Richmond Wandera is a remarkable man. His life was torn apart by violence and poverty. One act by a 15 year old girl began the healing that transformed his life and the lives of those around him. In this episode of Bleeding Daylight he tells his incredible story in his own words.

Richmond speaks honestly about the day he lost his father, his home and his childhood. He discusses the devastating effects of poverty and the part we can all play in seeing the end of extreme poverty.

 

Emily Olsen

Wherever there shadows there are people ready to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. This is bleeding daylight with your host Rodney Olsen.

 

Rodney Olsen

Richmond Wandera has an incredible story to tell. He's the senior pastor of new life Baptist Church in Kampala, Uganda, and is the founder and director of Pastors Discipleship Network, a non-profit that serves, equips and trains thousands of pastors across East Africa.

 

He has a master's degree in spiritual formation from Moody Graduate and Theological Seminary in Chicago and holds a PhD in philosophy of leadership from Lancaster Bible College and Capital Seminary.

 

Now it might sound like Richmond has lead an extraordinary life and he has but perhaps not in the ways that you might think. His childhood was painful and challenging, marked by extreme poverty, illness, loss and hopelessness.

 

His family often went without food. He suffered from malaria almost a dozen times. Violence visited their home in a tragic way. And today, we get to spend a little bit of time unravelling some of that story. Richmond, thank you so much for your time.

 

Richmond Wandera

Thank you, Rodney. I'm happy to be here.

 

Rodney Olsen 

I want to talk about that moment, when as an 8 year old your life came crashing down, but before that, what are your memories as a young boy?

 

Richmond Wandera   

I was the third born of six children and I was born to a mother who was married off at a very, very young age at the age of 17. By the time she was 25, she had six children and I was a third born of that, as I already said. But my father, he was a lawyer, okay, and he was able to provide for our family.

 

So he wasn't the typical lawyer that you'd imagine with a suit and tie and you know, all of that, no, no. He was the kind of person who couldn't wait to take off the tie and who couldn't wait to take off the suit.

 

And I recall two specific instances with my dad. Us driving to watch his favourite team play and he's going clearly over the speed limit and we're at the back slamming the side of the car saying KCC, KCC because that was his favorite football team and it was all chaotic, but it was fun.

 

And I do remember that the time when he believed that he could lift all six of us and my mother our bed and he tried and we knew he hadn't succeeded but he believed he had. So I do remember very, very fond memories of my dad and my mom. And Rodney, we were really one united family heading towards a bright future until all that changed.

 

Rodney Olsen  

Tell me how that changed.

 

Richmond Wandera 

I was eight years old when I was rushed out of school, only to come home and find that my mother and father we're not around yet there were a lot of people gathered around the house and people were crying and wailing and they'd put three massive old pieces of wood in front of our house and lit them on fire.

 

In Uganda when you see that, you know that death has come to that home and I did not know who died. I did not know what happened and then it dawned on me when I saw the blood in front of our home that someone has been taken away from our home.

 

Oh Rodney, I learnt later that day that my father had been murdered in the presence of my mom, and my mom was in hospital for witnessing what my father had to experience.

 

Something happened to her body. She changed. On that day it seemed like I'd lost both my parents my father, physically he was killed and murdered. But my mom emotionally and psychologically she was not the same.

 

My mom was the kind of woman you called when you're having a bad day, she was sunshine, she could talk your ear off. She was very loud and happy but Rodney, the woman who returned home, my mother, she was different.

 

She was quiet. She was subdued. She was not laughing anymore and Rodney, that really affected us. Not just the loss of my dad, but the change of my mom and we began to experience some forms of injustice that are hard to describe.

 

I think the first one was when my mother tried to get the benefits from my father's work and she was told she had to pay money for those benefits to be processed out and she ended up not take getting a penny for my father's work.

 

The other thing that happened was my uncle who should have taken care of us was in financial problems about that time and he ended up taking what belonged to my father, my father suits my father's clothing, the furniture at home and basically sold all of that to take care of his own financial problems, leaving my mother and her six children in a more desperate place.

 

Rodney Olsen

There was six of you children, what was the age range?

