McDowell Technical Community College

Morganton Seven-Day Adventist Church

One Act of Kindness

By Rick and Cindy Mercer

Burke County


I don’t know about you…but it seems to me that bad news and “unrest” is all around us these days.  It only takes turning on the TV to your favorite news channel or checking today’s “headline notifications” on your electronic devices to find out that distress and calamity saturate the world we live in today.

Honestly my spirits are lifted when I see a Facebook post or someone calls you up to tell you of a “random act of kindness.”  For a brief moment, there is hope that people still care about the human race.

I recently came across a story that truly brightened my day.  The following story about Rodney and the homeless shelter could be a story about you, me and many others as we seek to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Rodney Roberson could tell it was going to be a bad night.  Working at a homeless shelter to pay his way through seminary, he’d grown accustomed to challenging situations, but this night looked particularly difficult.  Rain splattered the cold ground outside.  Soon all the shelter’s cots and sleeping mats were taken, but street people kept coming.  Arguments broke out.  People cursed angrily.  Some began to fight over sleeping mats.

In the midst of this tension, a large man named José stumbled in and threw down his sleeping mat.  Managing to yank off his boots, he collapsed in a drunken stupor.  The stench from José’s feet quickly filled the air.  People nearby insisted that Rodney do something about it.

The obvious solution was to persuade José to take a shower, but Rodney could not rouse him.  José was breathing, but he seemed dead to the world.  Rodney and two coworkers discussed hauling José to the shower, but he weighed more than 200 pounds.

Some of the street people demanded that Rodney drag José back out to the sidewalk.  But others howled in protest.  It seemed that for anyone to win, someone had to lose.

But then Rodney got an idea—why not bring the shower to José?  He found a wash basin and some lemon-scented dishwashing liquid.  Kneeling by the drunken man, he began to peel off his filthy socks.  The stench almost overwhelmed him.

But for several minutes Rodney scrubbed José’s feet with a soapy washcloth.  He carefully dried them with a towel.  Suddenly he noticed he was surrounded by people.  Rodney stood up warily and looked around.

Everyone was grinning at him—even those who’d complained the loudest.  In fact, people he’d never seen smile before were grinning.  Men and women of all races were engaged in what was taking place.

A quiet hush had fallen over the shelter.  There would be no more shouting or threats that night.  People with sleeping mats gave to someone without one.  The conflict was over.  It had been washed away by someone who didn’t need to take sides, someone who didn’t need to score points, someone willing to be, like Jesus, chief among them by becoming a servant.

One act of kindness can change an entire office.  One act of unselfish love can change a family.  One act of caring can change a classroom.  Kindness breaks down barriers.  Kindness leaps over walls.  Kindness builds bridges.  Dr. Luke spoke of our heavenly Father as the one who is “kind to the unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35).  God Himself models kindness for us in all of His actions.  He invites us to be kind to those around us today.

This story of Rodney, José, and the men and women in the homeless shelter jolt my mind when I think how many times I too could have calmed a storm around me.  The simple, random acts of kindness that we could do, almost seem too great a sacrifice for us many times, but those sacrifices pale in comparison to the sacrifice that Jesus gave, so that we might have eternal life.

Trust Jesus to give you the courage to be a “Rodney” to someone today.