by Miriam Adeney
(Editor’s note: This is the 4th in a 9-part series on The Fruit of the Spirit & Evangelism, based on Galatians 5:22-23.)
Ferguson, Missouri (USA) erupted in violence a little over a month ago. A young black man was shot by a white policeman. What exactly led up to the shooting is not clear. But racial tensions exploded. Property was damaged. Masses filled the streets. The police reacted with a heavy hand. Tensions shot up.
Then, Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol walked in.
He wore no heavy protective suit. Instead, he hugged people. He prayed with them. He listened. Johnson has been described as “equal parts police official, preacher, mediator, and neighbor.” And, though much more healing and justice is needed, he has been able to draw down the conflict, to move the community several steps closer toward peace.
In a word, Captain Johnson was kind.
When we hear the term “kindness,” we picture someone wiping a child’s tears, beckoning another driver to cut ahead of him or her in line, donating food to the hungry, or even rescuing a kitten.
But kindness is not mushy. Sometimes, it has to be tough. Although kindness is resilient, it doesn’t collapse. You can count on a kind person to come through for you.
When Captain Johnson was first assigned this role, he thought the responsibility would be too much for him. The only private place he could find where he could collect his thoughts was a bathroom a few hundred yards from the turmoil. He said, “I closed the door and looked in the mirror and just began to pray. I just asked God to let me to the right thing, do the thing that would be right for everybody.”
He walked out to bless his community with kindness. What a witness!
Miriam Adeney has provided continuity in Seattle Pacific University’s department of Global and Urban Ministry for more than three decades. She is author of six books, more than 150 articles, and has taught on five continents. Her most recent book is Kingdom without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity.