This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
. The Open House radio program is a production of Hope Media Ltd: www.hope1032.com.au ISBN 978-1-921202-26-1 Distributed in Australia by: KI Entertainment Unit 31, 317–321 Woodpark Rd Smithﬁeld NSW 2164 Australia Phone: (02) 9604 3600 Fax: (02) 9604 3699 Email: email@example.com Web: www.kientertainment.com.au The words from Jeremiah 29:11 on page 166 are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. The words of King David on page 109 are taken from Psalm 27:8, The Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, USA 60189. All rights reserved. The words from the Book of Ecclesiastes on page179 are taken from Ecclesiastes 8:15, The Holy Bible, New International Version. This book is copyright. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations for printed reviews, without prior permission of the publisher. Edited by Owen Salter Cover design by Joy Lankshear Typeset by Midland Typesetters, Maryborough, Victoria Printed by McPhersons Printing Group
Please share this FREE chapter with your friends
If you would like to help spread the word about Open House Volume 3 YOU CAN… Send this file to a friend Send them a link to openhouseonline.com.au so they can download the file for themselves Buy copies of the book at hope1032.com.au or SheridanVoysey.com Print out as many copies of this as you like and distribute to family, friends, colleagues, and your community
Ray Martin: The untold stories of a household name Alain De Botton: The pleasures and sorrows of work Melinda Tankard Reist: A standard passed by is a standard set Gary Chapman: The language and actions of love Catherine Hamlin: The ﬁstula patients will break your heart Caroline Jones: Walking grief ’s journey Michael Franzese: Never betray the omertà 3 22 35 49 63 75 91 vii
Olivera Petrovich: The child’s innate sense of God Donald Miller: Your life as a meaningful story Geraldine Doogue: Wrestling with the faith Joel Osteen: Becoming all God’s made you to be Mark Driscoll: The truth can be controversial Nick Vujicic: Waiting for a miracle, being a miracle Sean George: Resurrection in the goldﬁelds 111 121 129 140 150 161 170
Bryce Courtenay: A storyteller, not a writer Karen Pang: Play School songs and manic moments Ralph Winter: Film-making beyond the surface 181 193 204
Marilynne Robinson: The story’s over when the characters walk away Brian Deacon: The face of Jesus Yazz: Plans you’ve never dreamt of About Sheridan Voysey Join the Conversation
215 232 249 259 260
WAITING FOR A MIRACLE, BEING A MIRACLE
On the morning of December 4, 1982, a little boy named Nicholas was born to new parents Borris and Dushka Vujicic. Like other children, he would later learn to brush his teeth, comb his hair and dress himself in the morning. Like other boys, he loved swimming, ﬁshing and playing soccer. Like other teenagers, he was soon leaving school and on his way to university. But throughout Nick’s life there has always been one big difference between him and those around him. Limbs. Nick was born with the rare Tetra-amelia disorder—he entered this world with no arms or legs, just one small foot to live by. That makes those everyday milestones already mentioned, plus the many achievements you’re about to read, simply extraordinary. Today Nick Vujicic is not only living a vibrant, independent life but is bringing hope to millions as he wriggles up to and then speaks from stages around the world.
Here we are sitting in a Sydney hotel meeting room and you’ve whizzed through on your special motorised buggy. How would you describe it to those who haven’t seen it? It’s my little BMW 7 Series. [Laughter] I’m going to get a big sub-woofer in it and stuff.
