The Greatest Thing

On one of our recent trips I asked Michele for something to clean my hands. She usually has one of those travel size bottles of sanitizer, but this time she handed me a small packet of hand wipes. We had purchased these while in Greece, and it brought back special memories.

Most people go to Greece for vacation but on this occasion we were there for a different reason. It was Sunday afternoon and we walked into a small park with mainly locals inside. We were specifically looking for someone to talk to and pray for. After greeting a few people we saw a strange sight. A young lady was kneeling and cleaning around and under a public water tap. We walked over (were led over) and started a conversation. She spoke some English, but it was clearly not her first language. Trying to be friendly, we introduced ourselves. We could see that she was poor and possibly homeless. Within the conversation we asked if we could pray for her. She seemed surprised but said yes and shared that we could pray for her job situation. We proceeded to pray that she would find a better job. While praying I perceived that she was watching us very closely and that it was not a typical situation for her. We said goodbye and started to leave. Just a few steps away however, I felt a tug on my heart to go back, so we turned around. She was still looking at us!

In our conversation, she had told us that she sells small items. I asked what she was selling today. She reached into her bag and brought out a small packet of hand wipes. I said “how much?” She said, “1 Euro.” I told her I would take one, but she didn’t have change for my 2 Euro coin and looked a little sad that I might back out of the deal. I said, “Ok, I’ll take two.” I know that I sometimes don’t perceive facial expressions right and that I might have paid more than the tissues were worth, but what I perceived that day on her face left a lasting impression on me. It was an innocent expression of, you would really do that! You would really buy two packets of tissue from me? It was only a small act of kindness on our part, but it was being received with extreme gratitude (at least that is what I perceived). It made a huge impact on me. I had a feeling of great joy as I walked away and a strange feeling that I had encountered someone very special!

There we were at the foot of the Parthenon, one of the greatest architectural achievements of the ancient Greeks, the building that stands at the center of Athens, a symbol of their wisdom and power. Thousands of people come to see it every year. It’s an engineering marvel, and it will impress. I even have a picture of it in my office. Yet for me, a greater marvel occurred that day, greater than the Parthenon! A homeless woman, a packet of tissues! I did not take a picture, but I will always remember her and how she responded to a small act of kindness. Love is a real marvel, the real deal, and the true power. It is truly the greatest thing.

Last Sunday Ross challenged us to do one small act of kindness each day this week. Have you done that? It can have a powerful effect on you and the one on the receiving end. Small things can make a big impact, even change the world.


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Why Camp Is Good For Youth Groups - Ashlyn Guinn

Responsibility, Ramadan and Prayer - Bob Bentley

Freedom and Community – Constant Tension - Beau Davis

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