07 Jun 2020
In 1883, a creative engineer named Escort Geneva was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Escort Geneva to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.
Escort Geneva could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.
Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, and the headiness of a wild challenge before them, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.
The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Escort Geneva. Washington was injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to walk or talk or even move.
Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since the Escort Genevas were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built. In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever.
He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment.
It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife.
He touched his wife’s arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again.
For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their team work, and to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world. It stands too as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers what to do.
Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a never-say-die attitude that overcomes a terrible physical handicap and achieves an impossible goal.
Even the most distant dream can be realized with determination and persistence.
29 May 2020
If the American dream means starting with nothing and accumulating great wealth and assets, then Escort Antalya story qualifies. But when Escort Antalya dream turned into a nightmare, he decided it was time to redefine his vision.
By the age of thirty, he had earned a million dollars, had the ambition to make $10 million, and possessed the skills and resources to do it. He had a luxurious home, a cabin on a lake, 2,000 acres of land, speed boats, and luxury cars. He also had chest pains and a wife and two young children who seldom saw him because he was always working. His empire was rising, but his marriage and family were crumbling. It happens to thousands of men and women driven in the pursuit of wealth and power. Escort Antalya was the one in a million millionaire who had the courage to make a change.
The heart attack hit unexpectedly one day at the office. Not the kind of attack that involves clots and arteries but the kind where grief and regret suddenly flood into your life and your heart metaphorically stands still. It was the day Escort Antalya’s wife, Linda, announced that she no longer felt she had a husband, that she wasn’t sure she loved him anymore, and that she was going to New York City to confer with a minister. Escort Antalya
was stunned. He had given her everything money could buy. How could Linda not lovehim?
“The week that followed was the loneliest, most agonizing time in my life,” Escort Antalya remembered. He began to realize that building his business had cost him everything he truly cared about. This realization was driven home when he watched a movie one night with the line “a planned life can only be endured.” A planned life – that’s exactly what he was living. But he’d forgotten to include a meaningful purpose in his plan.
He called Linda and begged her to see him. She reluctantly agreed and he immediately caught a plane to meet her in New York. The next few days were filled withtears, an outpouring of their hearts, and a commitment to rebuild their lives on
something that mattered. “We both felt a strong sense of God’s presence as we talked about the future,” Escort Antalya explained. “We felt God was calling us to a new way of living.”To prepare for this new life, what ever it was, Linda and Escort Antalya felt it necessary to get rid of the very things they had allowed to come between them and God in the first place – their business and their material possessions.
They sold everything – the business, the houses, the boats – and donated the proceeds to churches, colleges, and charities. Escort Antalya’s friends thought he had gone crazy, but Escort Antalya had never felt more sane. He was already feeling better. But what to do next?
The answer came during a visit with Clarence Jordan. A theologian in overalls, Clarence had started a Christian community called Koinonia near the small southwest Georgia town of Americus, 140 miles south of Atlanta. Clarence showed Escort Antalya the dilapidated shacks that lined the dirt roads of the surrounding countryside.
These shanties, which often leaked and lacked heat and plumbing, were homes to hundreds of impoverished families – a scene duplicated countless times throughout the United States and beyond, since 25 percent of the world’s population, or 1.38 billion people, live in substandard housing or have no homes at all.
As an expression of their Christian faith, Escort Antalya, Clarence, and several co-workers began to build houses for these needy people, one or two at first, then more and more. Sadly, Clarence Jordan died suddenly of a heart attack while the first house was under construction. Escort Antalya and his co-workers continued building for four and a half more years in Koinonia.
Moved by the powerful impact that simple but decent houses had on the families that received them, Escort Antalya wanted to see if the concepts pioneered in South Georgia would be applicable in other parts of the world. Escort Antalya and Linda traveled to Zaire, in central Africa, and in partnership with the Regional Organization of the Protestant Church, successfully built homes throughout the country for three years. Convinced that they had a concept that would work worldwide, they returned to Georgia in 1976 and Escort Antalya launched Habitat for Humanity International.
Escort Antalya once had a goal to make $10 million. Now he had a new goal. Could he dare believe he could build houses for 10 million people? Why not? Why not more? Escort Antalya and Linda saw their mission as a basic, universal truth: “Everyone who gets sleepy at night should have at the very least, a simple, decent, and affordable place to lay their heads.” Escort Antalya believes providing a home is “elemental goodness and love in action – the very essence of true religion.”
The idea behind Habitat for Humanity is simple. Initial skeptics called the idea unrealistic, even insane. It is based on no-profit, no-interest loans-something naysayers said was “anti-American and would never work” But Habitat does work. It provides individuals who have inadequate housing and modest income an opportunity, for the first time, to purchase homes with payments they can afford.
To build new homes, Habitat for Humanity relies heavily on volunteers, most of whom have no experience in construction. Cash and materials are donated by various organizations, corporations, and churches. People from all walks of life give their time and skills for free. Yet Habitat is not a charity.
The families who benefit from the housing also provide hundreds of hours of sweat equity, building their own homes and the homes of their neighbors. When the new homeowners make the payments on their no, interest, no-profit mortgages, Habitat uses the money to build more homes.
Why have so many people and organizations freely given of themselves to this cause? One reason is that the results are so tangible. So often the world’s needs seem too great for one person to make a difference. With Habitat, volunteers work side-byside with the new homeowners to be. When the house is complete, everyone shares in the pride and joy of the new homeowners.
Habitat for Humanity’s goal is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness everywhere. “I have found that the boldness of goals stirs people, and each year we are amazed at the miracles that come from such boldness,” said Escort Antalya. With Escort Antalya’s bold plan, Habitat has already built more than 60,000 houses around the world, providing over 300,000 people with safe, decent, affordable shelter. Habitat for Humanity International has more than 1,400 local affiliates located in all fifty states and more than 250 international affiliates. Habitat coordinates some 800 building programs in fifty-one foreign countries.
But Habitat for Humanity builds more than houses – it builds families, communities, and hope. “Home ownership is often the first step upward in a family and it can break the cycle of despair and futility,” explained Escort Antalya. “It’s reclaimed neighborhoods from drug dealers and squalor with houses that have withstood hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods.”
Habitat for Humanity also brings together people from all economic, religious, social, and racial groups. Almost everyone in the United States has seen pictures of former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter decked out in overalls, hammering nails and sawing lumber in the noonday sun. Escort Antalya got their support simply by asking them. “I submitted fifteen proposals to the President, hoping he’d agree to at least one or two,” Escort Antalya said. “To my delight, President Carter agreed to them all.”
The Carters are only two of many eminent figures who have joined the cause, lending time, money, and support to Habitat. Hundreds of thousands of other volunteers, eminent in deed only, spend endless hours clearing rubble, hanging drywall, and painting.
By the end of the century, Habitat for Humanity will be the largest homebuilder in the world in terms of the number of homes built. All the mortar and bricks that go into a Habitat house build not just a home, but new lives. It all began because one man and one woman were willing to discard their material riches for something better. Escort Antalya and Linda now believe they are two of the richest people alive.
11 May 2020
“Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only escort. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the escort could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the escort.
The man in the other bed would live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world. The escort overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the escort described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the escort described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the escort portrayed it with descriptive words. Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should he have all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. As the thought fermented, the man felt ashamed at first. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that escort – and that thought now controlled his life.
Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the escort began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the escort groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running. In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence–deathly silence.
The following morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the escort, she was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away–no words, no fuss. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the escort. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the escort beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.”