RetroRadio – Gladys Staines

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.

Over the past week or two, there’s been a lot in our news about American missionary John Allen Chau, who was killed on the 16th of November while trying to reach an isolated tribe on North Sentinel Island in India. He’d first read of the tribe as a teen and was determined to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the residents of the small island.

Long before John lost his life, another missionary in India was killed with his two sons but the story didn’t end there.

January the 22nd, 1999, is a day forever etched in the memory of Gladys Staines.

It is the day that her husband Graham, along with their young sons, Timothy and Philip, were burnt alive by a group of by “suspected” Bajrang Dal activists in Orissa, India, where Graham had been working with the poor, especially those with leprosy.

Gladys has an amazing story to tell of how she and her daughter were able to forgive those who killed those they loved. While their forgiveness was offered right away, the healing took a lot longer.

It is truly remarkable to think that Gladys stayed on in India for many years to continue the work that her husband had begun years earlier. Many people have been inspired by her life and her determination to continue serving God in a land far from her home country of Australia.

In 2004, Christianity Today described this woman as “the best-known Christian in India after Mother Teresa.” In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri, a civilian award from the Government of India. As a result of the contributions earned from receiving that award, Staines transformed the leper house she served at into a full hospital. In November 2015, Staines was awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice and after receiving the award, she stated “I thank God for his help in enabling me to carry out the work in caring for people with leprosy, even after my husband was killed.” – Wiki

I was extremely privileged to speak with Gladys back in February 2008.

If you’d like to hear from someone who found healing in forgiveness just click play 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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This Short Life

coffee

I’ll admit it. I used to drink lots of instant coffee. These days I just can’t bring myself to throw some powder into a mug of hot water and call it coffee.

Some would say that makes me a coffee snob but really, life is too short to drink bad coffee.

I’ve seen a number of statements in recent years about life being too short. Life’s too short to worry about what other people think. Life’s too short to remove the USB safely. Life’s too short to be anything but happy. Life’s too short to wait. Life’s too short to wake up with regrets.

I would agree with some of those statements more than others but the interesting thing is that many of them are about life being too short to bother with stuff that doesn’t maximise our own life experience. In light of eternity, this life is incredibly short but surely this short life is about more than squeezing the most out of the years we’re given purely for our own benefit.

I’d like to add a couple of statements to the list.

Life’s too short to withhold kindness from others.

Whether it’s just giving away a smile or giving a large part of our lives to help others, focusing on those other than ourselves should be a priority during our short time on this planet. Put kindness on your bucket list.

We can find a million reasons to withhold kindness from other people but life is richer when we share something of ourselves with no expectation of return.

It doesn’t matter who we are, we all face struggles throughout life that remain unseen by most people. When we withhold kindness due to the way a person acts or the attitudes they display we may very well be withholding kindness from the person who needs it far more than those who are ‘nice’ to us.

Life’s too short to hold grudges.

When I encounter people who have cut others out of their lives over petty issues it makes my head spin. I know that we sometimes need to retreat from certain people, sometimes for a season, sometimes forever, but the stubborn refusal to forgive damages everyone concerned.

Forgiveness isn’t just a quick case of ‘forgive and forget’, it’s a process, sometimes a very long process, but if we refuse to undertake that process we remain slaves to the hurt.

Life’s too short not to consider the bigger questions.

The older you get, the more you realise that life is short. Very short. These days I look back at the decades and it feels as if I’ve only just got started on this journey of life, yet I know that unless I discover the fountain of youth, I’m more than half way through my time here.

While I hope that I’ve still got a good number of years ahead of me I really can’t be certain of when this fabulous journey will come to an end.

So what happens then? What happens after this life? If this life is so short and eternity is so long I need to discover whether this is all there is. Life’s too short not to consider the bigger questions.

I’m unashamedly a follower of Jesus so it’s my belief that this life is just a short, shabby lead in to a glorious future. You may think I’m wrong but have you actually taken the time to fully explore the possibilities?

If this eternity thing is real, and I fully believe it is, you owe it to yourself to check out the evidence yourself. Don’t rely on what others are saying or what you think faith is about. Investigate the evidence and be open to discover something that could change your thinking and your life.

Life, at least on this earth, is short. Eternity is forever.

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Life’s Too Short …

coffee

I’ll admit it. I used to drink lots of instant coffee. These days I just can’t bring myself to throw some powder into a mug of hot water and call it coffee.

I’ve also decided that from now on, when the smiley lady on the airplane asks if I’d like coffee, I’ll be saying no. I’ll be polite but I’ll say no because what she’s offering doesn’t really taste a lot like coffee. It may have tasted like coffee some hours beforehand when it was made but it certainly doesn’t by the time they serve it up. I almost suspect that real coffee has a fear of flying and so they’ve found some kind of weird substitute.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Life’s too short.

I’ve seen a number of statements in recent years about life being too short. Life’s too short to worry about what other people think. Life’s too short to drink cheap wine. Life’s too short to be anything but happy. Life’s too short to wait. Life’s too short to wake up with regrets.

