Dear Inner Circle,
Becoming the people we would wish to be is always a slow process.
I'll bet I've heard more renunciations of old ways than most. I'll bet I've heard
more people swear off the drink or drugs or other addictions than most.
But change never happens with one insight or one decision or one event.
I think good habits are the greatest tool for character building and bad habits
are the greatest weapon for the dissipation of ourselves. That's why I'm so
impressed when I see someone replace destructive habits with habits that build
and serve. One of our famous street drinkers has, for two years now, not
had a drink. He has replaced habits that indulged and destroyed with habits
that serve and build. This fellow is working full time and spends every weekend
serving others at Wayside in the hope that he might help someone back to life
Starting again from nowhere is a big ask of someone who has reached middle age
and blown all of their savings in destructive behaviour. It is tough to build
new relationships when a network of alliances have been built that co-operate
and aide the person's self destruction. Every time I meet our former street
drinker and see him smartly dressed and with his engaging eyes alight,
I'm lifted and encouraged. Can you imagine the adjustments that had to be
made when this fellow joined the workforce again after being drunk for so long?
His new job required that he obtain a car and so he bought a pile of junk
for next to nothing. This old car has been running on prayer for some time,
held together by faith, rope and charity. The car died this week and as a result
a good man and a good job looked set to become parted. Desperate to prevent
this waste, I wrote to 4 people whom I knew to be generous and good people.
It was cheeky of me but I asked each one to lend me $2,000 so that we could
buy a car and preserve the job of this courageous man. Within hours, not only
did I have the promise of $8,000 but one of these angels dropped his own car
around to Wayside so that it could be used until we found the right car to buy!
That beautiful angel is hiring a car to make do so that a brother that he has
never met keeps his job and strengthens the habits that make him stronger and
more alive. Tears are not far away as I recall the look on the face of the reformed drunk.
He had no words because there are no words that could express what I saw on his
face as he took the keys of a strangers car, given generously, given without strings,
with $50 to put some petrol in the tank and an instruction not to panic in the
event that an accident might happen. In the hard journey back to life and health,
it sure helps to know that there are people in the world who will love and
encourage and help.
Last week, one of our workers was phoned at 7am by the railways to say that
a woman who was booked to travel to Brisbane had been put off the train
because of her smell. How did this become the problem of the Wayside I hear
you say? Countless phone calls over hours established that the woman has cerebral palsy
and was wheelchair bound. She had no carer with her and had clearly
How did she get to Sydney I hear you say? More hours of negotiation and
the cost of an airfare to Brisbane still not sure how this became our problem.
The airline needed to know what kind of chair with what kind of batteries etc etc.
At the end of the day the airport phoned to say that the woman stunk so badly
they would not allow her onto a plane. Our worker phoned her partner to head
out to the airport and shower the poor woman in the chair. I'll bet the partner was
mystified about how this became our problem or how such a weird and
unromantic errand dropped out of the sky on a Sunday evening. It turned out that
the lady had been so long in her own excrement that her skin had discoloured and split.
At about 5pm, the poor woman was on a flight to Brisbane and our worker
finished her day exhausted and exasperated for the sake of a woman she had
never met. There seems to be a protocol with police, railways, larger charities
and all kinds of groups that says that if a person fits nowhere and is the
responsibility of no one, call The Wayside Chapel.
That's enough, thanks for being part of our inner circle,
PS This is my last chance to say to you before the 30th June, that this is the
right moment to let your love of humanity reach down into your wallet.
Find a charity that you trust (I know a good one) and make a donation in
the last moments of this financial year. Generosity is a good habit. If you'd
like to donate to Wayside, you can do so here.
Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
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