September 9, 2019
When was the last time you experienced the kindness of another person? When was the last time you stretched yourself to extend grace to another person? What if each one of us repeated this scripture from Ephesians 4:42 every day, “Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ,” and then applied it to ourselves?
Admittedly, we live in polarizing times, when continual battles between “us” and “them,” whether in national, international, or religious circles, do not foster grace-filled relationships and hope for the future. Whether it is political candidates bashing each other or mean-spirited accusations from all sides around immigration, climate change, tariffs, gun safety, or health care, we too often wear the blinders of our own preferences, refusing to engage in genuine dialogue and enlarge our borders to care for the least, the last, and the lost.
At the same time, I have witnessed incredible acts of generosity over the past few months, which has given me great hope. Have you heard about Chef José Andrés? Andrés founded a small non-profit organization called World Central Kitchen (WCK) in 2010 in response to the immense damage that afflicted Haiti after the earthquake. He was also on the scene after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017. Believing that food can be an agent of change, World Central Kitchen says, “We have expanded globally and have developed into a group of chefs creating smart solutions to hunger and poverty.”
Over the past week, Chef Andrés and his volunteers were in Nassau, Bahamas, before the storm hit and began planning relief efforts. Known as the “chef who delivers hope” by delivering meals after disasters, Andrés can use almost any space that has electricity and water to prepare and serve meals, including churches, restaurants, and food trucks. Andrés was prepared with 7,500 meals as a start.
This past weekend, an estimated 76,000 people in the Bahamas were in need of humanitarian relief, including shelter and food. World Chef Kitchen prepared 20,000 more meals that were delivered by ship to people on various islands whose homes were destroyed and who were not even sure if other family members were alive. The mission of WCK is to “use the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies.” Thank you for your kindness, Chef José Andrés!
In the midst of so much negative news, there are countless examples of people, even strangers, who care for one another and inspire us to practice kindness. On August 3, a deranged gunman drove nine hours from Dallas to El Paso and started shooting indiscriminately, killing 22 people and injuring 24 others.
One of the persons killed was Margie Reckard, a 63-year-old woman. Her companion of 22 years, Antonio Basco, was afraid no one would come to his beloved’s funeral. Not only did Perches Funeral Home offer free funeral services for the victims, but in Margie’s case, the funeral director posted an open invitation on Facebook for people to attend.
The service was moved to a larger venue, and thousands of people responded, including Jordan Ballard, who bought a plane ticket to Texas from Los Angeles to attend the funeral of a person she had never met. Vocalists and a mariachi band volunteered to be part of the service, and when Basco arrived, people shouted blessings to him in both English and Spanish. Hundreds stood in a long line to say goodbye to a person they had never met. Thank you for your kindness in ensuring that Margie Reckard was honored and that Antonio Basco was cared for in his time of devastating grief.
Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are everywhere, in towns and churches and even in our own backyard, if only we will risk becoming a vessel of God’s grace rather than judgment. In the August 19 USA Today, there was a story about an Ohio 7th grader named Diesel Pippert. This year Diesel decided to donate all of his livestock proceeds from the large annual sale at the Huron County (Ohio) Fair to St. Jude Research Hospital. Diesel, who raised $15,000 from the sale of his pig, gave it all away.
Cynthia Gardner of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities, which is the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Judes, said “A young man lives amongst us who should be an example to all of us. Diesel, you are a hero!” She went on, “Diesel’s kindness demonstrates that age does not limit kids from fundraising and making a difference in the lives of other children battling cancer at St. Jude.”
Diesel’s mother said her son had heard that a teen in a nearby county donated $11,000 to St. Jude from a hog auction and wanted to raise more! Diesel told fairgoers about his plan, the bidding started at $500, and soon the $15,000 was reached. She also said that her heart was filled with joy because of her son’s generosity. Thank you for your kindness, Diesel Pippert!
The stories of grace, compassion, and paying it forward go on and on. At the U.S. women’s Tennis Open a few weeks ago, World #1 Naomi Osaka defeated up-and-coming 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the third round. At a time when outbursts and obscenities are becoming more common on the tennis court, Osaka consoled and encouraged Gauff, and both women provided an example of good sportsmanship. Thank you for your kindness, Naomi and Coco!
From August 21-23, McDonald’s engaged in acts of kindness by handing out 500 McCafé It Forward cards throughout the U.S. The cards entitled customers to one free small cup of McCafé Premium Roast Coffee or Iced Coffee. Then they were encouraged to pass the card along to someone else to enjoy a free cup of coffee.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of its McCafé brand, cards were distributed in order to encourage acts of kindness in local communities, McDonald’s officials say that they often see people in their restaurants start a ripple effect by paying it forward, buying a cup of coffee or a meal for someone else. Thank you for your kindness, McDonald’s!
Perhaps the most poignant story of kindness was shared two weeks ago by Steve Harman in his weekly CBS segment called On the Road. Quinn Waters is a three-year-old boy from Weymouth, MA who has been confined to home for months after a stem cell transplant for brain cancer compromised his immunity.
Because Quinn cannot go outside, the world is coming to Quinn in the form of friends, neighbors, and strangers who stop by Quinn’s window to make him smile and laugh. Whether it is stupid tricks, a dog parade, or a team of Irish step dancers, the positive energy and kindness of many people are helping Quinn’s recovery. “You can never repay it,” Quinn’s father said, “but you can pay it forward.” Thank you for the kindness of all those who are saving Quinn’s life!
“With your help, we have shown that there is no place too far or disaster too great for our chefs to be there with a hot plate of food when it’s needed most. I hope you’ll dream with us as we envision a world where there is always a warm meal, an encouraging word, and a helping hand in hard times. Thank you for taking this journey with us. Join me in fulfilling the inspiring words of John Steinbeck: “Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people may eat, we will be there.”
(The mission statement of Chef Andrés and World Central Kitchen)
“Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other,
in the same way God forgave you in Christ.”
How will you show kindness this week?