The Big Day is Almost Here

riders

It’s cold, wet and windy. Sunday afternoon and I’m in Albany, contemplating cycling out of here in the morning in stormy conditions. I could take the easy way out and jump in a support vehicle but when Ride for Hope 2014 begins, I’ll be on my bike … rain, hail or shine.

I’m not a ‘macho hero’, I’m simply a guy who has seen the end result of rides like this. While I’m cycling over 500 kilometres from Albany to Perth, there’ll be children in extreme poverty who benefit from my sore muscles. While I know that I’ll have a lot of fun on the ride, I also know there’ll be tough stretches when my legs will ask again, why are we doing this? I’m not fully fit, I’m not fully prepared, but I’m willing to stretch myself for the children who will receive the help they need through Compassion.

There are others on this ride, many who you can see in the photo above, who are nervous about what this week holds. This is the first ride for many. They’ve trained but they still don’t really know what tests await them. Like me, they’re prepared to take on the ride because they know of the great benefit that others will receive.

I want to do a deal with you. I’m prepared to face whatever comes and do my very best to make every kilometre if you are prepared to sponsor me. Maybe $5, maybe $10, maybe $500. Whatever you can afford will make a world of difference. You can support me by going to my fundraising page. Please click the link and help a child living in extreme poverty now.


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World Teachers’ Day 2014

school

Last Sunday was World Teacher’s Day. I could never be a school teacher but I do admire those who choose that profession and who work to build into the lives of young people all around the world. I know that many are selfless and dedicated and that they are an absolute credit to their profession. They are extremely deserving of more than a single day to recognise their contribution to the young lives they help to shape.

I’ve written about my experiences with school teachers before in my post Words that Scar.

I’ve often heard people talking about the amazing teachers they’ve had and the difference they’ve made in their lives. While I’m glad that there are many amazing teachers around the world who have been such incredible motivators and role models for others, whenever I hear people talking about them I must admit to feeling some sadness. I never had one of those wonderful teachers.

So while I can’t claim to have had any teachers who have inspired me towards greatness, I know that each of my teachers played a part in bringing me to where I am today.

On the other hand, I think that there are many people who may not have any official title as ‘teacher’ but who have taught me so much. Close friends, workmates, pastors and others have all played their part in teaching me. While I may be slow to learn the lessons that many have taught, I know that a variety of people have influenced me. My wife and my children have been great teachers in so many ways.

Who are the people who don’t hold the title of ‘teacher’ yet have taught you some great life lessons?

You may or may not have had career teachers who have inspired you but I’m sure you’ve had others in your life who have been unofficial teachers. Who are they and what have they taught you?


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Violence in the Streets

kangaroos

Despite what some people may think, we generally don’t have kangaroos wandering down every street in Australia. However, they’re never too far away and YouTuber Rodney Langham captured the video below of a couple of boxing kangaroos in a suburban street in New South Wales on the east coast of Australia.

I don’t know if anyone questioned the roos to find out what their disagreement was about but I certainly wouldn’t like to be the one to step in between them to try to calm things down.


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Telling Stories

rabbitohs

I’m not a rugby fan. I don’t know the difference between rugby union and rugby league or any other kinds of rugby that may exist. I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, so it’s always been about Australian Rules Football (AFL) for me.

The annual NRL Grand Final, the ultimate game for Rugby League teams and fans, has passed by without a glimmer of interest from me year upon year. I don’t really even know how many teams play in the league or where they’re from.

Yesterday’s Grand Final would have passed almost unnoticed yet again if it wasn’t for the fact that the South Sydney Rabbitohs were playing. The team, which my research tells me was established in 1908, has been missing in action from grand finals since last winning in 1971. After being a real power team for many decades they went through tough financial times and were even booted out of the league for a few years.

I didn’t watch the game, mainly because I wouldn’t have known what was going on, but I sure wanted to know the result and was hoping that the Rabbitohs would take the win. Thankfully the story had a fairy tale ending and they broke their 43 year premiership drought.

We love a good story and a sporting team overcoming the obstacles and rising from the ashes is certainly captivating. The story of the Rabbitohs was fascinating enough to have me interested in the result of a Rugby League game. That’s no small effort. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a film about their battle produced in the coming years.

The Power of Story

We can often forget just how important it is to tell great stories. You can argue opinions all day but a good story can cut through and engage us with a topic like nothing else can.

Movie makers around the world put millions of dollars into telling stories and many times their investment is handsomely rewarded. Why? Because it’s all about a great story well told. Whatever the genre, whether they’re using expensive special effects or not, if they get the story telling right they’re half way to creating a hit.

Why don’t we use story more often? Story telling isn’t just for sporting teams, books or movies. Every day we have opportunity to engage others in stories. And storytelling isn’t just about creating works of fiction. Telling true stories is incredibly powerful.

When I represent Compassion at churches or other gatherings I tell stories. True stories. Wonderful stories of lives changed. I have hundreds of facts and figures about poverty at my fingertips, and I do refer to some of them, but it’s the life stories that can engage and inform. When I recount meeting Melissa, Ada, Emmanuel, Erlan, Christine or some of the many others who have been released from poverty, the whole idea of what we do becomes real.

Storytelling isn’t about being manipulative or embellishing the facts. Done well, storytelling is about making a connection and opening the way for a better understanding. Storytelling allows others to step into a different journey, into someone else’s shoes, even if only for a moment. It allows them to wonder how they would feel or act in similar circumstances. It helps other identify with different people and experiences.

I’m wondering where you’ve seen the power of a story. Has someone else’s story changed you? Has a good story, well told, prompted you to action? Where else do you think we should be using stories to inform and engage others?


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A different kind of challenge

Hope

I reckon that the ice bucket challenge is a brilliant idea. It’s put a worthy cause in front of millions of people around the world.

Today I’d like to nominate you for a different kind of challenge. Check out the video for some details.

Every year since 2009 I’ve travelled between Albany and Perth, a distance of over 500 kilometres, by bicycle. I’ve taken on the challenge to raise funds for some very worthy causes but this year I’m looking forward to the ride even more as I support what I consider to be the best cause of all.

Back in the saddle

This October I’ll once again be taking part in the Ride for Hope. The ride will involve more than 30 cyclists, our biggest group ever, riding over 500 kilometres from Albany to Perth. As part of the event this year I’m raising money for Compassion.

If you’ve been following my blog for any time you’ll know that I work for Compassion, but I’m not supporting Compassion simply because it’s my job to do so.

I work for Compassion because I am convinced that there is no more effective organisation serving the world’s poor. I have seen no other method of working with those in poverty that even comes close to the way that Compassion is working.

I’ve seen Compassion’s work first hand in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Every time I visit another church that is partnering with Compassion I am amazed at the change it is making in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our world, children.

My fund raising target is $2000. To reach that goal I need 20 people who are prepared to donate $100. Can you please consider being one of those people?

Of course I understand that not everyone can afford to be so generous so please consider giving whatever you can. The need is desperate and any donation of $2 or more is tax deductible in Australia. (Donations are still welcome from anywhere in the world.)

If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of children who desperately need your support, simply visit my fundraising page.

I can assure you that your money will be well spent in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

For the 13th consecutive year, Compassion International has earned the highest rating for U.S. charities from Charity Navigator—the nation’s largest charity evaluator. The 4-out-of-4 stars rating places Compassion International in the top one-percent of non-profits reviewed by Charity Navigator

Let me thank you in anticipation of your support for children in poverty.


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