Des reaches out a helping hand—and meets God
Des Langella, a Brisbane paralegal in her early 20’s, life—and faith—changed catching a bus to work. At the bus stop, she met Kristie, a 16 year homeless heroin addict. Des was so moved, she wanted to help … immediately.
‘I told her then and there to come and live at my place,’ Des said.
It was a bold move, but Des was determined.
‘One of the most difficult things I had to overcome was the feeling of being used. Kristie would leave without word then phone, sometimes weeks later, and ask me to pick her up if she was in hospital or when she was in danger,” she said. “I would worry so much about her and I would pray for help.”
Des had to draw on God to show her how to love and accept Kristie for who she was.
“I came to know that God was with her and that I couldn't carry her burden,” she said. “When worry would take hold of me, I would give those concerns to God.
“I learned to pray and came to realise that what I had to give was meaningless without God. I learned not to be afraid of walking in the dark places with Kristie because God would always shine a light.”
Despite Des’ love and care, Kristie was never able to break her heroin addiction and died of an overdose on a city street. Kristie’s death shook Des and she reflected back on those years and what they meant.
‘In the end it just came down to love—unconditional love,’ she said.
‘That’s why I offered my home to Kristie.’
After a lot of soul searching, Des came to realise how much Kristie had changed her and how she saw God.
‘Before Kristie, I only knew one way to live.’
Des is no longer a paralegal and she doesn’t live in Brisbane. After her experience with Kristie, she dedicated her working life to the people living on the streets of inner Sydney and Wesley Mission.
Much of Des’ work has revolved around Edward Eagar Lodge, Wesley Mission’s emergency accommodation centre in Surry Hills.
‘Stay at Des’ place’ isn’t an official Wesley Mission program, but her story reflects how for so many Wesley Mission staff their work is so much more than just a job.
At Wesley Mission, we shall continue to care for those whose lives are weighed down and heavily burdened. Whether we are housing the homeless or engaged with those who are lonely, God’s love is at the heart of all that we do.
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