This year is almost at an end and as with most years it’s had it’s ups and downs. One of the big ‘ups’ is that I had my first ever overseas holiday. Together with my family I visited Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
I’ve been overseas a number of times in the past but it’s always been for work or for some other cause. This time it was all about enjoyment. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed all my other trips but there’s something different about travelling purely for enjoyment and especially travelling with people you love.
Including my home country of Australia, I’ve actually been in 17 countries so far. I’ve been able to spend significant time in some countries with others only visited while in transit or for a very short time. The places I’ve been include Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Canada, India, Haiti, Dominican Republic, PNG, Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Thailand, Myanmar and Hong Kong. You can see them all plotted out on the map below.
On this day last year I began a new chapter in the journey of my life. I began working at Compassion Australia so that I could do more to see children released from poverty in Jesus’ name. It’s a move I’m so glad I made and I’m looking forward to what the year ahead and hopefully many others ahead will bring.
In the past twelve months I’ve spoken to hundreds of people about Compassion’s work and the huge difference it is making in 26 nations around our world. I’ve sat in the homes of people who are living in extreme poverty. I’ve prayed with them, heard their stories and discovered the changes that Compassion has been able to bring through partnership with their local church.
In February I visited Indonesia. In July I traveled to Ethiopia and Rwanda. Back in 2008 I visited Compassion’s work in Haiti and Dominican Republic. Each of the places I visited in those countries revealed a different kind of poverty. Each was bursting with the hope of a brighter future.
The following is something I’ve said before and is just as true today as it was when I began working for Compassion on this day in 2013.
I don’t work for Compassion because it’s a job. 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.
If you’d like to help me celebrate my one year work anniversary please consider sponsoring a child through Compassion today. I can absolutely assure you it will make all the difference for a child as you help release them from poverty in Jesus’ name.
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Every year since 2009 I’ve travelled between Albany and Perth, a distance of over 500 kilometres, by bicycle. I’ve taken on the challenge to raise funds for some very worthy causes but this year I’m looking forward to the ride even more as I support what I consider to be the best cause of all.
Back in the saddle
This October I’ll once again be taking part in the Ride for Hope. The ride will involve more than 30 cyclists, our biggest group ever, riding over 500 kilometres from Albany to Perth. As part of the event this year I’m raising money for Compassion.
If you’ve been following 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 and Rwanda. 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.
My fund raising target is $2000. To reach that goal I need 20 people who are prepared to donate $100. Can you please consider being one of those people?
Of course I understand that not everyone can afford to be so generous so please consider giving whatever you can. The need is desperate and any donation of $2 or more is tax deductible in Australia. (Donations are still welcome from anywhere in the world.)
If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of children who desperately need your support, simply visit my fundraising page.
I can assure you that your money will be well spent in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
For the 13th consecutive year, Compassion International has earned the highest rating for U.S. charities from Charity Navigator—the nation’s largest charity evaluator. The 4-out-of-4 stars rating places Compassion International in the top one-percent of non-profits reviewed by Charity Navigator. – PR Web
Let me thank you in anticipation of your support for children in poverty.
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My time in Ethiopia and Rwanda came to an end a few days ago. After an extra day in Johannesburg, due to the airline heavily overbooking my flight, I made it home to Perth. Sometimes it seems like so long ago, yet at other times a memory will put me right back on the streets of Africa.
My mind keeps returning to the Rwandan Genocide Memorial I visited in the hills outside Kigali. There are many thousands of people buried beneath the church and surrounding area. I walked into the church and saw some of the belongings left behind by victims of the genocide including the blood stained clothing they were wearing when the murderers took their lives. I then walked down steps into the area below the church where I was surrounded by coffins stacked five or six high.
In 100 days more than 1 million people were murdered. But the genocidaires did not kill a million people. They killed one, then another, then another…. day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute.
Every minute of the day, someone, somewhere was being murdered, screaming for mercy.
When the trip to Rwanda was planned I knew that I’d meet people who still carried the emotional scars of the genocide, but meeting a woman my own age who carries very obvious physical scars gave me a glimpse of what some people faced twenty years ago. Even before she was introduced to us we knew that she had suffered. She carries a very long, deep scar down the left side of her face with other deep marks to the right side of her face and the back of her head. She now only has sight in her left eye.
Esther (not her real name) was a wife and mother. She had five children, the youngest just a baby. Life as Esther knew it instantly disappeared on the 15th of April 1994. Thousands of locals sought refuge in their church but that only made their murder easier when the killers that arrived on that day threw grenades into the assembled crowds. Esther’s husband and three of her children died that day. She was injured and dazed lying among the dead. It wasn’t until the 18th of April that she finally made it out of the church building. She’d been left for dead but somehow survived. That was just the start of her horror.
After crawling out of the church Esther found an empty home where she went to hide. The genociders returned and killed the rest her children in front of her in ways too graphic to describe here. They then took their machetes to her and again left her for dead. Although she was suffering horrific injuries she survived and found another hiding place. Some days later more killers arrived. This time it was people she knew. People from her own area. Neighbours. They told her to go away and die somewhere else. It took all her energies but she made it out, eventually finding another home in which to hide.
The next time her hiding place was discovered was in June. She was barely alive and weighed only 19 kilograms. She couldn’t walk because she had been hiding in a cramped position for so long. Thankfully this time it was members of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front), the group which was seeking to halt the genocide. They rescued Esther and took her to hospital where she stayed recovering for around six months.
Esther told her story with far more detail and while it was hard for us to hear her story, it was obvious that remembering the details was even harder for her.
The genocide resulted in the deaths of over a million people.
But death was not its only outcome.
Tens of thousands of people had been tortured, mutilated and raped; tens of thousands more suffered machete cuts, bullet wounds, infection and starvation.
There was rampant lawlessness, looting and chaos. The infrastructure had been destroyed, the ability to govern dismantled. Homes had been demolished, belongings stolen.
There were over 300,000 orphans and over 85,000 children who were heads of their household, with younger siblings and/or relatives.
There were thousands of widows. Many had been the victims of rape and sexual abuse or had seen their own children murdered.- History Speaks
Another place I visited in Rwanda was the Kigali Memorial Centre. It tells the story of genocide in Rwanda as well as other genocides through history. If you’d like to know more about what happened over those 100 days in 1994 you can visit the website for the Kigali Memorial Centre.
Thankfully Compassion was working in Rwanda before the genocide and continues working there. In fact, it was just after the genocide that the church where Esther’s family was killed called on Compassion for help. They were there within a few short months, ready to walk the the journey of recovery with local people.
Following the genocide Esther had another child, a daughter. Her daughter is in her final years of sponsorship with Compassion.
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