Thursday, August 13, 2015
“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me. ” ― Fred Rogers
Over the course of my seventy years, I have had occasion to rub shoulders, exchange pleasantries, and communicate with some of the greats and near greats of this world. Oscar winning directors, movie stars, presidents (2), famous authors, Nobel Prize winners (also 2), captains of industry, sports greats, and the leader of the 300 million Orthodox Catholics, The Ecumenical Patriarch (had lunch with him in Istanbul), just to name a few. Yet of all those whose names, faces, and achievements are well known the world over, the people I most respect and admire have names and faces no one outside of their own little circle would know. It’s those who work through their pain and harsh circumstances to make this world a better place for others. Single mothers working two or three jobs to feed and clothe their families, a couple in the Deep South who go without air conditioning so they can give more to Hispanic Ministries. The truly great people of this world just get on with their lives in spite of grief, loss, and physical limitations. The widow who learns to use a treadle sewing machine so she can work ten hours a day to insure that her children not only eat but can go to school and buy their own uniforms. It’s the missionary couple whose church cuts off all their funding, but the husband returns to Sweden to drive buses for six months a year to keep their orphanage for infants up and running (for thirty years now). It’s the doctor couple (both husband and wife are doctors) who could make lots of money in any large city, but stay in a small town working long hours with inadequate equipment and supplies to deliver babies, save lives, and offer medical help to the very needy. It’s the young man with withered legs who at the age of seventeen finally gets a hand-cranked wheelchair (see picture at right) and who exclaims through his tears of joy, “At last, I can help my family.” It’s everyone who rises above the things that bring almost everyone else down yet manage to bring light and joy to others. Those who work through horrible arthritis pain to teach others new ways of making education fun. It’s those whose mental problems have landed almost all those with the same afflictions in institutions but who have persevered and brought water and light to distant African villages. It’s the Australian woman who survived breast cancer, surgeries and chemotherapy only to return to Africa to help women in need. These are my real heroes, people who have never had their names or pictures in the news, but without whom the world would be a dark and bitter place. You know people like this. Tell them how much you admire and respect what they do, suffer, and accomplish because they don’t do it for accolades and virtually no else will ever tell them. Make sure they are known and admired in your church, in your community, and most of all, in your heart.