Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Gunfighter

Hugh O'Brian was famous in the early days of television for playing the role of the legendary Wyatt Earp.  The show was a half hour in length and was along the same line as other 30 minute westerns like Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel.   O'Brian, now in his 80's, has become an example of how Christianity should work.  I make that statement without any knowledge of O'Brian's religious preferences, or if he is connected with any denominational tag. 

The year was 1958 when, between filming his Wyatt Earp TV shows, O'Brian was making the circuit with a traveling circus, headlining a cowboy shooting act. He received an invitation from Dr. Albert Schweitzer to come to Africa. Schweitzer was running a medical clinic there and O'Brian spent 9 life-changing days observing and helping at the clinic.  As he was preparing to leave Africa, Schweitzer came to him and asked, "What are you going to do with all you have learned?"

O'Brian pondered that question over and over on his long trip home. It led to other questions concerning how he might do something in life to make a difference for others. He wanted to impact the world in such a way, that the world would be a better place.  From these thoughts a vision emerged. 

Just two weeks after O'Brian returned from Africa, he started rounding up kids.  They had to be about the age of 15, and sophomores in high school.  He felt this was the age he could work with and they would have two more years of high school to share with their classmates.  This was the beginning of an organization called HOBY, Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership.  The goal was to get the "cream-of-the-crop" kids from across the nation and allow them to be exposed to the best motivational leaders in the country.  Those kids would attend a 3-day seminar, absolutely free to the kids, and allow them direct contact with the country's greatest innovators.

HOBY has grown every year since its inception, bringing in over 15,000 kids annually,  to 70 locations across every state.  Many of those attending this year will be third generation HOBY participants. From the group of HOBY attendees, has come well known ministers, CEO's, judges, financial experts, educators, and the list could go on.  Also from the group there emerges numerous stories of successful husbands and fathers.  Contributions from big business and individuals fund the events every year, and most of the donors will tell you it's the best investment they have ever made. 

So these are the basics of the story of the hero for lots of kids in the 50's as Wyatt Earp tamed the west. But his story continued because of the concern he had for helping others overcome mediocrity and become an asset to society, not only in business dealings, but also in the way they treat people, their love of others in helping them to be overcomers, and the overall goals they reached in making a difference. 

I can almost see the crusty old cowboy smiling as he realizes how his dream to make a difference still brings that difference to so many kids.  And we, complaining that we are only one person and resources are limited, and we work too many hours, often go through life without a vision or a goal.  What do you suppose could be accomplished in our community, in our churches and schools, in our homeless shelters, or in our country clubs, if we had the love for others that Jesus calls us to have?  We who find loving God is easy, find loving others more difficult. Both are commands from the same savior that loves us.  So today I pray, "Lord give me the vision to see greater ways that I can serve you, and give me the love for others so I can make a difference."

Thanks Wyatt. You are my hero again. 


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