Read an Excerpt
Faith in Action
Near the end of my 2011 speaking tour in Mexico, an official with the US embassy in Mexico City called to inform me that my US work visa had been put on hold for “a national security investigation.”
I live in the United States on that visa because I am a native of Australia. I could not return to my California home without it. Since my staff had scheduled an upcoming series of speaking engagements in the United States, this was a serious problem.
I scrambled to the US embassy with Richie, my caregiver, early the next morning to try to figure out how my visa had anything to do with national security. When we arrived, we found the large reception area packed with people dealing with their own issues. We had to take a number, like in a bakery. The wait was so long I had a nice nap before we finally were called to meet with an official.
When I’m nervous, I turn to humor. It doesn’t always work. “Is there a problem with my fingerprints on the visa?” I joked. The embassy person glared at me. Then he called his supervisor. (Maybe my sense of humor was posing a threat to American security?)
The supervisor arrived, also looking quite grim. Visions of being behind bars crept into my head.
“Your name has been tagged as part of an investigation,” the supervisor stated robotically. “You can’t return to the United States until this is cleared up, and that will take up to a month.”
The blood drained from my body. This cannot be happening!
Richie collapsed to the ground. At first I thought he’d fainted, but he had dropped to his knees in prayer in front of two hundred people. Yes, he’s a very caring caregiver. He raised his arms and his hands together, asking God for a miracle to get us home.
Everything around me seemed to be in fast-forward and slow motion at the same time. As my head whirled, the embassy official added that my name probably was flagged because I travel so much around the world. Did they suspect me of being an international terrorist? an arms dealer with no arms? Honest, I hadn’t laid a hand on anyone. (See what happens when I’m nervous? Make me stop!)
“Come on, seriously, how dangerous could I be?” I asked the embassy official. “I’m meeting with Mexico’s president and his wife at the presidential house tomorrow for a Three Kings Day party, so obviously they don’t see me as a threat.”
The US official was not moved. “I don’t care if you’re meeting with President Obama, you aren’t reentering the United States until this investigation is completed,” he said.
The situation might have been funny if my schedule hadn’t been packed with a long list of speaking engagements back in the good old US
of A. I had to get home.
I was not about to sit around and wait for someone to decide that Americans were safe with Nick in the house. I pleaded with the embassy official for several more minutes, explaining my obligations, dropping the names of important people, stressing that I had employees who counted on me and orphans who looked up to me.
He checked with someone higher in rank on the phone. “All they can do is try to expedite the process. It will still take at least two weeks,” he said.
I probably had a dozen appearances scheduled for those two weeks. But the embassy official was not sympathetic. All we could do at that point was return to our hotel, where I frantically began calling everyone I knew for help and prayers.
I was tapping into the power of faith in action.
To simply say “I believe” in something is not enough. If you want to have an impact in this world, you must put your beliefs and your faith into action. In this case I tapped into my belief in the power of prayer. I called our team at my nonprofit organization, Life Without Limbs (LWL), in California and asked them to start a prayer chain. “We’re moving up the chain of command—way up!” I told them.
The staff at LWL made a flurry of phone calls and sent out a flood of e-mails, tweets, and text messages. Within an hour, one hundred fifty people were praying for a quick resolution to my visa challenge. I also put out calls to friends and supporters who might have influence, relatives, neighbors, or former classmates in the US State Department.
Three hours later, someone from the embassy in Mexico called me. “I can’t believe this, but you’ve been cleared,” the official said. “The investigation is over. You can come pick up your renewed US visa tomorrow morning.”
That, my friend, is the power of faith in action! It can move mountains, and it can move Nick out of Mexico too.
Acting in Faith
In my travels around the world, people faced with challenges ask me for my advice and my prayers. Often, they know what they need to do, but they are afraid to make a change or to take the first step by asking for help or trusting in God. You, too, may be facing challenges that have you feeling helpless, scared, stuck, paralyzed, uncertain, and unable to act. I understand. I’ve been there. When teens and young adults come to me and tell me they are being bullied, that they feel lost and alone in the world, or that they are scared because of disabilities, illness, or self-destructive thoughts, I know exactly where they are coming from.
My physical challenges are easy to see, yet people only have to talk to me or hear me speak for a few minutes to understand how much joy I have in spite of that. So they often ask me how I stay positive and where I find the strength to overcome my disabilities. My answer, always, is, “I pray for God’s help, and then I put my faith in action.” I have faith. I believe in certain things that I have no tangible proof of—things I cannot see, taste, touch, smell, or hear. Most of all, I have faith in God. Though I can’t see or touch Him, I believe He created me for a purpose, and I believe that when I put my faith and my beliefs into action, I put myself in a position for God’s blessings.
Will I always get what I want? No! But I will always get what God wants. The same is true for you. Whether you are a Christian or not, you must never think that simply believing in something is enough. You can believe in your dreams, but you have to take action to make them happen. You can believe in your talents and have faith in your abilities, but if you don’t develop them and put them to use, what good are they? You can believe that you are a good and caring person, but if you don’t treat others with goodness and care, where is the proof ?
You have a choice. You can believe or not believe. But if you believe—whatever you believe—you must act upon it. Otherwise, why believe? You may have had challenges in your career, your relationships, or your health. Maybe you have been mistreated, abused, or discriminated against. All those things that have happened to you do define you or your life if you fail to take action to define yourself. You can believe in your talents. You can believe that you have love to give. You can believe that you can overcome your illness or disability. But that belief on its own won’t bring positive change in your life.
You must put it into action.
If you believe you can change your life for the better or make a positive mark in your town or your state or your world, act upon those beliefs. If you think you have a great idea for starting your own business, you must invest your time, money, and talents and make that business happen. Otherwise, what good is just having the idea? If you have identified someone whom you’d like to spend the rest of your life with, why not act upon that belief? What have you got to lose?