I would agree with some of those statements more than others but the interesting thing is that many of them are about life being too short to bother with stuff that doesn’t maximise our own life experience. In light of eternity, this life is incredibly short but surely this short life is about more than squeezing the most out of the years we’re given purely for our own benefit.

Life’s too short to withhold kindness from others.

Whether it’s just giving away a smile or giving a large part of our lives to help others, focusing on those other than ourselves should be a priority during our short time on this planet. Put kindness on your bucket list.

We can find a million reasons to withhold kindness from other people but life is richer when we share something of ourselves with no expectation of return.

It doesn’t matter who we are, we all face struggles throughout life that remain unseen by most people. When we withhold kindness due to the way a person acts or the attitudes they display we may very well be withholding kindness from the person who needs it far more than those who are ‘nice’ to us.

Life’s too short to hold grudges.

When I encounter people who have cut others out of their lives over petty issues it makes my head spin. I know that we sometimes need to retreat from certain people, sometimes for a season, sometimes forever, but the stubborn refusal to forgive damages everyone concerned.

Forgiveness isn’t just a quick case of ‘forgive and forget’, it’s a process, sometimes a very long process, but if we refuse to undertake that process we remain slaves to the hurt.

If you want to read about some ‘big forgiveness’, head to the Forgiveness Project. The founder of the Forgiveness Project, Marina Cantacuzino, has a great take on forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an inspiring, complex, exasperating subject, which provokes strong feeling in just about everyone. Having spent all of 2003 collecting stories of reconciliation and forgiveness for an exhibition of words and images which I created with the photographer, Brian Moody, I began to see that for many people forgiveness is no soft option, but rather the ultimate revenge. For many it is a liberating route out of victimhood; a choice, a process, the final victory over those who have done you harm. – Marina Cantacuzino

Life’s too short not to consider the bigger questions.

The older you get, the more you realise that life is short. Very short. These days I look back at the decades and it feels as if I’ve only just got started on this journey of life, yet I know that it’s extremely likely that I’m more than half way through my time here.

While I hope that I’ve still got a good number of years ahead of me I really can’t be certain of when this fabulous journey will come to an end.

So what happens then? What happens after this life? If this life is so short and eternity is so long I need to discover whether this is all there is. Life’s too short not to consider the bigger questions.

I’m unashamedly a follower of Jesus so it’s my belief that this life is just a short, shabby lead in to a glorious future. You may think I’m wrong but have you actually taken the time to fully explore the possibilities?

If this eternity thing is real, and I fully believe it is, you owe it to yourself to check out the evidence yourself. Don’t rely on what others are saying or what you think faith is about. Investigate the evidence and be open to discover something that could change your thinking and your life.

Life, at least on this earth, is short. Eternity is forever.

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Our Top Ten Regrets

The Daily Mail has recently published the results of a survey that says people spend around 44 minutes every week on regretting our past.

We wish we’d saved more money, traveled more, stayed in touch with friends and that we’d never started smoking. (I’m thankful that smoking is something I’ll never have to regret. Having a father who was a heavy smoker was enough to convince me to never even try lighting up.)

I guess that among the regrets that people identified, there are some things that we can change for our future and others that we need to leave behind so we can move on. Regrets can paralyze us and keep us living in the past yet if we live without some sense of regret we won’t learn the life lessons that arise and we’re destined to keep repeating the same mistakes.

The Top Ten

The top ten regrets were:

1. Not having saved more money
2. Not having worked harder at school
3. Not having exercised more
4. Not seeing more of the world
5. Taking up smoking
6. Not staying in touch with people more
7. Not having taken more care of our bodies when younger
8. Not having appreciated an elderly relative more before he or she passed away
9. Not having taken more photos of experiences growing up
10. Getting married too early.

When I look at that list I can give a nod to a few but I won’t let them keep me wishing for what might have been. We all make mistakes but we need to acknowledge those mistakes, take appropriate action, then move forward. Sometimes we need to forgive others and other times we need to accept the forgiveness that we’ve been offered.

Can you identify with any of the regrets listed or do you have regrets of your own? Do you spend a lot of time thinking of how differently life could have been or are you using past mistakes to learn and move on? Are there some regrets that just won’t let you move on?

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Unforgivable Sin

Forgiveness.jpgHow far is too far?

Can a deed be so dark that there’s no pardon or forgiveness from God?

While we don’t seem to hear people talking about sin so much these days we still know that there are things that cross the line.

Can we be forgiven for murder? Are sexual crimes unforgivable? Is there forgiveness for the increasing number of people facing child pornography charges?

Does forgiveness mean that people no longer have to face the consequences of their actions?

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we tackled the subject of unforgivable sin.

Ross talked about the many calls he gets from people asking if they can ever be forgiven for the things they’ve done. Many people call his Sydney radio show asking whether suicide is forgivable.

One woman spoke to Ross about having a harsh conversation with her son. When she visited his home the next day she found his body. He had committed suicide. The woman wanted to know if she could be forgiven for the harsh words she’d spoken and whether her so would be forgiven for taking his own life.

I’ve heard people say that God could never forgive the terrible things they’ve done and I wonder whether it’s likely that their sense of unforgiveness comes from an inability to forgive themselves.

You can hear what Ross had to say by clicking play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

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