 

Richmond Wandera

The oldest was 12 while the youngest was one.

 

Rodney Olsen

So you've got a 12 year old older sibling was that brother or sister?

 

Richmond Wandera

 Brother.

 

Rodney Olsen

You're eight, in the middle there and you have a one year old. So seeing this with your mother, you're not only having to process your own grief and as an eight year old, I guess that was a difficult thing enough, but trying to process what was happening with your mom,

 

Richmond Wandera

Again, we had seen women in the community be abused, and unfortunately, women have been looked at, categorized and sadly, completely abused in in our cultural space. Now that's changing, thank God,but, but by the time this was happening, women were not regarded as having equal rights as men.

 

It was hard to see my mother just in tears and she's just helplessly trapped. She couldn't talk to any of the elders or any of the community leaders or any of the people in the tribal group that were in a place of influence, because she was a woman, she basically did exactly as she was told and so it was hard to see that.

 

So she is already in a place of difficulty, having lost her husband, and now six children are hanging on to her for hope, as well as all this injustice that's coming to our home. We're in a government system that does not provide welfare to people in her state. And so she's actually in this place of total devastation. Her health is not good and so Rodney, it was in this time, that the worst came when we were asked to leave the home, because we only had that house that we're living in because of my father's work. And once he was out of the picture, we had to leave the house and that's how we ended up in Nagaru Slum.

 

Rodney Olsen 

I want to explore that slum and find out a bit about it. But, but first, maybe some background because this is all happening against a background of what's happening in Uganda at the time. Tell us, tell us about your country.

 

Richmond Wandera  

You're right, Rodney. This is happening against a very massively dark background. 1971 was the beginning of a reign of Idi Amin who was a brutal dictator and he ruled the country for nine long years.

 

Many people at the time thought it was the end of the world because of so much death and the reckless behaviour of the soldiers and the army and the killings that just were unending.

 

But 1979 when Idi Amin was overthrown, it plunged us into a new era of another form of darkness, which was again continued reckless death but it just really was a season where we had so many presidents each coming in as a rebel leader and no one coming in by the vote.

 

In between 1979 and 1986, we saw another very dark period. I think the height of the war in Uganda happened in 1986, which is popularly known as the Luwero Triangle War, where two rebel groups who are pressing against the government simultaneously. Again, this is a long period 1971 to now 1986 a whole period of just death in the country, and many people fearing for their future and so that has now caused Uganda to be the world's second leading country, with the youngest population right under Benin.

 

70% Rodney, listen, 70% of my nation's population is below the age of 30 years and 50% of the 70% is below the age of 15.

 

So we have a very young population, but this has come as a result of long standing civil war and in the midst of this background that our story is happening and so it's not just a crisis within our home, but it's a crisis of the nation.

 

Rodney Olsen

The nation's in crisis your family's in absolute crisis, and as you say, you end up in a slum paint us a picture of that slum.

 

Richmond Wandera

Nagaru Slum was regarded by many as the forgotten community. I mean, it's a valley of over 19,000 homes but each home, not having a space more than five by five meters.

 

No home was that size and moreover, it was small homes one after another, a whole line of homes probably sharing the same toilet, and no places for children to play. No hygiene, no hospitals. It was a place where most kids do not go to school and so everybody knew if it is crime or drugs or whatever you thought of this gang activity as more from Naguru.

 

The police and the government had in some way kind of given up on that community. So when my mother said to us, we found a space in Naguru where we will move to you can imagine the fear that ended our hearts as children. We're going to Naguru this place and indeed when we arrived, I remember walking into our house and looking around and all the eyes of the community just looking at us like, "who are these people coming in" and so we’re those coming in and I entered in saw this one roomed house, and I saw what seemed like sunrays pressing through the iron sheets, as like what happened when it rains.

 

Rodney, I was soon to find out because not all long after that our rainy season kicked in and I recall one night the rain being so strong, the wind being too too strong that our center iron sheet was not able to bear that wind and it was literally blown off the roof.

 

Rodney our home just became one giant bucket. I remember us picking up whatever we could and basically standing with those clothes and blankets and those items right close to our shoulders and our chest and standing on the side of the house as the rain came through.

