The Power of One
It was one of those once-in-a-life-time moments. The entireWorld celebrated Christmas Eve, 1968, by sitting glued totelevision sets. Apollo 8 was in Moon orbit, broadcastingfirst-ever, live television shots of the Moon's surface. Manhad yet to set foot on the Moon, so this Moon orbit wastruly an historic moment.
On board the spacecraft, three American astronauts, FrankBorman, James Lovell Jr. and William Anders, gave a Christmasgreeting to earthbound viewers, and spoke briefly of their mission.The onboard camera was then focused on the view outside thecabin window.
There it was, the surface of the Moon, close-up like you hadnever seen it before. Then one of the astronauts, Frank Borman,did a most amazing thing...
As spellbound viewers watched the surface of the moon movingslowly across their TV screens, Frank Borman began readingfrom the Book of Genesis, "In the beginning, God created theheavens and the earth..."
As Borman read, goose bumps crawled up and down my spine.It may seem humdrum today, but back in 1968 this broadcasttriggered a stillness around the world like no one had feltbefore. It was a moment many will never forget.
While at work a few days later, I overheard a news broadcastreporting Madalyn Murray O'Hare, the infamous atheist, had fileda complaint with NASA (National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration), complaining of the televised reading of scripture.The report went on to say she intended to put a stop to readingof scripture in space over government radios.
This was the same woman who single-handedly managed to getprayer banned in public schools. Now here she was again, rearingher ugly will upon the people. I was incensed. But even before thatnewscast was over, I remember saying aloud, "Over my dead body."
Then and there I did something that would effect the outcomeof my entire life. I made a decision to begin a petition drive inopposition to O'Hare. I quickly typed out a simple statementendorsing the astronauts' actions and brought it around tomy co-workers to sign.
My plan was to make 5 copies of the petition and send oneeach to NASA, the town library where I lived, both Housesof Congress, and the President of the United States.
With about 100 signatures in hand, I went around myneighborhood after work and collected about 50 more.I was excited and was on a mission. But I needed moresignatures. That's when my father-in-law suggested I goto the night editor of the local newspaper for help. He toldme they are always looking for human-interest stories.Maybe they would print mine.
So after supper that night I went to the paper. I remember theman I first spoke to yelling back to another gentleman saying,"Hey, Charlie, here's our answer to Madalyn O'Hare!"
The next day went by as usual...until I got home after work.When I walked into the kitchen, there my wife and mother-in-law were, sitting at the kitchen table with papers scatteredaround. My mother-in-law, who was on the phone, looked upand gave me one of her "you've really done it this time" looks.Then she said, "Here, take it. This phone has done nothingbut ring all day."
And that is how my petition drive got airborne. Without myknowing it, my story was picked up by newswire servicesand went worldwide.
The phone never quit ringing. Have you ever had the phoneto ring in the same moment you disconnected the call?Well that is how it was for eight solid hours. It never quit.We had to disconnect the phone from the wall to keepit from ringing throughout the night while asleep.
I received calls from all around the world, literally. People far and wide wanted copies of my petition. They wantedto help gather signatures.
My family and I were in shock at the massive responsethat was pouring in. It was only the beginning.
Within a week, the mailman was delivering five and sixlarge duffel bags of mail a day to our doorstep. It wasoverwhelming, and I didn't know what to do or how toproceed. Mailbags were piling up by the dozens.I remember we all prayed because this had becomemore than my family or I could handle.
Then one day after work, NASA called me. A kindly gentlemansaid he represented a group of employees at NASA callingthemselves the Apollo Prayer Group. They met regularly withinNASA to pray for the success of each mission. They had heardof my petition and wanted to know if they could be of any help.
The NASA prayer group offered to take up the cause of mypetition, make 5 microfilm copies of each page and see toit that all five copies were sent to where I wanted them to go.Their call was most welcome and verified for me that thiswas the answer to our prayer.
In the end, some five million signatures were gathered,copies made and sent per my request. Madalyn MurrayO'Hare dropped her law suit, and Congress passed a lawthat guarantees the right of reading the Bible aloud in spaceover NASA radio frequencies.
Two years later I learned I had been invited to NASA toattend a banquet in my honor. Not only would the Apollo8 astronauts be in attendance, Senator Everet Dirksonof Illinois was to speak and honor me for my actions.Unfortunately, my job had moved me three times, andI never learned of the NASA banquet until after the fact.
From this one event in my life I learnedseveral life-changing lessons.
1. We are born to greatness:
At the time I was in my middle 20's and naive. I didn't knowany better to think I could fail. Failure wasn't an option.I simply saw myself defeating this ugly spirited personand did!
Now I know why I could defeat her. We are created in God'simage. Translated into street language, that means we areborn to do great things.
Looking back, that whole event has shaped every decisionI have made since. There is a boldness within me to thisday that allows me to make decisions and act in waysthat many people simply will not.
In walking around my neighborhood to obtain petitionsignatures, I met a woman who was afraid to sign mypetition. She told me she feared communists taking overour country one day. "When they do," She said, "they willuse lists like the one I have to persecute people."
What a shame it must be to live like this person...beingmotivated by intimidation and fear.
You see, our ability to achieve success, though God given,is tempered day by day through our experiences and thoughts.We can change our ability to become achievers by changingour perception of ourselves.
Once you begin to see yourself as God created you, thereis nothing that can hold you back. Jesus would say, "If youhave faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to thismountain. 'Move from here to there' and it will move.Nothing will be impossible for you"
2. Timing is everything to move the masses:
When I listened to that radio newscast about Madalyn O'Hare,I didn't know about timing. All I felt was anger and determinationto stop her cold. But then so did many other people. It was theright time. All that was needed was someone to ignite the sparkof resistance. I provided a way for them to speak out, to have apart in history.
3. People are motivated by causes:
I was uninvolved and minding my own business back in 1968.It wasn't until my anger was stirred and brought to cause that Ibecame involved. And so it was for five million others whosigned that petition.
4. There will always be others willing to help:
Just when I thought I was overwhelmed with petition requests,NASA called me to offer help. I didn't need to be asked twice.
5. The Power of One is the seed to produce a great harvest:
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would collect five million signatures in a petition drive, but it happened.
I like to use the example of a corn seed (I live in corn country).When I consider how many bushels can be harvested fromthe kernels of just one ear of corn, it amazes me.
So this is what I have learned from that one experience back in1968. Take a child of God (greatness), give them an opportunity(timing and cause) and you have the ingredients to do theimpossible...to change our world.
You have the power of one. In you lies the seed of greatness.God has granted this to you by right of birth. Let me encourageyou to claim this birthright. To His Glory.
Jim Lynn is the author of "Real World Secrets Behind America'sMost Successful (And Profitable) People Who Network."
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