Dear Inner Circle,

Every evening, our Twilight team and our volunteers work tirelessly to make what is a very difficult time of day for many of our community into a time of fun, safety and warmth. On Sunday night a couple of friends who were in Sydney to perform at the Opera House for National Reconciliation Week gathered with our Twilight team and pulled out some instruments for an impromptu concert. Everyone present was swept up in a moment of joy and beauty as the group, The Spirit of Churaki, led some impromptu singing from many of our visitors. Their singing from the heart, may not always please the ear but that doesn’t matter around here. When we think about what reconciliation should look like in our nation, we should never forget that while truth brings healing, hope, and freedom it also brings friendship. A shift in focus from “what are we going to lose?” to “what are we going to gain?” will lead us all to a better future.  

Turning on the news can be an overwhelming task and can tempt us towards inertia. Many years ago, Lisa and I received a phone call from a frantic youth worker desperately trying to find a safe place for one of her teenagers to live. All this young girl wanted to do was to complete school, but sadly her house wasn’t a safe enough place for her to be able to realise this. She had tried to leave, but there were no viable options available to her and she was wise enough to know that as bad her situation was, it was better than running away into the unknown. We knew we couldn’t end homelessness across the country, but we were able to make a difference to one life. So we took her in and supported her as best we could and saw her develop into an amazing young woman who has now moved forward into a beautiful life. Her life is now driven by the future and not condemned by the past. As she lived with us, we realised the immense vulnerability of her situation. Not all offers of help are created equal. Homelessness does not start on the streets. It is a slow migration through a bed to a series of couches and unsuitable temporary arrangements, before the fall is complete. At Wayside we try and do everything possible to help provide immediate essentials plus the support to find housing and counselling services before people fall through the cracks.

The news of another death of a woman in a park in Melbourne has rightly shocked us once again. The discussion seems to be shifting. From blaming women for their clothing and walking late at night alone, to the role and responsibility of men. This is a welcome evolution if it leads us to a collective sense of responsibility. The fact that this woman was homeless and struggled with mental health and addiction shouldn’t derail the conversation. It should steel our resolve and convince us that we can and should do better.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

JonJon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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