From garbage to gifted

When Aury (left) was 8, she went door to door to take out people's trash in exchange for two-day old bread. At school no one wanted to be her friend because of her work. They called her trash. Compassion has helped her rise above all that. As a part of the Leadership Development Program she is in her final year of college, studying business management. She thanks Compassion for changing her future on earth and in heaven. "It's meant that I can dream again." Now she is pleased to be sharing God's great love for children that grew up the way she did.

His father's son

Our speaker here at the Compassion ( Artist and Speaker Retreat is Mark Yaconelli. We heard his father Mike speak, only months before his untimely death, at a Compassion retreat at Michael W. Smith's ranch. Mike founded Youth Specialties. Mark is just as funny.

He's talking about the call to retreat. The artists and speakers here are constantly on the go, giving. Compassion has invested in us as partners in ministry. We're here for about the same price as it would have been to be sleeping on bunks in the US. He said we are the poor and needy, just as much, though in different ways, as the ones we serve here. We're here to rest and be served. We're here for Sabbath. He said, on the same level of importance, God said, "Don't kill anyone, and take a day off."

He said there's a tribe in east Africa that counts a child's birthday from the day the parents conceived the idea of having a child. The mother would then go out alone to hear the song of that child. She teaches it to her husband. The song is sung throughout the child's life from conception to death. We're hear to listen for God's song for each of us.

Artwork everywhere

The grounds on which we're staying is filled with incredible works of art everywhere we look.

En Guatemala

We've touched down in a most remarkable land.

Emperor worship

This is where the emperor was worshipped with insence, candy, and every animal but the pig because its name sounds like the family name of the emperors: Ju.

Old Beijing by pedicab

We're seeing a part of the old city that may be torn down for the Olympics.

This is a jeepney

These are the small buses or large taxis of the Philippines. I got to ride one, which was quite fun. You can ask them to stop anywhere on their route. Before you get there you hand your fare to the person next to you. It's passed along until it gets to the driver. Then your change is passed back. Each jeepney has it's very own artistic design, and many of them have Christian themes. Dr. Donahue who arranged several of my performances and workshops wrote an article on the theology of jeepnies.

911 memorial

Ann Van Hine, the widow of Bruce Van Hine, the firefighter featured in my play Five Bells for 9/11 gave me permission to post the following:

Dear family, friends and fellow believers,
    My apologizes for requesting again that you sign another petition but...  The save the 911 memorial group is trying to get the "powers that be" to do the right.  Currently the first responders will be listed together by their firehouse -- which is one battle that has been won. However, it will not state if someone was a FF. or LT. or Chief or Chaplain.  Also the families of the civilians want their love ones listed with their fellow employees.  All of cantor fitzgerald's employees need to be listed together so history can remember that one company lost over 600 people.  The website explains the current plan and what the families would like to see.
    I believe that the listing of the names will either teach the truth of that day or in will blur it. If you have a moment please read the information on the website.
Thank you.
Ann Van Hine

A NIGHT OF ARTS: Music, Song, Dance & Art

Jan 27, 2007
7:00 pm

A NIGHT OF ARTS: Music, Song, Dance & Art!
WHAT:  A Night of Arts features both classical and contemporary music, modern dance, and a few artistic surprises! We'll also have an art gallery and creative jewelry sale. Join us to celebrate God's creativity!
WHEN:  Saturday, January 27th, 7pm
WHERE:  Westchester Chapel Community Church, 214 Central Ave., White Plains, NY
TICKETS:  The event is FREE. A special offering will be taken to support future arts projects. No need to call ahead, there are plenty of seats...see you at the door!     

For more information contact:

(914) 287-7620 or 

Amazing Grace featured in Charisma

Charisma Magazine just ran a great article on Amazing Grace: The Day Slavery Died.

Joyce recently saw a preview on Times Square and loved it.

Be sure to catch it opening night: February 23.

Between the Tropics

While I was in the Philippines last week people kept oppologizing because it was too hot. I told them I'd soak it up for my return to winter. Pittsburgh gave me enough cold to make me appreciate next week in Guatemala even more.

Last night, when I performed Lazarus by Sean Gaffney I picked a gal to interact with, based on where she was sitting. She asked me afterward if it was based on her Lazarus story. She was told she'd need heart surgery, but her friends (including Jim and Pat LaBossier, who invited me to perform) prayed for her. When she returned for a presurgery scan the doctor questioned whether he had the right image! He compared it to the scan that convinced him she needed the surgery. He said they looked like two completely different hearts! Praise the Lord, our Healer. Pray for her continued healing as she recovers from the cancer that caused the heart condition.

