Dear Inner Circle,

So often we sell poverty short when we think it’s simply about a lack of cash. It is so much more than that, it can be a sense of despair, a lack of opportunity, a deep hole of hopelessness or the inability to see any future beyond immediate crisis. The opposite of poverty also isn’t wealth in monetary terms. It’s a connection to a healthy community that can embrace you through all the challenges and seasons of life. I often brag, everywhere I can, about Wayside’s ability to sit with people in a way that embodies an often repeated motto around here, “I would rather be lost with you than saved without you”. Every day, even through the challenges, there are hundreds of little acts of kindness going on throughout our building. Yesterday a young man was tending to an elder who is completely blind, and amidst the hundreds of other demands on him at that moment, he took the time to usher him gently into the shower, asking him the whole way “Are you ok Uncle?” He had tasks far more urgent, but I doubt that any were more important that day.

I once heard a wise woman who credits Wayside with helping her turn her life around say that “people may not remember your name, but they will never forget your kindness”. When existence is hanging on by a thread, acts of kindness can add another thread one by one, that when woven together can provide a strong invitation back to life. This will never be an act of management or ‘fixing’; it’s when someone at Wayside sees a spark in a person’s face that is still beautiful, and in that exchange, someone remembers who they really are. Sometimes, just sometimes, we witness a moment of turning, that spark of life, when hope emerges. Faith in humanity is about holding tenderly the belief that the good of all the human race means the good of every human being.

A few years ago I saw desperation of a different kind in the eyes of a man I had never seen before. He asked for some assistance and I gave him what I could. After he left I realised that I had never seen him before, and assumed I’d never hear from him again. Well, I got an email last week saying “You won’t remember this, but after I was injured at work we quickly ran out of money while we fought for compensation. That day you met me, I was desperate. The money you gave us helped us buy groceries instead of defaulting on our rent, that saved us from being evicted, the next week I received my payout. I want to thank you”.

Now, it’s my turn to thank you for your generous response for Valentine’s Day. We hit our target and that means we will remain well-stocked with fresh supplies of undies that will help us say “I love you!” all year long!

Thank you for kindness, our Inner Circle.

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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