A small community called Gig Harbor, Washington in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA. A young boy at a Christian school there. A British Anglican peacemaker called “The Vicar of Baghdad”. It all came together last week to provide an inspiring story of one gift given from the heart that multiplies to touch many far away.
For many years I have been deeply inspired by the life and ministry of Canon Andrew White. From 1998 to 2005 he worked in Coventry, England (see my recent post Father Forgive for more on the importance of Coventry) in the ministry of reconciliation. In 2005 Canon White started the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, and soon after moved to Baghdad, Iraq. He pastored St. George’s church there until November 2014, where in the aftermath of the US invasion of 2003 he faced the chaos and suffering of the Christians of Iraq.
With the title of “Vicar of Baghdad”, Canon White provided a personal example of hope in the midst of great pain and uncertainty, serving there until the security situation necessitated a re-location. But the plight of the Christians and other communities in Iraq and Syria has not left his heart, and Canon White continues to travel and speak on issues of reconciliation and hope for the future.
Last week he visited again Gig Harbor, a small town of about 8,000 south of Seattle and a place we spend a portion of the year. (Unfortunately both times Canon White has come here I have been out of the country, so the story I’m relating comes second-hand. Hopefully I’m not far off in my details!)
As Canon White spoke at the same Christian school as the previous year, he opened his Bible and brought out a one dollar bill. He had carried it all over the world since his last visit to Gig Harbor, and related how it had been given to him by a young student of the school to help in the suffering of the refugees in the Middle East. That same student was in the audience, and Canon White went on to say that he had shared about this one dollar gift all over the world in the last year, and it had inspired the giving of over 3 million more dollars for the refugees!!!
A small town. One young student whose heart had been touched for people living far away. What does one act of love and kindness done in faith mean to a world of suffering and pain? Multiplication. Brings to mind the story in the Gospels of the young boy bringing his loaf and fishes to Jesus for the massive need of feeding a crowd of 5,000. Jesus blessed it. The ensuing multiplication fed the whole crowd, with more left over.
One dollar given in love. One act of kindness. One word of encouragement. One smile.
Multiplication. Today, with ripples extending into eternity.