Discover Unsung Heroes

Date: February 20, 2024

After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.  Judges 3:31


Following the publication of my book Heroes—People Who Have Made a Difference in Our World, I have often been asked, “What makes a person a real hero?” Your value system defines your heroes.  Obviously if you named Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio as heroes, you would love baseball.  If you said, “Elvis Presley” or “The Beatles” are my heroes; it would be rather obvious that you connected with these icons of popular culture from the ’60s and ’70s. Actually most of the people who are considered heroes today, including the four names I mentioned, are celebrities—high notoriety individuals.

It’s all a matter of perspective.  Question:  Who are your heroes?  And, why?  Actually, many of the real heroes of our day are little known people whose names never hit the headlines, people who without thought of the personal cost their actions might sustain, do what needs to be done.  They are the ones who crawl into burning buildings or overturned cars to drag people to safety, the ones who treat the sick without thought of possibly catching the very disease wracking the body of the one they minister to, or confront the bully in defending a weakling, not thinking about the fact they are positioning themselves in front of danger.

Real heroes do the right thing, no matter what the cost or the difficulty.  They include people who inject themselves with the virus they want to cure, believing that the serum they have developed will save the lives of thousands afflicted with the disease.  They are the ones who teach school in inner cities and take medical posts where there are no country clubs and no perks.

Nicasio Aranas falls into that category.  He worked as a bookkeeper at Philippine Normal University, helped students and became a friend to the friendless.  He also felt  thankful for work and an opportunity to make a difference in our world.

Tatay Nick (Daddy or Father Nick to most people) was forced to leave school at the age of 14, when World War 2 broke out.  When the war ended, Tatay Nick was caught in the grips of poverty.  He married and fathered eight children.  His goal was to get them through school, which he achieved.  Then at the age of 67 he decided his time had come.  He enrolled in the adult night high school, not only the oldest in the school, but also the oldest in the history of the school.

Administrators were reluctant to let this old man enroll, but were finally persuaded.  His classmates, the ages of his grandchildren, loved him.  He was a lolo, (a grandfather) to them, and when he graduated and received his diploma, wild applause broke out celebrating the achievement of an old man who went for his dream and reached it.

Question:  What’s your dream?  Convinced that we are our own worst enemies, I am persuaded that more of us fail from not trying than fail from not being able to reach our goals.  If a dream is a goal with a timeline attached, then get a plan and take it in increments.

“I’d very much like to go into ministry,” a friend once commented.  “How old are you?” I asked.  “Forty,” he said.  “How old will you be in three years if you don’t go to seminary?”  “Forty-three,” he said. “And how old will you be in three years if you do go for your dream?” He got the point and did go to seminary, eventually becoming a pastor.

Heroes are not cut from extraordinary bits of DNA.  They are ordinary people.  May God give us more Nick Aranases who go for their dream and make a difference in our world.

Resource reading: Joshua 1.