Welcome back for another year of love letters from the gutter to you. I’ve missed you. Happy New Decade.
The Christmas and New Year period has been, and continues to be, seemingly without precedent for our nation as together we face a dark moment in our history. As you read this I know there has been some rain and hope that it continues to fall around you. For all those who have risked life and limb to save others and our wildlife, we owe you a debt that cannot possibly be repaid. Bleak news has created much despair across our world and it is natural to crave good news in dark times. I hope that over the coming year the small stories from Wayside Chapel can provide you with some comfort and hope on your way. The gifts these stories have to offer may seem feeble in relation to the larger challenges we face because they cannot be easily measured. My hope is that they seep into your heart and help you connect with the beauty and resilience of the human spirit that shines around us even through the toughest and darkest of circumstances. They hold within them the power to restore faith in humanity and to allow hope to emerge from the bottom up into our world.
On Christmas Day, there were many big and inspiring stories to tell from our chapel service, lunch and street party. There are a few small ones too, like a man battling a crippling disease, who knew this was his last Christmas and chose to celebrate it with his family by handing out some gift cards. There was no mad rush to get them, but slowly he was approached by some willing recipients with respect and reverence. Later on, a few of our street dwellers snuck him away from the Christmas chaos into the chapel where a man who is still alive after struggling with drug addiction most of his life played a hauntingly beautiful requiem on the piano for him. Suffering recognises suffering and hearts recognise kindness. Soon with all defences down, tears flowed and a true connection happened. It was a precious moment for a family to share on their final Christmas together.
Another one of our visitors was so concerned about the fires and wanted to do something. I received a message to contact him immediately. He informed me proudly that he had passed the hat around and had made enough to cook a BBQ to raise funds for our Firefighters and all he needed was a BBQ, and could I lend him Wayside’s, please? Need recognises need, and generosity flows because even when you haven’t got that much, there is always enough to go around. Together they raised nearly $1000 to help those who were less fortunate, how cool is that?
Whilst I was on my holiday break I bumped into someone at the shops I hadn’t seen in years. When we first met he was unemployed due to an injury and never wore shoes. He explained that there wasn’t enough money coming in to feed his family and to send his kids to school, so he went shoeless so they wouldn’t miss out. At the time, Lisa and I had helped him get back into the workforce, even though it was a painful process for him. It took a long time to find an employer who would understand that the love of his family was at the heart of his slow journey back. Luckily we found one and now, six years on he is still employed. He proudly told me that now his family can afford anything they want – he wasn’t talking about cars or houses, he was talking food and clothes. What drives us at Wayside and will continue to drive us this decade, is in the way that we choose to look at people, not as they are, but in the light of their own absolute potential. We are here for the long haul.
Thanks for walking the road with us, our beautiful Inner Circle,
Pastor & CEO