My Life Change Still Changing Lives

Sometimes it feels like I’ve been doing this forever, and other times it feels like it all began yesterday.

The truth is, it was four years ago today that I began my job at Compassion Australia. I broadcast my final shift at 98five Sonshine FM on Tuesday the 26th of November, 2013. The very next day, Wednesday the 27th or November, 2013, I started working at Compassion.

Do You Miss It?

There aren’t too many weeks that goes past without someone asking me if I miss working radio. It was such a big part of my life for so many years you can’t blame people for wondering.

I started working in radio on the 8th of May, 1988. That’s almost 30 years ago. It was my full time job for almost twenty of those years and something I did part time for most of the years in between. Towards the end of November 2013 I took the leap from working in radio to working for Compassion Australia as a Relationship Manager.

Even after all these years, nothing beats the excitement of being live on air, knowing that anything could happen. Being able to communicate to thousands of people through such an ‘immediate’ medium is both challenging and rewarding. And let’s be honest, when it’s all working as it should, it’s a lot of fun. It can also be an opportunity to communicate important, even life changing truths.

Well maybe ‘almost nothing’ beats working in radio.

When you have the chance to play a part in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name and seeing that difference that can make, I can easily say I don’t miss radio. Yes, there are times that I hear of someone interesting heading to Perth there’s a moment where I wish I could interview them, but overall, what I’m doing now is what I want to keep doing for a long time.

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 doesn’t mean that Compassion is the total solution to poverty in this world. There are many amazing agencies doing incredible work around the world and we need them all if we are to end the scourge of extreme poverty.

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 living in extreme poverty.

If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of children who desperately need your support, you can sponsor a child today.

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

In September next year I’ll begin cycling from Perth to Newcastle to raise funds for Highly Vulnerable Children through Compassion. You can support my ride and make a difference for children by following this link.

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We Can Be Heroes

brave

I saw some people on the TV being awarded for their bravery and courage a few days ago. They were ordinary people but they were being hailed as heroes.

Hearing their stories I started thinking about what makes someone a hero. What does someone have to do to be recognised as courageous or brave? Who are the sorts of people who get awarded for their actions of bravery?

In so many cases, those being awarded simply needed to be in the right place at the right time when certain circumstances were happening around them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not downplaying what they’ve done or their amazing actions when the time came. I’m not saying that those people were passive and that they’ve done nothing to deserve an award. No, not at all. What I am saying is that there are times in life when circumstances offer you the opportunity to step up and do something that will have an extraordinary outcome for others. Those people don’t get labelled as heroes for being in the right place at the right time but for stepping up and taking appropriate action when the opportunity arises.

There are times in life where we are offered the opportunity to act, despite the risks, or to turn away. Bravery and courage are about seeing the risks and yet stepping in to do what must be done.

So who is the hero?

The hero is the woman who scales a rocky embankment to save a child’s life by pulling them from the water. It’s the doctor who uses the skills they learned in the sterile environment of a surgery as they perform a remarkable and risky medical procedure on the side of the road to keep a driver alive after a head on collision. The hero is the guy who pulls someone from the wreck of a car and pounds on their chest until paramedics arrive or the child who stays calm and in control while ringing the emergency number when one of their parents is lying, barely breathing, on their kitchen floor.

These heroes are people who, when the opportunity presents itself, just do what needs to be done without stopping to calculate the risk they’re facing. So many times I’ve heard people who have selflessly saved the lives of others look puzzled when someone calls them a hero and says something like, “I reckon I just did what anybody would do”. Most often these heroes are ordinary people who put themselves at risk to do something they often see as unremarkable which creates a remarkable outcome.

You’d step up if the opportunity was there wouldn’t you?

I’d like to think that if I ever find myself in the sort of circumstances that call for courage and bravery, I’d jump in. I’d like to imagine that I wouldn’t even consider holding back but rather I would do whatever it took at the time. You’d do that wouldn’t you?

