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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Last week from The Wayside Chapel-Graham Long

Dear Inner Circle
"Hey Luv, have you got those pictures of my sister's weddin?" Walking to
Wayside this morning, I must have been in a dream, trying to put some order
into the day ahead because this question came from a woman who simply
wasn't there and then suddenly appeared right in my face. I knew this 
young woman although I'd not seen her for more than a year. I had no chance
to respond to the question about the photos because she launched straight into
a story about how her boyfriend had beaten her up last night. She looked like 
she'd copped quite a belting and she said that he had whinged about "the little
scratch" that she'd given him. There was no opportunity for questions. 
It seems the boyfriend has another woman and he uses this woman as a 
"plan B" for when the other woman is unavailable or not in a good mood. 
"I'm not putting up with it Luv. I'm clearing out as of now. Thanks for your help Luv."
Insert into this conversation a liberal use of the "Wayside adjective" 
and this is an accurate record of how the morning began today. 
I don't think I contributed a single word. She walked away feeling 
like I'd helped in some way and I walked away thinking, 
"What weddin, what photos, what boyfriend, what is your name again?" 
Imagine how much help I could have been if I had been able to speak.
At the front door today a young, well dressed man was waiting to see me. 
He asked for some time and so we went into the vestry just off the Chapel. 
This conversation began with a flow of tears. If I have a "gift," it must
be the ability to make people cry. It's a gift that puzzles me especially
when conversations with complete strangers begin with streaming tears.
This fellow had a long list of religious questions and he fired them in
quick succession. "Is hell real?" He'd not long become a father and the
love he felt for this child, made him think that he was participating in a
love that was larger than himself. So maybe there is a God but could 
such a God really consign people to hell? What kind of God would 
consign his son to hell just because he hadn't been baptised. What kind of God
would be cheered up in any way by splashing some water onto this kid's head? 
Was evil real? Wouldn't we be better off if we were Buddhists? 
That seemed to be a gentler way to go. All such questions are quite 
fun but I did this guy a deal. I told him that I'd act as his theological 
advisor if he would work with someone on his anxiety, as a separate issue.
Such a wonderful, bright young man and the tears were for the good.
That interview was terminated because of a young woman waiting
just outside the glass door who was catching my eye at every opportunity. 
This conversation also began with streaming tears. She told me that she'd 
spent the last 10 years being very promiscuous but that she was lonelier than
she ever thought possible. "It seems like the more I connect, the less I connect. 
What am I doing wrong?"
Well, that's my morning so far but the day is yet young.
Thank you for the towels that are coming in from all over the country. 
I try not to use this note as an "ask" but when I do the response is nothing
short of amazing. My deepest thanks.
Perth was a great break. Have you ever noticed how empty this country is? 
You can fly for hours over unpopulated country. I went to some small towns
and met people who lamented the lack of people in the town. They mourned
the loss of football teams and basketball teams and other signs of town 
life that once existed. I came home bewildered by our national fear of 
boat people and our expensive obsession with processing people off shore. 
The Opposition has a policy that is inhumane and cruel to say the
least and our current government, that promised a return of humane policy, 
has somehow come unhinged from reality. If we stopped demonising
people smugglers for a moment and pondered how most boat people
have the courage to risk their lives for family; they are brave enough
to take initiative; they're willing to work hard to achieve stability for 
their loved ones; they hate terror and are fleeing from it. Gosh, these
are the kind of people we'd want as Australian citizens. There are plenty 
of towns out the back of nowhere that would learn to love and care for such 
people and enjoy the life that was brought to their town.
Would you or someone you know love to join the Wayside team? 
We're looking for a Senior Youth Worker to lead a talented team
of Youth Workers and be accountable to our Manager of Community Engagement. 
We're also looking for a full time Café Assistant for our Cafe Coordinator
who is accountable to our Community Building Manager. Both jobs are
on our web site, check them out and have a think about who you might
know that should receive this link -
Every week I make a mental note to shorten the length of this little epistle. 
O well, perhaps next week. Thanks for being part of this inner circle,

Rev Graham Long
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross
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Footnote: Graham is the Pastor of the Wayside Chapel in Sydney's notorious Kings Cross.His father Harold led me to the Lord Jesus Christ. His weekly newsletter is full of hard won wisdom from "the Real World"

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