I hope many of you had the chance to view the ABC special last night about the leadership academy Oprah Winfrey founded in South Africa. Oprah has spent millions of dollars to open this academy for aspiring young girls who are under difficult circumstances and have the dream to become leaders. The personal heartaches and triumphs these young ladies have endured are unimaginable. One girl walks to school and back each day under the constant threat of being kidnapped, raped or murdered. Another girl and her sister watched as their dad shot and killed their mother then turned the gun on himself.
Several things came to mind while viewing the show. One was the myth that your societal status determines our leadership ability. Several of these girls were orphans, poor, homes had no running water, and they were at the bottom of society’s ladder. They had every excuse not to become leaders.
Another was the fact that although these girls were broken by the situations affecting their lives, they refused to let what some would call failures become the last chapter of the book. These girls applied to Oprah’s school, Oprah didn’t go out recruiting them. In their brokenness these girls saw an opportunity to stop the cycle of poverty and crime that had impacted their lives. They reminded me that perseverance leads to prosperity. It also reminded me of what Coach John Wooden says, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
At the end of the show Oprah told the girls that she came to South Africa to give them a school but she felt they had given her so much more. Giving is contagious, especially when you receive far more than you give. Oprah is a living testimony that giving leads to gaining. I firmly believe that you can’t out give God and that may be the most formidable reason Oprah’s empire continues to grow.