If you have ever put aside your own safety and stepped in to help someone I’d love to hear your story.

You don’t have to wait to become a hero.

If being a hero is about stepping up when the circumstances arise, let me tell you that there are circumstances right now that will allow you to do something remarkable.

There is a child somewhere in this world, at this moment, who is facing an uncertain future because poverty is telling them that they are worthless. They are at risk of serious illness or even death from simple diseases that we can cure, simply because they don’t have access to healthcare. The circumstances exist right now for you to make a remarkable difference in the life of a child. You’d do that wouldn’t you? This is one of those times in life where you are offered the opportunity to act, despite the risks, or to turn away. What will it be?

You might not think that sponsoring a child makes you a hero. You might say like many other heroes have said, “I reckon I just did what anybody would do”.

Please consider becoming a hero for a child by sponsoring them through Compassion.

If you’d prefer a one time act of heroism, then consider donating to support my efforts in next week’s Ride for Compassion. I’ll be cycling over 500 kilometres to bring change for some children and their families in Tanzania. Will you consider donating? Just click this link.

The circumstances are right. Be a hero.

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Choose Your Anger

fist

I was getting my Saturday off to a good start, waiting for the coffee to kick in, and scrolling through Facebook when I saw a headline.

Anger consumes iPhone 7 queues at Apple stores as phones sell out around the world.

I must admit it made me feel a little bit angry myself. I wondered if the anger of those missing out on their preferred model of iPhone 7 was anything like the anger I saw first hand in Haiti in April 2008, when horrendous price increases put basic food items beyond the reach of most people, forcing them to eat dirt. It was the time of the global financial crisis which resulted in the global food crisis.

After begging the government to help them put food on their families’ tables and getting an indifferent response, people began rioting. Their anger resulted from the frustration of seeing those they loved starve. At least five people were killed in the riots and many were injured.

Haitians were comparing their hunger pains to “eating bleach” because of the burning feeling in their stomachs.

In March, people began complaining of a hunger so torturous that it felt like their stomachs were being eaten away by bleach or battery acid.

In a matter of days, “Clorox hunger”, named after a brand of bleach, was being talked about in slums and villages across the country. – Aljazeera

I’ve seen plenty of other situations over the years where anger is a justified response but I thought of Haiti today because that was a turning point in my life. Being caught up in the riots and facing very real danger as we were evacuated from the country at that time is one of the milestone events that have shaped me into the person I am today. I was there with Compassion Australia and it was that trip in 2008 that started my journey towards beginning full time work with Compassion in 2013.

Yes, I know that we can all get angry about a range of things that don’t really matter but getting angry about not being able to spend over $1000 is probably just wasted energy.

Anger can be a powerful motivator to bring about positive change. So why would we waste it on simply not getting our own way?

When I get angry in traffic I have to remind myself that I’m just being childish and that I should just get over myself. While others’ driving habits may be annoying from time to time I’m not achieving anything by wasting my emotional energy over their misdemeanors.

I want to save my anger for the injustices I see around the world. Poverty, racism, abuses of various kinds, exploitation of the vulnerable, these are the things that should be making us angry and causing us to act. We need to choose our anger. We need to stop stomping our feet like a two year old who doesn’t get their own way and look outside ourselves.

Maybe I’m just overthinking a simple headline about a phone but hearing about people getting angry over not being able to spend what would be more than three years wages for many people on this planet makes me …. angry.

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If you want a few more details on my time in Haiti with some other Australian broadcasters, check out this video. It contains clips showing just a glimpse of the situation outside the Port-au-Prince Compassion office just before a rock came through the window we were standing near. The video, while still fairly rough, shows a little of the scene before the rock attack.

You can see the beginnings of the crowd heading down the street, some armed with crude weapons.

The next thing you see is the shattered glass in the room where it all happened and then a bit of a debrief between members of the team. Several of us, including me, had a chance to talk over the situation. This was really only the beginning of the danger we faced. Things got a lot more intense later that day and the following morning.