 

We couldn't run out because it was dark and lightning and thunder and wind. We couldn't stay in and it was that night, Rodney, that I felt like I had lost myself.

 

When I reflect on what I was lost that night, I think I didn't just lose dignity but I lost identity. I lost who I was that kind of almost like life was just screaming angrily against against me as a child.

 

Two other things that I could say is my constant waking up in the morning and fearing because of the bumps of mosquito bites on my skin that I would get sick of malaria. I've seen so many kids died from malaria. And after my mom had said to us, there's no more money for food, I remember just going out and spending a lot of time on the street trying to survive and I wouldn't wish that on any child., No child, Rodney, should live through life like that. Not in a world that has the resources that we have.

 

Rodney Olsen

We often imagine poverty as, as a lack of resources as a lack of stuff so to speak, but you're talking about something that's much deeper than that.

 

Richmond Wandera   

Absolutely. Rodney, again, most people if you ask them define poverty or describe poverty, they'll use very physical descriptors for that. They say poverty is a lack of food, it's a lack of clothing. It's a lack of roof over your head, it's a lack of having that shelter and while that is true, that's only one side of poverty.

 

I think the real monster and the most devastating side of poverty is the invisible side. It's that voice. For me. It was like an ugly voice that constantly spoke to me I couldn't escape it, that I was nothing. I was unwanted. Nobody knew my name. Nobody wanted to know my name.

 

Every time I thought of something happy or what I want to be in the future, it's just you didn't even have food the previous night. You're not sure you're gonna have food tonight. What are you thinking about? Dreaming about a future and you? It just makes it feel like you're a joke like you completely, like you don't exist.

 

I remember Mother Teresa saying that, feeling forgotten, and feeling unwanted. is a much greater poverty than the lack of food. Rodney, I totally agree with Mother Teresa's words because I know what that felt like.

 

Rodney Olsen

How does that eight year old living in those sort of circumstances, having poverty speak to you daily about you not being worth anything, how does that boy become the man that sits before us today?

 

Richmond Wandera 

Well, it's just a beautiful thing, what happens when people choose to act. You know, I think everybody's looking at this and nobody's actually surprised that there is poverty in the world and that there are people who are suffering. But I think the story becomes beautiful when people act and not just empathize or have compassion.

 

So I was only about nine years old now and my mother hears that there is a church in the neighbourhood that supports children. Now remember, my mother is was a woman without faith, and my father didn't believe in God and we all were just in a space where we believed in our old African tradition and just looked at people at churches like go there, those are those people and we just just didn't connect with them at all.

 

And Rodney to describe the courage that my mother took it was, it's like me being a Christian today walking into like a Buddhist temple or something asking for help for my children. It's weird because it's like okay when I enter that, what will I find? Am I allowed to greet as a woman, am I allowed to, to greet the vicar, or the pastor, and what do I say? I mean, it's just very weird walking into a space, which practices a different spiritual expression from you. It's scary. But my mother because she was desperate, she walks into this space and says, "Look, I'm desperate. This is my story. If you guys can help, please do".

 

And Rodney, my mother was surprised she was surprised at how fast the Compassion workers at the local church came to our home and they came with cameras and with pictures, I mean with files and they took our birthday information and background of us as a family. And they took pictures of us Rodney. I remember standing in front of this camera and the flash went off and I felt like hope was coming felt like hope was coming and indeed three and a half months after that, we got the news we got the news that a, listen, and this this gets gives me chills just saying, that a 15 year old girl called Heather had decided to sponsor me.

 

Just thinking about that just grips me a fresh all the time that my life was rescued by one act of a 15 year old girl and when my mother was told she almost fell off the chair. She's like this could easily be my daughter. And Rodney, I can't get, I fail to get my mind around that. I mean, if you think about most 15 year olds and what they think about themselves, but also what other people think about 15 year olds, they don't give them a lot of credit.

 

They keep saying to them look when you're older when you're 24, 25 and you've got a job and you have some spare income, then you will make a difference, then you'll change the world, then you can be a part of this fight. But at the age of 15, Heather, she had the maturity to take a babysitting job. And out of that, was able to take care of me. For me, , that's wild. It's beyond my understanding, but it's shaped what I believe today about 15 year olds.

