Chat Room


The End of an Era: Chat Room is to close

The Chat Room at 241 Brisbane St, a drop-in centre serving three meals a week, closes down at the end of May 2012. I wrote this poem as an experiment. It contains my reflection on the Chat Room at what that community has shown me.

As background, the smokers at Chat Room could step out the back door, where they overlook the Ipswich Line – a major coal train route to the Port of Brisbane. Looking a little further, the Bremer River, the original transport link with Brisbane for people and coal and other goods, flows.


Although the community loses a wonderful asset, there are already plans to provide other new services for the people who come there. This poem is a celebration, not a lament, because the coal trains and the river, and the drugs and the emptiness are still there, and the call, “whom shall I send” remains pregnant in the atmosphere.

My response to that call is documented here: Ipswich Mall Ministry


Chat Room


Coal trains grunting through the night, hauling rich cargo down to the sea.

They groan at night as they haul it through, and come back empty in the day.

The wealth of the land, taken to market. Out of the country, out of our hands.

Streams of wealth go somewhere, but only empty cars return,

going back to the mines, hollow, empty, spent.


Meanwhile the heavy laden come to Chat Room, and the smokers look over the Ipswich line.

The weary have come to find rest for their souls, as the coal trains bear their heavy yoke outside.

They’ve been hauling all their treasure to market and out of their hands. They return empty, spent.

They’re hollow and empty, but they’re back for more, straight back for more, all of it going out to sea.

Streams of wealth go somewhere, but we never see it here.

Pit MinersThe river flows alongside the tracks, now it wanders off, now it meanders across the line.

The coal train runs on narrow gauge; purposeful, straight and true.

The river be damned, says the train, “just build a bridge and get over it”.

What comes back up the line is empty, but it’s “back to the mines”, straight back for more, all of it going out to sea.

But the river keeps flowing, never emptied and never rushed, going out of the land, out of our hands.

Construction of the second Indooroopilly Railway Bridge Brisbane May 1895The thirsty come to Chat Room and the smokers look over the Bremer River.

The hungry come in to find food; the river outside yields emptiness.

The river’s polluted; it’s brackish and toxic. It’s yield can’t be eaten; it is only death.

They took coal downriver in the early days, and whole families came back up and settled here.

Now coal goes down the line, and trains bring workers up each night, hollow and spent, empty.

QR CoalThe river is full of needles and junk; speed where there was once meandering, ice where there was life.

The water is toxic.

The thirsty drink their death.

The ice gives no warmth.

The river’s yield is death.

The hungry eat their doom.

The speed hastens the grave.

The grass goes up in smoke leaving emptiness. Nothing.

So much treasure goes down this river, out of the land, out of our hands. It flows into the sea.

Streams of wealth go somewhere, but nothing ever returns to fill the emptiness.

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,

and whoever believes in me

will never be thirsty.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who mourn, 

for they will be comforted.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return to it without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

   It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire

   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

This is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

Railway line in the Ipswich suburb of Gailes. Credit Martin HowardI saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple,

a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,

“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said,

“Here am I. Send me!”

For what happened next, see the “Marketplace Evangelism” category in this blog. You will find the following articles:

Marketplace Christianity – In a Marketplace!

Posted on May 29th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 5 Comments

What is Marketplace Christianity really? Generally, the term "Marketplace Christianity" is used to describe the way in which a believer can…

Continue Reading

Street Links 2012 – God does not show favouritism.

Posted on Jun 6th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 1 Comment

Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (Jas…

Continue Reading

Evangelism: What is it? Do you have to do it?

Posted on Jun 12th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

What is Evangelism? Do you have to do it? Read on... perhaps you already do! Summary: Jesus’ “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:18-20 is,…

Continue Reading

Titles: “Who do the crowds say I am?”, “Who do you say I am?”, “I do not accept human testimony”.

Posted on Jun 13th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet! How important are titles? I am given various titles by various…

Continue Reading

Why do all the charities have to be run by Christians?

Posted on Jun 18th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

"Why are all the charities run by Christians?" Of course I'm fully aware that it is untrue to say that "all of the charities are run by Christians"!…

Continue Reading

The Ministry: “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom…”

Posted on Jul 10th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 1 Comment

What possible value can come from simply "being there"? I've begun a habit of sitting in the Ipswich Mall every Tuesday. Several people join me…

Continue Reading

Heaven: “a banquet of aged wine — the best of meats and the finest of wines”

Posted on Aug 8th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

Heaven as "a banquet" There are numerous Biblical texts which liken heaven, in various ways, to a great banquet. But how  is this properly used in…

Continue Reading

A Five-Year-Old Junkie and the Hungry Bandit

Posted on Aug 17th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

People are Awesome How do you describe a day in which you meet not one, but two very special human beings? Last Tuesday, as is my custom, I…

Continue Reading

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn 8:32)

Posted on Aug 26th, 2012 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (Jn 8:36) I have a friend who has been set free by the truth. This is from her story. The story…

Continue Reading

“Mission to the Marginalised”…?

Posted on Jan 29th, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a missionary? I was invited recently to talk under the heading "Mission to the…

Continue Reading

Street Theology: Justification by Faith

Posted on Mar 7th, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 4 Comments

How Biblical Justification Looks "On the Street" Everybody loves being right. It's even better when you are recognised as being right in front of…

Continue Reading

Evangelism: A View from the Inside

Posted on Apr 2nd, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

A State of Being: Freedom I was reflecting, as I often do, on what the chances are that I will be able to impart my joy to others before I…

Continue Reading

Sonny with a Chance

Posted on Jun 21st, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

The Bible: A Book of Comfort My friend Sonny saw me in the Mall today and we had a bit of a chat. He said something very wise, which I pointed out…

Continue Reading

Join us in Street Ministry

Posted on Jul 1st, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 6 Comments

You too, can Preach to the Street I have recently been producing and distributing little cards which contain a single Bible verse, and a very…

Continue Reading

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Posted on Jul 10th, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

To What shall I Compare the Kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is coming to the street subculture of Ipswich. How can I describe it? How can I…

Continue Reading

It Starts: The Kingdom of God is Germinating in Ipswich

Posted on Oct 15th, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 11 Comments

October 2013: It Starts. I need to record some of the things that have been happening because God is making himself known in remarkable ways in…

Continue Reading

Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? – Luke 18:7

Posted on Nov 4th, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 1 Comment

Persisent Prayer - An illustration I just found this audio. I recorded it twelve months ago, and kept it switched to "Private" in SoundCloud. It…

Continue Reading

Evangelism: A Revolution

Posted on Nov 13th, 2013 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

That Old Question: What really is Evangelism? I've posted a couple of things previously which reveal my unorthodox take on what 'Evangelism'…

Continue Reading

Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 1-2 Brisbane – Sydney – Abu Dhabi – Athens

Posted on Jan 11th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 2 Comments

Brisbane - Sydney - Abu Dhabi - Athens Day 1 is mostly travel. In fact, it's hard to define what, precisely, is a "day" when you cross so many time…

Continue Reading

If there’s any “Church life” in twenty years’ time… what will it look like?

Posted on Dec 9th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

The Church will not be the same in 2035. What will it be like? I have great confidence that the Church will be healthy and strong in 2035, because…

Continue Reading

In The Mall… What’s it all about?

Posted on Dec 28th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

Introduction I was asked to compile a brief story about what I've been up to. Much of this story comes from other blog posts, but there's also some…

Continue Reading



facebook comments:

Post Tagged with  , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.