From small things, big things grow!
After seeing a post by my friend Dennis on facebook (see his blog on wondering pilgrim) from the Wayside Chapel, I was prompted to revisit something I wrote last year….
I love the radio. Particularly I love Radio National. No matter what time of the day or night it always has something interesting being talked about, or someone amazing being interviewed. I love the guests that Phillip Adams seems to attract, perhaps because of his clear leftish tendencies, people who seems to care about others, particularly others not so well off.
One person who really made an impression on me was Matt Noffs, the grandson of the legendary Uniting Church minister, Ted Noffs. Ted Noffs founded The Wayside Chapel in 1964 in the heart of Sydney`s red light district of Kings Cross. He established drug referral and rehabilitation centres for the first time there as well as helping the city`s poor and needy. In the decades since Ted`s death his oldest son, Wesley, and now his grandsons, Rupert and Matt, run the `family business`, the Ted Noffs Foundation, forging new ways of reaching out to today`s youth. This includes a street university in Sydney where young people can come and engage in activities needed to grow and develop. While now seen as secular, in that it is not linked to any particular church or religion the foundation has its roots firmly in the Christian gospel of social action and care for the poor and marginalised and reflects the work and faith of its founder.
Ted Noffs used to say: `I am a Christian, I am a Catholic, I am a Protestant, I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Jew, I am a Sikh, I am an Agnostic and I am an Atheist. But first and foremost I am a human being and no one in this world is a stranger to me.` His motto, Love yourself and others as they are saw the practical side of religion take centre stage. Over time he developed the `Family of Humanity` a belief that transcended all boundaries of belief, all ideas of barriers of class and socio economic status and put him on a collision course with his own church.
And he suffered terribly. He was charged with heresy not just once but a number of times as well as being accused of harbouring drug addicts and criminals and of being God forbid a non Christian.
Yet I believe Ted Noffs was closer to Jesus’ message than what is often heard from the church today. The thing that is amazing is that his children and grandchildren are carrying his message to the community in which they live and work. The seeds Ted planted have grown widely and wildly, into a second and third generation of love for others. Like a mustard seed, if you know the story..
The Wayside Chapel also continues the work he started, speaking out for those without a voice. Below is the post from Dennis from the current minister ….