catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 21 :: 2013.11.15 — 2013.11.28


“No” can make all the difference

Go stand at the crossroads and look around.
Discover the right road for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16 a,c, The Message

In Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” he makes a conscious choice between two roads. He “took the one less traveled by and that made all the difference.”  What choices and what roads are you taking in your daily life that “make all the difference?” When I consider my heroes, I realize they chose roads that “made all the difference.” Let me share with you three simple stories of ordinary people I consider heroes.

The first of my heroes is a 15-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for girls’ rights to education. Malala says “no” to the Swat Taliban tradition of denying girls the permission to attend school. She believes the future of Pakistan is dependent on educating the girls of that country. She is fearful of no one. She continues to promote the rights of young girls to attend school, which will shape their very own future, as well as the future of their families and their country.  She walks a road that is making all the difference to girls in Pakistan and around the world. 

A second hero of mine can be found in Africa. He is an American missionary priest teaching in a school with children from two warring tribes. He had always been told by his mother, “Blood is thicker than water.”  But everything changed one fateful day when the classroom door burst open. Men from one of the tribes barged in. They called for the girls to point out the students from the opposing tribe. The class remained silent. Their eyes lowered.  After shouting threats, waving of weapons, the men demanded the students be revealed. Shots rang out. All the students were slaughtered. Later the priest said, “My mother was wrong. Blood is not thicker than water. Water is thicker, when in the form of the waters of baptism.” The children had said “no.” They sacrificed themselves in an attempt to protect their sisters in Christ.

My third hero is Winfield Ruelke, best known as Uncle Win. He may well have been the first person to establish a Christian camp for children and teens with special needs in the early 1950s.  A stranger had approached him asking, “Do you know of anyone working with the handicapped children of New York City? I understand that only their physical needs are being met. What about their spiritual needs?”  Uncle Win discovered these children were ignored, and closeted away. He stood up and said, “No. These children need to be seen and brought out into the light. The whole child must be cared for, not just their physical needs, but the spiritual needs as well.” Camp Hope was birthed because a stranger asked a question. Those questions sent this visionary down a road that began to make a difference in the lives of children with special needs from the metropolitan area.  The healthcare community and church leaders said it would not be feasible, but the naysayers saw it become a reality. Since its beginning in 1950, Camp Hope continues to operate every summer. In 1960 Uncle Win established a year-round residential school for the children with physical and mental limitations called Hope Town. It provided a caring environment for living and learning. Once more the road he took was viewed as unrealistic and impossible by the healthcare and church communities. But this man of vision again said, “No, you’re wrong. It can be accomplished. It will become a reality.” And it did, along the road called possibility, making all the difference in the lives of the children and teens.

Is it time for you to make that kind of decision in your life? Are you ready to stand up and just say “no?”  Will you take this “road less traveled by?” It will make all the difference in your life, and in the lives of others.

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