Ten People Shaping the World in 2011

Take a minute to become familiar with the following ten “world-changers” – some are household names and some you may have never heard of– but all who are undeniably shaping our world in 2011.

Steve Jobs – Co-Founder & CEO of Apple, Inc.
Apple, with Jobs at the helm, has completely re-defined the world’s concept of computers, phones, music and staying “connected”. In 2010, Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world’s largest tech company, with annual revenues in excess of $40 billion. Whether you are an Apple fan or not, you cannot deny the global influence Jobs holds; keeping the world on the “edge of its seat” waiting for the next innovative Apple product or service to be released. www.apple.com

Franklin Graham – President & CEO of Samaritan’s Purse
Graham, the son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, is a self-proclaimed former bad-boy. However, Graham had a life-changing personal encounter with Jesus at age 22 and founded international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse shortly thereafter. The organization’s mission statement is to “…meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.” Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has been among the first responders to disasters, conflicts, etc. both at home and abroad, and is widely respected for crossing cultural and denominational boundaries to minister to those in crisis on the most practical level. www.samaritanspurse.org

Amy Chua – Author –  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Chua, the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School, rocked the world, especially her native China, when she released her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, earlier this year. The book is a ferociously transparent account of how Chua raised her daughters under a (stereotypically-Chinese) strict and rigid parenting style – one of extreme perfectionism and rampant anti-Western sentiment. Chua’s book has forced parents in China, the United States and around the globe to re-examine their parenting style and re-evaluate what is truly effective and most beneficial for their children’s long-term success and well-being. www. amychua.com

Mark Driscoll – Preaching & Vision Pastor – Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Washington
Ask someone familiar with Driscoll their opinion of him and the response you get could run the gamut. Driscoll has been denounced by critics as the “cussing pastor” for his often raw and gritty approach to dealing with life’s issues from the pulpit. Love him or hate him, since 1996, Driscoll’s home church has grown from a living-room Bible study to a multi-site mega-church that ministers to 8,000 Seattle-area attendees each week. Countless thousands more are reached worldwide through Driscoll’s use of Facebook, iTunes podcasting, etc. Driscoll is also the founder of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network that has planted over 300 new churches nationwide, and is currently planting more than one new church per week. www.marshillchurch.org

Mark Zuckerberg-Founder & CEO of Facebook, Inc.
In 2004, when Mark Zuckerburg created “The Facebook” in his Harvard dorm room, he couldn’t have imagined the global impact the simple website would one day have. Today, Facebook has more than 500-million active users worldwide, with users spending over 700-billion minutes on the site each month. In 2008, at age 23, proceeds from Facebook made Zuckerberg the world’s youngest billionaire. Yet, today, he still lives in a modest-sized rented home and he drives an economical hatchback car. It is hard to venture anywhere on the planet today without finding Facebook’s influence present in some form or fashion. www.facebook.com

Joseph D’Souza – Founder & International President – Dalit Freedom Network
D’Souza founded the Dalit Freedom Network in 2002 to champion the cause of freedom for the Dalit people in India. The Dalit are considered “untouchables” under the caste system in India, and are subject to human rights abuses on par with the most violent and degrading ever reported in the history of mankind. The 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire gave the world a glimpse into the conditions and injustices faced every day by the Dalit, who number in the hundreds of millions in India. DFN, under D’Souza’s leadership, works to affect change through education, economic development, healthcare and social justice for the Dalit People. www.dalitnetwork.org

Benjamin Netanyahu – Prime Minister of Israel
The nation of Israel is certainly no stranger to conflict, unrest and hatred. As calls mount around the globe for Israel to pull back to pre-1967 borders, Netanyahu remains a stoic and stabilizing force in the midst of the fray, refusing to back down or compromise at the expense of his people. Speaking of the strong U.S.-Israel alliance during his address to Congress on May 24, Netanyahu stated, “We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism.” www.pmo.gov.il

Blake Mycoskie – Founder & “Chief Shoe Giver” at TOMS
In 2006, while working in Argentina, Mycoskie witnessed the hardships of children growing up without shoes. So, he decided to do something about it. He came back to the States and founded TOMS, an international shoe retailer that, for each pair of shoes sold, donates a corresponding pair to a needy child that otherwise may have none. As of April 2010, TOMS has donated over 600,000 pairs of shoes worldwide. Mycoskie borrows his mantra from Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” www.toms.co

Ravi Zacharias-Founder & President-Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
Many today accuse Christians of “checking their brains at the door” when they come to the faith. Zacharias, however, encourages the polar opposite. Having given countless addresses in defense of the Christian faith in venues such as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, the United Nations and even the Mormon Tabernacle, Zacharias champions the cause of Christ to thinking people worldwide. No atheist is safe in the company of Zacharias, as he specifically strives to debunk the lies propagated by those who espouse the inexistence of God. Zacharias’ radio/podcast Life Let My People Think is aired on more than 1,700 outlets around the globe. www.rzim.org

Gabrielle Giffords – United States Congresswoman
Giffords was a relatively-unknown public servant before January 8, 2011, when she was tragically gunned down at a political rally in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords was one of nineteen people shot by gunman Jared Lee Lougher that day, with six actually dying from their wounds. Giffords’ life was saved in an emergency surgery, and she has made progressive steps towards recovery ever since. Giffords’ tenacious and enduring spirit through her fight has captivated the world and she now stands as the embodiment of the American “never-give-up” spirit.  www.giffords.house.gov

While these amazing people are all changing the world on a grand scale, we each need to remember that we have the opportunity to change the world around us for Christ every day. May we be found faithful in doing just that! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT).

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