Richmond Wandera – Power over Poverty

When he was just eight years of age his father was murdered in front of his mother. That moment forced Richmond, his mother, and his siblings out of their home and into one of the world’s largest slums. Life had changed in an instant.

Back in February, in what now seems to be a whole different world, I had the honour of spending some time with Richmond Wandera during his short visit to Perth. His life was changed by a tragic event. His life was changed again when he was sponsored by a fifteen-year-old girl through Compassion.

During the many years I worked in radio I had the opportunity to meet a lot of inspirational people. I don’t think any of them were more inspirational than Richmond. He is a powerful storyteller and he has a very powerful story to tell. He has suffered malaria more than ten times, experienced extreme poverty, scavenged for food and seen things a child should never have to see.

Life now is very different. Richmond is a pastor and the founder of the Pastors’ Discipleship Network in several African countries.

The amazing thing is that while Richmond always carried that potential if it were not for the decision made by a fifteen-year-old girl to sponsor him, his life would look very different today.

Richmond Wandera – Power over Poverty

I’m so thrilled that my interview with Richmond is the very first full-length episode of my podcast, Bleeding Daylight.

Please listen to Richmond’s story in his own words at the website or wherever you usually find podcasts.

It will be really helpful if you can leave a review, especially on Apple Podcasts but you can also head to Google Podcasts, Spotify or most other podcast directories.

You can also follow the podcast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please share the podcast wherever you can.

You can unlock someone’s potential too.

There are hundreds of thousands of children around the world who need someone to step up and help release their potential. You can be the person who brings change and hope to the life of a child. Please sponsor a child today through Compassion.



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Bleeding Daylight

It’s been brewing in the background for quite a while, but the time has finally arrived.

I’m releasing a regular audio podcast named Bleeding Daylight and I’d really appreciate it if you could take the time to listen and help me get the word out.

I’ll give you a few suggestions of how you can help me later in this post.

Do you miss it?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know that since the end of 2013 I’ve been working to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name through Compassion Australia. Before that, I was working in radio.

I racked up more than 25 years’ experience in radio overall and so a question I’m still asked reasonably often is if I miss working in radio. While I still love the medium, the main thing I miss is the opportunity to help uncover interesting stories through interviews.

I’ve had the privilege of interviewing hundreds of musicians, authors, politicians, comedians, actors, sporting identities and others. I’m always captivated by the stories behind the people. I love discovering what drives a person and gaining a window their everyday lives.

Why Bleeding Daylight?

Bleeding Daylight probably sounds like a strange name for a podcast so I guess an explanation is in order.

Canadian, Bruce Cockburn, released ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’ on his 1984 album ‘Stealing Fire’. (If you’ve never heard the song, you’re missing out.)

A couple of lines from the song have always captured me.

Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight

That speaks to me of the efforts we all make to ensure the light continues to break through the ever-encroaching darkness. Sometimes we need to kick harder than at others.

That’s the essence of what I want to see develop through the Bleeding Daylight podcast.

How can you help?

The trailer episode is now available now at BleedngDaylight.net

The first full-length episode of Bleeding Daylight, featuring Richmond Wandera from Uganda, will be released on Monday, the 1st of June.


Richmond Wandera’s life was torn apart by violence and poverty. One act by a 15 year old girl began the healing that transformed his life and the lives of those around him. In this episode of Bleeding Daylight he tells his incredible story in his own words.

Richmond speaks honestly about the day he lost his father, his home and his childhood. He discusses the devastating effects of poverty and the part we can all play in seeing the end of extreme poverty.

Please listen at the website or wherever you usually find podcasts.

It will be really helpful if you can leave a review, especially on Apple Podcasts but you can also head to Google Podcasts, Spotify or most other podcast directories.

You can also follow the podcast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Please share the podcast wherever you can. I really need your help to give Bleeding Daylight the best chance of success.



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Mother’s Day 2020

Rodney Mum 1984

(This is a slightly updated post based on my what I have previously written for Mother’s Day.)

I don’t remember anything remarkable about the last Mother’s Day we shared with mum before the illness that consigned her to hospital for the rest of her days, but then we weren’t expecting it to be the last. As far as we knew there’d be many more days to celebrate mum.

