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Term 3 2015 - The Man Named George

This term our core value is on perseverance. As a staff we will be trying to develop this in our students as it is one of the most effective values we can develop in ourselves and not always something New Zealanders are good at. Last week I told you how Abraham Lincoln persevered. This week let me tell you a story I like to tell about a man named George:

George came from a slave family working on the plantations in America. At 13 years of age he decided he wanted to go to Princeton to train to be a lawyer. But…he couldn't read or write. The plantation owner had a daughter, about 8 years of age, and George got her to teach him what she was learning at school. After a few years he could read and write but his parents didn't have the money to send him to university. They wanted him to work with them on the plantation.

In spite of this he ended up going to live in the city but only found work that could pay for his food and accommodation. He needed another plan. He worked out that if he worked on the train, which left first thing in the morning, he would travel through the night and arrive at the train's destination the next morning and would not need accommodation.

He did so and served people faithfully but still wasn't earning enough money. He started to offer a shoe shine service on the train for $1. He got many takers, did a beautiful job, but was only going to bed at 4AM and getting two hours of sleep per night.

One day a businessman with beautifully polished shoes came on board and agreed to have his shoes polished anyway. He was trying to close a very important business deal the next day. He had trouble sleeping that night and started pacing the train. He went into the engine room and found George polishing shoes. He introduced himself as Mr Spencer and they chatted – George shared his dream of Princeton. When George found out Mr Spencer couldn't sleep he made him a special drink – warm milk with special ingredients. He slept well and found his shoes outside his door the next morning.

George did this every day without a break for three years. At the end of this he got out all his money and counted it. There was enough to pay for… one term at Princeton. George put it all in an envelope with a letter to the Principal of Princeton saying he would like to see him on a day the following week. This would be the first day he had ever taken off work.

The following week he arrived but the secretary told him he couldn't see the principal without an appointment. He begged her and when she scanned down the diary she found a slot had been made for a 'George' in the Principal's own writing. When he went in to see him the Principal put all George's money on the table and told him he couldn't accept his money. George cried and begged. He said he would study a term then work again until he had enough money for another term. The Principal however asked if he knew a Mr Spencer. George said, "Yes, he rode on my train once." The Principal laughed and replied, "No, I think you worked on his train!" The Principal told George how Mr Spencer had come in and donated the money for four years study to go to a person named George if he ever showed up. If he didn't the story was never to be told but the money could be used by the Principal on anything he chose.

George became a lawyer and went on to become the first black man who was ever to become one of the five serving Supreme Judges in the United States!

In spite of the odds George persevered and never gave up. He didn't even settle for being a lawyer. God works the same way. He doesn't want to give us something small, he has something big for us but we usually settle for a lot less. George had to persevere through a lot more than any of us have to cope with didn't he? Think big and keep striving in your life and encourage your own children to see difficulties as challenges worth persevering through.

God bless

Alistair Paterson