Dear Inner Circle,

If you walk into our Kings Cross cafe you will see plates stuck on the wall. Each of them is decorated with the hopes and dreams of members of our community. Too often when the struggles of life hit, the focus of concern is on “What is the matter with you?” At Wayside we much prefer to ask, “What matters to you?” This is an important question as it shifts our attention beyond the present moment towards a preferred future. As humans, we are at our best when our future is beyond us and we are looking forward. When things are at their worst, our future is only 5 minutes away and we get trapped in a world where the best outcome can only be relief. When it is beyond us we are awakened to the possibilities that hope holds. We don’t need a map of the future, we just have to believe it is there, somewhere.

The skill required to facilitate a discussion group in a youth remand centre can be not be taught in a classroom. Conversations running way off course often end in heartbreak. In the hope of sparking a lively discussion in one of those groups, I once asked some boys “What is free in this world?” A usually quiet lad’s eyes shot up excitedly, “Ooh, I know the answer to this one, it’s hate right? Hate is free!” One can only imagine what had happened to him, to make him lose trust and hope in the world. At Wayside we believe that when young people fail, our society fails. The Wingspan Project is Wayside’s new youth training and employment program that aims at interrupting the cycles that lead to criminal behaviour, alcohol and drug use, and low socioeconomic disadvantage. It is focused on changing the lives of some of the nation’s most vulnerable young people. This project will be based in Bondi and will take seven long-term unemployed kids and pay them and train them for a year, with the aim of making them employable in the hospitality industry for life. Watch this space, as I will be sure to have some stories of how love prevails for the kids in this program in the coming months.

Yesterday on the way home I was arrested by soul-stirring piano playing coming from the chapel. I sat alongside a young man on the piano stool as he poured himself into the piece. When he’d finished playing, we sat together for a short time until he looked at me and said, “That was to quiet the monsters in my head, normally it takes a few points up my arm to make them go away.” It was a beautiful soundtrack for a precious life. We embraced briefly and walked out together to head our separate ways, but each of us with a newfound sense of the other.

It’s school holidays so Lisa and I will be taking a week’s leave with the girls down in Melbourne with family, so next week we will be taking a break from sending an Inner Circle. I look forward to getting in touch again on my return.

Thanks for being a part of this Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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