That story warms my heart now that I'm back in NYC, where the temperature is dropping fast.

Happy Birthday Uncle Eric!

This was the second time I performed Beyond the Chariots in Hong Kong. Dr. James "Jamey" Hudson Taylor III is a great-grandson of Hudson Taylor, who spearheaded missions in China in the late 1800's.

Jamey had agreed to speak afterward, but he came down with a cold and asked if I'd excuse him. I saw him on the first row, so after the play I thought I should at least acknowledge his presence. Much to my surprise he came to the stage. He said, "Rich didn't think I was going to speak, but I had to tell you that today would have been Eric Liddell's 105th birthday." He went on to describe how Uncle Eric was a father figure to so many children who were separated from their families.

Dr. Taylor saw the play for the second time, and he brought his wife, Leone, and their grandson. I introduced him to the audience after the show as Jim Hudson Taylor, V, but that's this young man's cousin. This great-great-great grandson of Hudson Taylor is Devin Taylor Alsin. He attends University of Washington in Seattle (the only place I ever came in last in a race: steeplechase against some big schools). Devin is here to study finances for a semester. I was quite honored to hear how much he enjoyed the play. I told the audience that he may not have the name, but I'm sure he carries the mantle to accomplish great things for the Lord.

The fastest blog on earth

I'm posting from the fastest train on earth. In actual fact we're not touching the ground. Shanghai's Maglev, as its name suggests, levetates on powerful magnets.

Article on Liddell in China Daily

On January 5 there was an article on Eric Liddell in China Daily. It
recaps his decision not to run on a Sunday and goes on to say, "What
fewer people know about Liddell is his connection with China." It
tells how he was born in Tianjin, was schooled in the UK, and then
returned to China in 1925. "He would spend the rest of his days in
China, in Tianjin and then Shaochang near Shanghai, before dying of
illness in a Japanese prison camp in Weifang, Shandong, in 1945.
There is a memorial for him in Weifang, and he is interred at the
Mausoleum for Martyrs in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province."

9th Grade Abolitionist

A young man recently left the following post on our blog. I wanted to be sure more people saw it, so I'm posting it here:

Zach has left a comment on your post "Amazing Grace opens February 23":

Hi, I'm a 9th grader who is an abolitionist. I'm grateful you're helping educate my generation about God's heart for the oppressed and how we can take our place in history. This is something I care about a lot and speak to students around the nation about. I'm also the student spokesperson for The Amazing Change. One of the things we're trying to do is to get 390,000 signatures on a petition to abolish slavery. Wilberforce was able to do this 200 years ago without technology. I'd appreciate your help. People can sign a hard copy and mail it in (and gather signatures of friends) or they can sign online at

Freedom. IS 1:17 Zach.

Qie zi

That's what they say in China to get people smiling for a photo. It means eggplant, which makes me smile even in the US. These are students of a home school consortium from USA, Malaysia, Singapore, and England. They are the Shanghai Scholars.

They're celebrating Jessica's 15th birthday. This afternoon I'm giving them an acting lesson.
Oh, by the way, it's crazy hair day.


The air here does make for nice sunsets.

An explosion of light

My camera can't capture it, but that's a boat with a jumbotron on its side.


Blast off!

More cranes

At one point Shanghai had a third of all the construction cranes in the world.


Stephen Curtis Chapman performed at this arts center last May. He talked about the three girls he's adopted from China, and he had a number of Chinese orphans backing him up on one song. The people gave him a standing ovation.

The first church

This is the first church built in China by Chinese. It was constructed in 1934 in Tianjin, where Eric Liddell taught and coached track, so there's a very good chance he preached here. Though we didn't meet any, we understand some of his former students still attend here.

The New Union Church

This is the New Union Church in Tianjin. The Union Church where Eric Liddell met his future wife, Flo, was destroyed in an earthquake. We took a moment there on the street Hoping for many to find Love there.

Farewell Beijing

The factories are going to close down two weeks before the Olympics to clear the air for the athletes.

Taking a lap on Eric Liddell's track

We're in Tianjin, where Eric Liddell taught and coached. He designed and helped build this track. I didn't bother timing my 400 since there was snow and cars on sections of the track.

Oldest Chinese church in China

This was the first church built by Chinese in China. It's still in operation.

Entering Tian anmen Square

Thank you, Lili

Your tour of the Forbidden City (Old Palace) and Old Beijing (Hutong) was wonderful!

