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Thursday, June 28, 2012

From the Wayside Chapel-Graham Long

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
 and health.
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
 soiled herself. 
How did she get to Sydney I hear you say? More hours of negotiation and
I approved
 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
Kings Cross
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