 

Rodney Olsen

Do you think sometimes we don't expect enough from our teenagers from our 15 year olds, 14 year olds, 18 year olds?

 

Richmond Wandera

Absolutely. Absolutely. Rodney, I believe just in that can be seen from how we treat them, and how we organize programs for them and what opportunities we provide for them to make a difference.

 

It's evident wherever you see or wherever you turn, that 15 year olds are treated as those who will make a difference later and not today, and we've got to change that. We've got to change that. We've got to call a 15 year old and say, "You have everything now to do whatever God has called you to do right now. Whatever your passion is, or whatever the impact that's lined up for you to do right now you can do it right now." And Rodney, I'll tell you one way I am doing that in my community. So young kids when they reach the age of 14, I begin to call them sir. And people wonder why are you calling this kid sir but I, the whole posture changes.

 

When I'm the Senior Pastor right now the church that rescued me as a kid, when I come up, I'm usually dressed up as expected in my community that I will be it no matter how hot it is, I'm dressed a certain way. But I look at this 14 year old I say good morning, sir and Rodney, there is a physical impact of that word. I mean, you just see them standing before you say ah, immediately almost speak responsibility to them. And Rodney this, what I'm finding that when you look at a 15 year old and say you have now all that you need to make a difference right now sir. Really? The world doesn't say that to me. The school doesn't say that to me. Clearly my peers don't say that to me. You saying that to me? What do you see that I don't see? And so teenagers can change the world. And one teenager changed my world.

 

Rodney Olsen

How did that change look for you? Once you found out Heather, a 15 year old girl who didn't have the capacity to sponsor you, but said, I'm going to and I'm going to take a babysitting job to do that. How did that start to change your world?

 

Richmond Wandera 

You know, when Heather took a babysitting job to sponsor me, she was able to provide Compassion International with $48 a month, and from that Compassion was able to send that money to the local church in my community and that local church was able to provide very specific needs that I had.

 

The first one was food. You know, food is so basic, and if you live in a country where food is available, easily accessible, this point is not as strong but it is an extremely strong point. If you live in a country where people have died from starvation, and so food was provided for me, health care was provided for me. I still remember my health care number UG 129/0064 I can never forget that because it was given to me and said Richmond anytime you fall sick, don't even run to church or run to the Compassion project run to any dispensary or hospital around you. They will they all have our list of sponsored kids and hey, they'll take care of you and don't worry about the bill. And Rodney that was, the second benefit.

 

So first was education was was food second was health. The third was education. Rodney, in our country, Uganda. If you don't have money to go to school, the doors are closed, and until someone with the ability to open those doors shows up, the doors remain closed.

 

For me, Heather, she was half the way around the world but because of her generous sacrifice, I was told Richmond, you can now go back to school. This is gonna be your scholastic materials, and I was given a school uniform and I still have a picture of myself running to school and it changed and unlocked my potential in massive ways. But then the other thing is I got a chance to be a child again.

 

My time on the street had ripped childhood off of me completely and there was no time to be a child because I had to provide for my sister and my brothers, I had to protect them. There's no time to be a child, but here I was now in a space where there are merry go rounds, the see saws and it's a church, it's a safe place, and there I was and I was also under the care of people who were not necessarily paid to take care of children, but they felt it was a calling from God to take care of children and so they would work extra hours without any additional pay. They do this work and take care. And Rodney, it was there that I met Pastor Peter.

 

Pastor Peter became the father that I did not have. He stood with me, he mentored me to this day, and he's worked closely with me. And all these doors were opening, because one 15 year old, had made a decision to live simply so that I could simply live. And I could not be more grateful. And so the way I live today is really to give back as much as I can and make a difference as a way of saying thank you.

 

Rodney Olsen

There were voices back for that eight year old that was saying, You're worthless. You're never going to be anything.

 

Richmond Wandera 

Yeah.

 

Rodney Olsen 

You're a joke. What were the the voices that came from Heather for you? What were the words that you experienced from Heather?

