Not long ago, my brother told me about an experience he had as a young boy which I had never heard about. He told me that he had never talked about it much, but thinking about it has always made him feel good. Now that he has shared this memory with me, thinking about it makes me feel good too.
The year was 1959 when my 13-year-old brother Jerry decided to apply for a job as a paper boy. When he went to the local newspaper office, the man in charge told him that the only route available was not a good one. It was located in a very poor neighborhood, and the people there could not be relied on to pay their bills, making it a difficult route to handle. He suggested waiting until a better route was available. Being young and impatient, Jerry was eager to get started, so he asked if he could just give that route a try. The man reluctantly agreed, and a few days later Jerry, accompanied by his faithful dog Bullet, climbed on his bicycle and headed off to start his new job.
During the warmer months in 1959, most people sat out on their porches in the early evening. Typically, a paper boy would ride his bike through the neighborhood tossing newspapers onto the residents’ front porches. My brother soon realized that that method did not allow for much personal contact. He wanted to build good relationships with his customers, so he decided to try a different approach. When time permitted, he would get off his bicycle, walk up onto their porches, hand them their newspapers and stay there for a few minutes chatting with them. After they got to know him better, he would occasionally sit down with them. Jerry said that he always tried to treat them with the utmost respect when he talked to them, making sure that he always said “yes sir” and “no sir” and “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” as he was taught by our parents, and they seemed to like that.
Right away, these people began warming up to their new paper boy. Jerry said that he could often tell that they were waiting for him when he arrived. Sometimes, when they spotted him in the neighborhood, they would call out to him, “Hey there boy! Come on over here and talk to me!” It seemed that he had become a bright spot in their day. “And you know what?” Jerry said to me. “They started paying; their bills. I didn’t even have to say anything. They just had their payments ready when I got there.”
One day Jerry happened to run into the man who had hired him. “Son!” he exclaimed. “What in the world is going on on that paper route? I’ve never seen anything like it! You have taken the worst route we had and turned it into one of the best! What are you doing?” “I guess I’m just friendly,” Jerry responded. “Well Son, keep it up! You are a miracle worker!”
I believe that God leads us into certain situations where there are built-in opportunities to recognize and respond to the needs of others and that He gives us a choice as to whether we seize that opportunity or just let it slip through our fingers. My brother firmly grasped his opportunity and made the most of it. He didn’t do anything major. He simply took an interest in the people there and reached out to them with kindness, compassion, respect and friendship—and they reached back. No doubt life was a struggle for these people, and having this kind, friendly young boy in their midst lifted their spirits and made their daily lives more pleasant. My brother was there to deliver their newspapers, but he delivered more than that.
Yes, my brother Jerry made a difference in the lives of these people, but they made a difference in his life too. This young boy saw first-hand how kindness and caring can be a blessing, not only to those who receive it but to those who give it as well. It made him feel good to hear their cheerful greetings as he made his way through the neighborhood, to see their obvious enjoyment of the friendly chats they had, and to notice their affection for his dog Bullet. And now he has those wonderful “feel-good” memories to enjoy forever.
Love, kindness and compassion are recurring themes throughout the Bible. There are numerous Bible verses that speak to God’s teachings on loving and helping others. I once read that, when you plant seeds of kindness, little seedlings can sprout up all over, even in the most unlikely places. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could plant enough of those seeds to crowd out all of the harmful weeds—those things that interfere with love and kindness. It’s a tall order, but we can try. And by doing so, we honor God.
Be ye kind one to another…. Ephesians 4:32
Submitted by Faye Hayes