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Is it still confronting?

squatter slums

I’ve been asked pretty much the same question in a variety of ways over the last couple of years. Does it still affect you? Do you still find poverty confronting? Do you get used to seeing people living in extreme poverty?

My job as a Relationship Manager with Compassion Australia occasionally takes me overseas to see our work on the field. On those visits I not only visit the local churches that partner with Compassion, I get to visit some of the homes where those being sponsored live. I’ve recently returned home from another one of those visits and met with people who have been given enormous hope despite their poverty.

Yes, it’s still confronting, maybe not as surprising as it once was but completely confronting. No I don’t get used to seeing people living in extreme poverty. Yes, it still affects me deeply. When any of those answers change I’ll find a new job.

Click on the photo above to get a closer look at just one very small part of a squatter slum in Manila in the Philippines that I visited. You can see dozens of makeshift homes, mostly single room dwellings made out of whatever materials can be found, all perched precariously above an open canal filled with raw sewage. When the floods come, that canal swells and pushes its vile contents chest deep into the homes in the surrounding area. Locals told us that several of those communities have been destroyed by fire multiple times. The poor have no option but to clear away the ashes and begin again.

How can it not be confronting to see precious children and their families living in such terrible conditions?

These are people created in the image of God, being forced to live in cramped, unsafe circumstances. Poverty ties their hands. They have no choices. No way to lift themselves and their families out of their situations. Poverty tells them this is all they can ever expect.

It’s more than confronting. It’s unacceptable.

I find it completely unacceptable that in a day and age when we have every resource we need to turn poverty on its head, 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.

So yes, it’s still confronting. It’s still unacceptable. It’s still something I want to spend my life changing in whatever way I can. I know that I can only play a very small part in bringing about change but I’ve seen enough to know that small change isn’t insignificant change.

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Chynna Stole My Heart

ChynnaMum

I met Chynna yesterday. She stole my heart.

The poverty we’ve been seeing around parts of Manila in the Philippines over the past few days has touched me deeply but it suddenly became real when I met Chynna, an 11 year old girl that our family recently started sponsoring.

When we arrived at her local church, a church which partners with Compassion, Chynna and her mum were standing outside waiting. They were excited and nervous. So was I. Chynna’s mum bent down and said something quietly in her ear then pointed towards us.

We walked inside and I was introduced to a nervous, shy, but very happy little girl. Both her and her mother were beaming. They had been told that today they would meet Chynna’s new sponsor. Chynna had been sponsored previously but for whatever reason, her sponsor had cancelled her ongoing support. I was more than happy that our family could step in and begin supporting Chynna so that she can be released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

ChynnMumRodney

I gave Chynna a number of small gifts, including a small photo album with pictures of our family and Australia. There’s still room in the album so that we can send more photos. I’ll certainly send a few that were taken at our meeting yesterday so that she can remember that very special day.

Chynna’s home is a short walk from the church and I was invited to visit. As we walked out of the church Chynna grasped my hand and walked beside me. We followed her mother through the street and down a small alleyway. Their home is just one room, about 3 metres by 3 metres. There is one double bunk inside. 9 people live in that one home. Despite the limitations of housing that many people in that space, the room was neat and orderly. Other family members warmly greeted me and those that were with me.

After spending some time there I had the opportunity to pray for the family, specifically Chynna and her parents. We then wandered back to the church.

We spent a little more time together while we had a tour of the facilities used for the Compassion project and more more of the children being helped by the local church. Then it was time to go.

Chynna’s mum once again expressed her thanks and Chynna gave me a goodbye hug. It was hard to leave but it was time to go.

The letters we write to Chynna will now have greater meaning. The letters we receive will hold great significance. We can’t be there each day to support Chynna and her family but by sponsoring her I am convinced she is part of a community which loves her and will ensure the very best for her as she continues to grow.

If you sponsor a child, never underestimate the significance of your contribution. If you’re not already a sponsor, please consider sponsoring a child today through Compassion.

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