Mum’s last couple of years were spent in hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm. For most of that time she was unable to communicate with us. Occasionally she was able to say a word or two but there were other signs that would show us that she knew a lot of what was going on. Mum was pretty much paralysed so even making movement to communicate was difficult.

There were several times that more bleeding in her brain would cause doctors to tell us that mum only had hours or maybe days to live. We would all begin to grieve our loss only to find the days turning into weeks or months until there was another medical setback and the whole process would begin again. You can imagine the kind of emotional toll that took on each of us, not to mention how it would have been for mum who was trapped inside a body that no longer did what it was meant to do.

Rodney Mum 1964When mum finally left this earth I experienced a mixture of relief, sadness and joy. There was relief that she didn’t have to suffer any longer, joy that she was now enjoying paradise but still the immense sadness of losing someone I loved so very, very much.

I’ve seen several more Mother’s Days come and go without a mum than I have with a mother. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a sad day for me but Mother’s Day always brings moments of reflection among the moments of celebrating what an incredibly wonderful mother my own children have and celebrating with Pauline’s mum.

I know that for many, who have more recently lost a mother, the pain is just a little more raw today and I do hope that if that’s the case for you, you’ll be able to recall some wonderful memories and think about the influence your mum has had on you. I hope that in years to come the day will be a celebration of the memories your mother has left you.

On the 28th of February, 1987, my mother, Margaret Sadie Olsen, passed away at the age of 66. I was just 23 years old when mum died. Mum was 43 when I was born.

There is so much that I wish she could have shared over the last few decades. Mum wasn’t around to see me cycle across Australia for the first time, just 8 months after she passed away. She never lived to see me realise my childhood dream of working in radio.

By the time I met Pauline, mum had already been gone for close to 5 years. She never got to see her youngest child marry the woman he loves. Mum never got to hold Emily or James in her arms. How I wish she was still here to see our wonderful family. I desperately wish that Emily and James could have met their Grandma Olsen and that Pauline could have spent time with her mother-in-law. I wish that Emily had been able to introduce her husband, Josh, to Grandma Olsen.
Rodney Dad Mum
Mum never heard me tell stories of my trips to places like India, Canada, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, the Philippines or Bangladesh and never had to sit at home and worry when I had to evacuate from Haiti during food riots several years ago.

Although she never got there, mum had an interest in travelling to Africa. I so wish I could tell her about my journey to Ethiopia and Rwanda a number of years ago. She was long gone before I took up the challenge of working for Compassion to see children released from poverty around the world.

She never experienced the thrill of seeing Emily and James born and then grow up to perform so well in many areas of life. Mum wasn’t very tall so both Emily and James are taller than she was. They could have playfully leaned on their Grandma just as I used to do when I was younger.

I know that there are many significant events in the lives of my siblings that mum has missed too. There have been highs and lows along the way but all of them would have been quite different if mum had been around to share them.

I know that the person I am today is very much a product of who mum was. I value the influence she was and continues to be in my life.



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But What if it’s True?

It all stands or falls on this. There’s no middle ground. Jesus’ life isn’t simply an object lesson on living well.

The faith of many millions over centuries hinges on the resurrection that Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday (and throughout the year). If that one moment in history didn’t happen then our faith is a complete farce.

In a letter that he wrote to the church at Corinth a couple of thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul claims that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the whole Christian faith is useless and all the world’s Christians are poor suckers who should be pitied.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Paul’s saying that the idea of Jesus being a good teacher who said some interesting things isn’t an option. He’s telling us that the whole Christian belief rests on the crucifixion and resurrection being historical fact.

For many, that’s too much of a stretch to believe. How can it be true that someone could be brutally killed yet return to life three days later?

But imagine for a moment that it is true. That would mean that death doesn’t have to be the end because it has been beaten at its own game.

We’ve all been inspired by the lives of others, even knowing that they have died or will at some stage die. Once they’re gone the story of their life, their trials and triumphs continue to influence and motivate us. Surely the story of someone who even triumphed over death itself should give rise to even greater admiration and inspiration … but of course only if the story of them defeating death is true.

