So you’ve said you work three days a week and you’ve said that you go to Cambodia, these things are linked, tell us the link.
It’s funny because I started going to Cambodia five years ago. And it’s amazing how God uses things. We’d just been to America for a family wedding and thankfully we didn’t have to pay anything for it, which was really nice. And we’d been saving because we thought we would have to pay for it, so we had a sum of money in the bank. And America, it’s like Australia, it’s such an opulent country. Everybody is so rich, and the meals are so big. So we came back going ‘Man, this can’t be the lasting impression that our kids have of what life is like for most people in the world.’
And we had some friends at the time who were in Cambodia as missionaries. So we sent them an email and said, ‘Can we come and visit? Can we bring our family?’ And they said, ‘Absolutely, we’d love to.’
Actually this is another one of those stories that really builds our faith as well.
So days before we were due to go, we were quite nervous because we had five very young kids at the time. They were aged between 6 and 12 or something. We were going to a non-English speaking country and the only people we knew in the whole country were our two friends. And they were organising the whole trip, they’d done an itinerary for us, our accommodation, everything.
So days before we were due to leave she rings, and she was devastated, she said, ‘I’m back in Tasmania, my husband’s been stood down from ministry, and we can no longer host you.’ So we were like, ‘OK, ah … I’m so sorry to hear that!’ but obviously we were like, ‘What do we do?’
So we prayed, we decided we’d dedicate ourselves to some days of prayer, and we only had a couple of days. Anyway, we both felt really strongly that God still wanted us to go and that we had to just get on a plane, and trust him for the rest.
So she’d organised one night’s accommodation, so we knew we had a night when we first got there. And she’d organised someone to pick us up from the airport as well. So we knew that we’d be picked up and that we’d have accommodation, and after that we had no idea. Even where we’d stay the next night.
So we were both a little bit nervous but just trusting.
And what were the ages of your kids?
So Mikayla was 12 I think, so it must have been 12, 10, 9, 7, and 6.
We rocked up to the hotel and the people at the hotel couldn’t speak a word of English. And she passed over three keys to us. And we were like, ‘No, no, no, two keys, two keys.’ And she’s like, ‘no, no, no.’ And she insisted. And we realised when we got to our rooms that we couldn’t all fit in two rooms, so she had to give us three rooms. But we had a 10 and 12 year old. Two children. And they weren’t even on the same floor as us. She had us all on different floors. So Marianne was having a meltdown.
Anyway we said to Isaac and Mikayla, ‘You guys just stay in your room. Don’t even answer the door unless it’s us. Don’t leave your room. We’ll come and get you when it’s time.’ Because it was the first time in a foreign country, and you hear all these horror stories of abductions and so on.
Cambodia’s not known for being a particularly safe or comfortable country.
So we were like, ‘Don’t move.’
So Marianne went up and knocked on the door and Mikayla said, ‘There’s a man who is down our hallway and he’s whistling a church song.’ So Marianne went down and investigated and there’s this tall white guy. And she’s like, ‘Hi’ and he went ‘G’day!’
And she’s like, ‘You’re Australian!’
And he said, ‘Yeah, that’s your daughter and son’s room?’
She said, ‘Yeah’
He said, ‘Well, every other room on this floor is a mission group from Melbourne. That’s the only room that’s not ours.’
So we were like, ‘Wow.’ And then she being as bold as she is, she got talking and she said, ‘Is there anyway we could join your group?’
And he said, ‘I could talk to them.’ Then he came back and said, ‘Absolutely, we’d love you to.’
And we were there for about three weeks and we had only a few days with that group but then we had people sending us ‘contact these people’ or ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ and the trip was absolutely perfect. We wouldn’t change a thing. We made some contacts that have grown and we’ve ended up building schools, and that sort of stuff. And it’s because it all fell apart and we knew that we just had to go.
And it’s been transformative for our family as well. When we got back Mikayla was a young girl but she’d seen some tough stuff, she’d seen extreme poverty. And it affected her probably more than anybody. So when we got back she said to me, ‘Daddy, we have to do something.’ And I’d been thinking the same thing. Because it’s overwhelming but it makes you realise how much you have and how much other people don’t have.
