By Joanna Delalande

Turning CAN’T into CAN

Academic struggles did not stop Jeremy from making a big difference

Jeremy Cowart
Jeremy Cowart rejected the words “I can’t” and believed “I can”.

In his senior year, Jeremy Cowart conducted an aptitude test to figure out why he struggled so much in school.

The results were as follows: he scored 15 per cent in inductive reasoning, five per cent in analytical reasoning, 15 per cent in structural visualization, 15 per cent in observation, and five per cent in English vocabulary.

"Perfect," he thought, "It's now been confirmed that I'm a complete and total moron."

Today, Jeremy Cowart is changing the world.

In 2009 he started a global movement where photographers all over the world give away portraits to people in need. This is called Help-Portrait and has so far seen 370,825 portraits given in 67 different countries.

When the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Jeremy travelled there to "give the people a microphone... A microphone in the form of a photograph." The UN got behind the project and as a result 10 billion dollars were raised to rebuild Haiti.

Next, in a project called Voices of Reconciliation, he photographed pictures of the 1994 Rwandan genocide survivors standing with the people that killed their families and whom they'd now forgiven.

A couple of years later Jeremy went to Uganda and photographed former child soldiers who had been abducted by Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army. He got the children to draw their stories and later mounted the drawings and portraits digitally. Prints of the finished pieces are being sold to raise money for the children's continued art therapy.

He started SEEUNIVERSITY, where he documents everything he has learned and puts it out there on the Internet for his children and anyone else to access.

And now, his next project is the Purpose Hotel, a global hotel chain where everything from the keys to the design will be contributing to a particular cause so people who stay there can literally change the world in their sleep.

So how did a shy, insecure, 5th percentile boy from Tennessee manage to make such an overwhelming difference in this world all before his 39th birthday?

His story proves the thing standing in the way of us reaching our potential is not lack of talent or ability. It is a lack of vision and confidence. Someone else will do it, we tell ourselves. Someone else can do it better.

Or, quite simply, I can't do it.

In his early years, struggling to focus at school and feeling like the whole world was out of his reach, Jeremy rejected those words "I can't" and believed "I can".

If he had not changed his mind none of these things— Help-Portrait, Voices of Reconciliation, SEEUNIVERSITY or his smartphone app OKDOTHIS— would ever have seen the light of day.

Luckily, he stopped trusting those untrue words "I can't" and instead believed this fundamental truth: I can do all things.

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

This verse, found in the Bible in Philippians Chapter 4 verse 13, gave him the assurance to start designing in Photoshop.

"Computers are for smart people. I'm not smart, therefore I can't." Wrong. He could.

It's what gave him the confidence to plunge into photography. "Cameras are for smart people. I can't do this." Wrong. In 2014, Huffington Post named Jeremy the most influential photographer on the Internet.

He started believing he could, and once he did, nothing and no one could stop him.

But that verse isn't only true for Jeremy. God has gifted us all uniquely.

Stop thinking you can't, or you're not good enough, or someone else can do it better. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Not only that, there is a great purpose placed on your life. In Jeremiah Chapter 29, verse 11, God tells you He knows the plans He has for you, and they are plans to prosper you, to give you hope and a future.

You can do anything, and also you have been specifically chosen by God to do something unbelievable. Something that will change the world.

So stop making excuses. Stop saying you can't.

You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The key question is: have you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ?

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