Dear Inner Circle,

Today we farewelled one of our long-term and well-loved community members. During the eulogies someone stood and said, “His life started out terribly, but then it managed to get worse!” Another came to the front and said, “I thought this was the reading out of his Will damn it!  Nah, just kidding, what a man he was, I’m going to miss you mate, even in your darkest moments you had a kind heart!” We see our fair share of sadness at Wayside, but maintaining a sense of humour, even in the worst moments is a key to surviving tough times. 

The art of remaining engaged in a conversation, whilst attempting to piece together a coherent narrative in a non-chronological order, is a much-valued “on the job” skill that is often required for those who work and volunteer at the Wayside. I recently answered my phone and the excitement of the caller caught me off balance. I felt like somehow this conversation started in the middle and that I’d definitely missed the introduction and context of the story being told. For a moment, I wasn’t entirely sure if the caller meant to call me or perhaps it was a crossed line. In spite of my confusion, the caller had good news and the joy was overwhelming as well as contagious. “I’ve got my boys back! I’ve got them back! I have done everything asked of me and I have them back! Isn’t that great?” I matched her enthusiasm even if truth be told, I was still lost. “Thank you all for helping me into rehab, then housing, then counselling and then linking me in with your wonderful programs, they changed me. I am going to volunteer for you soon….” Thankfully the penny finally dropped, and while her history is too painful to recount, I can say that her turnaround is almost too remarkable to believe. Her “boys” refer to her son and her dog, and she has gone from being alone, and strung out in jail two years ago to being clean today! What a breathtaking journey. Any power that lies in the Wayside exists in the power of love over self-hate. It’s the truest and strongest thing. Such joy! You see it when you believe it.

Wayside Chapel
There has been a particularly nasty batch of drugs on the street and our teams have been working tirelessly over the past two weeks – responding to an increased number of people who make it to us only to collapse and overdose. Our workers have brought five people back from the brink and kept them conscious long enough for ambulance services to arrive. Some of our visitors are so traumatised that the sight of staff working on someone lying lifeless on the ground, can barely even elicit a glance from them. Two of our staff members were performing CPR on one of our visitors this week and it was taking an uncomfortably extended period of time. There was a growing sense that the person might not survive. Everyone began to wait with bated breath and the usual background noise reduced to silence. Tension was in the air. When life returned, a cheer erupted for the staff. Spare a thought for the poor fella on the ground who had no idea what was going on. Some days we see lives turned around, other days we just save lives. Either way, it’s a miracle worth a cheer or three!

As Christmas trees go up around the city, I’m reminded that for many people this is the loneliest and hardest time of year. Wayside will once again provide a free Christmas lunch with all the trimmings on Christmas Day for over 800 men, women and children who otherwise would not be able to celebrate. You can donate a plate to a homeless person living on our streets, and your name will be written on a plate at our Christmas Day Street Party. Every year I’m blown away by the show of community support and I’m truly thankful for everything that we do to make it a happy time for those who need it most.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Jon

 

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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