The big serve
I recently watched a documentary about a Make-A-Wish event for a young cancer patient. When he was 18 months old, he was diagnosed; however, his family waited to do the Make-A-Wish event until he was five, so it could be something more memorable and meaningful to him.
It started out as a simple plan to let him play the part of his favorite superhero for a day, but it quickly grew into a large-scale, city-wide event. As word got around that a young cancer-survivor wanted to be Batman, people began offering their skills and connections to make the day as realistic as possible.
Here’s a rundown of just some of the people who got involved:
A boy donated his replica Batman costume and let the cancer survivor keep it afterwards.
One guy offered his black Lamborghini to be the Batmobile.
A local anchorwoman prerecorded the news broadcast that started the event.
The Chief of Police prerecorded messages to give out the day’s missions.
A social media company handled all publicity leading up to the day.
Actors played the roles of Batman, Penguin, and Riddler.
A local eatery provided their lunch.
During its busiest time of year, the opera house tailored all costumes.
A famous musician provided theme music.
A company overnighted a specialized computer chip to run the communication device.
A baseball team gave permission to use their mascot and stadium.
A social media expert provided official Twitter updates during the day’s events.
City Police, many of them on their day off, ensured the planned city route was unblocked and safe.
The mayor ended the day by presenting the key to the city.
A wealthy couple covered the city’s extra expenses for the day.
And many, many others donated their time and effort in both big and small ways…
On top of all this, roughly 14,000 people showed up to witness the events as Batman and Batkid went all across town to save the day. While they brought supportive signs and cheered him on, the sheer volume of people presented a huge logistics problem – one the police are all too familiar with. Safely managing a mass of humanity that large always presents a formidable challenge. However, the officers found something different that day – whenever they would ask people to move back and give Batkid some space, people in the crowd would turn around at start helping them move the crowds back to make way. No one grumbled, complained, or mouthed off at the officers. Additionally, there was no complaint of crime or problems from within the crowds at each of the event’s locations.
While the day of the event was hugely successful (it was done on a Friday), those involved said there was a curious spillover to the event that lasted well into the next week. In general, people were happier; people were friendlier. It was described as an afterglow to the efforts to take care of this young cancer survivor. No one expected it, but for a little while, the citizens gained something they didn’t have before.
But why did the crowds and city act this way? Because they put the needs of the little boy ahead of their own. Although this wasn’t a church-sponsored event, the participants provided a real-life example of what the Apostle Paul told the believers in Philippi:
in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Whether they had donated a Lamborghini or held up a homemade sign of support, each person’s focus was helping this one child. For a single day, they stopped their own agendas, let go of their personal worries, and they focused on someone else. No one did anything they would consider extraordinary – they all stayed within their skills and abilities – but when they did it together, something big and beautiful happened.
Does your small group or members from your church get involved in your community? Mine does, and I absolutely love it. We don’t go out to protest or yell preachy things from the street corners. Instead we follow this example:
Philippians 2:5, 7
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who…emptied Himself by assuming the form of a servant
When we empty ourselves of our pride, our agenda, our schedule and serve others with the skills and abilities God has given us – big and beautiful things can happen. In humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Get out among non-believers and serve – isn’t that what Jesus did?
However, the afterglow of our efforts will last longer than just a few days…instead, it will echo into eternity.