Saturday, June 21, 2014
“The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how high you raise your foot.” ― Benny Lewis
When my son, John, was born he had a number of birth defects including modified dwarfism. He was never supposed to be taller than four feet, but now at five foot seven, he is of normal height. His other defects were not as easy to overcome. When he was in middle school, he was failing every class and we were told that he would not be accepted into high school and was not even a candidate for a vocational school. We spent several weeks having him tested at Lahey Clinic in Boston and discovered he had many problems which included a mild form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome as well as organic brain dysfunction, among others. The doctors were optimistic that if John’s high school teachers were willing to do extra work in charting and helping with observing the effects of the medication trials, he could do well. The teachers, God bless them, were indeed willing to help and with medication adjustments, behavioral adjustments, and John’s willingness to work hard—he did well in high school. We moved to Gravette, Arkansas, where he was an honor graduate from high school and then went on to finish a degree in Computer Science at the University of Arkansas in six years with a solid B+ average. Not bad for a student the school counselors were expecting to have to live in an institution before he was out of middle school. Not that the problems went away, but he, and we, have learned to cope, compensate, and work around what have proven to be impossible for the majority of the people with his problems. In fact, over half of the young people with John’s combination of problems never lived into their twenties, but John, who will be forty this year has succeeded where so many others have failed. He came to visit us for a week eight years ago and is still here helping others and using his gifts for good. One day while he Shaban were driving down a dirt road about forty kilometers from here, John saw a woman crying. Doing something he almost never does, he asked her why she was crying and discovered that five years ago someone had stolen the deep-water pump from a nearby well that supplied three villages with water. Every day since, the women have had to walk over ten kilometers to get water. The well was fine, but the pump cost almost $3,000 and was out of the reach of the meager resources of the three villages combined. John got on the internet, set up a PayPal account, and using his internet contacts managed to raise the $3,000 needed to buy this special pump. This was his project start to finish, and with Shaban’s help, and the help of the villagers, the pump was purchased, shipped to Tanzania, and welded into place (avoiding future thefts) and has been providing all the daily water needed by the three villages ever since. Once complete, John turned to other projects, but the villagers will never forget him. He almost never goes back, but does check on the pump and well from time to time, and it is still in place and no one from the three villages has to walk more than one kilometer for daily water needs. This is just one example, and there are many more, of what you can do if you don’t listen to what you are told you cannot do, and focus your efforts on the gifts God gave you. John has taught sanitation and hygiene, computer skills, built soccer fields, and helped us and other missionaries to stay in contact with the world through the internet. Referring to the quote above, John has learned to lift his foot high and what were stumbling blocks to others became stepping stones for him. The world is better place because he is in it. I am convinced that God is rather pleased.