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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Gifts with Global Impact

goc2016

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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Ride for Compassion 2016

redgiant

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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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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Dreaming Again

perth-to-canberra-1987

Last night I had that same old dream, it rocked me in my sleep, and left me the impression that the sandman plays for keeps. – Larry Norman

I did indeed have the same old dream last night. It’s a dream that comes around now and then.

I dreamed about preparing to cycle across Australia.

Let me assure you it was a good dream. It wasn’t a panicked nightmare that had me waking up in a cold sweat. It was a happy dream. A very happy dream.

The dream was another reminder that 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. The picture above is me looking a bit nervous in Kings Park as I was about to begin a ride from Perth to Canberra. (Click on the photo to get a better look at my worried face.)

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.

While my heart remembers endless days of cycling, battling wind, rain and hills, and the thrill of overcoming, my body keeps trying to remind me it’s not as young as it once was. Even the gap between my 1990 ride to Adelaide and my 2000 ride to Sydney let me know that body parts wear out and a lot more training is needed to go the distance. I can’t even imagine the amount of preparation my body would need to get ready for another crossing.

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

I’ve taken part in dozens of rides throughout Western Australia and even a couple on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, but none of them compare to pushing the pedals for thousands of kilometres to cross our wide, brown land.

So … are you interested in taking a month to ride across Australia? Let me know and I’ll keep you informed if anything comes together. 🙂

In the mean time, I’m only a couple of weeks away from my annual ride from Albany to Perth, the Ride for Compassion. If you want to support children in poverty through Compassion, you can donate via this link.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to ride across the Nullarbor again, but I can certainly keep dreaming …. and planning.

Do you have any big dreams you’d like to fulfill? Are you making plans towards those dreams? Take a first step and share that dream in the comments section of this post.

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