Dear Inner Circle,

The year is in full swing and on some days rushing between appointments becomes the norm. Yet, as is so often the case, it’s the interruptions that provide the gold. Today I was making a beeline from the lift to the street, already running late when, from across the café, I was invited into a conversation by a kind smile on a face I did not recognise. He thrust his hand out for a firm shake, “Thanks for Christmas Day, I don’t know what would’ve happened if you hadn’t invited me.” He had been unexpectedly released from prison as sometimes happens at Christmas. Unfortunately, his family weren’t prepared and decided he wasn’t welcome at home for the day. Shattered, he stumbled by accident onto an article about our street party and made his way to us. He didn’t know anything about Wayside but met some of our crew and through them has now managed to secure housing. Next week he will have his first access visit with his kids. “In all the noise and dancing I was able to forget about my problems for a minute and just have some fun. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise!” Pain really does seem sharper on special days like Christmas. I’m thankful this fellow found us and found new hope at our party.

It is quite a sight to watch someone slowly re-join the world of responsibility, that is, to be responsive to others and so be responsible for their own actions. We have no magic formula, but by refusing to give up on people, no matter how deep a hole they appear to be in, some recognise where they’re at and become willing to recover. Some wake up to life. Many are so deeply lost that they barely register that there is a world beyond their own psychology. I love watching the way our staff and volunteers devise ways to try and love someone back to life. It takes a great deal of perseverance and patience with no guarantee of success, or even progress. We have seen people who could only yell or scream, slowly make their way back to living. Just now a man called in to thank our team and celebrate his return to full employment. Only months ago, he came through the front door, unaware that his pants were soaking and dirty. People can come back. There is a life beyond addiction. It is rarely seen by the public and is rarely publicised but trust me, it happens. When it does, it gives all of us at Wayside a deep and satisfying assurance that all the hard work, all the humiliation, all the perseverance and all the heartache, is worth it.

textures of gold
Talking to a volunteer on our front desk, I was in awe to hear that her most challenging moment each week isn’t what you would expect. She said, “It’s so hard when you can’t give someone the right sized undies.” Valentine’s Day is here next week and we’re asking for help to fund our annual stocks of socks and undies across Bondi and Kings Cross. Because really, nothing says I love you like a clean pair of undies. Love that looks like chocolates and flowers is nice, but few such gifts will ever have the impact of a clean pair of undies, given to someone who on the worst day of their life, has none. Please donate so that we’ll have clean undies in sizes that work for everyone.

Thanks for being part of the Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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