All the best with your graduate studies!
Rich and Joyce

Tian anmen Square

Changing of the guard

They're marching from Tianamin Square to the Forbidden City, singing as they go.

One of the few churches in Beijing

Beijing is gearing up for the Olympics

In the Forbidden City

Many of the buildings are being renovated for the Olympics. It is, obviously, no longer forbidden. It's now known as Old Palace. It was opened in 1925, so there's a good chance Eric Liddell was able to visit.

All the best with your art!

This message was sent from a T-Mobile wireless phone.

Guten tag and Konichiwa

It was great to spend the day with the four of you: Climbing the Great Wall and seeing all those factories.

All the best as you return to Seattle and Tokyo.

Rich and Joyce

The Ming Tombs

When the emperors of the Ming Dynasty were buried there were 10 to 40 human sacrifices. They would commit suicide by hanging so that they could be buried with their emperor.

One of the speakers in Colorado Springs last week talked about being living sacrifices. I'm grateful to be more alive through that kind of death since the ultimate sacrifice has already enabled eternal life!

We certainly got our excercise today

They say you can't be a hero until you've climbed the Great Wall. There's a very good reason: It's quite steep.

The 3rd Emperor

This was the emperor responsible for moving the capital to Beijing and starting the Ming Tombs (where we are right now) and the Great Wall.

The money is thrown at his feet for good luck: A practice undoubtedly rooted in ancestor worship.


We dropped by a silk factory and learned that silk worms grow to full size in about 60 days: That's five silk worm years. Then they spin a cacoon of silk. Five percent of them pair together to make a cacoon of two threads that surrounds both of them. Each thread is about a mile long: Quite productive for such a small creature.

Joyce recently learned that the average introverted person will influence 10,000 different people in his or her lifetime. Makes you want to consider what kind of an influence you're making.

Xie Xie

It was great to meet you on the Great Wall. Thank you so much for the oranges, the apple and the kiwi juice. All the best with your studies in Beijing.

The largest jade factory in China

I went to a jade factory in Hong Kong in '86. The way I remember they ran their machines with a foot pump.

Olympic facilities

In the foreground: the aquatic center. Behind that is the Bird's Nest stadium, which will be used for track and field and the opening ceremonies.


An architect we coached through Graceworks ( told me that there are more construction cranes in Beijing and Shanghai than in all of the US.

Double decker sheep

The Velodrome

...for cycle racing.

It's still Christmas time in Beijing

This message was sent from a T-Mobile wireless phone.

We're now over China

Now we're standing on Chinese tile.

From Russia, with love

Now the sun's coming up over Russia. Besides the lack of technology, this missing shortcut is why I couldn't fly straight to China on my last visit in 1986. I ran a cross-country race in Guangzhou, China. To get there we flew south from Medford, OR, to L.A. to Anchorage to Seoul to Hong Kong. From there we took a train to Guangzhou. Back then this picture would have been the product of high altitude espionage over Soviet air space. Now their generous use of their sky is shaving hours and hours off our travel time. Now it only takes 15.

On top of the world

We just left Canada behind, and we're enroute to Beijing.
Okay, now we're directly over the North Pole, but the picture isn't as interesting: It's 5:45 in the afternoon in NYC, 6:45 in the morning in Beijing, and I don't know what time that makes it on the North Pole, but it's dark. No, wait! I see a light. I think it's... Could it be? Yes! I think it's Parka Pete!

That's a character I've done at various kids camps. Pete intends to beam himself to the North Pole but winds up at camp ... dressed for the tundra.

In all seriousness. Joyce and I did take a moment of Hope for the globe from up here. Click "Pray for the World" in the right column to pray for the whole world from wherever you are.

Amazing Grace opens February 23

In my play A Clear Leading I tell the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman. When I performed the play at Pocklington School, just outside York, England, instructors there told me that William Wilberforce wrote his first anti-slavery essay the year that Woolman visited York.

Wilberforce went on to lead the drive to abolish the slave trade, and that story is told throught the upcoming film, Amazing Grace.

It opens February 23, and I encourage you to see it opening night to cast your vote for more movies like it.

Visit the website, There is a two-minute trailer, several resources and a Group Sales connection.

I told the youth in Colorado Springs two nights ago that there are 28 million slaves in the world today. I was glad to see from the website's link to the Amazing Change Campaign that the number has gone down by one million since I heard the statistic several years ago. We're moving in the right direction. Click here to be a part of the amazing change.