 

Richmond Wandera 

You know, it's such a serious problem of poverty, because poverty like a voice speaks to the child again, constantly, as I mentioned earlier. You're worthless. You are nothing. Nobody wants you, and so that level of poverty, that invisible poverty, there is no amount of money you can throw at it, to overcome it. There's no amount.

 

You could clothe me up well, but the voice remains. You could give me Vaseline for my face and lotion and the voice remains. There is nothing you can do using money to overcome that voice. The only thing that overcomes that voice is a counter voice. A counter message, and Heather's letters brought to me words like Richmond, I love you. Richmond, I'm praying for you.

 

She was part of a Presbyterian Church and so she could send me kids pictures of the kids of the Presbyterian Church. She wanted she sent me a picture of her pet dog and said, "Hey, do you love dogs?" She completely didn't understand that we have no pet culture back home, and so that was a really funny question that she asked. But she sent me stickers. She sent me cards that had music in them and Rodney these, these small and simple things, were able to awake the Richmond that was slowly dying.

 

And she said words over and over again words that I was not hearing in my community and I believe that there is there is something to be said about the community in which your child grows in. When a child grows up in Naguru, all they see is gangs and fighting and dirty water and death, and it shapes the child's person, not just the body but the child's person. And so when I got these counter messages from Heather, at first when she said I love you, I thought you don't even know me, how can you love me? But Rodney, Heather said that enough times that I believed her. And that's the work of God. It's a miracle. It's a miracle that a person who believes deeply darkness about themselves can actually change that belief system because of the words that are countering the message that they have always been hearing.

 

And I believe that it doesn't take that much to change the life of a child. It really doesn't take that much. But it takes that constant presence and that affirmation and that belief that, hey, I'm here with you. There's nothing you can ever do to for me to let you go. I'm here. And I think that children can tell and I was able to tell, and I believed Heather's words. And I think that's what brought the healing that I currently experience and now I'm very passionate about extending to other children.

 

Rodney Olsen

You mentioned Pastor Peter a little while ago, and I believe that there's a particular story that he shared with you that made a radical difference in your life.

 

Richmond Wandera 

So I joined the project at a very young age and but I like I said to you earlier Rodney, I didn't come from a family of faith. We didn't believe in God. We didn't believe in Christianity or anything like that but we just wanted help and we found help at the church.

 

And it was at that church that I met this man, Pastor Peter, who later on became the father that I did not have but again, on joining the project, we began to hear about the gospel, about the good news of Jesus Christ, I received my first Bible at the local project. I began to read this book, and then to interact with friends about it, and then to hear all these stories that were very, very exciting and engaging and I wish I had made the decision earlier but it waited until I was 14 years old, that I finally heard this story from Genesis 39 and 40, about this boy, Joseph and Pastor Peter spoke with passion and pleading with us about Christ and he said, that this boy, Joseph, he went through all these difficult things in his life, not of his own making.

 

He went through all these challenges, but there was a God who had a good plan for him. And Rodney, my heart was touched and I could feel deeply that I'm, I need this God in my life, I am a sinner, I need to repent and change and become anything that this God would want me to be.

 

Then Rodney, that is how I made my decision to follow God and I had no idea that it was going to completely change my future and change my family. Few Years later on, I was 19 years old, and Rodney, I had had the opportunity to see all five of my siblings make a decision to follow Christ, all of them led to Christ by Pastor Peter.

 

When I was 19, I had the absolute joy of seeing my mother invite herself to church and she sat at the back and Pastor Peter was going as he normally goes every Sunday, talking with just passion about God, and my mother, she walked forward, knelt down, accepted Christ in her heart and Rodney in that moment, I just knew that our family will not be the same again, and that was true.

 

Because all the injustices that had happened to my mother, the man who basically swindled all the money that she was entitled to, as a result of my father's work, and basically stole that money from her when she needed it the most. My mother was able to forgive him. My uncle who took from us at the point of desperation, my mother looked at him and forgave him.

 

My uncle ended up falling sick of cancer and when my mother invited us and said, "Look, let's go and take care of uncle in hospital", I knew that my mother had finally forgiven. That action was almost impossible for a person who treated you so badly at a time when you needed them the most.