When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. – Matt Perman

In an article written some years ago titled Historical Evidence for the Resurrection, Matt Perman takes a brief look at some of the reasons that many people over the past two thousand years have believed that Jesus rising from the dead isn’t just a nice story, it’s fact.

I don’t have time for a useless faith.

I’m not prepared to believe fairy tales and so while many will scoff and think I must be crazy, I will say that I believe that death has lost its sting because God raised his son Jesus from the dead.

That’s what I’ll be celebrating today and for all eternity.

I pray that you’ll take time to consider the significance of the Easter story this Resurrection Sunday.

The good news is that God, out of His love, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says “He was delivered up because of our sins.” But the apostle Paul goes on to say “He was raised to life because of our justification.” Paul is saying that Christ’s resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a happy future. – Matt Perman

Yes, you might think it sounds like a fairytale, but what if it’s true? What if death can be conquered?

For over two thousand years, millions of people have placed their faith in Jesus as the one who overcame death and now offers the same to those who would believe. Are you going to dismiss that possibility without even looking at the evidence?



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The Question of Easter

Our normal Easter routines have been shattered. Instead of spending time with friends and family, maybe camping or travelling, we’re at home trying to contain a pandemic.

I’m wondering if having that extra time will allow us time to consider some of the bigger life questions.

This is a post that I repeat in the lead up to Easter most years. While most of us will still be talking about rabbits and chocolate I think it’s worth taking a little time to look at the true story of Easter. The closest most of us get to the original Easter story is eating hot cross buns.

The bigger story is about the barbaric killing of a man who many millions of people throughout history believe defeated death and walked out of his tomb some days later. That’s extraordinary. Could such a story really be true or has the legend of this man, Jesus, grown over time?

Whether you’re a believer, apathetic or completely opposed to the person of Jesus, you’ve got to admit that his very existence has shaped much of the world. Whether you think that’s a good or bad thing, it’s simply fact.

With that in mind we really should decide for ourselves who Jesus is or was.

There’s an interesting exchange in the Bible about this very thing.

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

I suppose that if we reset the scene in modern times it might look more like:

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say you’re a good man; others say a teacher; others say a religious leader; others say a misunderstood man; others say a fictional character; others say an irrelevant historical figure; others say a prophet; others say a bigot; and still others, that you’re a guy who gives us a couple of days off each Easter and at the end of December.”

Then comes the question that should be directed to each one of us.

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Jesus was very wise in the way he asked his question. (After all, he is Jesus.) He says to his disciples, “Firstly let’s clear up what everyone else is saying about me.” It can be very easy for us to parrot someone else’s idea of who Jesus was or is. There are so many options that we can easily pick one that sounds reasonable to us.

But Jesus doesn’t give the disciples that option. After clearing up the range of things that others were saying, he focuses in on the individuals in front of him and says, “But What about you? Who do you say I am?”

I believe he’s doing the same today.

We need to be aware that there are many ideas of who Jesus is but in the end we need to answer that second question for ourselves.

Jesus looks at us all saying “But What about you? Who do you say I am?” Not who do your parents say I am; not who do your workmates say I am; not who does Richard Dawkins say I am; not who do your philosophy books say I am; not who does your pastor say I am; not who does your church say I am, but “Who do you say I am?”

Whether we say we believe the Bible’s idea of who Jesus is or not, we can’t afford to just grab someone else’s ideas on this one. We need to be open enough to have our views challenged. We need to look at how we came to hold the views we do and decide if that’s a good enough reason to think that way.

All the arguments about what people believe about Christians and their views are secondary and irrelevant until we decide what Jesus is about.

If we truly look at the evidence for ourselves and decide that Jesus was just a man we’ve got nothing to lose but if he was who the Bible claims and we don’t acknowledge it, our life could be at stake.

I’m siding with Peter on this one when he answered, “Who do you say I am?” with “The Christ of God.” Exactly what that means for me and the way I live my life is something that I will continue to grapple with for the rest of my life.

Who do you say Jesus is?



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