to have anything to do with him. His urgent pleas broke my heart and I attempted to mediate the situation to no resolve. Over the years I have watched a grandfather’s heart breaking slowly before my eyes and often I have sat with him solemnly as he has shared his heartache. This week he approached me with tears in his eyes, and I feared the worst. He said, “On Boxing Day my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognise but I picked it up anyways. On the other end I heard, “Is that you Poppy? I miss you so much.” That was as far as he got into the story before he grabbed me and we embraced as he wept on my shoulder, both of our hearts leaping. On the street we would have made for quite an unusual sight, but as I looked up at Wayside no one was batting an eyelid as we celebrated a miracle worth sharing.

Thanks for being part of the Inner Circle,

JonJon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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