 

Two days before my uncle passed, my mother led my uncle to the Lord. In the first days I remember just being there with tears in my eyes as my uncle when we first arrived at the hospital, he refused to look at us. He refused the forgiveness that we're offering saying, look, I deserve to go to hell I deserve. of course, my life, I don't deserve your forgiveness. And he also suspected that we aren't actually able to forgive him and so he he looked away for a while and then after that, my mother looked at him and just kept caring for him.

 

A few days into it. My uncle was insistent that whatever I will get after I die I deserve because of my actions. So just leave me letting me be. And my mother looked at him. I remember Rodney, my mother asking one of the most profound questions I've heard.

 

My mother asked my uncle, could you use your finger to point at anybody here who you think deserves to go to heaven, who's lived a life that is so right? My uncle looked, and my mother said, that's it. It's all by grace. All of us. None of us deserve it. That's why it's a gift. And Rodney, it was just tears. As we saw my mother lead my uncle to the Lord and I came back with such an understanding of the gospel after the day like, like, like I've never seen.

 

And all this change is happening, simply, my mother obviously, heard the gospel from Pastor Peter, but she would have never been in the church space, if it wasn't for Compassion. and Compassion would never have been able to sustain its work in the past if it wasn't for Heather. And so I think about some of these connected pieces, names connected to names, churches connected to churches, individuals connected individuals, and I'm just saying what a tapestry of God's amazing plan.

 

Rodney Olsen

Fast forward, you finished your schooling and then went on to university. What happened then?

 

Richmond Wandera 

I had a passion to fight corruption, I had heard at the time that Uganda was the sixth most corrupt country in the world and my vision and dream was to heal my corrupt country by training accountants.

 

So I went and studied very hard. And I graduated on top of my class with a bachelor's degree in accounting. And I graduated with such good grades that the university retained me as a tutorial assistant and I began to lecture at the university and I was passionate about teaching accounting, especially the ethical side of accounting. And that was a wonderful time but then, Rodney, it just kept before me the story of my mother and how she was completely freed from this unforgiveness and this bitterness that was very common in the Naguru Slum.

 

I thought, look, I mean, our community in Naguru needs accountants and it needs business people and it needs the health and food and support but what I think our community needs is that which changes us on the inside, that which brings hope.

 

So I began to pursue pastoral ministry and Pastor Peter, who was my senior pastor then was then promoted to become the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Uganda and so Pastor Peter said to me, Richmond, I think it's time. It's time for you to become the senior pastor of this church. And so Rodney I knelt down before a group of elders and witnesses who basically named me the senior pastor of the very church that rescued me as a child.

 

So I began to serve, but without training, and so I began to serve very diligently and later on the Lord opened the door for me to do a master's degree in spiritual formation and discipleship. Then it just hit me just hit me like a ton of bricks that now I was in the top 1% of pastors in my country who would finally now got theological training. That's like, wow, to whom much is given, much is also required. And so I pulled myself together and I began to pray and ended up launching the Pastor's Discipleship Network, which is a ministry that brings pastors together to study the Word to acquire ministry tools and ministry skills so that they can go and teach the Bible accurately but also lead ministry effectively.

 

And so I began that with a focus on Kampala City, my city that I love. And I did not know that God had such a bigger vision for that. Today, we've expanded way beyond Kampala City across the nation to four other countries. So we're in South Sudan, we're in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we're in Rwanda and we're in Uganda.

 

In the next year, we'll be launching our space in Kenya, where pastors come together to study the Word of God and to disciple each other. And so I look back and look at the number we're Rodney, we're now at 6,000. 6,000 pastors in the East African space that are part of this network, and we're diligently discipling each other and learning. And I think that where did it all start and I can't escape the fact that all this potential was dying on the street until a 15 year old girl put up her hand and said, I'll make a difference, I will join that fight.

 

Rodney Olsen

Life is so very different now to what it was for that eight year old boy, that happy eight year old boy whose life changed in an instant, and so much has happened since then. We talked before about the voices of poverty speaking to you. Now we know that they were wrong. We know that there were counter voices. But do those voices sometimes still try to get in your head?

