March 25, 2020

Occidental Community Church family,

Today, just a few stories of kindness and selflessness in this time of great distress to lift your spirits a bit.  May we all be inspired to reach out to others with such compassion when the opportunity arises.  Hebrews 13:16 - "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

The owner of a small pizzeria in New Jersey was ordered to close his dining room to eat-in customers, but he would still be allowed to do take-out orders.  This would have forced him to lay off a number of his employees, some of whom had been with him for 12-15 years.  They were like family to him.  Not wanting them to be unable to pay their bills or their rent, he took out a personal line of credit from his bank for $50,000 so that he could keep his staff employed for as long as possible.  He is now paying their wages from his own pocket, hoping that things will turn around and he will soon be open for business again.

A 33 year-old college counselor at a high school in San Francisco is now working with her students online, the school having been closed.  She has a good salary and has also put aside an inheritance from her father who had been successful in the biotech industry.  She wanted to help out others who were not as fortunate as she.  She posted online, "Hi, neighbors, if you will be missing a paycheck or if money is tight for food or supplies, contact me and I will send you $20, no questions asked."  She added, "I have the privilege of a salaried job and the capacity to work from home, and I want to support those who do not."   So far, she has given away $400.

The owner of a successful San Francisco restaurant had come to America in 1994 as a refugee from the war in Yugoslavia.  He was 29 years old and alone when He came.  Now through hard work he has achieved success with his restaurant which like others has been shut down.  He recently invited all who wish to stop by his restaurant and pick up a boxed take-out lunch or dinner, priced at only $5.50.  The price covers only expenses, leaving no profit for him.  "This is our way of helping all the families and individuals affected by the coronavirus emergency," he explained.

A high school girl in Portland, Oregon, was looking forward to her prom and graduation in a few months, but now classes have been cancelled for the rest of the school year.  Rather than moping around and feeling sorry for herself, she decided to start a food drive for the needy.  She asked for donations and said, "I will be glad to come by and pick up anything you have to give."  So far there have been 400 donations of food, and she has personally picked up each one.  This girl was born of an immigrant family who had come to the United States to escape poverty and persecution in their own land.

The chef of a 5 star restaurant in New York City had his establishment closed on March 13 to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  He donated all the food in the restaurant to City Harvest, New York City's largest food bank.  But besides donating the food, he volunteers to hand out food to the needy as well.  "When you give food to needy people they are very grateful, very happy, and very thankful.  I was happy to be contributing with our team to give these people the food they need."

We find other inspiring stories like this coming out of the world of sports, entertainment, music, business and industry.  Virtually every segment of our society is witnessing such outpouring of compassion and kindness in these difficult times.  We are reminded that we were all created "in the image of God" as we witness such expressions of love and generosity from common people just like you and me.  So in the midst of the sickness, death, and all the tears related to this worldwide virus pandemic, let us each find ways to be a part of the effort to share with those who have been most negatively impacted by this crisis.  Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 - "I tell you the truth, whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you do for Me."

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Rick

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