[Laughter] I control it with my little foot. Having no arms and no legs obviously has its limitations, but I’m just so thankful for being able to have the opportunity to be mobile and independent to quite a good level. So, yeah mate, it’s got hydraulics and it goes about 8 kilometres an hour. I’m getting a new one, actually, that’s going to raise the seat up to 6-foot-6 if I want to be taller. Let’s go back to that hospital room in Melbourne in 1982 where your mum is giving birth to her ﬁrst child—you. Was there any sign that you would be different than unexpected? My parents had three ultrasounds done and the doctors and medical staff didn’t check [them]. They were supposed to be checking the size of the baby and measuring the growth from the elbow to the ﬁngers and the knee to the toes, those sort of things. But they never did that with me so there was no warning. The doctors didn’t know and my parents didn’t know. And there was no genealogy of disability either up or down the chain in either family. I have a brother and a sister, both younger than me, with arms and legs. It was just one of those things that happened. When we think of people in your situation we tend to wonder if thalidomide was involved. Yeah, well, I was born in the 1980s [after thalidomide had been withdrawn from sale]. My mum was a nurse and had delivered many babies before I was born, so she knew quite well what that was. She actually had a premonition that something would go wrong in her ﬁrst pregnancy so she didn’t even take Panadol when she had a headache. The doctors still don’t know what it is, so they
called it ‘folk-amelia’, which basically means being born without arms and legs for no medical reason. [Laughter] I guess it would have been a pretty difﬁcult thing for your parents to get used to right from the beginning. Absolutely. It took my mum about four months before she came to terms with it. My dad took the initiative to hold me ﬁrst. They took me home but it was puzzling, shocking, tragic, horriﬁc. It was basically a nightmare for my parents. And they were asking why. Why did this happen? My mum and dad weren’t just believers in God; they were lay pastors of a church. My dad’s been a lay pastor for twenty-six-odd years and the whole church was asking, ‘Where’s God in this? Why would God let this happen?’ Just very trying for everybody. Being pastors I guess they prayed for a miracle too. Absolutely. The whole church did. I grew up learning about Jesus loving me and how he had a plan, a hope and a future for me. And Jesus healed many people, so I prayed for a miracle and wondered why mine never came. The Bible says, ‘Ask and you shall receive’; it tells us that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. It’s not about the size of faith but the existence of faith in a God who can do all things, so my lack of a miracle was puzzling to me. I actually hated God for many years of my life. You know the song that goes, ‘Jesus loves the little children/All the children of the world’? I went to school and saw the other kids and I was, like, ‘God, if you love me like you love all the other kids then why did you give me less?’ I prayed for an answer why and he didn’t answer me for many, many years. It was very lonely at times.
The worst disability in the world is the fear of loneliness. Fear is going to paralyse you more than having no arms and no legs. And if you don’t know the answers to any of these three questions: Who am I? Why am I here? and Where am I going when I’m not here? then that will cripple you more than having no limbs. I didn’t just have no arms or legs, I didn’t know why I was here, why he hadn’t given me arms and legs and why he wasn’t answering me. I had pain. If God wasn’t going to stop my pain I decided I was, so I tried to do that. I was eight years old and I tried to drown myself in a bath tub with 10 centimetres of water. I turned over two or three times and couldn’t go through with it because I had an image of my parents at my grave. I didn’t want to leave them with a lifetime of guilt on their shoulders, wishing they could have done something more for their son. I loved my parents more than myself at that stage, and I just tried to get through one day at a time. When did your parents ﬁnd out about that suicide attempt? I don’t think they actually knew until I was a teenager. But that night, after trying to take my life, I told my brother, Aaron, who was ﬁve years old at the time, that I was going to kill myself at twenty-one. I could see myself going to school, I could see myself going to high school and maybe even going to university, but I didn’t see a life for me after that. Well, Aaron said, ‘I’m gonna tell dad!’ So he did, and dad came in and comforted me, put his hands through my hair, calmed me down and prayed with me, assuring me that God would never leave me or forsake me, and that while God sometimes doesn’t make sense, he’s always with us. Looking at some of the video footage on your website, you seemed like a happy kid. You were learning to play the piano with your toe and even
learning to swim. Obviously at some stage things got difﬁcult. Was that in school? Having no arms and no legs wasn’t such a big deal for me until I had the unwanted attention of people ridiculing me, rejecting me and alienating me at school. I couldn’t play or do some things and I looked weird. I was still generally a happy kid during my childhood. I had my ups and downs and stuff, but I learnt how to write with my foot, type with my foot; I learnt how to swim, ﬁsh, play golf and play the piano. I loved doing all that. But it was deﬁnitely in the schoolyard where I got teased a lot. I’d come home crying, and mum would throw on a song by Joni Eareckson Tada about how cool it was to be in a wheelchair. That was sometimes the only encouragement I could receive in those times because no one with arms and legs, even my parents, could understand my pain. Tears are a language that only God understands. And there were times where all I could do was just cry and be held. Those were hard moments also for my parents because you can only do so much for your child. But they continued to encourage me throughout my childhood. My mum gave me some wisdom. When people see me for the ﬁrst time, they don’t know exactly how to approach me or what level of conversation to have with me. So she said, ‘Nick, just start talking to people and they will see that you’re just like anybody else.’ I started doing that and that’s when I started becoming more conﬁdent in myself, being able to speak out and concentrate on what I do have instead of what I don’t have. Let’s talk about what you can do, because you can do a lot. Explain to people who haven’t seen you do it just how you swim and play golf.
