Dear Inner Circle,

Growing up in Australia in the 1980s as a kid with dark skin wasn’t a lot of fun. The distance between the gate and the classroom was a long journey if the school bully was in a bad mood. I soon developed a lens set for rejection, which is a lonely place from which to view the world. It’s also an unreliable filter as it sometimes leads one to mistake moves made in love for rejection. As I walk into Wayside I see a lot of people with the same lenses on, all with plenty of good reasons not to trust anyone. Yet sometimes we see gambles being taken, and that’s where the real journey towards life can begin.

Yesterday, in our newly renovated café, I searched for a place to sit while delicately balancing my overloaded plate of lunch. A kind face beckoned me over. This man is usually eager to tell me a terrible joke but today he just looked terrible and frightened. As I sat down he shared how his body is slowly succumbing to a long term degenerative disorder. The process has quickened in recent months and now even simple tasks are burdensome and painful. We sat for a moment in silence. Then he looked at me and smiled, “It’s my birthday tomorrow, and I really love caramel cake, did you know that?” I got the hint. We hastily planned a party together – luckily everyone on his invite list is at Wayside most days. This guy shares a birthday with my mum and I love that he will be spoiled and lavishly celebrated here, just as much as my mum will be down in Melbourne. Where there is high risk, there can also be high reward.
A heart-shaped lamp with a candle burning inside

A few years ago when I was a youth worker, a 12-year-old Iranian girl who was seeking asylum asked my wife Lisa and I to pray for her. “Can you ask that I’m not deported please? I’m not ready to die yet”. It was a life changing moment for me. Faced with a sea of rejection she hopped onto a little lifeboat of hope, brought merely by the understanding that someone was alongside her. It was the beginning of a 10-year struggle but eventually she was granted permanent residency and given a shot at life that she grabbed with both hands. She is now the mum of four gorgeous kids who call us Uncle and Aunty. She moans whenever I tell them the same lame jokes that I used to tell her when she was their age.

Last week I held in my arms the brand new baby of friends who lost their first child in a tragic circumstances. In life there are no guarantees, only love and risk. Our lives can be changed in a moment where we connect on a heart level. These aren’t high speed connections either, love is like the dial-up Internet of the Wi-Fi world.

Thanks for being part of this Inner Circle, Graham is back next week and can’t wait to share with you again,

Jon

Assistant Pastor Jon Owen 
Head of People and Culture
Wayside Chapel

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