Acts 435 Giving to anyone who has need

Little acts of kindness perhaps best encapsulates with Acts 435 is all about. We often think of love for those we know, but kindness to strangers. Even the concept of loving our neighbour usually tends to imply we know them in some way.

Acts 435 allows you to give money to a complete stranger so that they can receive something practical that they need or crucial financial help. The blessing of a particular item can be felt for a long time (we are still making good use of the cot we were gifted) but the feeling of receiving that kindness goes even further.

I have an interesting experience of financial help that I still remember today with amazement and gratitude. Back in 2000, I went to visit a friend who was serving as a missionary in Zambia. Towards the end of the trip, I was eking out the Zambian dollars so that I wasn’t left with any but had sufficient for my needs. All went to plan as I paid my taxi back to the airport with my remaining local currency. At the airport, a local departure tax needed to be paid. I already knew I could use a credit card for this and so was prepared … until the Zambian authorities refused to accept my credit card on the basis that it had less than 6 months until its expiry date!!

Now it is not for me to question the logic of this, but we were at a complete impasse – they refused to let me use my card and I had no other means of paying. As such I was not going to be allowed to leave the country. I was travelling alone and needed to be back at work the next day so things were starting to feel very stressful, not to mention surreal, when from behind me in the queue a Zambian gentleman stepped forward, asked whether I was travelling international or domestic, and paid my way. He then went off to get a domestic flight and I never saw him again.

I don’t remember how much it was (though I know it was significant – say £30) but I still remember that feeling of amazement – the kindness of a stranger without any strings attached. There was no way to repay him so I just had to accept his kindness.

I know many of our applicants, on receiving the money or item from Acts 435, ask: “How can we pay you back?” It is a wonderful aspect of the work for our advocates as they say, “You don’t have to”. One group of advocates in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham have a great saying – “we don’t pay back, we pay forward” meaning that whilst it is impossible for applicants to pay back their donors (since they don’t know who gave to their request), they can always give into the lives of others when their circumstances permit, not necessarily financially, but with their time, their words, their little acts of kindness.