Listen to the news media and you will certainly find an abundance of bad news, which can lead you to feel that there is no hope. But if you pay attention, you can also find good news, and therefore signs of hope, in the news media. Here’s a recent example. It was a short newspaper article. The headline said “Guardian Angel Helped Save Route 66”. At first it seemed to be a nice little human interest item about historic preservation of a stretch of Route 66, a well known American highway. But as the story continued, it became apparent that this was more than that. This was a good news story about a man who had hope for his town and what we might call a Highway of Hope.
Route 66 was commissioned by the U.S.government in 1926 to become the first and primary paved highway between Chicago, ILand Los Angeles, CA. It was known as “The Mother Road”. It turned out to be not just an improved means of automobile travel, but a symbol of hope for a better future. One of its purposes was to provide the people of small isolated towns along the route with easy access via automobile to larger towns and cities and the services they provided. It soon became a major truck route. For the people of these towns Route 66 became a Highway of Hope, as they successfully established small family businesses – gas stations, motels, restaurants – to serve the growing number of travelers.
During the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s many farm families lost their crops, their land, and their homes. All they had left was their old beat-up but still running cars, whatever prized possessions they could take with them, and just enough money to stay alive and head west to find agricultural work in California. Route 66 was the Highway of Hope which would take them there.
During World War II, another westward migration took place as families moved west to Californiawhere war related industries and military bases were being established. There was also the constant movement of troops and military equipment for the war in the Pacific. All Americans needed signs of hope during the war. Route 66 was the Highway of Hope for those who traveled on it during the war years. In the post-war years all was well for travelers and the towns and people of the towns along the way who served them. But things were about to change.
In 1956 President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act, which authorized the eventual replacement of the existingU.S.highway system, which included Route 66, with a new system of Interstate super-highways. The new system would allow for high-speed travel, by-passing towns and cities along the way. This was good for travelers, but disastrous for the people of the small towns which were intentionally bypassed. In 1978 Route 66 was officially decertified as part of theU.S.highway system. As the years went by and traffic declined, many of these towns lost their small family businesses, and became economically distressed. Now they were losing hope for their survival.
But there were those who refused to give up hope. One such person was Angel Delgadillo – now 84 years old. He was born in the small town of Seligman, Arizonain 1927, on Route 66, five months after the new highway was commissioned. His father owned a local barbershop. Later Angel ran the barbershop and opened a pool hall. He was not about to see his town and his Highway of Hope die.
In 1987 Mr.Delgadillo spearheaded a movement which led to the founding of the “Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona”. Eventually similar associations were founded in other states through which the original Route 66 passed through. In large part due to his efforts, the state ofArizonadesignated a stretch of the old highway as “Historic Route 66”, assuring its preservation. Today you can no longer travel from Chicago to Los Angeleson Route 66. However, in and nearSeligman,Arizonayou can still travel on this road. But it’s not just a means of getting from point A to point B. Today the highway itself is a destination – a tourist attraction. More than that, it is a road along which there is again a thriving town which has come back to life. Once again there are prospering people and small family businesses, including Angel Delgadillo’s Souvenir Shop, now operated by his sons.
Route 66 is still a Highway of Hope. Many people hoped for the revival of the highway and the town. But it took one man, Angel Delgadillo, to begin the process of transforming it from what had become an essentially useless remnant of a road, passing through a dying town, into a living reminder of a part of American history, which is still making history. That’s why in and around his town he has the status of a rock star, referred to as :The Father of the Mother Road” and “The Guardian Angel of Route 66”
It has been said that every person, at least once in a lifetime, is given an opportunity to in some way make a positive difference in and for the world. Where do these opportunities come from? We believe God gives them to us. God inspires us to take up something that will somehow make the word a better place. Something which will demonstrate to some extent what thekingdomofGodon earth as it is I heaven will be like for all of us, when it is fulfilled.
We can’t say, “I never had an opportunity”. We all receive God-given opportunities. We can see examples of this in the Biblical stories of Abraham, Moses, David, Esther, Paul, and many others. Some of them also traveled along ancient Highways of Hope. The question for each person is, “do you see the opportunity, and if you do, will you take and use it as God intends?” The newspaper article didn’t mention Angel Delgadillo’s religious beliefs, but we believe that God presented him with an opportunity to improve the lives of others, he took that opportunity, and God saw that he succeeded. We believe God is pleased with him.
What opportunity is God placing before you? Whatever it is, if you say yes to it, God will assure you can succeed.
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site.This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.