What’s Your Why?

What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? We can all find the motivation to do what needs to be done on the good days but is there something that keeps you going when things start getting tough?

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion. – Simon Sinek

Do you have a passion that drives your actions? If you haven’t yet found your ‘why’ or discovered something that drives your passion, maybe you can share mine.

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 and it’s something I’m passionate about. My ‘why’ informs everything I do in my job (even the boring bits).

Did you know around 300 million children in our world will go to bed hungry tonight? Did you know that around 17 000 children under the age of five died today from preventable causes and another 17 000 will die tomorrow and the day after and the day after that? And let that word sink in for a while. Preventable. That means it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s my why right there. My work at Compassion is more that a job. Much more. It’s my driving passion. My why is all about releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

I’ve sat in the homes of the poorest of the poor. I’ve prayed and cried with those in desperate need. I’ve looked into the face of a mother, standing on the dirt floor of her one room, corrugated iron home, as she told me that neither her or her son would still be alive if it were not for the work of Compassion. It’s people like her that I think about when I need to be reminded of my why.

There are things in this world that I find absolutely 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 not only reduce extreme poverty but eliminate it right now, yet chooses not to, is unacceptable.

I find it completely unacceptable that there is still such a gap between the excess we experience and the complete lack of resources experienced by many, many millions around our world.

Some would throw their hands up and say that that’s the way it will always be and I would challenge them to think again. Over the past few decades we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in extreme poverty around the world, which tells us we can make a difference, but the statistics are still alarming. There’s still much to be done and it won’t be done unless we all play our part in bringing about change.

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.

That’s not the marketing spin of someone who works for the organisation, it’s the heartfelt conviction of someone who has seen the light streaming in to some very dark corners of this world and wants to be part of seeing more light and hope filling the lives of those around the world who are the poorest of the poor.

I have a why that gets me out of bed in the morning. How about you? Do you have a why? I’m more than willing to share mine. How about making releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name part of your why?

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Next Year’s Massive Challenge

Back in September last year, I wrote that it’s been way too long since the last time I cycled across the Nullarbor. It was in 2003 when I rode from Perth to Hobart. That ride seems almost a lifetime away from the first of my five crossings back in 1987. As I’ve said before, I’ve cycled across Australia in my twenties, my thirties and my forties. I’m now in my fifties and I’d love to undertake another crossing. (The photo above is of the cliffs that overlook the Great Australian Bight; an absolute highlight of each ride.)

I’ve taken part in dozens of rides throughout Western Australia and even a couple on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I’ve cycled in Canada and India and even ridden up and down one of the aisles in a K-mart in Miami, Florida, but none of those rides compares to pushing the pedals for thousands of kilometres to cross our wide, brown land.

It Just Got Real

Well, here we are at the start of a brand new year and I’m starting to feel like things just got a bit more serious. Up until a few days ago, I would point way off into the future to a possible 2018 ride from Perth, Western Australia, to Newcastle, New South Wales. While details are still being sorted out, the ride has been confirmed for 2018 and we’re now in 2017. That means that God willing, I’ll be cycling across Australia next year.

Next Year?

Sounds a bit scary when I look at it like that. There’s so much to do. There’s a lot of organising to happen between now and September 2018 when we pedal out of Perth. Everything from pulling together a team of cyclists to arranging a support crew, accommodation, itineraries and much more. There are a thousand little details that need to come together to make such a venture work. Especially when the plan is to have around 20 riders on the road. I’d love to build that team with cyclists from all over Australia and even perhaps some international riders.

I also need to get fit. Really fit.

I used to keep a moderate level of fitness by cycling to and from work each day but my job hasn’t really allowed me to do that for the last three years. Over the next twenty months, I need to get myself into better shape than I have ever been. I’m going to have to be strategic and focused if I’m to drop a bunch of kilograms and put plenty of kilometres into my legs. I’ll need to be able to ride around a thousand kilometres a week for just over four weeks.
Taking part in the ride will take a huge effort.

