How Do We Explain?

Looking across a couple of news websites today I’ve seen a common theme.

“How do I explain this to my 10-year-old son?”

“I was ashamed to explain to my nine-year-old son this morning that we had planned to cheat.”

It seems parents are agonising over how to explain the Australian cricket cheating scandal to their children.

For those not in Australia and therefore not having their newsfeeds swamped with stories of the unimaginable horror of the latest scandal to rock the sports world, here’s the very shortened version of ball tampering by the Australia national cricket team.

Cameron Bancroft was charged with alleged ball tampering on 24 March 2018 when videos showing him rubbing and then concealing a suspicious yellow object emerged during day three of the third test against South Africa, at Newlands Stadium. Captain Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft accepted the ball tampering allegation in front of Andy Pycroft, the match referee, and press. – wiki

How do we explain to a child that a game that’s meant to be played fairly and by the rules isn’t always as fair as it should be? How do we tell our children that their heroes aren’t heroes after all?

Of course, we should be able to expect more from those who represent our country and yes, it’s not easy to explain these things to a child.

But as I read these articles I’m left wondering too.

How do we explain to our kids that there are around 400 million children, just like them, that are living in extreme poverty in our world today? How do we explain that millions of young people around their age don’t know if they’ll even eat today?

How do we explain to them that today there’ll be roughly 15,000 children under the age of five who will die from preventable causes? How do we tell them that tomorrow there’ll be another 15,000 who will die, then another 15,000 the next day, the day after and the day after that? How do we tell our children that ‘preventable’ means that we have all the resources, all the know how, but as a world community we refuse to step up and stop those deaths?

Are we agonising over how we explain the horrors of war where children their age are killed daily? Do we struggle to find the words to explain why children are locked away in detention centres under Australia’s watch?

I don’t think we struggle to explain any of these things to our children. We don’t struggle because there really is no explanation as to why we continue to allow these things to go on. We don’t struggle because we choose to simply not have those kinds of conversations.

There’s no agonising over explaining these kinds of horrors to our children because these matters are obviously not as important to us, or as earth-shaking, as some highly paid sportsmen breaking the rules.

How could I ever explain that to a child?

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It’s Not About the Bike

What were you doing when you were 14? What responsibilities did you have at that age?

At 14 years old, Larpopo is the head of her household. After her parents left, she became responsible for cooking, cleaning and caring for her four siblings, two of whom have special needs. She bares the full weight of an adult. And one day it became too much.

You may have heard that I’m taking part in Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast in September this year, cycling 4 300 kilometres across Australia but the ride isn’t primarily about cycling. It’s about those who will receive a hand up through the ride. Ride for Compassion is raising money for Highly Vulnerable Children. Children like Larpopo.

You can see her story in the video below.

If you’d like to support children like Larpopo through the Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast you can do so in two ways.

You can support children like Larpopo by making a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund. I am personally seeking to raise $10 000 in the lead up to Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast. I really need your help to make that a reality.

Every child in poverty is vulnerable, but some children are at risk of the most deplorable situations in the world.

Children whose parents who have left, died, or are unable to provide for them, children exposed to exploitation and children with special needs are highly vulnerable. They often find themselves on the edge of extremely dangerous situations like child labour, gang violence, trafficking, and life on the street.

The other way you can be part of Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast is to sponsor a child living in poverty. By using that link your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name. I want to see at least 10 children sponsored as part of my commitment to Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

You might have thought that beating poverty is impossible. It’s not. If we all do what we can we can not only reduce extreme poverty, we can defeat it.

I’ll play my part by putting this ageing body on the line for a month. Please play your part by donating now.

Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Sponsor a child today or donate through my fundraising page.

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I’ve been talking about you

In my work I regularly meet with people such as church pastors over coffee or a meal. We talk about a range of matters but one of the topics that seems to come up again and again is family. My wife and my children are incredibly important to me so it should be no surprise that they are always in my thoughts and conversations.

Recently I was chatting to a pastor and once again our conversation turned to our families. We both shared stories of how incredible our respective children are, how quickly they’ve grown up and how proud we are of them.

That conversation about our children reminded me of a time long, long ago.

My dad worked on a ship travelling up and down the Western Australian coast. He was away from home a lot.

I still remember, one day when I was quite young, visiting the ship dad was working on when it was docked in Fremantle. I’m the youngest of five siblings and for whatever reason, on this day I was there with my eldest two brothers.

