Dear Inner Circle,

Confession Time. Many years ago, my poor old mother, an English Major (who at one stage was offered a scholarship to further her studies in England), realised that her only son was a complete dunce at the subject she loved the most. High school was just starting, and I felt like a failure. I knew I was disappointing her, so out of desperation, I plagiarised an obscure essay that my mother had written and handed it in as my own work.

The next week my English teacher stopped me in the hallway and ushered me into the classroom. “We need to talk about your essay.” My blood ran cold, she took out my work, and while holding it aloft, looked me in the eye. “This,” she said, “is quite possibly the best piece of writing I have ever had submitted by a student!” I meant to blurt out a confession, but all I could muster was a feeble, “Thank you”, (I am very fortunate that I can’t blush). It gets worse! She entered my work into an essay competition, and it won! Then I had to read the essay out at a presentation night! The embarrassment never eased off overwhelming me with a sick feeling every time my teacher looked at me. I could imagine the anguish of a prisoner who listens to his death sentence pronounced when I heard, “I always knew you had potential, and I simply can’t wait for your next essay!” But her misplaced belief in me and the weight of my guilt caused me to work like I’d never worked before. And behold, the work produced some new skills and my next essay was OK. Eventually I took an additional subject in English Literature and enjoyed it, scoring well.

My story is a testament both to the power of belief and the necessity of hard work. The correlation between hard work and success is undeniable yet the hard work begins in faith. My teacher believed something based on my deception, but her faith gave opportunity for something real. Parents usually believe in the goodness of their children, initially, without evidence. Daily you can hear the fable of faith and success that skips the essential ingredient of hard work. Stories that skip the ingredient of hard work, are fairy stories but hard work rarely begins without faith; sometimes, blind faith.

A few years ago, we embarked on an ambitious project to place young people who have faced long-term disadvantage into proper, paying jobs. Anyone who starts a small business in this country knows a lot about faith. Full credit to our teams, our donors, and the Wayside Board, for having the vision and belief to start the Heart Cafe in Bondi Beach as a social enterprise that allows young people to step in and learn professional skills while working as part of a team. In a risk-averse world, we jumped into something where risks abound and yet I report to you the healthy success in the program we call, “The Wingspan Project”. Our Wingspan staff are extraordinary people of compassion, passion and faith. Their faith in kids who had otherwise fallen through the cracks, is giving birth to lots of hard work and good success as we place young people into various workplaces. To see this program is to be inspired by the young lives who have found a path and a passion towards a brighter future.

Thanks to you, our Inner Circle, for your belief that hard work makes all we do possible,

Jon

Jon Owen

Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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