When the War (on COVID-19) is Over

There will be an end to the current crisis. Plan now to do something amazing to celebrate when that time comes.

Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast 2021 is a one-month, 4,000km cycle across Australia from Perth to Newcastle, to help raise money for children living in poverty.

Check out the video below for a taste of what the ride will be like. (It’s even better if you watch it in full screen.)

You’re one ride away from changing lives.

I’ve mentioned before that the most vulnerable in any crisis are children living in extreme poverty. Why not plan now to ensure that when our lives start to return to normal (whatever that is) that those in the greatest need aren’t left behind.

We’re currently registering both cyclists and support crew.

For more information, or to register your interest, head to the Ride for Compassion website.



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It’s Happening Again

The eighties … a time of big music and even bigger hair. Yes, I’ll admit it. I had a mullet.

As the eighties started heading towards the brave, new world of the nineties, we hit 1987.

It was the year Aretha Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1987 the world population hit five billion. It was also the year Microsoft released Windows 2.0. And in 1987, The Simpsons cartoon first appeared as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.

In February of 1987, when I was 23, my mum succumbed to a long illness and passed away at just 66 years of age.

1987 was also the year that I first crossed Australia by bicycle.

Since then, I’ve cycled across Australia in 1988, 1990, 2000, 2003 and last year in 2018.

Let’s do it again.

If everything goes to plan, on Saturday the 18th of September 2021, I’ll begin my seventh bicycle crossing of our nation. I’ll start pedaling from Perth, Western Australia towards Newcastle, New South Wales. Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will bring together around 30 cyclists riding for a common cause.

We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, NSW on Wednesday the 20th of October.

What is Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast 2021?

It’s a trek of over 4,000km from the beautiful beaches of Western Australia, across the barren inland of Australia, to the bustling east coast city of Newcastle. The participants in the Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will test their stamina, while making a massive difference in the lives of children living in poverty.

The ride is set to start on Saturday 18 September 2021 in Perth and finish at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, NSW on Wednesday 20 October. There’ll be 28 riding days and five rest days. The average distance to be ridden each day will be 150km, with almost 200km the longest distance for one hard day’s ride.

There is an expectation that all riders will undertake extensive training before the event, pay on-road costs, and raise significant funds for the work of Compassion.

Become involved in Ride for Compassion

To register your interest for the 2021 Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast, please visit the Ride for Compassion website.

Love to be involved, but not keen on cycling? We’re looking for volunteers to help with driving the bus and other support vehicles, preparing breakfast and lunch, first aid, hydration and other tasks.

Does this sound like you? Please visit the Ride for Compassion website for further information.

Why are we riding?

The ride will once again raise money for Compassion Australia‘s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund.

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.

Registrations for the ride open in early 2020 but if you’re interested in joining me on a bike or as part of the support team, head to the Ride for Compassion website.

I 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 six years. 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.

But every effort I make to be part of the ride will be worth it because some things are unacceptable. It’s unacceptable that millions of children are living in extreme poverty. In 2021 I’ll once again put my body on the line to do whatever I can to make a difference for as many of those children as I can.

Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Head to the Ride for Compassion website or leave me a comment on this post.



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Riding the Storms

The rain is coming. Storms too. It might get pretty wild over the next week in Perth but I’ll just stay inside.

Warm. Dry. Safe.

I wonder what it might be like for people who don’t have that option.

Sometimes when I’m drifting off to sleep I think about some of the people I’ve met who don’t have the luxury of a comfortable bed and the security of a locked door. The anxieties of the day might sometimes keep me awake but at least for those nighttime hours, I am relatively safe.

I’m not kept awake by rain falling through holes in a grass roof or localised flooding surging through my home. I’m not wondering if this is the night that someone will toss aside the iron sheet that serves as the only barrier between my family and the rest of the world, intent on stealing, destroying and causing personal harm.

This October I’m doing more than thinking about the terrible situations that many are helpless in changing. I’ll be taking on a 500 kilometre Ride for Compassion from Albany to Perth to raise funds to provide new homes for children living in dilapidated shelters in Uganda.

These children are currently living in deplorable conditions that are unsafe, unprotected from the weather, and at risk of collapse.

Staff at Ochegen Child Development Centre regularly visit the homes of Compassion assisted children to provide support. From these visits, staff have identified an urgent need to improve living conditions for 14 Compassion assisted children and their families.

