By Joani Schultz
Sometimes it takes a jolt out of our day-to-day patterns to be inspired.
Well, I just got jolted. And inspired.
We recently returned from Kenya on one of Group’s Lifetree Adventures® mission trips.
Wow! From leading portions of a youth and children’s ministry conference, experiencing vibrant worship services, serving in an orphanage doing VBS and construction work to capping off our time on a safari celebrating God’s wild kingdom… It. Was. Incredible.
Upon reflection, I realized I experienced a 10-day dose of kindness. Having been the grateful recipient, I know first-hand the power in this fruit of the spirit.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit…kindness…” (Galatians 5:22).
Kindness fills the receiver. And what happens to the giver? Kindness fills them, too. I challenge you to put kindness into action in the same ways we experienced. See if our Kenyan adventure inspires kindness in you, too.
“Love is patient and kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
KINDNESS IN ACTION
Applause = Appreciation
Our Kenyan ministry friends would thank others by having us clap. Instead of saying, “Let’s clap for…,” which is what we’d say, they’d say, “Let’s appreciate (name).” That simple word exchange offered a special twist of kindness.
Listening = Caring
I marveled at our training team. Each person eagerly asked, wondered, sought out what ministry was like for our Kenyan friends. We didn’t swoop in as “the experts.” We wanted to learn and listen to discover how we could serve them best. Taking time to listen, honors others. That’s kind.
Flexibility = Willingness
Our training team offered their openness to serve/do/adjust/flex wherever. As you know, international travel provides boatloads of opportunities to flex.
For example, our team members—who especially love children and leading VBS—would sacrifice fun time with kids to haul sand, place concrete blocks into a plaza floor, or paint—if that’s what was needed.
Kindness might mean sacrificing your own desires to meet other needs.
Giving = Grace
How often do we give gifts to our guests? Kindness lavishes others with gifts. Our hosts lavished us (not only with food and drinks) with beautiful red plaid blankets of Maasai acclaim and Kenyan flag keychains.
Perhaps the most gasp-worthy gifts were personalized “magic cups” that revealed each team member’s photo secretly taken our first day during our introductions! The care and personalization of each mug stunned us! Reverend Captain Daniel, our host, glowed with glee as he revealed his thoughtful, personalized gift. We, in turn, gave Jesus-Centered Bibles. We each marked our favorite Bible verses and wrote prayers inside to bless the receiver. Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart…” came alive since we “hid” our special verses and messages for them to find when they read God’s Word.
Kindness surprises the receiver and delights the giver.
Helping Hands = Ahh (Awe)
I experienced personal delight through young people. My physical challenges due to MS mean I don’t have balance. Luke, a watchful 17-year-old on our Lifetree Adventures team, kept a keen eye for me, always saying, “Do you need a hand?” as he’d offer a strong arm. Or Peter, a 9-year-old orphan from the children’s home, took me under his wing. He stood by my side. He’d bring me a chair, offer my cane, and rescue me if he thought I’d tipped over.
Both these young men’s kindness overwhelmed me. Kindness is not restricted to an age. Young and old alike can bring kindness that awes.
Tea breaks = together time
Our Kenyan friends taught us the importance of taking time for “being”—valuing relationships. They insisted on whisking us away for African tea (a delicious blend of milk and tea) and “bites” (snacks). We had to resist our to-do lists to sit together and “relate.” Kindness means we value relationships over tasks.
May you give and receive a little kindness this week.