“After that encounter, God corrected my heart and showed me that being kind is never based on how I feel — it’s a fruit of the Spirit and an act of obedience.”
Celeste, Melbourne Australia
I momentarily considered doing the ‘knock and run’ thing and hiding in the bushes to see their reaction, but instead I felt led to stay and talk and remind them God loves them. It was August of this year, when I dropped off small gifts to my neighbours after being inspired by the Love Thy Neighbour initiative promoted at church. The campaign was all about showing kindness to people on our street who might be doing it tough. It was the last thing I felt like doing. Earlier in the day, I learned I didn’t get a job I had applied for and I was heartbroken, but God said: I want you to do this tonight! On my way home from work, I stopped at the shops and bought eight bags of Lindt chocolates. It was dusk and I stood on my neighbour’s doorstep, shivering in the cold, before saying a silent prayer and knocking on the door. A woman in her thirties answered. She looked confused, so I began. “Hi, my name is Celeste and I live a few houses away from you and I’m giving you these chocolates as a way of letting you know I am thinking of you and praying for you.” She went quiet and then her eyes welled with tears. “You probably won’t remember what I say,” I added… “but you might remember how this made you feel — and I hope this makes you feel important and that people are looking out for you and God is watching over you.” She studied me for a moment and then said over and over, “Oh my gosh. I have never met anyone with such a big heart. I will never forget this.”
As I walked back down her driveway, it was me who got emotional. After that encounter, God corrected my heart and showed me that being kind is never based on how I feel — it’s a fruit of the Spirit and an act of obedience. At the next house, another woman opened the door. She too looked a little wary, but when saw me standing there with chocolates, her eyes widened. Then it twigged. She worked in the local supermarket and we’d seen each other before. I explained this gesture of kindness was my way of checking in on her particularly in light of the extended lockdown. I told her we are all in this together and she was not alone.
The reaction from all the neighbours was not what expected. I mentally pictured people telling me to leave them alone — but everyone I gave the chocolates to were so grateful. As I walked up the driveway to the next house, I saw a middle-aged man tinkering in his garage. Once again, I explained I was a neighbour checking in on everyone. “This is so timely,” he said, shaking his head as though he couldn’t believe my visit. “Just today, I found out my dad has Covid and because he lives overseas, I can’t get to him.” Then he told me it wasn’t about the chocolates; it was about me asking after him. In a few short moments with my neighbour who was clearly in pain after receiving bad news, I was able to apply some of my counselling skills. God sent me at the right time. “You are going to get through this,” I assured him. By now, I had completely forgotten about my unsuccessful job interview, and I was on fire with Holy Spirit led purpose. The next house was owned by a Turkish family – one of many families who live in our housing estate. They too looked a little surprised when they saw me. I told them who I was and why I was visiting and asked them if they needed anything and if they did, our church could help. They were like, “Thank you so much. This makes a huge difference to us — we were not expecting this.” It made me think about our world and how most people are not expecting kindness — but that’s exactly what’s needed right now. All my neighbours told me how perfect the timing was. A few days later, there was a knock on the door. It was my friend from the supermarket standing on my doorstep holding a cream pot and a beautiful orchid. I said, “What is this?” She said, “Ever since you did what you did, I have not forgotten. Now I want to thank you! Around the same time, I also landed my dream job and then God clearly said to me: “When you take care of my people, I will always take care of you.”
Love Thy Neighbour is all about our church family reaching out and caring for people particularly in this season of challenge. It’s aimed at breaking down walls, starting friendships, assisting the vulnerable and improving relationships in the community.
*All gifts were delivered were given in accordance with Covid safe guidelines.