I know that you and I don’t have the capacity to provide a shelter for every child living in extreme poverty around the world, but together, we can make a massive difference for the 14 families who will benefit from the funds we will raise through the ride.

The need is real and urgent.

You have the opportunity to make a tangible change for families who need your help now. Follow this link to donate now. Gifts are tax deductible in Australia and with the current financial year rapidly drawing to a close, now is the time to take action.

Projects are always based on children’s most critical needs, as determined by the local church who knows each child and their situation individually. This project was identified as essential to children’s healthy development for the following reasons:

• Most of these families earn less than US$4 per month; two families are led by single mothers who are struggling to make ends meet, relying on casual labour like gardening.

• Currently, children live in grass-thatched shelters that cannot protect them from varying weather conditions, increasing their risk of pneumonia, flu and other airborne diseases. One child describes how food often rots in their family’s house because of its damp conditions.

• Most of the families have seven members who sometimes share a shelter with their livestock. Children often share sleeping mats with their siblings. Without privacy or adequate resting space, the current living conditions have affected the children’s psychological wellbeing, emotional development and academic performance.

• In its current state, these shelters are unsafe and susceptible to collapse. The homes are constructed with grass roofs, causing poor ventilation and a daily reliance on firewood for cooking, which exacerbates the risk of fire.

Ride for Compassion 2019 will take place from the 19th to the 26th of October with around 22 cyclists and a dedicated support team travelling from Albany in the south west of Australia to Perth.

I hope that by helping to provide more suitable shelters, both you and the families who will benefit will sleep easier at night.

Please follow this link to donate now.

If you’d like more details about Ride for Compassion, just drop me a message or visit the Ride for Compassion website.



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RetroRadio – Cadel Evans

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

It’s always a thrill when you get to meet an Aussie hero. It’s even better when they’re a personal hero too.

I had the honour of chatting with Australian cyclist Cadel Evans just a day or two after he switched to the BMC Team back in 2009.

I asked him who would be runner-up when he won the 2010 Tour de France. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan that year but it was an emphatic win a year later in 2011.

Cadel is a quietly spoken athlete who was a pleasure to interview. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people but my chat with Cadel will always be a highlight of my time in radio.

You can listen to my radio interview with Cadel by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on RodneyOlsen.net are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]



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The Voice Grows Silent

Sometimes we find ourselves in a place where God begins to speak louder and more clearly than previously. Through the Holy Spirit, His voice directs us, challenges us, comforts us. So how do we capture those promptings and ensure they have more than a passing effect?

Over the past couple of months as I cycled across Australia, God used that radical change in daily routines to speak to me. It wasn’t as if I had extra time to hear from God. My ‘busyness’ levels were higher than ever but when we’re placed into different circumstances we can’t just fall into mindless routines. We’re forced to think differently.

I’m not sure I could even articulate everything God has been saying. Some of the conversation has been an invitation to go deeper, to seek greater closeness, to explore more of who He is and what that means for me. God reinforced care for the poor and care for those we encounter every day.

As life starts returning to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) there is the very real danger that the voice that was so clear in past weeks will grow increasingly silent. It won’t happen intentionally but everyday, ordinary life has a habit of crowding out the extraordinary. So how do times of the extraordinary help form a ‘new normal’?

Routines are helpful and the day to day stuff of life demands our attention but how do we intentionally grab hold of those times of difference and ensure they continue to reform the everyday stuff of life? How do we ensure that we are the ‘good soil’ that doesn’t let our busy lives choke out what’s important?

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” – Mark 4:3-8 ESV

I think part of the answer is in examining routines and deciding if there are any that we need to let go to make way for more helpful routines. We need to make way for those moments where God has our attention and can speak. We need to reset our priorities regularly to see if those things that are lasting and eternal have given way to the temporary and passing pursuits of this world.

We also need to act on what we hear, we need to practice obedience to what God is calling us to do or be.

Perhaps we should be writing down those ‘nudges’ the Holy Spirit gives us and returning to those notes often so that the directions we are given become part of our new routines.

How about sharing what God is saying with others so that they can be part of the journey you’re taking?

These are just a few thoughts and really only scratch the surface. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do we ensure the voice we heard so clearly does not become silent?

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