Tony South

Shot by a misdirected bullet at age 9 and confined to a wheelchair in a society that didn't understand disabilities, I was forced to decide whether to be handicapped or handicapable.

How much easier life was for others had no value to me. I came to realize that the only thing that we are given in life is opportunity. Either I had to be motivated to be successful or prepared to just accept my situation. I decided to do something about it and got into archery in a big way.

All the hard work, sacrifice, sweat and tears paid off. The 7th of November, 1968 seemed the greatest day in my life! I believe nothing could ever exceed the satisfaction and exhilaration I felt. I was the World Paraplegic Archery Champion.

When I look back at that time and the other events in my life, I realize that becoming the World Paraplegic Archery Champion record-holder and competing in the Paraplegic and Commonwealth Games, really isn't all that significant. They were just important steps in a journey.

I have always had a strong belief in God but for much of my life, I was trying to get to heaven by my own personal effort and good deeds. In 1980, this changed dramatically when my brother was killed. As I drove to Sydney from Brisbane to attend his funeral, my thoughts turned to the circumstances of my brothers death, it's unexpectedness and the way it happened.

I was overwhelmed by the thought that had I been in my brother's place I would not have been ready to meet Jesus. I suddenly realized that I could spend the rest of my life doing good things but that I never could earn my way to heaven. All I could do was to accept by faith the gift of eternal life that God was offering me through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. It was God's love, not my effort that was the answer to the purpose and direction of my life. As I drove on, I invited Jesus into my life and lifestyle.

The Bible plays an important part in my life. I see it as the best "text book" for living successfully and for showing how to be a winner in life on God's terms. A verse from the Bible that is really important in my life is 2 Corinthians 5:10, "after all, Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad we do while living in these bodies."

Although I know I am acceptable to God, through faith in what Jesus has done, these words encourage me to continue to get on with the business of living my life for Him.

Being in a wheelchair has helped me. I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to experience the road I have wheeled along and for the successes I have achieved. I am eternally grateful that God found me.

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