I’ll certainly keep everyone up to date with the ride details. It’ll be raising funds for Compassion to help in the work of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. And if you’d like to register interest in joining me, head to the Ride for Compassion website and click on the Coast to Coast 2018 link.

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Gifts with Global Impact

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I love receiving gifts. I love the unwrapping and the excitement of having something shiny and new. I also love the fact that people care enough to choose something for me. It doesn’t matter if the gifts are big or small … it really is the thought that counts for me.

I love giving gifts. I’ll admit that do I worry about the gifts I give. I wonder whether they’ll be suitable and appreciated but when I manage to choose the right gift, it’s a beautiful thing.

With Christmas just around the corner I know that there’ll be a fair bit of giving and receiving in the coming weeks.

While many gifts are fun, there are some that are absolutely life giving.

Gifts of Compassion

Gifts of Compassion are real goods and services given to children and families in Compassion child development centres around the world when you purchase an item from the Gifts of Compassion catalogue. For every Gift of Compassion you order, you will receive a gift card to personalise for your friends and loved ones.

Funds raised from the Gifts of Compassion catalogue are used to support Compassion’s Critical Needs, which remove obstacles to children’s development and implement preventative action. These interventions include providing safe water, disaster relief, emergency medical care, vocational training, infrastructure, and much more: all issues that need to be addressed for a child to be released from poverty.

Compassion Australia uses Gifts of Compassion funds to meet the project needs represented in the catalogue.

It concerns me that while I’m enjoying lovely new things that I don’t really need, there are people in many parts of the world that don’t have the basics that they need to get on with the daily task of just keeping their families alive.

If Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, surely we should be doing something that honours him and his heart for the poor, rather than overindulging while most of the world goes without.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we should all be miserable and not fully enter into the celebrations at this time of year.

Balance

I suppose that’s where we all need some kind of balance between the giving and receiving of gifts between friends and loved ones and our wider responsibility to those in need around the world. We live in a global village but most of the villagers are missing out. Those of us who’ve been blessed by simply being born in the right place should spare a thought for those who only ask for the gift of life this Christmas.

I might not have a lot of use for a goat but for a rural family in a developing country the simple gift of a goat could be just what they need to break free from poverty.

Compassion

So where do you buy a goat and how do you get it to someone who needs it? Compassion Australia’s Gifts of Compassion is open and ready for business. Their gifts help people who are battling desperate poverty. They can take your money and turn it into a very real solution to poverty.

You can buy everything from mosquito nets to vocational training with lots more in between including chickens, cows, sewing machines and baby vaccinations.

Your support really does make a difference.

I’ve visited churches partnering with Compassion in seven of the 26 countries where they’re working and I can personally vouch for the fact that it makes a difference. When you support those in poverty through Compassion, the aid really does make it to those who need it. In fact, it was after seeing the work of Compassion that I decided that I would do all I could to advance their work which is why I’ve now been working full-time for Compassion for around three years.

This Christmas I do want to receive something for myself, wrapped in thought and love, but I also hope that someone will give me a goat or a chicken or some clean water for someone I’ll never meet.

What about you?

Go on … you’ve thought about it before but unless you let your loved ones know now it’ll never happen. Ask those you love to buy something for someone else this Christmas.

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12 Things You’ve Never Done

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Let’s get the conversation going. I want to know about some of the things you’ve experienced that most others haven’t. What are the unique moments of your life?

I thought I’d try to spark things by listing a few things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

While you may find one or two things on the list that you’ve done I sincerely doubt that you’ve done all twelve. 🙂

I’m hoping that you’ll come up with a few of your own in the comments section of this post. If you’ve done any of the things on my list let me know.

I’ll just list the twelve things and leave it to you. If you have questions about any of the items in the list, feel free to ask.

