Dear Inner Circle,

Some mornings this place is buzzing with life. The sizzling sounds and aromas of a breakfast fry up on a cold morning is an invitation to be alive. Everywhere you look, activities in our building are nurturing new life – from podiatrists helping people walk again, to a sewing group busy whipping up winter warmers, to a OneSight clinic restoring sight to people who are nearly blind. From little things, big things grow.

Around here we love to tell stories of radical transformation but every story of life gained is achieved through hundreds of tiny steps. The big shifts happen only when there is someone wise enough to recognise, value and celebrate the little shifts. I learned this years ago as a youth worker when a few of us were visiting parents of our youth group members, reminding them that our club was beginning again. It was a great chance to be able to let the parents know just how much we valued their kids. Often for parents who had been struggling, a little bit of good news and positive feedback about their kids went a long way. At the end of the evening, we were exhausted but decided to head to one last house. As we were about to knock on the door, to our surprise it swung open and we were confronted by a shocked mother who expressed her surprise with a few ripe words, and then settled down to light a smoke. We let her know just how amazing her kid was, and she broke down in tears, thanked us and we were soon on our way. As I walked past her, she grabbed my arm saying, “Thank you so much”. It didn’t seem like much. A short while later her sister explained that we’d stumbled into a very dark moment. The woman had just made the decision to have a last cigarette before leaving a world that she felt was devoid of kindness. At that very moment, she had flung her door open to a couple of scared youth workers doing the rounds. A timely and kind word saved her life.

This week our team received a thank you note that read “it may not seem like much, but what you did changed my life”. We had helped this person get into housing, but he was shocked to find that having an address can lead to the state debt recovery finding you to make demands. So not long after receiving the news of a lifetime, he received the shock of a lifetime. Life on the footpath might be bleak but it is also pretty simple. Negotiating with bureaucracy is difficult, daunting and even impossible without help. To many who are struggling with different forms of trauma, it can often feel like the system is not so much designed to help, but designed to make you just go away. Luckily, this fellow didn’t give up but came back to us for help.  For our team, it took just a few phone calls and some negotiation to find a workable way forward.

It’s not just the homeless who are inclined to be daunted, shrugging their shoulders and saying, “What can you do?”  All of us need to remember the power of small acts. One letter, one phone call, one kind word, one protest, one donation, one shower, one pair of undies, one voice calling out a wrong, one whisper of encouragement, at a time – can make the world of difference.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

JonJon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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