Changing the World, One Kindness at a Time

By Lindsay Williams | contributing writer,
Posted: Wed, 06/01/2011 - 16:09

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I’m only one person. How can I make a difference?

At one time or another, we’ve all asked this question. It’s human nature to want to leave our mark on the world. The truth is you don’t have to be old, wise or famous to make a difference. In fact, you can start right where you are, today – no matter your age or status in life. Making a difference is actually simple, and it starts by being aware of the needs around you and uplifting the people you interact with every day.

Through its new initiative, “Uplift Someone,” gmc is committed to highlighting simple acts of kindness that are impacting others. If you have a story about how you’ve helped to brighten someone’s day, gmc wants to hear about it in hopes that these inspirational stories will encourage people to do the same for others.

Here are three examples of ordinary people who did seemingly small things that made a big difference in the lives of others.

Join the Movement Today!

Be a Father Figure to Someone Without a Dad
Businessman Sam Cargo heard God’s call to work with inner-city students. Not long before, a friend had asked Cargo to lead a Bible study and tutoring session once a week for underprivileged youth in downtown Knoxville. “I knew this was God opening the door for me to get out of my comfort zone,” Cargo explains.

What began as a weekly opportunity for young men to hear the Gospel and obtain help with their studies, became an opportunity for Cargo to befriend and mentor many. “The boys I work with expect me to come and discuss how a relationship with Christ can transform their lives,” he shares, “but often it is the time spent outside the Bible study that gives the best opportunity to get to know that student.”

Cargo attends their sporting events and school activities and invites them over for dinner. “I believe all men need another man in their life to believe in them, encourage them in their walk with Christ, and teach them how to become a Godly man, husband, father and provider,” says Cargo. “A friend of mine put it this way: ‘This is about one generation proclaiming God’s greatness to the next.’ I believe God’s plan is for this to be [between] a father and son, but unfortunately, in today’s society, there are many fathers who are either physically absent or spiritually and emotionally unequipped to meet this need.”

Cargo says God’s solution is found in willing hearts. “God can use men who are willing to intentionally get involved to impact the next generation,” he says.

While Cargo is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others, he believes immediate change first starts in the home. “If someone wants to make a difference I would encourage them to make sure they are encouraging their own children first. I believe that is our first responsibility. I would then look for opportunities through your church or a Christian ministry that is already doing a good job but needs volunteers.”

Ditch the Beach for a Spring Break of Helping Others
As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Cargo’s 18-year-old daughter, Katie, has learned a thing or two from her dad. Instead of joining her friends at the beach, Katie chose to spend her last spring break as a high school student in Nicaragua ministering to kids her age and younger, and even persuaded her friends to join her.

Following a study of David Platt’s Radical in a book club she started, Katie encouraged members of her group to take the leap of faith. “As a group of 10 high school senior girls, we had no leader helping us get an international mission trip started,” she says. “We started with prayer and knowing God more intimately so we could see where He pointed us.” Together, they convinced their parents to help them raise financial support.

During their week in Nicaragua, the girls’ worldview was challenged and their perspectives changed. “They were some of the poorest people in the world. You were rich if you had concrete floors,” she explains. “All of the homes we visited had dirt floors, no running water, no electricity; and everyone maybe had two pairs of clothes.”

However, amidst the poverty, Katie and her friends quickly recognized the bright light that existed there. “Amongst all the poverty, these people knew what true happiness was. They found joy in their family, community, and most importantly, Christ.”

One of the seemingly insignificant things they did during their trip was washing all of the girls’ hair and painting their nails. While clean hair and painted nails are things we take for granted, to the girls in Nicaragua, this made them feel like princesses.

This week of service was only one way Katie strives to help others in her daily life. She’s quick to emphasize that you don’t have to go overseas to make a difference. “I still do Bible studies with my friends, but mainly I just look for people to encourage,” she says. “At school, find someone who is sitting by themselves at lunch and ask them to come sit with you,” she suggests. “You never know what a difference that can make to someone. Prayer and seeking God’s heart to know His will for your life is where you start, and He will finish it for you.”

Meet the Needs of Your Neighbors
Last year, 20-something Karen Barnes and a group of friends reached out to some local refugees. Five of the refugee women were pregnant, and Barnes realized they were unprepared for the babies. She and her friends quickly threw together a baby shower for the women. In just seven days, they were able to collect diapers, wipes, clothes, toys, strollers, cribs, high chairs and other necessities to give to each expectant mother.

“We were just a group of regular 20-somethings who put a little effort into gathering resources and donations. It was an amazing experience to see what could be done in that amount of time with everyone pitching in,” shares Barnes. “The best part of all was helping to deliver the stuff to the women’s apartments and meeting their families. They were all so incredibly grateful.”

This experience ignited a passion within Barnes to help other local refugees. She and her husband are currently teaching a young refugee English. However, she hopes their impact extends beyond their language sessions. “We are hoping to be able to share the love of Christ with him through our actions and just being a friend to him. We look forward to building a relationship with him and eventually being able to have more meaningful conversations with him,” she says.

Barnes acknowledges that her work with refugees was born out of realizing needs in her own community. “God commands us to reach out to those in need. It has been wonderful to be able to live that out in our own backyard,” she says. “It really is eye-opening just to experience a piece of someone else’s life and do our small part to make a difference.”

Barnes recommends others looking for ways to uplift those around them by first discovering what they are most interested in. “Explore your own passions,” she encourages. “What areas get you excited, or what issues get you really fired up? You don’t have to go halfway around the world to help. There are so many needs in our own communities. We all need to live a little more intentionally, better tuned in to the people around us. We need to create space in our busy lives to have room to seize the opportunities to help others when they come along.”

These stories are proof that willing hearts coupled with small acts make a huge difference. If you’re looking for ways to instigate change, it really is as easy as taking the first step. A simple act of uplifting someone can help make our world a better place. Join the movement today and share your story of how you have uplifted someone at

A Month of Making a Difference
Wanting to uplift someone, but don’t know where to begin? Here are 30 ideas to get you started. Try doing one thing each day for the next month to encourage those around you.

1.    Send a handwritten thank-you note to someone who means a lot to you.
2.    Open the door for someone at work who has their hands full.
3.    Strike up a conversation with someone in line at the grocery store.
4.    Compliment someone.
5.    Bake something sweet for someone you love for no reason.
6.    Buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line at Starbucks.
7.    Mow your neighbor’s yard.
8.    Offer to get a friend’s mail while they are on vacation.
9.    Babysit for friends so they can go out to dinner by themselves.
10.    Help someone unpack after a move.
11.    Invite a friend to church.
12.    Wave at a stranger.
13.    Give up your seat in a waiting area for someone else.
14.    Help a neighbor unload their groceries from their car.
15.    Let someone go ahead of you in line at a store.
16.    Bring in bagels for your co-workers.
17.    Bake cookies for a meeting.
18.    Take a walk with a friend and listen more than you talk.
19.    Donate unwanted clothes to a local shelter.
20.    Buy a small toy for your neighbor’s child, and watch their grin melt your heart.
21.    Take your daughter on a “date” – just the two of you.
22.    Turn off your cell phone while you play with your kids.
23.    Read your kids an extra bedtime story.
24.    Treat your friend to a movie…for no reason.
25.    Send flowers to your mom.
26.    Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
27.    Save spare change and donate it to a local charity.
28.    Run errands for an elderly neighbor.
29.    Offer to pick up a friend’s kids from school.
30.    Attend a friend’s sporting event and cheer them on from the sidelines.

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