In 1964, a young activist for the cause of equality and civil rights in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was arrested for the crime of treason against his government. He was held in solitary confinement for 27 years.
The first 18 of those 27 years were at Robbin Island, the most feared maximum security penitentiary in all of South Africa. His cell was tiny. He had no bed and slept on the floor. His toilet was a bucket. He was consigned to hard labor splitting rocks with an ax in a stone quarry. He was allowed one visitor per year for 30 minutes—for 27 years.
Such conditions would break the average man. In fact, many of the political prisoners fell apart in time. But Mandela used every tool and every minute of time at his disposal to advance his life and his cause. Eventually he was put in a place of leadership over his fellow inmates and made a positive impact on even his most hardened jailers.
In the final paragraph of the final chapter of his unfinished memoir, he wrote: “I never was a saint. I was a sinner who wouldn’t stop trying.”
What gives a man such resilience in the face of adversity? The answer can be found in one of Mandela’s simplest and yet greatest quotes: “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”
Some of the most powerful words of the Old Testament are found at the beginning of the story of Joseph in Genesis 37:5, “Joseph had a dream…”
The story of Joseph is nothing short of a spectacular story. It is a Nelson Mandela story of sorts: this bright young leader, consigned to a life of slavery and then imprisonment, only to rise as second in command over the greatest empire the world had ever seen. And this spectacular, history-shaping story hinges on a moment when Joseph was 17. What enabled Joseph to scrap, to endure, to strive, to keep going against all odds was a 17-year old’s dream. Just a dream, a whisper: “You are meant to live a life that matters.”
As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of Point University, we remember the dreams of those who have gone before us, but we also remember that our God is a dreamer. What might God be dreaming up for our future expansion? It may be that God sees us as a 17-year-old, and He is only getting started.
Written by Dr. Joshua Rice, Instructor of Biblical Studies
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