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Dare to Dream of a ‘Sanctuary in the City’

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4: 13-18

 

Sadly, many of us SEE homeless people on the streets of Adelaide but our compassion is easily overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness and so we miss the UNSEEN dignity of a life created in God’s image  hidden under a ruffled exterior.

 

Did you know that in January 2020:

  • 158 people were sleeping rough (but known by name) in city doorways, under bridges and in the Parklands?
    • 101 of these were male
    • 57 were female
  • Almost 40% were Aboriginal People – our ‘First Nations’ people
  • 84% are struggling with physical health issues
  • 84% are suffering with mental illness
  • 60% say they are homeless due relationship breakdown

(Note: Adelaide Zero Project data as at 19 January 2020)

 

What is the Life experience behind these statistics?

One 50 years old Indigenous man (Let’s call him Sam) who was sleeping rough in the streets of Adelaide shared a snapshot of his story with WestCare staff late last year. Sam had 3 admissions to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in as many weeks due to his chronic liver cirrhosis caused by 20 years of alcoholism. Each separate hospital admission followed the same pattern where the medical team investigated the current presenting symptom and came to the prompt conclusion that the alcohol abuse was the root cause of Sam’s problem and discharged him. Due to his homeless state, each discharge resulted in Sam returning to the streets and his alcohol, until the next time he required hospital admission. Not only was Sam’s chronic disease causing a significant financial and resource burden to the health care system, the multiple ambulance callouts  resulted in a debt of over $2000 which he is unable to pay. Legal action regarding the debt has followed. When asked about the reasons for his alcohol habit, Sam explained that in part it is to act as pain management for hip and pelvis injuries sustained when struck by a car, but the primary reason is that it helps mask the pain of his broken heart following the death of his wife from cancer.

 

What is our Lord seeking to reveal to us about how His people of faith can be an authentic expression of Salt and Light amid the complexity of our modern society? My sense is that our gracious Lord would turn his face toward people who are living in despair under layers of adversity and struggling to make sense of the daily challenges of their circumstances and say… “Come to me… for I will give you rest”.

 

I invite you to dare to dream and pray with us as we begin to plan the redevelopment of WestCare as a ‘Sanctuary in the City’ where people like Sam can feel valued and included in our community of faith, hope and love.

 

Graham Brown

CEO, Baptist Care SA

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