Sometimes in the midst of the hurry and flurry of life we can wonder whether we are or we’re not making a significant difference to the world around us.
We can be so focused on getting by or getting through whatever challenge we are facing at that moment, that we often fail to understand how just one single word or action could make an incredible difference to the lives of others.
Let me explain by way of a personal example.
The Unexpected Mysterious Letter From the Other Side Of The World
At the age of 12 I received a letter. It was quite a tumultuous time in my life where I was starting to ask myself the question: what am I born for?
So when I received this letter out of of the blue I was intrigued.
This was at a time well before we ever knew anything about email or social media. To receive a letter, for a burgeoning teenager, was a big deal.
One standout feature about this letter was that it had been sent to me personally from the other side of the world.
Who was the author?
What was this letter’s purpose?
The writer was an adult who had his own children, and yet why did he take time to pen such a piece?
Well it all began many years before when a man travelled from Liverpool in England and met my father, who was a young man at the time. Part of a family that struggled amidst a world of poverty, my dad and his brothers, could have at any time taken the pathway of crime on the streets of Redfern in Sydney Australia.
But their mother insisted that they attend the local church, and although they used this place to at times cause havoc, they as young men were invited to join the newly formed Boy’s Brigade. This is where they were introduced to the Englishman Jim Gray. Under his leadership these rowdy and undisciplined young men were transformed into a formidable force instructed in drill, gymnastics and sports such as soccer and cricket.
So when I was born in the year of 1958 it was Jim Gray who was asked to become one of my godparents.
Twelve years later, after he had returned to his hometown of Liverpool in England, he took up his pledged responsibility of ensuring that I continued on and into adulthood as a godly man by writing the very first life-impacting letter.
I Was So Excited
As I held that blue air mail letter in my hands there was a growing sense of excitement that rose in my chest, even before I read the very first word. To a twelve year old, to have someone on the other side of the world take an interest in your present and future, was a big deal.
So it was from that day onwards, right through my teenage years, and which ultimately culminated in both me, my wife and young children visiting him and his wife in Liverpool many years later, that I started to pour out my heart in letters to this man, who had up to that point in my life, been simply a name.
I communicated to this man on the other side of the world my dreams, my hopes, my aspirations, and my achievements. I shared with him like I had never shared with another person on planet earth – even my parents.
His interest and consistent communications with me throughout the years reinforced within me my personal worth, my ability to communicate, and my sense of importance as a human being.
Growing up as a teenager is tough. It’s a time when we struggle with our personal identity. I even struggled with my long name when another Peter Sinclair attended my school in the same age group. I battled with low self esteem. And yet amidst all the challenges of growing up there was the appearance of these air mail letters from time to time that continued to spur me on to be and become all that I was created to become.
Jim Gray was making a difference.
You & I Can Make A Difference
We may not be able to change the entire world, but we can change one life. That’s what Jim did for me. I know for a fact, that as a direct result of writing letter after letter, as a teenager in response to his letters, it formed the ability and the desire to be a writer and a communicator through the written word.
Before that day I was not a writer. I was not a very good English student. But through the transference of my thoughts onto paper over the years I was transformed into a better communicator. By the time I reached the end of my school years I was even in the A class for English.
Jim has now passed on, but even to this day I think of him fondly and thank God that this man was introduced to my life. Many years later, in England, when I met up with his children I counted myself a very lucky man, that this man had taken time out from his wonderful family and his own personal responsibilities to pen letters to me throughout my teenage years.
So may I encourage you to take time in your life for at least one other person, and particularly a young person, who could benefit from your personal attention.
As a direct result of this man’s intervention in my life through the form of a letter, my written words are now read by individuals from 170 nations around the world. Daily I receive emails from my readers of how my words have impacted and changed their lives.
That’s when I look up and say, ‘Here’s another one because of you Jim. Thank you!’