12 Things You’ve ‘Probably’ Never Done

1. Spent six weeks in court.

gavel

It was some years ago and it was quite a high profile case. I had been called on for jury duty for a case that was set down for two to three weeks. Within the first week the judge suggested that things were going really well and we’d probably be all wrapped up in less than two weeks. Then things got complicated.

Six weeks later we finally returned our verdict and our lives could return to normal.

2. Cycled across Australia five times.

nullarbor

It’s been way too long since my last Nullarbor crossing in 2003 when I rode from Perth to Hobart. It seems almost a lifetime away from my first of five crossings back in 1987.

I’ve cycled across Australia in my twenties, my thirties and my forties. I’m now in my fifties and while nothing’s in concrete, I’m making plans for another crossing. Probably in 2018.

1987 – Perth to Canberra
1988 – Perth to Canberra
1990 – Perth to Adelaide
2000 – Perth to Sydney
2003 – Perth to Hobart

3. Escaped a country when rioting and looting in the capital became widespread.

haitiriot

I was introduced to the work of Compassion when I was invited to travel to Haiti back in April 2008. We were meant to be there for a little over a week but it was the time of the global financial crisis and subsequently the global food crisis. Families couldn’t afford even the most basic food so after their criesd for help to the government fell on deaf ears, they began to demonstrate in the streets.

Roads were barricaded, shops were looted and there were fires across the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Several people died in the riots.

Our small team managed to get out of Haiti under some extremely trying circumstances. It was very difficult getting to the airport and at times we were in very real danger. We finally hooked up with some armed police who escorted us to the airport so that we could leave the country.

4. Hand fed an orangutan.

orangutan

I also got fairly close to a lion, patted a penguin, fed a rhinoceros, had a 1.5 metre snake draped across my shoulders and much more as part of a behind the scenes Zoo experience back in late 2008.

5. Shared a stage with Mikhail Gorbachev.

mikhail-gorbachev

When I say ‘shared a stage’ what I really mean is that we were both on the same stage at the same time. Gorbachev was speaking to an audience and I was carrying his cup of tea.

It was May 1999 and the World Masters of Business was at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Some friends were staging the event and so I not only recorded all the voice overs to introduce the guests, I got to be stage manager on the day.

One of the things Mr Gorbachev requested was that he would have a very hot cup of tea placed on a table off to the side of his lectern. To ensure it was as hot as possible I carried it on just after he had made his way onto the stage.

6. Had my travel documents confiscated in a foreign country.

passport

It was 1992 and I was traveling to Canada to cycle through The Rockies for a week or so. Our flights had been overbooked so instead of going a fairly direct route we had to visit a few extra airports.

It was back in the day that Australians required a visa to enter the US. When we flew into San Francisco and had to clear US Customs, my passport and other travel documents were confiscated. I didn’t have a visa.

I explained the situation and so it wasn’t really a big deal but I did get a big red ‘TWOV’ stamped in the passport. (Transit Without Visa).

All my documents were finally returned a couple of flights later when I stepped off the plane in Canada.

7. Cycled from Agra to Delhi in India.

agra-to-delhi

On my first of three trips to India I traveled to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, by van before starting the ride back to Delhi.

Cycling in India is an amazing experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a heart condition but if you’re interested in adventure, start pedaling.

8. Met General ‘Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf.

Stormin Norman was another of the speakers at World Masters of Business at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Unlike the other speakers, Norman was back stage well before time. He wanted to hang out with the crew and made sure he introduced himself to everyone. For someone who played such a significant part in the history of our world he was amazingly ‘normal’. He was extremely friendly and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy.

When it was finally time for him to speak, he focused a lot on leading alongside others and having real care for those you lead. From my interactions with him earlier in the day it was obvious that he practiced what he preached.

9. Interviewed 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans.

cadel

I had the honour of interviewing hundreds of people during my years working in radio. I spoke to the famous through to the not so famous and lots in between but some interviews will always be highlights for me. Like the day in 2009 when I had twenty minutes with a cycling hero.

