Dear Inner Circle,

Not long ago a beautiful member of our Inner Circle from Peru organised members from her community to come here to share their Independence Day Celebrations with us. The people of Peru identify closely with the powerful role that community and compassion play in facing and overcoming adversity. The group arrived in a spirit of generosity and love, bringing clothes, music and fun. As the celebrations began, a feast was carefully laid out so that eating and dancing could commence. To speed things up one of our regulars jumped in and appointed himself supervisor of the barbecue. All present were soon caught up in the festive spirit. There is no better way to share culture and create an instant community than through food. The shortest distance between two people is a meal. Another one of our visitors leapt with delight, she is Peruvian and was so proud to share her culture and led some dancing as a band played, all in traditional dress. It was what I called a Wayside Mariachi band! What really captured all those present was the fact that there was never a sense that this group was coming to perform “for” them, but rather it was a celebration “with”. There’s a world of difference between these two words “for” and “with”. To understand the power of that difference is to understand Wayside in its foundations of creating a community where everyone is welcome.

I love heading down to visit the team being led in Bondi by Graham Anson. Late Sunday afternoon I managed to swing past our Heart Cafe to check in on the amazing team after the City2Surf had swept through the place. I was lucky enough to join them at the end of the busiest day of the Bondi Beach trading year. I was expecting them to look exhausted but was delighted to see the team still held incredible positive energy and were laughing together as they told funny stories about the events of the day. My highlight was to see the look on the faces of the young participants in our Wingspan Project. The program has helped these young people who have been unemployed by giving them work at the cafe, setting them up for a career in hospitality and beyond, and surrounding them with a community of love and support for life. They clearly worked long and hard as a team to achieve something great, and it’s something that I will not soon forget. Much was expected of them and much was delivered. It’s easy to write off young people but I’m inclined to think that if we can look into their faces and believe in their potential – that is if we can expect more because we believe that they are destined for more – then the actual can be realised. You’ll be surprised how hope works to bring new life. In the first instance, hope often resides in the beholder rather than the beheld. I saw young faces, once stooped, unsure and resentful, beaming in the glory of a job well done. Wayside has made a massive investment in this program and we believe in the results to come.

Lastly, just a mention that present Steve Price from 2GB Radio will be broadcasting live from Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross this afternoon from 12 midday – 3pm. I’ll be interviewed as well as some others at Wayside, so tune in to listen live at https://www.2gb.com/listen-live/.

Thanks for being a part of this Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
CEO/Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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