I said, ‘What are you going to do?’
And she said, ‘I don’t know’
I said, ‘Well have a think about it. We’ll support you but we’d love for you to do something.’
And so she ended up putting on a women’s day at church and I think she had about 32 women come along and she raised close to a thousand dollars. And she stood up in front of church, she did all the invites, she got a massage person to come, she organised catering, did the fingernails, it was brilliant. We are so proud of her.
And even now it’s impacted her to the point that she’s now 17 and she makes like $10 an hour and she came to me and said, ‘Dad I want to sponsor a child.’ She only works one day a week for eight hours. So I said, ‘You make $80 a week, are you sure?’ ‘I really want to sponsor a child.’ So she sponsors a child.
Which leads me to where I am now, which is that I work for Compassion Australia. But it’s amazing how God started that process five years ago. It wasn’t just a, ‘Oh it’s time for me to leave the radio station.’ He started changing my heart five years ago. So he was doing something. I had a sense from that point that my time now was limited, he has something more for me.
And last October as a family we went over again. So we’ve been over four times. And I’ve been reading a book by Hudson Taylor.
I know. So great English missionary that lived in China for many years. Got there while there was a war on, had an amazing faith. So I was just blown away by these stories. And there was one story, and I was reading it, and I’d sensed that it was time for me to leave the radio station already, and I’d been reading some verses that really seemed to confirm that but Marianne wasn’t on board just yet. I’m like, ‘I think I need to leave.’ She’s like, ‘We’ve got a mortgage and five kids. You can’t just leave. What are you going to do next?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. But I just think I have to leave, I think it’s time.’ And she said, ‘I don’t know, you need to know what you’re doing next.’
So anyway I started reading some of this book to her. And there was one story there that really moved us both. And Hudson Taylor had been asked to run this hospital by his best friend, so he prayed about it and said, ‘yeah OK, I think I do need to run this hospital.’ He found out once he’d started there that there was only a month worth of supplies left and about fifty or sixty patients at the time. So he started praying constantly, ‘OK God, you need to provide for this.’ And it got to the final day and the cook came into the room and said, ‘Mr Taylor we’re on our final bag of rice, this is it, today’s the day. We have nothing left.’
And instead of being like me – I would have panicked and freaked out – he actually said, ‘That’s great news, because that means today God’s going to answer our prayer.’ He had such faith that it was like, ‘Today is the day, then.’
Because my first thing is, well we’re on our last bag so now I need to go and talk to all the influencers I know around the place and try and put on the guilt or do whatever. But he’s just like, influencers are at this level, God’s at this higher level. Let’s just go straight to the top level and ask him.
And his policy was to never ask for money, so he never ever asked anybody for money. God always provided.
And I was just blown away by this story, and I read it to Marianne, because the crazy thing that happened was that same day the mail came in from England (which took three months on a boat) and there was a letter from a man who had written this letter months ago. And it had a fifty pound note in it which he said, ‘I hope this will keep you going for a while’ which back in the 1850s was a lot of money. And he said, ‘I have come across my inheritance, I’m a man of means, I don’t need this money, I’ve been praying about where it should go and I’ve decided that it will go to you at the hospital.’ And this was the day that he was on his final bag of rice.
So I’m just like, ‘What am I worried about, leaving the radio station?’ So that was when Marianne said, ‘OK let’s do it. We can do it. God knows what he’s doing.’
So I got back from Cambodia, the week I got back, the day I got back, I said, ‘I resign.’
And that was hard, after 15 years you know. It was very comfortable and I love what the radio station does, I got to share the gospel every day to thousands of people. So it was a big change. But I just knew that God had called me out.
And it was interesting how he called me out before he gave me anything else. And I’d had some job offers but for every one I thought no, this isn’t right. But I knew that he had something and I suspected that it was something to do with children living in poverty. And for years I had said, ‘One day I want to work for Compassion.’ Because we had the big Compassion day. I love Compassion. I suspected that one day I would.
So my friend who worked in radio and now works for Compassion in Western Australia saw that there was a job for Compassion in Hobart. So he sent me the link and said, ‘Hey mate, what about this?’ Because he’d heard I was leaving. But if I hadn’t been leaving he would have never sent me that message. Because he wouldn’t have thought of me, because I was in a job.
