A Family Ruined for the Ordinary

World to the Wise Podcast

Meet my friend Dwane Thomas. Dwane and I have known each other for a number of years, and both live and work in the greater Nashville area. But this interview comes to you from Athens, Greece, where Dwane and his family, along with Becky and myself, have been volunteering with and observing some of the work going on among the many refugees stranded or waiting here in Greece. (You can hear more about that in my interview with the amazing Eleni Melirrytou.) But there's more about this remarkable family of seven. Before coming to Athens, they spent two months on the Greek island of Paros. I'll let Dwane tell you how he and his wife Gretchen came to lead their kids on that adventure, as well as how their contact with the refugees here in Athens has changed them. Dwane is also a language freak like yours truly, and we compare notes a little during this interview. He has some advice that you'll want to take to heart, especially if you're student or parent of a student.

At the end of the podcast we talk about the idea of going out into the streets of Athens and having fun reading signs and guessing what they mean. Recommended especially for word nerds!

Next week I'll be coming to you for the last time from Europe, where Becky and I have had our eyes opened, not only on the refugee situation but how it and other factors are changing the face of Europe. All blog posts and podcast episodes for the past several weeks deal with this subject in one way or another.

Now here's the video shot on the Athens streets by Jackson Thomas:


Resources mentioned in this episode:

An Oasis in Athens

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What a week it has been here in Athens. Last week I shared with you some of our observations of the city itself. That was before our work with the refugees began. In this week's episode we share some of their stories -- not only from the camps, but from some of the people reaching out to them here. In particular, one dynamo of a lady named Eleni Melirrytou, a pastor's wife from a small church in the heart of Athens. My wife and I have been tremendously impacted just watching this lady, and she herself has been changed, as you will hear, by her relationship with the dozens and dozens of refugees who have come through her doors just since January of this year.

After listening to her, you just might find yourself wanting to know more -- or maybe even join her and her team in Athens for a week, a month, or longer. If that's the case, you can email Eleni at emelirry@aol.com, or find her on Facebook.

Next week we'll be coming to you from Germany, considered the Promised Land by many of the refugees. Some already have family waiting for them there. We're curious to see what things look like on that end, and I hope you'll join us.

The Wise Traveler

World to the Wise Podcast

In this episode, brought to you from Athens, Greece, I ask the question: Is there a right and a wrong way to travel? I would say yes. There's not just one right way and one wrong way, however. Find out some of the characteristics of what I call the wise traveler. With the magnificent, world-shaping city of Athens as a backdrop, we explore what it means to travel wisely. If what Solomon said is true, wisdom is something to be sought after above all else. Wisdom is the ability to apply intelligence at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way. So what makes someone a wise traveler and not just an intelligent one? 

Take a listen, send your feedback, and share! Share your comments either here or on the Reviews section of your favorite podcast store, or email me at podcast@daviddurham.org. I'd love to hear your own insights and experiences!

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Postcard from Switzerland

(Note: see below for a correction of an error in this week's episode.)

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This episode comes to you from beautiful Switzerland, where I am currently doing a short series of concerts with my old friends and partners in crime, François and Christine Reymond. As I've mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of this trip to Europe, however, is to observe and document some of the enormous changes the European continent is going through, and I couldn't resist the urge to check into some of the developments in Switzerland along these lines. I was all the more interested since I've spent six years of my life in this country.

Here's a table of contents of this episode:

Chapter One - a crash course on Switzerland, just to make sure we're on the same page and that you're tracking with me

Chapter Two - walking the streets of Lausanne (where I lived in two different stints) with a good friend, who happens to be a policeman

Chapter Three - the changing face of Switzerland through the eyes of a high school vice principal

Chapter Four - an encounter with some refugees in Switzerland


Join us next week, when we'll be coming to you from Athens, Greece!

Correction: if you listened to the segment on my interview with Lionel the policeman, you heard me mention drug dealers on a Lausanne city square at night. I mistakenly understood Lionel to say they were Eritreans; they are instead of other African nationalities, but rarely Eritreans. I apologize for the error.

The Land of the Shire

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One of the most desirable travel destinations in the world, yet perhaps one of the least fulfilled, is New Zealand. It's understandable why most people only dream of going there -- it's a long way from just about anywhere except Australia, and it's not cheap. About a year and a half ago my wife and I were able to spend two fabulous weeks there, visiting our dear friends Neil and Jill White. Neil and Jill were our colleagues during our years in Amsterdam, and they had already come to visit us in Nashville years after we had parted ways. So it was our turn to visit them in their homeland, and I will tell you it was not easy to get back on that plane to come home. (Want to know how we were able to swing it? Travel hacking! Find out what that is in my interview with Chris Guillebeau.)


In this episode of the World to the Wise podcast, I have the pleasure of introducing you to this beautiful country as Neil and Jill give us an overview of the land, its people, and its culture.

It's worth mentioning that Neil and Jill are also Air BnB hosts, so if you happen to decide to make the journey, you MUST spend a few days at their place on the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island.

Next week I'll be coming to you from beautiful Switzerland, where I just arrived yesterday for a brief concert tour.


