I’ll never forget, standing in the massive car park of a church in the US, just two days before Christmas 2002. I’d just been asked a simple question and was now weighing up how transparent I should be. The words were ricocheting around my mind, “I hear you’re not in the position to buy any Christmas presents for your children this year – is that true?”
As visions of our four little ones filled my head – along with a strange shame of being unable to fulfil a fundamental obligation – I felt the awkwardness of tears surging forward. In an attempt to beat them over the line, I quickly confirmed his suspicion. The tears came anyway, content with second place.
It was a simple enquiry, followed up by an act of unusual kindness. The response from our American friends was; overwhelming, humbling, never to be forgotten.
So imagine being a refugee. Selling all you have and leaving behind what can’t be sold. Using your scant savings to secure “safe” passage for you and your family to a new life. Scrambling out of that wretched boat in panic and disbelief. Struggling to the shore into the arms of a stranger; who wraps you in a towel, places a bottle of water into your child’s hand, offers you a coat, a place to rest overnight and a sleeping bag which at that point represents the closest thing to a home that you have.
Throughout history, there are moments of kindness that will never be forgotten. The anointing of Jesus at Bethany was one of them. Matthew 26:13 says, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”