So anyway, this Compassion job got released the day before I left the radio station. I left on the 25th January and this job was released on the 24th January.
I remember listening to you and there was a big lead up, you were a star, and it was ‘Scotty’s leaving, Scotty’s leaving’ and the question was, ‘Well, what’s he going to do?’ and there was no answer. There was nothing, because there was no job.
It was the day before.
Isn’t that amazing?
And because every job I’d been offered. Because I was reasonably well known people were offering me jobs. Marianne was like, ‘No, no, don’t think so. That’s not right.’ Anyway I sent her, she was down the Peninsula staying with a friend for the weekend. And I sent her the link and her friend said that as soon as she opened the link she just burst into tears and said, ‘This is the job.’ So we both clearly knew that this was what was next for me.
But yeah, it can be a little scary stepping out in faith. I didn’t start for four months after I left the radio station. That was four months of no money coming in. But God provides.
Cool, so final couple of questions that I ask everyone. First one is, when do you feel closest to God?
I was thinking about this one, and I think I feel closest to God when I make time for him and put him first before everything else. I think sometimes our lives can get so crazy that it’s like ‘oh man, I should read my bible today.’ So I think giving him the first fruits of our time is pretty important.
So what does that look like for you? Are you still getting up at four o’clock?
No. Definitely not.
I think for me it just means taking time out every day and not letting distractions interrupt you. It’s funny because reading his word, and I have always read his word over the years, but it has always felt like a requirement – something I should do. And I never really soaked it in. It was like, ‘OK yeah, I’ll read Jeremiah today, or whatever.’ But it was like something I should do because I’m a Christian.
This year for the very first year, and it’s amazing those four months that I talked about, leaving the radio station, it’s amazing how God uses things. Because they were hard months you know. We had no money coming in. All of a sudden I had no structure in my life, where I had structure before, which I didn’t realise that I needed. But I did. And there were some stresses even at home, and stuff like that.
But it’s amazing how when that stuff happens it almost forces you to press into God more. And I got this hunger for his word and reading his word like I haven’t had in 30 years of being a Christian. And I was soaking it up. It’s amazing, I read it everyday now but I look forward to spending time with him. Something changed in the pain.
I think sometimes God uses our pain to grow us in ways that we wouldn’t necessarily want to go through but he uses those.
Can I share a story?
So I lost my brother when I was 26 and he was 24 and this was part of losing my dad. We both really struggled. I’ve got two younger brothers. I was living in Melbourne at the time and there was a little plaque that said, ‘Joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God.’ And I was like, ‘That’s cool, I like that.’ And it was fifty cents. So I bought that and took it home.
Joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God.
I put it up on the wall next to our telephone. I just loved it. And it’s God’s goodness to us that he knows what’s coming and he prepares us for stuff. So that was a Saturday.
The next morning at ten past eight, I remember it as clearly as anything, my mum calls, she was in hysterics, she said, ‘Andrew’s dead. Andrew’s dead.’
And this is my brother who’d had a really tough time. He’d lost his dad, I hadn’t at all been the best big brother, in my teenage years I was terrible to him. And he’d spent twelve months in prison, he was on heavy drugs, a lot of crime, and in a lot of pain. So he’d passed away the night before. He’d been trying to steal a car as far as we know, and the people that he’d been stealing the car from found him and he ended up losing his life.
It was the worst year of my life. I remember it. But I remember as I’m on the phone I’m looking at this little plaque, ‘Joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God.’
And I did some stupid stuff in my grief. That next twelve months was just a year where I did things. But it was amazing how in that twelve months God grew me like he’d never grown me before.
In my stupid stuff, and I don’t mind sharing this with people, I was heavily into pornography until 1998, and that was a leftover of my early years, it was something I could never shake. And he dealt with that in an amazing way. To the point now that I’m a help for other men that are really dealing with that.
And he’s given me a real passion for men. He’s given me a real passion for people that are dealing with pain. He’s made me a complete over-sharer. I mean, the reason why I’m an over-sharer is because of the stupid stuff I did, for me it’s like I finally understood what grace was.