 

Richmond Wandera 

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I, I'll tell you just one specific story when I was invited to a very high profile dinner, and I honestly didn't believe I deserved to enter that space because I had categorized myself as being lower in the community strata and I decided, look, I don't know if it's gonna be very awkward walking through this space where everyone is a leader with such a good background such a good education. What would I be doing in this space?

And yes, those voices kept getting into my head but that's why I'm passionate about breaking those lies. I got help. I remember Steve Wilson, a gentleman who has been very very helpful to me in helping me identify these lies that continue and linger on because it's not that black and white where you can identify it.

 

Sometimes it's there and you don't even know. It's been with you so long that that becomes your new normal and till someone on the outside looks and says hello Richmond, why do you look at yourself like that? Why are you so constantly disqualifying yourself from opportunities, disqualifying yourself from our conversations?

 

Wow, I need that and I realize, man, some of these lies still linger on in some way but will probably not as it is in some of the children's lives but I think for me, it's a constant battle.

 

And that's why the more I talk to children about this the more I talk to fellow Compassion kids about it, the more I free myself from some of these things, and the sharper my eyes get in identifying some of these lies.

 

And so yes Rodney, sometimes it's a constant battle. And I think in some way, it is an onslaught from the enemy to really affect our identity not just in Uganda, but around the world. There is an identity crisis. There are people who are wondering who they are, what they are, and inside people's hearts, there's always this tickling thought, I mean, what if I live my life more fully? What if I really unleash the potential that's inside of me, but quickly, then they quiet that voice? Because I, you know, probably not today, maybe tomorrow I'll I'll press that or press into that thought a little bit more in other day, but not now. And so it's just constant postponing of, of this suspicion that I could actually do more than I'm currently doing, but they keep extending it to tomorrow. And I think that that's it's pronounced even more in the poverty space.

 

But I know that most people will recognize it and it's, it's the more we fight in our own lives and feel the impact that happens when we release ourselves more fully into serving others into being a blessing into making a difference, then the more we can to release others into their full potential.

 

Rodney Olsen

You already touched on a real message for you, and that is that we should be living more simply so that others may simply live.

 

Richmond Wandera

Yeah.

 

Rodney Olsen

Maybe that's a thought that you'd like to leave with us today.

 

Richmond Wandera

Yeah, Rodney. I honestly believe that. It's not that complicated. Every time I choose, or I volunteer to live with less immediately that single decision, even though I make it now, it immediately frees up time, resources and talent, so that I could then allocate that to someone else.

 

I mean, I'll just give you an example right now. So if I was going to have a meal today, and the meal, let's say costs $5. And I decided I am not having that meal, because I want to live simply, I'm just going to spend through today thinking and reflecting and pondering on the thought of what does it mean to make a difference, and I'm just not gonna have that meal.

 

Immediately $5 is freed and that $5 is not just freed, it's also the time that have taken for that meal, that's also freed up and so I could give that $5 to somebody, as well as it could be spend that one hour which I would have walked to the place, had the meal and then walk back and I probably walked to another place and maybe there's a refugee family that's down the street that has a young boy that cannot speak English and is struggling in class and I could I could do that, or I could walk down the street and work with somebody, maybe someone who was disability or a special need and just spend time with them.

 

Well, I could call up somebody who's struggling to understand something and basically, so I mean, it's a simple thing, but it's actually very radical. And when a person decides, like, look, I could spend all my money buying the latest toys and the latest this, or I could just choose to say, look, I have chosen, this is my life, I make a decision today to live simply. That's my choice. Nobody's forcing it on me. It's my voluntary choice. And when someone decides that, immediately that frees up resources, it frees up time and frees up talent, to be able to invest into the world and if that investment is made in people, it makes all the difference.

 

Rodney Olsen 

And we get off the treadmill that the world wants us to stay on.

 

Richmond Wandera 

Exactly.

 

Rodney Olsen 

Richmond it's been such a delight to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time.

 

Richmond Wandera 

Thank you Rodney.

 

Emily Olsen

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Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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