Dear Inner Circle,

It’s the middle of winter and our people in the kitchen are still claiming they serve Sydney’s Best Roast Lunch and truly, it’s a meal that is not only generous, but prepared with love. This week’s serve of protein was stuffed with garlic to boost weary immune systems to help ward off the flu through these bleak winter nights. Such a meal is a gift beyond price, and to leave with a full tummy and a beanie to keep your head warm means the world to those who have nothing. At Wayside, the reality is that lives are still at risk from the threat of new COVID-19 outbreaks and we only get one shot at keeping our people free of this virus. For this reason, we have remained vigilant and continue operating in our new way – with a focus on going out to people to deliver support, while keeping our centres accessible for our rough sleepers.

The greatest punishment in some ancient tribes was to be sent into exile. The elders of the tribe knew that to be stripped of connection was indeed a fate worse than death and was only reserved for the worst of offences. As the weeks roll into months of isolation for us, the importance of our street teams visits increases as they provide the warmth of connection which serves as Vitamin C for the soul. This dose of love served through a simple conversation, we have been told, is worth so much more to the people that we visit than the necessities we also bring like food, clothing, and blankets. So although many of our usual visitors may feel like they are in exile at home, we will never be far away.

This week, I’ve been delighted to announce that one of our very special supporters has very generously offered to match donations to our winter appeal. The need for our services continues to grow, with more than 70 new people coming into Wayside over the last week alone, and so today I’m asking you to help us raise our target of $250,000 to support our work for the months ahead. So far we’ve already raised an amazing $108,984!

For those of you who already have given I thank you from the bottom of my heart, I feel like I ask so much of you all, and yet you keep responding with such overwhelming generosity. Often I receive replies apologising from some of you who are unable to give. There is no need to say sorry, you all contribute in so many ways, increasing our impact as a community so we can make this world a better place for all.

I can’t thank you enough. But if you are able to make a donation today, please do so here.

Donate today

In this note, I often try to convey some of the stories of the people who visit us. Sometimes I worry if I’m able to do them justice, as there is nothing quite like seeing their faces and hearing their voices, as their beauty shines through. So when SBS Television and Grainger Films recently gave us the opportunity to produce and air three different Community Service Announcements, we knew it was a chance to give our visitors a voice. Here is a sneak peek of the first of three ads, this one featuring Loretta, that will broadcast over the next few months, calling the community to “Stand with Us”. Watch it here.

On the subject of visitors, it is something of an occupational hazard for me to be cornered by someone who has been saving up a sermon for my benefit. Sometimes the topic is how I might improve the running of Wayside or even a lecture in Australian politics and how a few small adjustments would make for a better country. This morning I was cornered again and the lecture was on the healing powers of lemon juice. To be certain that I was giving full attention, the young man reminded me that he had in the past been on the wrong side of the law. Yet there was no threat in his manner this morning. I had just given him a fresh pair of undies that he received with suspicion, carefully examining them for any microchip I might have sewn into the garment in order to track his whereabouts. I reminded myself that this is someone’s boy. I believe he is paying a price in mental health that is being aggravated by our strange COVID times, which I fear is taking its toll on many of us. My heart leapt toward this young man as if he was my own son. He had a lovely face and thankfully, I too believe in the healing powers of lemon juice.

Thanks for standing with us, our Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel 

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