A story of two men who embodied the true meaning of that word.
(left to right- Joe Travis, Tony Eastwood)
When you hear the word "influencer" , it usually is in reference to someone who uses social media or YouTube to express their opinions about products. The "influencer" does it more for their own benefit and recognition.
The two men above, Joe Travis and Tony Eastwood, embodied what it meant to be a true influencer by God's definition. They guided and inspired others to be the best they could be, and did it not looking for self gratification or glory. They did it because it was their calling by God.
Sadly, both men were called home last week. Joe passed away from COVID-19 on Monday, August 10th, while Mr. Eastwood passed two days later on August 12th.
Joe and Tony influenced so many people throughout their lives. Joe was a teacher in Atlanta schools, and one of the founding members of Peachtree City SDA Church. I met Joe long after he retired from teaching when I began leading worship at their church (thanks to his sweet wife, Aline!) Joe loved on everyone he encountered. He made people laugh, always had a kind word, and was bold in his faith through his words and actions. He loved his family,his friends, and his church. Joe shaped many people's lives.
Like Joe, Tony was also a teacher. He taught music in my hometown on Long Island. I only had Mr. Eastwood for my 10th grade chorus class, but his influence on me has lasted a lifetime. Not just me, but so many of his students over the years. When his daughter Tracy shared the sad news of his passing, tributes to Mr. Eastwood flooded my news feed. The stories of how he inspired everyone not just musically, but made them better for life. Tracy wrote this about her dad for his obituary- he "truly was an “influencer” of his time recognized by many as a father figure, mentor, and life example."
That word- influencer- described the life of both of these men. Both were faithful men of God. Joe and Tony followed the words of Paul in his first letter to Peter-
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. (1 Peter 5:2-4)
All of us are encouraged to be real influencers for God. Not to do it for fame and notoriety like today's "influencers" on social media. We are to do it because of our love for God and are willingness to serve Him by enriching and shaping the lives of others. Be a real influencer like Joe Travis and Tony Eastwood.
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