Dear Inner Circle,

There was once a woman who would regularly interject during chapel services who we had infamously named “St. Interruptus.” Although I never got to meet her myself, Graham once recounted a story of when he had asked her “Am I boring you?”, to which she’d immediately quipped “That’s your job!” Sadly she died a few weeks before I joined Wayside. I was however welcomed by an elderly gentleman who, sensing a “gap in the market” jumped in to fill the void she had left. His feedback was fast and not very encouraging, but it’s all part of the charm of Wayside. We hadn’t seen him for the past few years as he has spent this time in a series of nursing homes, but we were delighted to have him pop in the other day to tell us that he is finally being placed in a home where he is thriving. People can age with ferocity when living on the streets. It is amazing what a roof over your head, regular meals, some good friendships and proper medical care can do to wind back the clock. Not surprisingly he is a far less angry man and far more engaged. We shared a cup of tea together and reminisced a little, and he was being very encouraging when he asked “How is your preaching going now? I hope it’s improved because it was pretty sh*t when you started”. I have missed him, but am glad to see that his life now has the quality it deserves.

Many years ago Lisa and I remember being exhausted with the demands of little kids and having our home as a place of refuge. One day we decided to both grab a quick nap in between groups. Almost on cue, as my head hit the cushion, there was a frantic knock on the door that kept getting louder and more urgent. It was an old friend of Lisa’s who was in significant distress. I called out to Lisa and she leapt into action, driven by some kind of amazing love autopilot. She sat next to her as she poured out the events of a truly horrendous day. Fights, police, arrests, lockup and AVO’s all in the space of a few hours. Sitting still for the first time in hours, she broke down. Lisa held her tightly. I couldn’t get back to sleep as much as I tried, finally realising that there was a holy moment between two people occurring right in front of me, where love went beyond human limits to meet an ache beyond belief. I was glad to witness something so powerful, something bigger than us all.

This morning as I was walking across the park I locked eyes with someone who was just waking up, he called me over “Hey, you’re the new “Farva” right?” I didn’t know quite what to expect and there we lots of children playing nearby. “Can you just give me a hug please?” He wept as we embraced. The ability to hold someone while their world is spinning out of control around them is a skill that I see in practice every day from our people on the front lines, I couldn’t be prouder of the way our volunteers and staff sit alongside and listen, never judging or wagging their fingers. You will never be told how to live, but we will recognise hope unrealised and walk beside you in the journey.

Thanks for being a part of this Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
CEO/Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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