Yesudas was born in one of the poorest communities to be encountered in Southern Asia. His village was situated among towering rock formations, and stone covered fields. Over centuries patient farmers had collected rocks in piles at the borders of ancestral lands, trying vainly to find soil enough in which to plant their rice crop during monsoons. For most of the year the climate was blistering hot, and humidity hung in the air like a wet blanket. For those of us who occasionally made a rest stop on the highway near his village, oppressive heat would paralyze thinking, and limit ability to move without sweating profusely.
I’ve passed inhabitants of these villagers working on highway repair during dry season. They’d walk barefoot on heated bubbling road tar, shifting gravel and molten mix to repair pot holes while women would sit beside the road cracking rocks with hammers for the repair work.
Yesudas arrived at school one day in borrowed clothes and wearing a broad smile. He worked his way through school studying hard, eating little, and always smiling. Once in a while a kind soul would help him with a shirt, or a little money for his fees. He asked for nothing, and in spite of personal hardships was a generous and kind friend to others. It took him several years to complete an education due to a heavy student work program at school, and the need to spend spare time as a salesman to earn sufficient for his following semester fees.
As often happens when you’re not a high profile student, the first employment opportunity Yesudas received was to a village in a remote area of the country. He worked on his appointment with the same dedication and excellent spirit exhibited during long years he’d spent at school, and he was successful. It began to dawn on the community they’d employed a dedicated and powerful personality. Yesudas began a slow rise to the top as his talents and services were more widely recognized.
Several years passed and I was surprised to see him at a convention one day dressed modestly, but quite acceptably. He was holding a position of influence. He still carried the broad smile as his trademark, and I noted his family travelling with him was very well behaved.
Unlike many of us who’ve enjoyed greater opportunities he was vocally appreciative of opportunities placed in his way, and people who’d made unique contributions to his success. He talked about his days of poverty, and his present plans for the community he served.
He was richer than any of us there in attitude and vision. His lecture title “anyone can succeed with effort and belief in self” was an electrifying challenge to those of us who attended that conference. We’d seen this demonstrated in this man’s life.
We were richer in this world’s goods, but poorer in vision than he. All who departed that conference went with a renewed focus on their own potential for success.
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