William Khazamula NgobenI had a vision for starting his own business, and nothing was going to stop him. But that didn't mean lots of things weren't going to try.
Mr. Ngobeni, a black man living in South Africa, decided to start a business in which he would shuttle tourists around Johannesburg. He went to the bank to get a loan to buy a minivan. The response from the bank: Show us the deed to your house, and we'll give you a loan. He didn't own a home, so he drove people around in his old blue Opel sedan. Finally, he managed to save enough to buy an old minivan.
And then one day he bought a small house. He proudly presented the deed to the bank. But they would only give him a loan for half of the price of the new van. Every day for two weeks he pestered the bank officials until they relented and gave him a loan for three-quarters of the price. Now his company - Willy's Tours and Safaris - is growing and includes three Volkswagen vans with plans for a 20-seater bus (see The Christian Science Monitor, April 21).
What does it take to persist with an idea? Lots of love and a conviction that what you have to give is worth everything, because refusing to give up in the midst of disappointment and frustration doesn't always come easily.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the metaphysical system of healing called Christian Science, faced one roadblock after another - financial hardship, prejudice, her husband's infidelity. But she persevered and wrote "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" that explains how anyone can turn to God's spiritual laws and rules for healing. She made this point about the value of tenacity: "... self-denial, sincerity, Christianity, and persistence alone win the prize..." (page 462).
Jesus told a story that shows why it is imperative to pray consistently and never quit. He told of a judge "who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: 'My rights are being violated. Protect me!' He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, 'I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won't quit badgering me, I'd better do something and see that she gets justice...' " (Luke 18:1-8, Eugene Peterson, "The Message"). If an uncaring judge gives in and does what's right, Jesus said that certainly God, our loving Father, will respond to those who cry out to Him for help.
And what about the role that love plays in persistence? Love makes persistence more than an exercise in human will. My best efforts - without love - often run out of steam and dry up. But persistence that comes from being committed to good, whose creator is Love, God, finds a way to keep going even when things look dark.
Mrs. Eddy wrote: "The little that I have accomplished has all been done through love, - self-forgetful, patient, unfaltering tenderness" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," page 247).
Several years ago I began a new career. I loved the work and felt that it was helping others. But I needed more income. Every day I prayed diligently, asking God to show me an answer.
Many times I'd hit rock bottom, not knowing how or when my needs would be met. I'd ask myself why I persisted. The answer that always rescued me from doubt and despair was love. I loved those I was helping, and I loved God's direction that had led me to this career. It wasn't my own strength or human will that would enable me to keep going. It was that deep love for God and for others.
One day when I was paying for my local newspaper subscription, I noticed a "help wanted" flier in the envelope. They were looking for carriers to deliver the paper. It struck me that I could do a paper route early in the morning and be home by 7 to begin my other work. I knew that this would mean getting up at 4, but that didn't faze me.
I felt such love for my mission that I was willing to do almost anything to continue with my work. This love made me feel joyful and engaged in life, rather than grumpy about delivering papers. As it turned out, other part-time work came along that was more suitable. But what still inspires me from this experience is the lesson I learned: It's love that enables us to persist with good ideas.