My top 10 podcasts to change your life

Podcast host Jenny Salt picks her favourites from the past two years

I started the podcast Salt – Conversations with Jenny in April, 2019. The goal was relatively simple: to allow listeners to be part of a conversation with “ordinary” Christians about the extraordinary grace of God in their lives. Every conversation has a different flavour, each person who shared something of their story was unique. And yet, each time we are reminded of God’s goodness and grace in their lives, and their hope in Jesus.

For me, it has been a steep learning curve learning about what it takes to make each episode for the Eternity Podcast Network (I’m most grateful to the expertise and wisdom of Eternity‘s executive producer Mark Hadley!) But it has also been a wonderful journey into the lives of so many godly men and women who have taken seriously the command of Jesus to be salt and light in this world.

Each episode comes with its own distinctive aroma of Christ. So being asked to choose my top ten favourite episodes from the last four seasons is like being asked who your favourite children are! Rather than call them my top ten, I have chosen these ten episodes because, in all the varied experiences of life in this world, we hear in each one about the amazing grace of God and what it looks like to follow Jesus.

So here they are:

1.   Unexpected journeys – Amy (Season 1, Episode 5)

What I loved about this conversation with Amy Vink was her perspective on the ways the Lord has guided her. As a younger Christian, Amy planned to go to China, but ended up going to Tanzania with her husband Jono and four young children. She planned to stay in Tanzania for life, but they had to come back to Australia due to a cancer diagnosis.

Amy hopes to see her children outlive her, but with a stage IV diagnosis … well, she continues to look to Jesus and trust in him. In the context of the twists and sometimes painful turns in life, we are reminded through listening to Amy about the beauty of God’s grace, the importance of perseverance and to keep trusting in Jesus.

2.   Reflections on life in the shadow of death – Richard (Season 1, Episode 7)

This was a wonderful conversation with Richard Hibbert, hearing about his life and ministry in places such as Turkey and Bulgaria. To meet Richard is to come into contact with someone with a true passion for life, for people, for adventure and, most of all, for God. This passion shaped his life – a life committed to sharing the gospel with people all over the world.

Richard also shared his reflections on life in the context of death. He talked about the reality of dying (he was diagnosed with cancer a few years earlier) and, surprisingly, Richard likened it to another adventure. This conversation is even more precious because Richard went home to be with the Lord on November 30, 2020 – a life wonderfully lived for the love of God.

3.   ‘Can we trust God with this?’ – Helen (Season 2, Episode 10)

This conversation may take you by surprise. First, it makes you laugh and then it makes you cry. Helen Thomas is a wife and mother of four with a wonderful Greek heritage and a faith that has been with her since her teenage years. But when God placed his hand first on her husband, then on her children, her life entered a valley that few have had to enter. What she found at its bottom though, was a way to hold on to her joy even in the midst of her sadness.

When huge challenge is followed by huge challenge, how do we manage to hold on to God? So it was for Helen – as the trials mounted, she had to ask herself again and again, “Can we trust God with this?”

4.   Wired to reach a sceptical world – John (Season 2, Episode 14)

There are some Christians that everyone seems to have heard of or know. I suspect John Dickson is one of those people. Author, academic, ancient historian and rock-and-roll front-man – is there anything John Dickson hasn’t done … or won’t do to connect people with the gospel? Listening to this conversation, you get the sense that he has used every conceivable medium to challenge people to think about the claims of Jesus.

But we also dug back into John’s past, uncovering the pain that led him to think about the brevity of life, and the people who made Jesus personal to him. The career that followed makes for incredible listening from his discussing what led up to it.

5.   A modern medical missionary – Andrew (Season 2, Episode 15)

It was a great joy to chat with Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC) graduate Andrew Browning. From his childhood, Andrew had set his heart on becoming a medical missionary in the darkest corners of the world, but who could have imagined what God would do with that child’s desire? Andrew’s medical career has taken him from the searing deserts of Tanzania to the struggling townships of Ethiopia, where he has put his special talents at Christ’s service.

Widely regarded as the finest fistula surgeon in the world, Andrew has laboured alongside Dr Catherine Hamlin and others to relieve the suffering of women made outcasts in their societies through no fault of their own. And in doing so, he has seen God at work in his life and the lives of his patients.

6.   A prodigal son story – James (Season 3, Episode 20)

James Brigden started life in an idyllic home, but the temptations of alcohol, fuelled by a hard-drinking Aussie culture, took him far from his loved ones.  A self-confessed alcoholic, James struggled to find his way through addiction but in the process discovered the God who was able to set him free – not just from his dependency on the bottle, but the sin that so weighed him down.

In this conversation, James shares about his life in terms of his road to recovery, discovering truths about God’s love, and the amazing grace in the gospel. This makes for a beautiful prodigal son story.

7.   When the lights go out – Ruth (Season 3, Episode 30)

This conversation with Ruth Myors was a lot of fun – I remember laughing a lot! But among the funny stories which are a part of Ruth’s life, is a story of God’s grace and mercy amid sometimes confronting and painful situations. In 1960, Ruth left Australia to work as a midwife with the Somali people. For more than two decades she served in a hospital in Somalia, a village in Ethiopia and a radio ministry in Kenya. And during that time she faced bureaucratic decisions, coups, communist takeovers, natural disasters, sudden deaths and the most personal of assaults.

But she always knew God was present and trustworthy, even when the lights went out.

8.   10, 9, 8 … God is great! – Colin (Season 3, Episode 31)

Have you heard the one about an Irishman, a Victorian and a musician who walk into a bar? Well, it turns out, for this conversation, they’re all the same bloke!

Colin Buchanan is one of Australia’s most beloved country music and kid’s worship composers. But did you know that his family journey spans the globe, his musical journey the breadth of this country, and his spiritual journey from darkness to light?

This conversation was a lot of fun (no surprises there!) and is a bonus-length, musical special that peers into the corners of Colin’s life. Guaranteed, you’ll come out with a smile on your face!

9.   Confusion to clarity – Cate (Season 4, Episode 33)

Cate Arenstein is a South African with no fear of telling things how they are. She grew up during the Apartheid era when a nation was in the throes of working out who it was. Finding her own identity was a similar struggle. Cate shares that she was abused as a child and that contributed to a struggle with her own sexual identity, leading to a range of unhelpful relationships. During our conversation, in which Cate so generously shares about these experiences, she speaks about the impact upon identity of sexual assault, same-sex attraction, and holding out against God.

She also shares about the freedom she now knows in the love of Jesus, and the joy of serving him and telling others about this amazing grace.

10. The millions that led to humility – Tim (Season 4, Episode 39)

Sometimes you meet people who seem to effortlessly achieve success in whatever they do. Tim Sims is one of those people. Tim’s early life included long months in a lonely boarding school and more countries than most will visit in a lifetime. However, an education from both Oxford and Harvard universities put him on the fast track to business success.

He has masterminded global consultancies and managed millions of dollars, but it was only when things came crashing down and he was at his lowest that God became his treasure.

Jenny Salt

Jenny Salt

So there it is – ten of the many conversations on Salt which help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, with people who have taken to heart what Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? … You are the light of the world … let your light shine before people.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

For more episodes of Salt, visit the Eternity Podcast Network website