In golf I hold the putter between my chin and my shoulder. I don’t drive or chip but I do putt. I can go to a golf club and sit there for two-and-a-half hours just practising my putts. I ﬁnd that very relaxing. And the way that I learnt to swim was from my dad. He put his hand under my head when I was eighteen months old and taught me how to ﬂoat in the bath tub. Then I started swimming at six all by myself. I have a normal lung capacity, which allows me to be buoyant even if I’m still, and then I use my foot basically like a motorised paddle. There are still many things that I can’t do, but I love to challenge myself. I went surﬁng last year in Waikiki, Hawaii, and got up on my long board. I was on the front page of Surﬁng Magazine because of it. But the thing I really want to talk about is that I know who I am. I’m a child of God. I’m the richest man on earth because I have peace, which is something money cannot buy. I’m forgiven of my sins. I know who I am, I know why I’m here and I know where I’m going when I’m not here. About three weeks ago I was thinking how it would’ve been the saddest day in heaven for me if God had given me arms and legs at the age of eight. I used to beg God for them. Today I do believe in a God of miracles: I’ve seen blind people seeing, deaf people hearing, lame people walking—we got it on our cameras as we travelled across fourteen countries last year. I believe in a God of miracles and I have a pair of shoes in my closet just in case. But the faith [I have] is that what God doesn’t change he will use. Romans 8:28 says, ‘All things come together for the good of those who love him.’ Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
When you have suffering in your life, you subconsciously compare your suffering to somebody else’s. But hope is found when you compare your suffering to the grace of God. God never makes a mistake. He knew me before the earth began—that’s what Jeremiah 1 says. Psalm 139 says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So I tell teenagers that it’s not about how they look, it’s about Who they belong to. Every girl is beautiful just the way she is; she doesn’t need to be taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, smarter or whatever. So many girls want boyfriends just to feel loved and wanted, but you can’t ﬁnd your happiness in relationships either. There’s one thing worse than being single and alone and that’s being married and alone. It’s only by the grace of God that you can look at yourself and be thankful for what you have. I’ve actually been given the greatest gift of all. You see, if I was born without arms and legs for just one more soul to come to Jesus Christ and for them to be in heaven, what a sad day it would have been if God had said yes to my prayer at eight years of age. Then, if I had sat down with God and asked him which wrong choice out of all the wrong choices I made was the one that stuck out to him, I’m sure he would have said, ‘Nick, I actually created you without arms and legs to be the miracle I wanted you to be. If you just asked me for my will instead of your will, I would’ve kept you without arms and legs, and before you reached age twenty-seven, two hundred thousand souls would’ve been here.’ So far I’ve spoken to six hundred million people. I’m not joking. One in ten people in the world knows who I am. I’ve travelled across twenty-four countries and spoken to three million people face to face. We’ve seen two hundred thousand ﬁrst decisions for Christ, and if it’s only one soul that comes to heaven then it’s all worth it.
