“The value of life is not in its duration but in its donation. You are not important because of how long you live; you are important because of how effective you live.” Late Dr. Myles Munroe.
Where it all started…
About five years ago, I read a poem written by Henry Longfellow titled “A psalm of Life”. The seventh and eighth stanzas of the poem reads: “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time. Footprints that perhaps another, sailing over life’s solemn main, a forlorn and a shipwrecked brother, seeing, shall take heart again.”
The inspiration I drew from those lines fueled my passion for humanity healing. It dawned on me that, true greatness is not measured by the number of academic degrees one acquires for himself, nor the magnitude of wealth a man bequeaths for his children. Instead, the truly great are those who in the face of difficulties, challenged their challenges and pressed on to make their predicaments the stepping stone upon which they brought humanity healing in the little ways they could.
They may not be famous or celebrated by the whole world. They may never even own a private jet, a Rolls Royce or a mansion in Dubai. But, their impact to the world makes a mark that cannot be erased. Their lives become a quintessential model of the true definition of a life well lived – lived for others.
The Sad Reality…
Unfortunately, many young people today believe they are not capable of doing anything worthwhile to make a difference in their communities and become a reference to others. Most are demoralized, depressed and encumbered with feelings of inferiority, while some others have allowed their background and the challenges facing them to limit them from releasing their gifts to humanity. If you find yourself in any of these categories, I congratulate you because your life is changing today. Please read on!
The man who made a difference in my Life
My mentor and hero Late Dr. Myles Munroe was born into an indigent family of eleven kids living in a wooden house of two bedrooms. He was raised from a very poor background in the suburb of Bain town Nassau in his country Bahamas. It is said that Munroe and his siblings slept on the floor among rats and cockroaches. As a young boy in high school, he suffered segregation from his teachers and classmates who were whites. Most times his teacher preferred to addressed him as “black monkey” or “dummy head” just to frustrate his life and dreams. He also experienced other innumerable challenges as a young man capable of killing his vision for living. But, right in the heart of the suburb, he believed the world was going to hear his voice someday. He didn’t give up on his dreams. He realized that great people are those who persistently pursue a sublime life with every fibre of their being, regardless of resisting forces. He didn’t let his background place his back on the ground. He believed in God and believed in himself too.
He turned his challenges into stepping stones and emerged one of the most influential men that the world has ever known. He was an international inspirational speaker who visited over 130 countries. He authored sixty-nine (69) books out of which forty-nine (49) are best-sellers. He was an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Theology at Oral Roberts University. He was a pastor, teacher and successful business consultant to fortune 500 Companies. You are reading his story as history today because he didn’t give up on his dreams despite all odds. He just didn’t let up, shut up, pray up until he stayed up. Dr. Munroe’s life has blessed millions of followers across the world of which I am one.
My Passion for Humanity Healing; How it all started
I was born in a family of six – three boys and three girls. My parents were not financially buoyant, but my home could best be described as “a heaven on earth.” This is because we upheld as a family that we did not need to have a lot of money to lead a happy life. We valued integrity, honesty and fidelity above rubies. As little kids, my parents infused a solution-seeking-mentality into us. They repeatedly taught us that “fault-finders never solve life problems, only solution seekers do. The world celebrates only people who can proffer solution to the multifarious problems of the human race.” Their words made me see myself constantly as one of those who bear the solution to the problems of my nation.
When I was sixteen years old, I read the famous “Purposed Driven Life” by Rick Warren and my journey to purpose discovery kicked off from that point. In that same year as a high school student, I recall that I suddenly developed an unquenchable passion to touch the lives of my schoolmates, I would trek about one kilometer away from the village where I lived to seek out a printing press where I could print my inspirational letters which I usually shared to my friends and classmates weekly.
The same passion helped me serve selflessly as a Class captain, Chapel prefect and Scripture Union fellowship president during my high school days.
My parents soon began to notice my obsession to bring humanity healing (young people precisely) in any way I could. This was evident in the way I incessantly attended youth conferences, seminars and training. I also voraciously read many documents and literature on positive youth engagement, development and empowerment. I had several transformational speaking engagements with school children within and outside my community.
My passion for Social Reconstruction
In Nigeria, we are faced with a lot of security and socio-political challenges including insurgency, kidnapping, vandalism, inter-communal crisis, corruption, rape, criminality and such of which the youths are at the forefront of this nefarious acts. I am indubitably convinced that if these young people were given the appropriate mentorship and care they deserved as children by their parents, teachers, and caring adults they would not have chosen to walk the wrong path.
Also, the prevalence of corruption among public office holders can be traced to the kind of mentorship and orientation these officers received as young people. In a bid to curb corruption and mismanagement in public offices, all over the world, there are lots of government instituted agencies policing public office holders into right living. However, it is my opinion that, this policing would not have been necessary if we taught our people to be the values we want to police them into when they were young people with no competing imperatives.
My desire to fill-up this mentorship gap for young people propelled me to start a youth development outreach in 2016 called “The Advocacy for Purposeful Living”. Through this platform, I impacted the lives of hundreds of young people around me by publishing life changing inspirational write-ups on both social and print media. I visited schools and prisons to teach young people key issues such as purpose discovery, creativity management, ethical codes, good leadership qualities and peace education.
How the Gideon Nwankwo Foundation Started
My long-term vision since my sixteenth birthday was to emerge a social entrepreneur that is sold out to youth development, reaching the extremities of society to build youth capacity for maximum productivity. I envisioned to organize workshops to impart young people with innovative and entrepreneurial skills that will enable them be productive, financially independent and self-actualized.
I also had plans to commence a weekly Television and radio program that will be specifically designed to discuss right value-system, positive youth engagement strategies, as well as inspire young people to channel their agility into productivity and say NO to vices and violence.
In 2017, I started nursing thoughts of starting a youth foundation to enable me harmonize and actualize these goals. After defining the vision and mission of my foundation, I took it to my mentors to review and make the necessary adjustments. A lot of friends asked me then “how will you generate funds to run a non-profit organization?” My answer was usually that “once you put humanity before you, the path of greatness will open itself to you, and when you take that path you will certainly make a mark that cannot be erased.”
Today, the Gideon Nwankwo Foundation (GNF) is a year and two months old with some ‘little-big’ achievements including; commencement of the monthly “Moments of Inspiration” Program which has affected the lives of over 62 persons across four episodes. The publishing of weekly inspiring letters to young people which over 400 copies have been distributed to college and High School students. The GNF Leadership Essay Competition organized for young Nigerians in 2018 and The GNF Mentorship Forum – an online/offline mentorship program provided by Mr. Gideon Nwankwo to all his fans.
Mr. Gideon Nwankwo believes that a life well lived is lived for others and therefore commits himself to making an indelible mark in people’s lives rather than mark time with his life. He believes that you too can make a difference and become a reference! (www.facebook.com/GideonNwankwoFoundation)