Dear Inner Circle,

This team at Wayside form one massive, gleaming tower of weakness. We’re all of us damaged people but our mission of creating community with no ‘us and them’ lives between us rather than in any one of us. For this reason, we embrace our mistakes as occasions of learning and we fight our battles with a feather of gentleness and a dose of humour.

This week I happened to be in our Kings Cross Community Services Centre when I saw two of our staff, Josh and Alana, demonstrate the power of powerlessness. These bright, able young people are the salt of the earth and could well apply their energies to an occupation with much larger financial rewards than they’ll ever find in the helping professions. A man had just lost control of his bowels in the shower and these two dear people had to deal with the messy bathroom so others waiting in line could use the facility without delay. I doubt that their study prepared them for such an exercise. It was a tough, smelly moment but each showed that you can only be rich to the extent that you can be poor. Inspiring!
We’re currently helping a man who receives no support from the government and is forbidden from obtaining any sort of work. He’s an asylum seeker and I’m not sure how our policy makers expect such people will not starve to death. Who of us wouldn’t turn to crime if it meant life or death? Thankfully, this good-natured man is better than most, and he’s doing his best to make ends meet. He’s being supported by Wayside and a few other people of good will. He’s separated from family and longs for them while dealing with our culture that has been schooled to be suspicious of people with stories such as his. Today happened to be his birthday and our Community Services Worker, Rohan, brought him up to the third floor where he had prepared a little party with a cake. As they sang “Happy Birthday”, hope and the promise of better days brought a moment of grace. Rohan is a fellow who could make a living as a professional musician, and yet, he devotes his energy to bringing life to people who have little to celebrate.

The one and only Rob Holt who runs our Community Education Program was once himself hopelessly in the grip of addiction, living on the street. Today when Rob walks into a room, he fills it with life and love. At one of his corporate dinners this week, when he got to his famous “spinning wheel”, a newly homeless young man won an invitation to have a meal with our Aboriginal mob. He showed up to collect his prize yesterday but then couldn’t summon the courage to head up to the lunch. He told our John (Saint John of the Wayside) that he didn’t know anyone and that he was too scared to go up. John agreed to go with him and stay with him. Our Aboriginal worker, Will, stood the man in front of the group and said, “Now you mob, this man is our brother and I want you to make him welcome.” Everyone loves and respects Will and that lunch made a couple of dozen new friends for the man. That’s our mission. The man left our lunch feeling ‘met’ rather than ‘worked on’ and…he left a different man to the one that entered that room.

Last night I attended our Wayside’s Got Talent event. I saw some acts that were practiced and really quite enjoyable. I saw some acts that stretched the concept of “entertainment” to the limit and yet, every single act was met with whistles and wild applause. I saw some people who are most unwell, burdened with crippling loads, stand in front of a crowd and sing or play an instrument. The courage to do such a thing is awesome and the response of the crowd brought me to tears after each act. This night is the achievement of a team but a key person is also a clever musician. Julian, your patience and skill to nurture people for such a night is beyond inspiring! We should do this night on a grand scale. We should hire the Opera House and have a mixture of homeless people and our best musicians give entertainment and allow Sydney to cheer each act. What a gift of kindness that would be for the homeless musicians and for the professional musicians and for all of Sydney.

If you’re ever tempted to check out our little Sunday congregations, this Sunday at Kings Cross at 11am would be a great time to jump. Jiya will be sharing her story and it will entrance you, lift you and fill you with joy. I first met this amazing woman when she was in the deepest pit. Just a few years later she’s housed, engaged in tertiary studies and now working on our team. Ponder it. We won’t hit you with any religious stick. As I often say, “We’re not much like a church but it works for many who are not much like Christians”.

That’s enough for now from this team, our massive tower of weakness and from this beacon of kindness that is the Wayside.

Thanks for being part of this inner circle.

Graham

Rev Graham Long
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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