A man who also worked on the ship walked past and a conversation began. Once he was told we were ‘Tom’s kids’ he said something to the effect of, “You must be … “ and then mentioned our names. “Your dad talks about you all the time.” He gave us the impression that our dad was very proud of his children.

Wow! That was a revelation. Dad talked about us.

I would never have thought that when he was away from our family for weeks at a time that one of his popular topics of conversation would have been his children.

I don’t know why I found it so surprising but I did. It meant that I might just matter to dad.

All of that got me thinking.

Do my children know that I talk about them, endlessly?

Does James know that earlier this week while talking to a group of people about him someone mentioned how I immediately puffed out my chest with pride? They caught a glimpse of how much I love James in my facial expressions and body language as well as the words I was using.

Would Emily ever think that I often talk about how incredibly talented she is and that I’m so proud of her? Would she know that the picture I paint in others’ minds of her is of an incredible young woman who I love so very much, because that’s exactly how I see her?

Do both Emily and James know that even though I’ve had some amazing highlights in my life, they top them all? Do they know that even in the busyness of my life and work they are never far from my mind and my conversations?

Emily and James, you don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you …. your dad talks about you …. all the time.

If you’re a parent, do your children know that you talk about them to others?

Do they know that when you’re away from them and you can choose to talk about anything in the world, you talk about them? Do they know that you’re always on your mind and in your heart? Maybe it’s worth telling them today.

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Fourteen Years

children

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written, but time is short. How short? Well maybe fourteen years, maybe less.

A week ago I had another one of those celebrations that happen once every 365 days, or in this case, 366. It dawned on me that based on the retirement age here in Australia of 67, I have just fourteen years of gainful employment left. (Wow … I am getting old, aren’t I?)

But what does that really mean for me?

Let’s face it, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow. (It always amazes me that we so often think that an early demise will come at the hands of a negligent bus driver. I think they get a bad rap. Surely bus deaths aren’t that high.) However, if the good Lord decides to keep me on this earth for a while longer, I have fourteen more years of contributing to the task of seeing children released from poverty in Jesus’ name. Fourteen more years of speaking for those who have no voice. Fourteen more years of encouraging others to get on board to do what they can to end extreme poverty.

Well, that’s not quite true.

At this point, I can imagine myself working with Compassion until I retire, but I don’t know if God might direct me somewhere else in the meantime. On the other hand, even if I do continue working with Compassion until I retire, I won’t stop advocating for children in extreme poverty when I finally hand back the office keys and drive out of the Compassion car park for the final time. Whatever years I’m given, whether a few or many, I hope I’ll still be speaking up for others.

You see, my job isn’t just a job.

I’ve heard it said that if you “find something you love to do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Nice idea but not quite true. I love what I do but I really do have to work at it … and that’s OK. I’m happy to work hard at what I do because there’s a lot to be done. Did you know around 300 million children in our world will go to bed hungry tonight? Did you know that according to the most recent figures 17 000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes? And let that word sink in for a while. Preventable. That means it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s unacceptable.

I believe that extreme poverty is unacceptable. I believe the corrupt systems that keep people in extreme poverty are unacceptable. The fact that a child can grow up believing that they are worthless is unacceptable. Most of all, knowing that our world has the resources and know how to halt extreme poverty right now, yet chooses not to, is unacceptable.

So whether it’s fourteen or forty years I have left on this planet, with God’s help, I’ll still be speaking up for those who need to know that they are precious. Whatever time I have I’ll be highlighting the imbalance of those of us who have too much and those who have literally nothing. Whether it be days or decades I’ll be pointing to the injustice of a world that turns its back on children in poverty. For the days I have left I’ll be doing my best to ensure that children everywhere are known, loved and protected.

Will you join me in changing our world? Please sponsor a child today through Compassion and release them from poverty in Jesus’ name.

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Mac, Rome and Cole

Mac Rome Cole

While I’m in Manila seeing the work of Compassion, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the homes of a number of children who are living in extreme poverty. Their homes are small, dark and are in the middle of overcrowded slums. Yet despite their living conditions, the children and their families who are being supported buy the local church, partnering with Compassion, have an amazing hope for the future.

Today I met three young boys, Mac, Rome and Cole. They have all been registered with Compassion for almost a year but they still don’t have a sponsor to help them reach their full, God given potential.

If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a child can I ask you to check out the three short videos below? These three boys are full of life and I gave them my word that I would seek sponsors for them in Australia.

If you’d like to sponsor any of these boys (or perhaps all three) please get in touch with me. I can arrange to sort out the details when I return to Australia at the end of this week. Please think seriously about your part in releasing these children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

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