Dear Inner Circle,

Many years ago, my wife Lisa met a woman who was attempting to flee with her kids from a violent relationship. She carefully devised a plan over the next few years and slowly, built up the courage to enact it. In the dead of night, with the husband passed out drunk on the couch, she silently walked out of his life. We took them in for a few nights while longer term accommodation was organised. On the last evening before they relocated, we all sat down to eat dinner at the table. As we were eating, this brave woman began crying, and as Lisa held her, she laughed through tears and seemed to speak to her cutlery, “I can’t remember the last time I sat down to eat with anything other than my hands”. Living in fear meant every meal was wolfed down as she kept one eye on the mood of her partner and the other on her kids while they ate. Now, as she sat at our table, with her and her kids in complete safety, she finally was able to breathe. A seat at the table where one can simply breathe, can be a healing moment.

Everything we do is driven by our mission to create community with no ‘us and them’. The shortest distance between two people is a shared meal. That’s why I love our corporate groups who come to us. They don’t just prepare a meal, they share a meal with our community. An Aboriginal woman once told me “You are who you eat with”. It’s a profound statement about equality. It is also a radical departure from the norm. Many groups in the charitable sector provide food in a way that reinforces poverty rather than builds community. I have seen with my own eyes well intentioned people in other places thrust plates of food at people, with the best hearts in the world that never the less, creates a chasm between giver and receiver. How we do things matters and makes all the difference. A cup of tea given in love with a smile and a look in the eye can sometimes be worth more than a session with professional. Clean undies and a warm jumper can either be given in a way that says “I love you!” or “Next!” Our vision of “Love Over Hate’ is a bold one that challenges us to live bigger lives and invites us to live out in a million moments something that can’t really be said, only acted.

Last week a volunteer excitedly pulled me aside. She has been helping here for decades and wanted to tell me how one of our visitors had been housed. Cause for celebration right? The volunteer has gotten to know this visitor over many years and she took so much delight in hearing that this woman who had lived on the streets for many years, now has a roof over her head. She expressed the same excitement for this visitor, as she would with the announcement of a family or friend’s achievement or success. This kind of situation doesn’t happen in many places, but it does at Wayside. Simple yet extraordinary! Human yet inspiring!

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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