It might be one of the most underestimated fruits of the Spirit. It just seems so… ordinary. But whether through small things—like holding the door for a mom struggling with a stroller—or the big things—like faithfully volunteering at your local food bank—kindness has deep and abiding power. You can change someone’s day, or even change a life.
Two years ago, Markham Baptist Church had the opportunity to extend kindness by sponsoring a refugee family. It began with a congregational meeting where Pastor Craig Rumble shared the opportunity to sponsor refugees with CBOQ’s partnership as the Agreement Holder. The church responded with an overwhelming and unconditional yes, and formed a committee headed by Alexandra Vega, a member who is also on staff at the church. As they worked through the paperwork, the church began fundraising. Donations poured in as people opened up their hearts to the idea of caring for a family fleeing from violence in Syria. After only one garage sale and many individual donations, they were set to receive their family.
While they had initially opted to sponsor a family of four, God had bigger plans, connecting them instead with a family of six—mom, dad, three sons and a daughter. To add to the challenges, the family’s eldest son was deaf, and no one in the family spoke any English. Undaunted, the church opened its arms a little wider.
One family in the church, John and Stephanie, opened their doors to the family, preparing two rooms for them with the church’s help. Arabic-speaking friends helped out with translation, and others helped transport the family to various medical appointments. After four months with John and Stephanie, the family moved to their own home. To make them feel welcome, the church threw them a housewarming party, providing them with furniture, dishes and the necessities of home to get them established. Still others helped with the day-to-day things like helping them get groceries, finding a family doctor, sorting out their education opportunities and more.
Not only the church, but the community also lent a hand. They connected with a dentist (and missionary) who provided free dental care, and an orthodontist who provided free care for their young daughter. The bank where the church has its account provided Christmas baskets to the family two years in a row. Through a friend of Alexandra’s, the father was also able to get some part-time work, despite his language barrier.
There have been challenges, too. There have been moments of cross-cultural confusion. Their son wasn’t able to have his hearing restored. Finding meaningful work can still be difficult. Life still has its challenges. But the family is safe, the children are able to access opportunities, experiences and education they never would have had access to at home. They’re in school, swimming lessons and the children have even had a chance to go to a camp for the siblings of deaf children, where they can see the world better through the eyes of their brother. And all of it is because of the kindness of the people at Markham Baptist Church, who responded when God called them to act.
Alexandra sums it up best:
“[We’re] a small congregation, but the people who come here are people with big hearts. I hope I don’t sound proud, but I am proud of my congregation. People don’t hesitate to help when help is needed. People just jump to help.”
Kindness comes from love in action. It doesn’t always make a splash, but the ripples it creates continue for eternity.