My Brother’s Keeper, My Sister’s Keeper

 

In Genesis, in the first book of the Bible, Cain kills his brother Abel, God confronts him: Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis Chapter 4: verse 9) Cain was meant to be responsible for his brother, to look after him and make sure he was safe. Cain, however, chose not to be responsible for his brother and murdered him. Jesus in his teachings said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

009-good-samaritan

When an expert of the law asked Jesus: ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Jesus goes on to share the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The central figure of the story was a Samaritan who would not associate himself or herself with Jewish people. They could not stand each other. Here was Jesus breaking through all boundaries of race, color, creed. It was the Samaritan who helped the Jewish person who had been mugged and robbed when he was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was left half dead on that road. The man who looked after him, took him to an inn, paid for his medical expenses and for his accommodation was a Samaritan. The priest and the Levite, walked by on the other side. When Jesus asked the expert of the law which of the three men was the ‘neighbor,’ the man answered: ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ (Luke Chapter 10: verses 36-37).

There have been times when I have seen homeless people in Redding, California and like the priest and the Levite, I was too busy and walked by on the other side. There also have been times in my life for instance,when an encounter with a homeless person on the streets of Tokyo in Japan, prompted me to bring back everything the hotel offered for the guests and bought supplies, (sadly someone had opened my bag on the way back to the United States and had taken some of the things!) and gave them away – together with my own possessions, to a person who was reaching out to the homeless in Redding, because God spoke to my heart and challenged me, asking me when I was walking on a street in Tokyo: ‘who is your neighbor?’ There was also a pastor in Redding, California who called for supplies – toothpaste, soap, facecloths, etc. She distributed these supplies to the homeless. This pastor led by example – rising up and helping others in the community, in His name.

My thoughts go back to my own brother, Vernon. We grew up in Colombo, Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka. When I think of my brother I remember the seven stitches I have – just above my eyebrow! As children we were chasing each other, I stumbled and fell and hit my forehead on a flower pot in the garden. I had to be rushed to hospital as I was bleeding profusely and the surgeon stitched me up! As children and indeed as adults, my brother and I have had our differences but there has always been a profound sense of brotherly love. Here is a picture of us as children on a beach in Colombo, my brother smiles to the camera and there am I looking out for the waves behind us, advancing to the sea shore! I keep telling my brother (to this day) that I always had to look out for him!

brothers

I can never forget his love for me, his older brother, when I was dying, as a result of typhoid fever of 105 F – rolling in bed, clutching my stomach, in excruciating pain. Every night my brother chose not to sleep in his bed, instead he picked up a mat, he came and slept by my bedside and held my hand which was dangling from the bed. A brother’s keeper. My brother didn’t say much but his actions spoke louder than words. Talk is cheap but when you love your neighbor as yourself, your actions go along way to raise people up, change lives. I so felt his compassionate heart. Once when my brother was doing some electrical work in our home in Colombo, most probably he was repairing something, suddenly he had a massive electric shock and was flung several feet high – I rushed to him because I didn’t want anything happening to him. Mercifully, by the grace of God, we were both saved – from the typhoid fever and the electric shock and we are both alive to tell the tale.

Matt Maher, wrote this beautiful song ‘Hold Us Together,’ from his CD ‘Alive Again.’ His lyrics speak to the heart:

‘And love will hold us together, make us a shelter to weather the storm. And I’ll be my brother’s keeper, so the whole world will know that we’re not alone…..’

The other song that really reminds me of my brother Vernon is: ‘He Ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.’ I have carried him when he was in his nappies. He certainly wasn’t heavy, or a burden, because he was my brother. Nor for that matter was my sister Ouida who joined us a few years later.

We are called to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper, not just to our siblings but to those who are in need, people who need to be helped and supported, raised up, to love our neighbor as ourselves – at home, in our community, in our places of work.

John Maxwell wrote: ‘When you stop loving your people, stop leading your people.’ In reply, itohankadiri observed: ‘You can only influence people who connect with you, you have to have love for the people within your influence to transform them and move them from where they are, to where they connect through a shared vision. Love is a shared value which makes this transition possible.’ Maxwell was right. Leaders need to love their people. It also means you need to be your brother’s keeper, your sister’s keeper, even in a business, corporate setting.

afternoon-beverage-break-1549706

Leaders who come alongside their co-workers and make sure they are alright, will raise up confidence, loyalty, trust. A happy workforce is a productive workforce. When I was an educator back in the United Kingdom, I was so grateful to a former Headteacher who responded to me as a human being, when I was going through a really tough time in life. My welfare was important to her. The Head invited me to her office for a cup of tea, (some years ago), she just sat down and listened to my heart.  She put me on a 4 day week on full pay, reduced my teaching workload and said: ‘Go home to your family.’ I wasn’t just a ‘number’ to her. She didn’t display any ruthlessness, on the contrary, my boss had compassion for me. As an employee my well being mattered to her. When I returned back to work to a 5 day week, I felt so invigorated and gave not only of my time to the school but also threw myself into the local community, involving my workplace in projects that were of worth and value to both school and community.

Years later, the leader of the local council and the Mayor held these projects up as exemplars as to what a successful partnership should be like – between an educational institution and the local community. The Mayor celebrated the success of these projects in the Town Hall and gave out Council Awards. The school was mentioned in the British parliament. A leadership shift happened. That all came from a single act of compassion and kindness, extended by a caring leader who had empathy for her workforce and led ‘from within,’ with her head and her heart. When you raise people up, you also raise up your entire workforce, you lift up morale and even the happiness index of your company or organization. That is the hallmark of a compassionate leader.

