Influencers.

Rubric: Testimony

“There is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.” (Adams)
Holy trembling, excitement, reverend fear, waves of joy overcome me when I think about those people that had an influence on my life. It’s similar to Carol Hendricks story of Michelangelo. He won a contest for carving the figure of David out of a block of marble that had been worked on for more than 50 years in the past. This was possibly done by Donatello or a member of his workshop. At that time, the marble was said to have had a flaw in it and the project was abandoned. However, Michelangelo was very excited to have the opportunity to carve from it.
Influencers are people that saw something in my life as Michelangelo saw David in the abandoned marble stone. David was always there, Michelangelo just removed things that hid the sculpture of the great hero inside.
One day, an older gentleman with a big smile on his face came to our house. He always had an interesting story to tell and everybody tried to be around him. He was truly a man of vision, a man who doesn’t know how to quit. He didn’t have the word “quit” in his vocabulary. He always knew where he was going and what he was planning to do in life. Even his name, was the same as Michelangelo, the first famous sculptor, and he had the same heart as the David from the Bible. He was one of the first Americans that came to the Soviet Union. His heart was as big as the highest mountain and as deep as the deepest ocean. Like a magnet that draws metal to itself, David drew people to himself. He grew up as an orphan but his foster parents loved him as their own child. During his early adulthood, he decided to be a channel of life and pour out love to people in many nations.
He spent more than 40 years in the countries of Africa as a missionary with his wife and four children. When he first came to the continent of Africa, he bought a one-way ticket. There was no plan “B”.
He was once shot during a civil war in one of the countries in Africa but he continued coming back there. He had battles with skin cancer three times but he continued coming back to Africa. Many times he didn’t have money to provide for his own family, but he continued to build orphanages, churches, schools, and houses.
I was in my early twenties, and David was in his early sixty’s when we started to work together in Ukraine. He shared his heart, wisdom, and experience. He really believed in me; he saw something in me that even I was not able to see.
It was the day of the grand opening of our new building; city officials, friends, visitors and everyone was so excited. But the Hero said in his speech “it is only the beginning; never satisfied, we must see our next bigger building.” From that day we called him “Mister it’s only the Beginning.”
This man came from a different nation, spoke a different language, had a different culture, was a different age, but still had the ability to believe in a person to change everything. This great man really influenced my life. In 2004, he lost his battle with cancer. I was standing at his funeral in the same row as his kids, like an adopted son. I thought about how many people David was able to lift up, encourage, and help reach their goal.

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