Random Acts of Kindness of the Sunshine Coast was highlighted in the Whitsundays Times where I saw it and was fascinated that a healthy church would shut down its morning service on a particular Sunday and divide the congregation into 18 teams to help home owners in need.
Chancellor Park Community Church Pastor Graham Kell split 150 people into those 18 teams to visit a range of places to assist the elderly and disabled with washing, vacuuming, cleaning and even sitting with them for a cup of tea to stave off feelings of isolation.
Random Acts of Kindness working bees have been a regular at the church for some time, but this was the first time Mr Kell took the bold step of substituting it for a service.
Pastor Kell said its nice to be counter-cultural and be doing something that makes people feel the kindness rather than notice the unkindness in the world around them. Many were overwhelmed and rang Pastor Kell, what they did spoke louder than words.
The initiative joins a growing line-up of practical ways the congregation has been encouraged to support their community. Special cards have been made up with the words Random Act of Groceryness and Random Act of Fuelness that people can give to counters at supermarkets and petrol stations after paying for the goods for someone who looks like they could need a hand.
The cards were introduced six months ago and Mr Kell said a number of great stories had been shared by members that had inspired many others to take up the initiative.
Pastor Kell spoke of one such example: "I did a Random Act of Fuelness last Tuesday night and it was such a high. There was a real adrenaline rush as I was trying to pay for it before he came in and then I got to sit in my car afterwards and watch the attendant explain to the elderly gentleman that someone had already paid for him."
"He was holding his face in his hands and shaking his head. It was only $20, which is nothing really, but the payment I received was far greater because I know I made that difference," Pastor Kell explained.
This is the type of thing the early Christians were engaged in which we read about in the Book of Acts and then follow it through as many of Paul's letters to the early churches speak similarly.
There were widows and orphans that required congregational charity. So much so that the disciples re-evaluated their own job descriptions as evangelists and appointed men of reputation to oversee the collect and distribution of such aid.
We read where the Christians in Jerusalem were doing it tough, really though, and the mission team led by Paul travelled around the early churches collecting funds for the "winter relief" as it were.
This kind of charity is front and centre in the New Testament and involves issues of social justice which are ever at the forefront of Christian activism. Missionaries today carry a bible, agricultural know-how, books and pencils, ipads and iphones, educational tools, social justice claims and food to eat.
Social Justice today
If there was ever a time for social justice, let alone previous centuries, it is today. There are mass migration movements with refugees where the laws of the land have not caught up with people care.
Compass on Sunday night 22 October last year ran such a story of Jarrod Mckenna and his wife Teresa Lee "Love Makes A Way" - whereby as Christian activists they provide a three way home with two refugee groups find lodgings. A larger group of clergy make a non-violent protest to see refugee children in detention be released.
Jarrod McKenna has been a long time activist in this manner and I was blessed to have interviewed him on the Australian Missionary News IPTV a few years ago which can be viewed on YouTube. It's had well over 2,000 views.
Two of our New Zealand young writers, newly married have a similar passion.Sam Rillstone from Auckland works as a carpenter while having started up his own social enterprise to assist refugees into employment. His wife Bex (nee Silver) has a Masters in International Development (and served with an NGO on the Thai–Burma border). Bex is part of her husband's social enterprise working with former refugees to find meaningful employment. Bex is passionate about people and advocating for social justice through her writing. They have established in Auckland 'Refugee at Work'.
These are two examples of the face of social justice across Australia and New Zealand today.
Then there is you and me living in our our respective communities and like Pastor Kell and the Chancellor Park Community Church are finding simple ways to help those in need.
My wife Delma of 39 years spends every Tuesday visiting oldies as a qualified pastoral carer in a nursing home. She spends countless hours making hand crafted cards for those in her orbit of ministry needs a pick up. She holds High Teas and many different kinds of "acts of kindness" to those who might need as little cheer.
Christian ministry is certainly evangelism. Christian ministry is also social justice, and simple acts of kindness in our own communities.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html