My idea of grace is that God has lavished this on me to the point that I know I don’t deserve this. I’ve done stupid stuff. So why do I care if anyone else judges me? I’m forgiven. And we’re all in the same boat, we all make mistakes, so why would I ever judge somebody else?
So in that sense it’s kind of freed me up to take off my mask and say, ‘I am who I am, I am who God’s made me.’ So if I’m struggling, I’ll say I’m struggling right now, and if I’m going well, I’ll say I’m going well right now. And I share stories that might be embarrassing stories and I’ve become known over the years as a complete over-sharer but it’s only how God grew me through my pain to allow me to be that person. To feel like I can be vulnerable enough to let people know what I’m really going through. And if I do something really stupid to be vulnerable enough to let people know I’ve done something really dumb.
But that came out of pain. And God grew me in that year like never before. And he uses that.
I’ve always said over the years there’s never anything wasted in God’s economy. It’s the good things, or it’s the painful things, he uses it all.
And he has.
And it’s that verse isn’t it? We comfort others with the comfort that he’s given us. (2 Corinthians 1:4) And you’re not the only person who is in pain so to be able to give to others from that place where you can say I actually know what you’re going through.
And to be vulnerable, it actually gives people permission to be vulnerable themselves. I remember once, and I won’t share names, but I remember once a trip to Launceston with one of my friends and I just really felt prompted to share some of my story. So I told him about my struggle with pornography up until 1998. And we talked most of the way up to Launceston. And I felt sure that he’d say, ‘Oh me too’ because I really felt prompted to share this. But he didn’t say a thing.
He was like, ‘Thanks, I’ll see you later.’
I was like, ‘What? I’ve just poured myself out.’
It was the next Saturday, the following Saturday that he rang me and he said, ‘Scotty,’ and he was sobbing, absolutely sobbing. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘You know your story about pornography?’ I said, ‘yeah?’ and he said, ‘That’s me!’ And he said, ‘Can you come around?’ So I went around and we were hugging and crying and we’ve held each other accountable over the years. And he’s now a pastor in a church.
And I think that’s, and I guess this is a bit of a passionate point for me, but I think pornography and not even necessarily pornography, but things in our life that are dark that we keep secret from people can actually stop us from having a blessing. But it can also stop us from being the people that we’re meant to be.
People would say to me over the years, ‘would you consider being an elder in the church?’ And I’d say no, but I’d say no because for me I’m like, ‘How could I? I’ve got this whole dark area in my life that nobody knows about. How could I?’ And it was only when I started to deal with that that God freed me to start to be the man that I knew that he wanted me to be, so that I could say yes to things.
And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do things because we are in sin. Because we all sin. We’re all saved by grace. But for me it was something that really held me back massively.
And I remember in 1998 when I started to deal with it. I was in Melbourne and I had the blessing of going to Alan Myers church who now has a great course called ‘The Valiant Man’, and so I did that with a group of people in Mt Evelyn. And I got to the point where I’m like, ‘I have to tell my wife. I have to tell her.’ And I was panicking, you know, thinking she was going to leave me.
So I gave her a book and I said, ‘Can you do me a favour? Can you read this? I’d love to talk to you about some stuff but I just want you to read this first.’ It was a book about a guy who was in sexual addiction. She read it. But halfway through she pulled me aside, and I’ll never forget it because it was just the most beautiful moment and sometimes I get teary when I talk about this story, but she said, ‘Sweetheart, I want to make a promise to you.’ And I said, ‘What’s that?’ She said, ‘I promise you that no matter what you’ve done I’m always going to love you and I’ll never ever leave you.’
And it just freed me up to be able to share it with her. And she’s never once judged me, she’d never even brought it up again. But she sees now how God uses me to help other men through that journey as well.
And I probably would have reacted in a different way. That to me would have broken trust, I would have been horrified if she had come and said that to me, but she was just so graceful in all of that that it just softened my heart to the point that I could tell her and know that she didn’t judge me, that she still loved me. She’s amazing.
And I want to make the point too that all of these changes didn’t happen the instant you were converted. And I don’t think they could have. Your head would have exploded.