Jesus asked ‘which one was the neighbor?’ The reply was ‘the one who had mercy on him.’

Ivan Corea

 

Film clips of Matt Maher’s ‘ Hold Us Together,’ song and ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my brother,’ song by the Hollies – courtesy of YouTube.

Picture of the Good Samaritan courtesy of free Bible images.

Photographs courtesy of Pexel and Pixaby

 

 

Random acts of kindness

7767660718

This message was written on a London Underground noticeboard in a tube station in the capital of Great Britain. Kindness is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give to each other.  I have witnessed many random acts of kindness in Redding, California. From people donating to students who needed financial support to a pastor collecting shoes, slippers, toothpaste, soap and other essential items for the homeless. They say that a random act of kindness is a nonpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world. ‘ These are truly moments of compassion.

richardbranson

Even successful entrepreneurs like Great Britain’s Richard Branson, focus on kindness and compassion, when it comes to treating their employees. It is seen as a leadership strength. I do believe a leadership shift happens when you show kindness and compassion – whether it is in your own home, in the local community or in the corporate business sector. In 1992,  I was on a plane with my family to Colombo, Sri Lanka and who should be on board but Richard Branson and his family, accompanying them were Richard Branson’s father and mother who were flying to the island on a business/holiday trip. We got talking on board, he was very accessible, he came across as a very kind person. Here are Richard Branson’s tips for some simple, random acts of kindness:

“Kindness is such an important characteristic – so we should all work on being more friendly, generous and considerate. To help you do this, this year I challenge you to complete the 15 random acts of kindness as listed below. I will be carrying them out myself, too. The more people smile, the more the world will smile. “

1. Tell a joke
2. Call a friend or a relative
3. Give a compliment to a stranger
4. Make up with anyone you’ve fallen out with (even if you feel it’s their fault)
5. Give someone a hug

6. Leave a happy note for someone to find
7. Email an old teacher who has made a difference in your life
8. Hand-write someone a letter, and mail it
9. Smile at someone on the street, just because
10. Talk to the shy person who’s sitting by themselves at a party

11. Help a parent with their baby stroller
12. Help someone struggling with heavy bags
13. Stop to talk to a homeless person
14. Give up your seat to someone on the bus or train
15. Give someone a book you think they’d like.

canonivancoreaportraitatst-lukesborella

Growing up in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), I was blessed to have a grandfather who showed the love of Christ to the poorest of the poor – the Rodi community in Sri Lanka – there were those who did not want to know them or help them as they were deemed almost inferior because of their caste – my Grandfather (who was a Christian priest), went and ministered to them and found them food, clothing and shelter – even finding the Rodi employment in Colombo and housing them on church property in Colombo.

I also remember a moment of brotherly love during my teenage years -my younger brother was sleeping on a mat, by my bedside, holding my hand at night time,  when I was nearly dying of typhoid. I was in agony, my stomach was on fire, coupled with high fever of  a 105 degrees F. Even though I wasn’t truly a Christian, I remember crying out: “Jesus, please heal me,’ because I was in so much pain. I so felt the love of my younger teenage brother  – it was an act of compassion. That song ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother,’ comes to mind. He was there by my bedside during a very tough time for me – it was very much a life and death situation – I thank God that as a result of progressive healing, I recovered after 8 months in bed – my weight was down to 90 lbs. It was an absolute miracle that I survived from typhoid and a relapse.

mercy

The Bible has many references on kindness. Micah chapter Chapter 6 verse 8 says: ‘ He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ‘ And then again in Colossians Chapter 3 verses 12-13: ‘Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.’ Compassion and kindness feature prominently in Christian teaching. Jesus himself was moved by compassion and healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk and raised the dead according to the New Testament.

I am reminded of the scene from the epic film ‘Ben Hur, ‘ directed by William Wyler and released in 1959. There is a scene in the film when Judah Ben Hur (Charlton Heston) in desperation, pleads for water, from the people of the village – however, the order had been given by the Romans that he was to have no water. This scene so reflects the compassion of Jesus and is one of the most empowering scenes in the film – Jesus comes to Ben Hur and gives him water to drink.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13, 14

Here’s a television advertisement from Thailand that focuses on a touch of humanity:

Here’s another inspirational video on youtube with the hashtag #rekindlekindness

You make the world a better place by showing kindness to others and going that extra mile to help someone.

longbeach

We took our son to Long Beach, California – we felt he deserved a holiday at Christmas. He is on the autism spectrum and life can be a struggle for us and for him. We checked into a hotel at Long Beach. One morning our son went up to get some breakfast. For a moment I got rather worried, I saw this businessman walk up to my son – I thought there was an incident happening before my eyes. As I was getting up from my chair, I noticed this man speaking very kindly to him and as usual our son wasn’t giving him any eye contact!

This businessman was talking to him for a while. He came to our table and said ‘your son was helping me choose my breakfast.’ He had possibly realised that our son had autism and made a deliberate choice to engage him in conversation. The kindness of a stranger to our precious son. I got up and went over to him and thanked him for that random act of kindness. I said the more people engage with him in conversation the better it is for him in terms of social interaction and communication. His parting words to me were:”God bless you, Merry Christmas.” God bless you too, whoever you are,  for being incredibly kind to our son in Long Beach, California.

Ivan Corea

Quote on Richard Branson and his 15  random acts of kindness, courtesy of the Virgin website: https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/importance-kindness

Photograph courtesy of Pexels and Long Beach Council.