The Beautiful Bizarre

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Dear Inner Circle,

It isn’t often that we hand this note over to someone else, but sometimes someone else’s perspective is too good not to share.

“Hi, I have been coming to Wayside Chapel for about 12 years and I want to tell you about the Wayside that I know as a visitor…

Wayside can be the kind of place where people come to heal, but can also be the place where adventures begin. I remember one day sitting out on the deck with a group of other visitors and our interest was piqued by a delivery truck. A few of us wandered over and offered to take the delivery in for him, and the driver was grateful for our “help.” The box of energy drinks didn’t make it past the deck! By luck that morning someone in our little gang had “acquired” a blood pressure machine so we decided to skull as many drinks as we could, taking each other’s blood pressure in between to see what it would do to us. A volunteer at the front desk cottoned on to what we were doing and took the rest of the drinks. Everyone laughed (and survived) but needless to say we were full of energy all day!

A couple of months ago Jon Owen asked me if I would speak at a staff training session. I spoke of the hardships of being homeless, of how the staff that I was speaking to had woken up in a warm bed that morning but we as rough sleepers had just picked up ourselves up off the footpath. I also spoke of how the initial contact can make or break a person, and what they as staff can do for us to make our day better and give us hope. It was very successful and a few staff told me afterwards that their passion was renewed. Sometimes getting a perspective from the other side of the fence can really change how we work and live.

I love Wayside. It’s a place where we can go for assistance, to have a laugh with our mates and just be accepted. I’ve turned up with street sleepers and I’ve turned up with wealthy professionals. Everyone is treated the same. I remember a politician turning up one day and going to the front of the line at the cafe. As about 15 sets of hungry eyeballs stared at him, one of the blokes told him to get to the back of the line. Someone else pointed out who he was and the angry fellow said “I don’t give a s**t if he’s Harry Potter to come to take us all to heaven! He needs to wait his bloody turn!”

Everyone here is treated equally.

When I’ve needed help, Wayside is there immediately. When I don’t need help, they are rejoicing that I’m having some good luck for a while. I have met the most intelligent and the most insane people at Wayside both in one day and at the same table in the community cafe! For me, Wayside is a beautifully bizarre place where people from all walks of life can meet.

Come down one day and spend a rainy day in our cafe then come on a sunny day and spend the day on the deck. Then you’ll understand what “beautiful bizarre’ means”.

Yesterday marked the first day of winter, and in case you missed that it has been punctuated by the bitterly cold winds across Sydney. We are bracing ourselves for an influx of people who will be seeking shelter and respite from the conditions.

I would be grateful if you could take a moment on behalf of those who are sleeping rough or are at risk of doing so to please make a donation to our Winter Appeal. It all helps us be that place where people can receive the love, care and vital necessities they need to get through this winter. Donate now.

Thanks for seeing life by the Wayside through another set of eyes, our Inner Circle.


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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