Two years ago in California I met a little boy named Daniel, also without arms or legs. I just happened to be [speaking] in the church where he and his mum worshipped. He had no arms, no legs and a little foot just like me. Doctors didn’t know why he was born that way. They didn’t know what kind of life he was going to have. He’s not going to walk; he’s going to be a ‘vegetable’ for the rest of his life; he’s going to be a ‘burden’ to his mum. No. Now I’m his miracle. I’m the miracle of God for somebody else. When God doesn’t give you a miracle, you are a miracle of God. I can’t guarantee your business is not going to fail. I can’t guarantee your cancer is going to be healed. But I’ll tell you one thing—God is with you and he never makes a mistake. And every day he asks me, ‘Will you trust me?’ So the three things I do daily are: I pray, I thank God and I trust God. You said earlier that you were angry at God for some years. When did that faith become a reality for you again? That’s a great question. Many of us have held something against God. Perhaps he took our father away or he took our job away or he let this happen or that. I think I ‘forgave’ God [for not giving me arms and legs] when I read a newspaper article about a man with a disability. I realised then that I had a choice either to be angry at God for what I didn’t have or be thankful for what I did have. That was at thirteen. I gave my life to Jesus Christ at ﬁfteen when I read John chapter 9 —the story about a man who was born blind and no one knew why, but Jesus said it happened so that the works of God may be revealed through him. Those verses changed my life forever. I had this faith, this peace, this closure in my mind and it felt like God was asking me to trust him. Just because the blind man didn’t
know why he was born that way didn’t mean there was no reason for it. That was a huge revelation for me, and that day I prayed, ‘God, if you give me arms and legs I’ll serve you, and if you don’t give me arms and legs I’ll still serve you.’ Because there was a greater need for me than to have arms and legs. I’ve lied once, I’ve stolen once, I’ve cheated once, I’ve lusted once, I’ve hated somebody once, I’ve broken just about every single one of the Ten Commandments. I’m a sinner. But because I believe that Jesus is Lord—the only holy man that pointed to himself and said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’—and he died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead, and because I confess that I’m a sinner and that he is Lord of my life, I’m saved. That’s the deeper need that I had and now it’s fulﬁlled.
Please share this FREE chapter with your friends
If you would like to help spread the word about Open House Volume 3 YOU CAN… Send this file to a friend Send them a link to openhouseonline.com.au so they can download the file for themselves Buy copies of the book at hope1032.com.au/shop Print out as many copies of this as you like and distribute to family, friends, colleagues, and your community
AVAIL ABLE at BOOKSTORES EVERYWHERE
I will have to be honest with you, Sheridan, and say one reason [why I’m still a Christian] is that I haven’t found a better alternative. And I’ve looked, I really have.
P H I L I P YA N C E Y
I had all the worldly things, the trappings of status and success, but I used to lie awake at three o’clock in the morning just feeling empty.
Meaning is everything and humans will never cease pursuing the question of meaning. Nor should they. Indeed, nor can they.
T H O M A S K E N E A L LY
Every Sunday evening Sheridan Voysey welcomes a variety of authors, artists and activists to his national radio program Open House. If the Chinese proverb is true and a single conversation with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books, then this collection of the ‘best’ Open House interviews could be the equivalent of a Master’s course in life, with topics ranging from God, pain, success and poverty to masculinity, materialism, politics and art. Laugh, cry and marvel as you read the tales, tragedies and beliefs of some of the world’s most intriguing personalities.
AVAIL ABLE at BOOKSTORES EVERYWHERE
I think meeting Mother Teresa had a big impact on me—the way she gave to the poorest of the poor her whole life without regard to material possessions… it was incredible what she did.
S T E V E WA U G H
I think beauty is [God’s] way of telling us on a most basic level that he is here, that he made this world and this universe. Why else would we cry at the sight of a beautiful tree caught in the wind with all of its limbs dancing?
I’m still working on [the faith question]. It’s something that is there but I haven’t got an answer to it and I’m just worrying at it all the time. D R KA R L K R U S Z E L N I C K I In this second book of conversations drawn from Sheridan Voysey’s national Open House radio program, we peer through a window into the lives of national and international personalities to glimpse aspects of the world left previously unseen. What does riding a violently-shaking rocket into orbit then landing and walking on the moon feel like? What is life really like behind the scenes of the adult entertainment industry? Are there answers to some of the most perplexing questions levelled at belief in a creator? Where do you turn when you have all that life could seemingly offer yet still feel profoundly empty? Come, converse and find out.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.