Cadel had just published his biography, Cadel Evans: Close To Flying, and was traveling around Australia on a promotional tour. As soon as I heard he was coming I contacted his publisher and was thrilled when I was told he would be coming to the studio for an interview.

He was quietly spoken and it was obvious that media interviews weren’t his favourite part of the job, but he was gracious and interesting and I got to hang out with a hero.

10. Preached at Cathedral Church of the Redemption in New Delhi, India.

During my first trip to India I found that a number of engagements had been arranged for me. One of those engagements was preaching on the Sunday morning at the Cathedral. I was so glad that I’d packed my suit.

The cathedral is impressive, inside and out, and is known as among the most beautiful and magnificent churches in India. It’s a part of the Church of North India which is a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

11. Been mentioned in Australia’s Federal Parliament.

hansard

It was September 2007 when Stephen Smith delivered a speech regarding the Millennium Development Goals. I was part of a small group representing the Make Poverty History campaign which visited Mr Smith’s office some time beforehand to raise concerns with him.

Our group, gathered from several local churches in Mr Smith’s electorate, were all mentioned by name. Mr Smith finished his short speech to the parliament with this paragraph.

We had a very fruitful conversation, and it was so pleasing to see so many people in the local community in my electorate committed to wanting to see Australia act as a good international citizen, committed from a personal point of view to always trying to ensure that someone who is not as well off as you are gets a helping hand up, and as far as Australia being a good international citizen is concerned, ensuring that Australia is committed to overseas development aid, is committed to the Millennium Development Goals and committed in an international sense to making poverty history for so many developing nations around the globe at the moment.

12. Cycled up and down an aisle at K-Mart in Miami, Florida.

kmart

In 2008, on the way to visiting Compassion’s work in Haiti, we stopped in Miami for a night. On the way to the airport we stopped at the local K-Mart so that one of the group could buy some extra shirts.

As we wandered around I noticed the bikes at the very back of the store. I figured that I wouldn’t get another chance like this so I handed my camera to one of the team and then started riding around. I wanted to say that I have cycled in the US. I got the photographic proof and so it’s official.

So there you are. Now it’s over to you.

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Ride for Compassion 2016

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I woke up this morning a little sore but mostly feeling extremely satisfied as I reflect on the week that has just passed.

Every year since 2009 I’ve cycled between Albany and Perth, a distance of over 500 kilometres. Last week I was out there again with around 20 other cyclists, supported by a wonderful support crew, riding 526.5 kilometres from Albany to Perth over six days. We arrived home, after a fantastic trip, yesterday afternoon.

As well as having an amazing time with an incredible group of people, we were raising funds for some children who are living in extreme poverty.

Ride for Compassion

Funds raised from this year’s ride will increase access to toilet facilities and services for 530 children and 300 adult beneficiaries through construction of 10 toilets at two Compassion centres in Tanzania. The project will raise awareness, skills and knowledge of registered children and parents/caregivers on good sanitation and hygiene practices.

The facilities will reduce the risks of disease outbreaks to 530 registered children, youth and other users in the centres.

In 2015, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF found that 663 million people worldwide still lack improved drinking water sources, while 2.4 billion people lack improved sanitation facilities.

Inadequate access to safe water and proper sanitation has a devastating effect on people’s health, especially children’s. Around 760,000 children under five die of diarrhoea each year, mostly in developing countries—that’s more than 2000 children every day.

A 2005 UN study showed that, by providing improved sanitation and teaching simple behaviours like washing hands, we can reduce cases of diarrhoea by 35 per cent—and deaths caused by diarrhoea by 37 per cent.

That means that while we were out enjoying the richness of Australia, we were providing for other people who we’re unlikely to ever meet. What an absolute honour to serve others in that way.

Why Compassion?

If you’ve been reading 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, Rwanda, Thailand and the Philippines. 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.

If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of children who desperately need your support, it’s not too late to visit my fundraising page.

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

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