EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributing Columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insights on various topics in Steve’s Marketplace column.
We have had a drought of precipitation in North Florida in recent months. We’ve also experienced an agonizing drought of inspiration — here and elsewhere.
Wherever you turn, negative thoughts and reports and inferences smack you in the face with a sobering slap. Any encouragement or hope is doused with the reality of one of the most difficult recessions in our nation’s history.
The BP oil spill. A sluggish real estate market. An economy staggering to its feet. Flash crashes. Woes from the Eurozone. The highest unemployment seen in the U.S. since the early 1980s.
The litany of hopelessness goes on, and on.
Several local churches here have embraced the reality of today — and attempted to brighten it. Religion is a big industry in the U.S. and the world. Look no farther than the Roman Catholic Church, with a billion members and immeasurable global clout.
The Journey Church is relatively new to Fernandina Beach, but like other churches here, has grown and sprouted with a burgeoning membership. The church offers a modern service with a traditional message, accompanied by a band playing Christian music and big-screen monitors and bright lights.
In a detour from its traditional offerings this past weekend, the church brought in Vietnam veteran and inspirational speaker Tim Lee.
Lee has lived through dark, depressing times. All that he has experienced in his life is the loss of both legs from an explosion in a mine field. He was passed off as dead, even by fellow soldiers.
But he recovered, and accepted his new condition. And now he wants to revive hope for everyone who listens to him.
He races around the country and the world in his wheelchair, his bold blue Marines outfit, and his multi-colored metals, spreading the word of Christianity. He has built up an impressive practice within Tim Lee Ministries.
With rugged looks and square shoulders, he looks like a Marine — from his waste up. But the half of his body salvaged from the field in Vietnam was the most important part.
He speaks forcefully, passionately, like a Marine officer.
The son of a pastor, he pursued sports and the normal transgressions as a teenager. He joined the Marines at a time when he felt his life was spiraling. He was clamoring for direction.
Until that fateful day, when he was filling the point position in a patrol. He insisted on leading his men during the mine-sweeping operation, eager to lead by example.
He still leads by example. He uses religion as a foundation, a framework, for leading a good, moral life. He does not regret his misfortunes. Instead, he views them as critical turning points in his life.
They have steered him toward the crusade he proudly and tirelessly carries on today. A crusade of hope and inspiration. We could use more of this message in today’s fractured world.
Like drought-stricken foliage here, we are thirsting for it.
(Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor who lives on Amelia Island. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or via eMail at [email protected])