Christ gave love, healing, and service wherever He went. He asks that we follow His examples, assuring us that what we do for "one of the least of these," we have done for Him. We need only look around in what has been called the "sacredness of everyday" for many of them: some briefly cross our paths; others are our friends and neighbors. Some are further from us physically, but not further from our awareness and our hearts.
As 7-day Christians, we must be aware of those around us, as the Savior was—and is. I found opportunities in an airport.
I had only a small carry-on bag, as I had a return ticket for the evening of the day I had flown out. As we prepared to board that flight, we learned that mechanical problems required delay—and eventually cancellation. It had been the last flight for our destination that night, so we would all be rescheduled for the following morning.
The passengers were upset, and many were angry as we crowded into a long line at the airline desk, where only one worker remained during the late hour. People were screaming and swearing at her and at each other. Being on my way home, I was calmer.
When I got to the desk, the frazzled airline worker rebooked my fight for the next morning and handed me my new boarding pass and a voucher for a nearby hotel. "Thank you," I said sincerely. She stared at me in stunned silence. I just smiled and repeated, "Thank you." Her eyes were moist as she said, "No, sir. Thank you."
Approaching the waiting area for the hotel shuttle, I noticed a young mother from the canceled flight. She was struggling with multiple suitcases and a crying baby. "Let me get those for you." I picked up the bags and asked where she needed to go. We were going to the same hotel, so I carried her luggage to the shuttle stop, on to the van, and through the check-in at the hotel.
As we headed for the elevator, she asked me, "Are you an angel? I won't tell anyone. I promise." I don't know what she had found on the internet, but she seemed to really believe I was an angel. "No," I replied, "I'm just a disciple."
Are simple expressions of gratitude so rare that they bring people to tears? Is helping someone who obviously needs it so unusual that the recipient suspects a visit from an angel? These choices may not have impacted the world, but they allowed Christ to impact a few people through me.
Richard John Neuhaus wrote, "Being the kind of people we should and can be is the best, and sometimes the only way to improve the world." We simply need to look around us.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an airline pilot turned Christian denomination leader, told of an elderly man who was waiting in a long line to buy stamps in a post office. When someone offered to show him how to use the vending machine to buy his stamps, he declined. "The machine," he explained, "does not ask me about my arthritis." How many people need desperately to have someone simply express interest in them.
Russell M. Nelson, President of a worldwide Christian denomination, affirmed, "Reports in the media describe newsworthy events. But the truly good deeds—the small everyday actions of ordinary life—generally go unreported." Here are just a few.
•Do you open a door for someone struggling in a wheelchair or a walker, carrying an awkward or heavy load, or shuffling small children?
•Do you offer needed help with shoveling snow or raking leaves?
•Have you helped clean up damage after a severe storm?
•Do you thank everyone who serves you or helps you in any way?
D. Todd Christofferson, a Christian speaker, told a university audience, "Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are pleased with your individual kindnesses, however limited or insignificant they may seem in a vast world of need."
Discussing our Savior's compassionate love, healing, and service during His earthly ministry, Dieter F. Uchtdorf extended to his listening audience, "Do you think He is any less concerned about [us] today."
The Savior has always been deeply concerned for children. With all the disruptions to schooling, many children have missed content and skills they need. Former teachers and others with useful training and experience are tutoring those who need help. One-on-one explanations can make up for zoom instruction that was puzzling for many. One tutoring former teacher and her husband organized hikes for a group of elementary age boys who had been isolated in their homes, receiving little attention or consideration.
Among the most exhausted and discouraged individuals are full-time caregivers providing children or adults with medical procedures, daily living assistance, or disability care. Many 7-day Christians provide respite care for several hours a week, relieving caregivers to be with other family members, accomplish daily living tasks, or take a desperately needed rest.
Some 7-day Christians read to those whose eyesight is failing. Others provide transportation for individuals who are ill or disabled. None of these helpers consider themselves heroes—just Christians who care about God's children.
Those who are able may reach even further to serve the Savior's children who have tragic needs. Refugees are among the most challenged. In the U.S. 68% of refugees are from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar.
Elizabeth had volunteered to meet an Afghan family at the airport. When she arrived, she found 10 Afghan men waiting also to meet this family and let them know they were supported and loved. Being a lawyer, Elizabeth now helps refugees create resumes to apply for jobs, and she advocates for them with prospective employers.
Sarah began helping to set up apartments for refugees by searching for furniture and household necessities. Others joined her, and soon they had a 4,000 square foot warehouse filled with furniture, toys, and other household products. A group of women in Arizona visited churches and found pastors who were willing to host groups of refugees for prayer, praise, hot meals, and bottled water.
People of all religions and cultures worldwide are heartbroken over the tragedy of refugees from Ukraine. Outsiders cannot go over the Ukraine border, but refugees who have made it barely to Poland have found lines of baby strollers they can use and cars waiting to dive them to refugee centers where food, water, sleeping facilities, and toys are provided. Volunteers manage the centers; Polish family kitchens help provide food.
Two American college students have created Ukraine Take Shelter, a free website where Ukrainians needing shelter are matched with volunteers who have space to take some of them. A family of six was recently matched with a British lady who is housing them all in her country home.
Not everyone can handle heavy suitcases, snow-filled shovels, or children with disabilities who require lifting or physical restraint. Many lack the resources, time, or connections to serve groups of refugees.
But 7-day Christian service leads to many forms beyond the Sabbath. Some may collect books or buy supplies for underequipped schools. Others may contribute by using a computer or sewing machine from a kitchen table. The Savior puts no limit or qualifications on our service. Nor should we!
Adapted and updated from Wilcox, Bradley R., The 7-day Christian. Ensign Peak, 2014.
4/21/2022 11:37:19 PM