An Interview with Lee Camp

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During his doctoral research, a professor of Christian theology embarks on a journey which takes him places he never thought he would go and changes the way he thinks -- about his faith, his culture, and indeed the world. This is the story of Dr. Lee C. Camp, professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University in Nashville. This journey leads him to write a book, Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam -- and Themselves -- a bookwritten at no small personal cost. You'll hear how Lee dared to ask questions no one else was asking, and how some of the answers changed the course of his life. Lee is also the host of the popular Tokens Radio Showwhere the performing arts intersect with matters of faith.

A Doctor Duo in Burundi

World to the Wise Podcast

They could be making good money in the United States. Drs. Eric and Rachel McLaughlin have chosen instead to spend themselves not only on treating the poorest of the poor, but on training the next generation of doctors in a country that is called the hungriest nation on the planet by the World Hunger Index. At the time of this interview, there were only 300 doctors in a country of over 10 million inhabitants. That's one doctor for every 33, 333 people. By comparison, in the US there are 82 doctors for the same number of people.

The name of the hospital where they work, 2.5 hours' drive from the capital city, is Kibuye Hope Hospital, with the operative word being hope. You'll hear about some of the challenges Eric and Rachel face on a daily basis as they work to bring that hope to a desperately poor corner of the world, all while raising their three children.

Eric is also a songwriter, and has recently released an entire album of songs written since their arrival in Africa three years ago. You can find a link to Eric's music, available for FREE download, here, along with some of his reflections.

A Biracial Couple in the American South

World to the Wise Podcast

In spite of great strides in some respects over the last few years, race relations in the United States still have a ways to go. But what is it like to be in a biracial, black-white marriage in today’s American South? Is it any easier now than, say, 10 or 20 years ago? In some parts of the world, mixed marriages have been an accepted part of the cultural makeup for a long time. Not all cultures have the same background and therefore historical baggage. The American South has its share. This is not a new subject of conversation. Think of it more as taking a pulse. I sat down with my good friends Mike and Patricia Majett to hear their story.

As always, your comments are welcome. Are you in a biracial marriage? What has been your experience?

On Being a Polyglot

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polyglot [pol-ee-glot] (n). A person who speaks, writes, or reads a number of languages. If this podcast is about crossing cultural bridges, learning other languages has been a major vehicle that has helped me cross multiple bridges. Find out here why this is not something to boast about, but, like all gifts, is intended to serve and inspire others.


Be sure to comment! Either here or by email to podcast@daviddurham.org.

Coming next week: being a biracial couple in the American South.

Dave Dillard Interview

World to the Wise Podcast

My wife Becky and I have been very impacted by the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have flooded into Europe in the past year, primarily from war torn countries such as Syria. Thousands of these men, women and children are currently stranded in Greece, their point of arrival in Europe. We have committed to volunteering in Greece this summer with a Nashville-based nonprofit called Servant Group International, whose executive director is Dave Dillard. Turn up your curiosity and listen to Dave's wisdom and experience. You'll also learn about the world's largest ethnic group without a home state.

Chris Guillebeau Interview

World to the Wise Podcast

Do you have a personal quest? Climbing a certain mountain, learning to play an instrument, reading a certain number of books? Author, entrepreneur and adventurer Chris Guillebeau does. Several years ago the idea came to him to visit every country on the planet. Find out whether he has accomplished his goal yet -- and some of the many life lessons he's learned along the way.

You'll also hear about Chris's latest book, Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do, where he challenges us to think outside the limits we have placed on ourselves.

Chris is engaging, fresh, personable, and a pleasure to know. I hope you enjoy hearing him.

Dr. Ming Wang Interview

World to the Wise Podcast

Imagine growing up in communist China in the oppressive days of the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao. Living conditions are poor, life is hard and largely devoid of color. Art and literature are banned, except for a handful of state-sanctioned books and plays that are little more than communist propaganda. Thousands upon thousands of people are deported to the most remote parts of the country and sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor and abject poverty, often for nothing more than being suspected of speaking against the Communist party. In these depressing years of the 1960's, there is a young boy who wants nothing more than to be a doctor like both of his parents -- even though they make little if any more than the subsistence level salary of a peasant. The obstacles that come between the boy and his dream are many; yet today he is a world- renowned expert in laser physics and lasik surgery.

I hope you enjoy the story of Dr. Ming Wang, and I recommend reading his book, From Darkness to Sight: A Journey from Hardship to Healing for some important perspective on China's not-too-distant past.

Inaugural Episode

World to the Wise Podcast

Welcome to the World to the Wise podcast! In this 9-minute initial episode I lay out the purpose of this podcast: to stretch the borders of your thinking, broaden your perspective, and equip you to engage your world. I'm reminded of one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes. It actually has to do with travel in particular, but you'll understand the connection with the purpose of the podcast:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

It is possible to "travel" to other parts of the planet without ever getting on a plane (the phrase "armchair traveler" come to mind.) The more time you take to explore and understand other cultures, other perspectives, and other ways of life and of viewing the world, not only will YOU be the richer, but the world will be that much better off as well.

I hope you enjoy this first episode. We're in for a fun ride! Not only is your feedback appreciated, we depend on it to help shape the show as we move forward. Send your comments and suggestions to podcast@daviddurham.org.

And if you like what you hear, please subscribe on your favorite podcast store site, and do me the favor of writing a quick review -- even one sentence -- which will help get the attention of the podcast distributors and increase our visibility in the increasingly crowded podcast world.