…a terrible story, even. A story filled with pain and abuse. While I never suffered the kind of trauma that he experienced growing up, I resonated with the raw emotion and hard-driving bass and guitar that KoЯn blasted through my speakers.
I’m certain he has done good stuff with his life, but only recently have I become aware of a particular “good deed” Jonathan is accomplishing at the present moment: He is becoming a vocal advocate against bullying and for suicide prevention.
Speaking of people you haven’t heard of, meet my friend Danny Heinsohn. Danny was a close friend of mine during those same college years, and I still call him a great friend. Danny is and was a pretty amazing guy: Caring, thoughtful, and always striving to live life to the fullest.
He was just leaning into living as a college graduate, full of hope and adventure. He was going to kick off this new season of life with an amazing trip overseas. But, just a couple of days before his flight took off, he received a devastating and life-changing diagnosis: Brain cancer.
The future was not bright, the path forward was not easy, and the prognosis was not good. The median survival rate for his particular cancer was 5%.
I still can’t imagine what those moments, days or weeks were like, let alone the year of treatment. And, though I know his character and capacity, I couldn’t have imagined how he would eventually face his future…
Danny’s journey through cancer was filled with hope – hope that was given to him in large part by those who surrounded him. He believes a large part of the reason he survived was because of the people who instilled hope in him, and encouraged him to hope for the future.
To celebrate his 10-year anniversary of remission, Danny did several things, including becoming an Iron Man competitor. He also committed to starting a foundation that would intentionally give hope and support to young cancer survivors. My Hometown Heroes was born with the mission of providing scholarship support to young cancer survivors. His new non-profit met the initial goal that first year of raising $10,000 of scholarship support. They are now pursuing the goal of $1,000,000 by the year 2020.
Danny and Jonathan don’t have tons in common, from what I can tell. But, they do have at least one thing in common: They decided to make something out of traumatic experiences. They saw the world as it is – much more so than many of us could even imagine. Yes: they see brokenness in the world, but they don’t see the world as hopeless.
They also see the world as it could be, maybe even as it should be. They see the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many people who are experiencing serious difficulties. They live into the hope that though they can’t right the world completely, they can actually move the needle.
Danny and Jonathan also have at least one more thing in common: They bring other people alongside them to make a difference in the world. They don’t go it alone – they enlist the support and power of other people to help them realize new dreams.
That is our opportunity as followers of Jesus Christ! We see a broken world that God so desperately loves. And, we realize that God has called us – yes, us! – to see this very same world both as it is, and how it could and should be… so that we might take action to make a difference!
What needs do you see? Who are you going to enlist to help you make a difference?
With Hope for the Future,
Pastor Lorin Darst