Who Are Our Influencers?
by Grace Fox
My list of people who have influenced me for good includes well-known speakers and authors. But it also includes a group of Romanian orphans living with HIV and AIDS.
Some were infected through their mothers at birth. Others when medical professionals came to schools to vaccinate them against childhood diseases and used one needle for entire classrooms.
Their society’s lack of understanding about how the disease spreads causes fear, and those infected are often treated like modern-day lepers. Abuse and abandonment have left many developmentally delayed.
As a career global worker, I’ve come to know these kids over the past decade. In fact, I’ve just returned from spending time with them yet again. Playing, eating, laughing, and worshiping Jesus together has grown friendship.
My goal has always been to love on them and disciple them in their faith journey. But in the past year or so, I’ve seen a role reversal. Specifically, two gals now communicate daily sending Bible verses and encouraging words.
This group of young adults live with the pain of abuse and abandonment. They suffer with illness and frequent hospitalizations. The fear of their own impending death looms as AIDS claims one friend after another. And yet they persevere, grateful for every kindness experienced and gift received no matter how small. They raise their voices in worship to God even as tears roll down their cheeks. And they make time to encourage those of us who will never fully understand their plight.
We often consider well-known leaders as influencers. But I’ve learned that influencers are sometimes those considered “the least of these.” Unrecognized by the world at large as valued and loved, they’ve left their mark on me for good.
Grace Fox is an international speaker and the author of nine books including Peaceful Moments to Begin Your Day: Devotions for Busy Women. She is a member of the writing team for “First 5,” a Bible study app produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries. www.gracefox.com; www.fb.com/gracefox.author