I think that’s what I love, that God is so gracious to us. I think in my faith journey over these years, he’ll bring something and gently and sometimes not so gently, if you ignore him for a period of time, maybe not so gently, but I’ve come to learn that as he brings something you just deal with it. He’s like a dad, he’s like, ‘OK I just want to talk to you about this.’ And he’ll just gently bring it and then you’ll deal with it. And then he goes, ‘And now I’ve got this. Now let’s deal with this.’
We’re being changed from glory into glory. Upward stages of glory.
And so you look at who you are, and I’ve still got a long way to go, I’m far from a perfect person, I mess up all the time. The amount of times I have to ask my kids for forgiveness is ridiculous, and my wife. But he just gently grows us and grows us and grows us. So the things that you struggled with back there, you may not necessarily struggle with anymore, but all of a sudden… If he had bombarded me with all the stuff that he wanted me to deal with over the years I think my head would explode. But he just gently brings stuff along and deals with it.
So we need to finish up so you can have lunch so here’s the final question: What’s something about God or Christianity that you wish everyone knew? One thing.
I think for me it’s easily the freedom that comes. I think people get the wrong impression of Christianity. I think they think it’s all about rules and it’s the wrong impression. I had a friend just recently asking me about it. And he said, ‘Doesn’t the Bible say, “an eye for an eye”?’ And so I took him to where Jesus says, ‘It was said, “an eye for an eye” but I say love your enemy’. I encouraged him, ‘Forget about what the media says about Christianity. Forget about what your family says about Christianity. Forget about what our society is saying about Christianity. Go and read what Jesus said. That’s what Christianity is. Look for the red words in the Bible and read them. And that’s what Christianity is about. Because that’s what Jesus is. And Jesus said, “if you know me, you know my Father.”’
For me, that’s the whole thing. Let’s get back to what Jesus said and then you’ll realise that Christianity is really attractive. It’s a beautiful thing when God says to you, ‘You’re saved because my only Son died on a cross for you and I love you like my son.’
And I think it’s in Ephesians it talks about how we are God’s masterpiece. And I don’t feel like a masterpiece but that’s the way God views us. We’re his children, he loves us, he adores us. To the point that he would make the biggest sacrifice that anybody could ever make.
And then comes the joy in that so that no matter what happens in life, joy is not the absence of pain but the presence of God. So when life gets tough, nothing strips that joy. It doesn’t mean happiness, the happiness might be gone. But I think there’s a real difference between happiness and joy and so for me, you might go through periods when you’re unhappy but there’s this underlying joy in all of that. There’s this sense of freedom, so even when you mess up you can come back and say, ‘Lord I’m so sorry I messed up.’ But there’s no sense of condemnation anymore. You know where you’re headed. You know one day you’re going to be in heaven with him and you know that he’s walking with you now.
And then the other thing I guess that I wish people knew is that our heart as Christians is to serve. Our heart isn’t to judge. And often we’ll speak up about a subject and we do it not because we’re trying to judge people. We do it because we know that the best life is the life that’s lived by God’s ways. So there’s an aspect of love in that. There’s a huge aspect of love in that.
So for me I’m just like, the reason why I think this is not a great idea for our society is because it’s not good for us. I know when I’ve got my child and they’re making a bad decision I’ll say, ‘You know what? That’s not the best way. And it’s not going to give you joy in your life if you’re going to keep doing this. God wants you to live a better way.’
And that’s not out of your desire to control your child or fit him into a box.
It’s about my love as a father for them. I want the very best for them.
And you can see more. And God can see more.
Yeah, God sees it all. So for me I think that’s the thing. I want people to forget the perception that society has of us Christians. Sure, we’ve failed and there are many of us that have done dumb stuff, and there are some of us that have done horrific stuff and we need to address that. But in the end Jesus is amazing, and his grace is amazing, and it transforms lives.
So for me it’s like, ‘Know that. Know that. Go back to what Jesus said. Forget even what his church does because we mess up as well. Look to Jesus.’
Absolutely. Thank you so much for sharing, it’s been wonderful.
Thank you Ruth, it’s been good.