Small acts of kindness have a ripple effect that could be a ‘tidal wave’

We expect support from our family and close friends, but how many times in your life have the little things done by random strangers been the things that meant the most?

As we walk through life, it amazes me just how much the little things make such a big impact. Like ripples to tidal waves.

Each and every one of us can have that kind of impact by saying a kind word, holding a door open, letting a car go ahead of us in traffic, allowing a person to cut in front of us in line or with a simple positive gesture.

Many times these ripples come in the form of a coach, teacher, doctor, nurse, pastor, or waitress. Sometimes it can even be a person on social media with a kind and thoughtful word of encouragement.

Once while I was in the hospital, a person bought a special medication for me that was not covered by my insurance.

Other instances of “ripples” that affected me were a local policeman who helped dig my vehicle out of the snow, and the time a cashier let my 8-year-old grandson take his time counting his change at the cash register for a toy.

But by far, the biggest, random, ripple-effecting blessing—and act of kindness—that has ever happened to me came from a girl on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ.

She shared the Four Spiritual Laws with me right before my sophomore year in high school: that God loves you and created you to know him personally; man is sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know him personally or experience his love; Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin; through him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love.

She told me that we must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience his love.

I only met with her once and very briefly, but it changed my life forever—and I never remember seeing or talking to her again. That is, until about 50 years later when I thought it would be cool to thank her for doing what she did for me.

After researching and talking with friends from that time, I located a possible last name for her. I went to Facebook and emailed several possible candidates that matched, and could possibly be her. Incredibly enough, one turned out to be her!

She seemed delighted that I had reached out to her. So, I had a plaque made for her, and then I sent it as a thank you gift. We have corresponded a few times via Facebook, mail and phone. We even tried to meet up once, but failed.

Although I may never see her again in this lifetime, I know that I will see her in heaven one day, and I will absolutely thank her again.

This was an act of true kindness. She was a total stranger to me, but what she gifted me was the knowledge and the treasure of the free gift of salvation in Ephesians 2:8.

We all like to find valuable treasures, from kids to adults, so how about the greatest one in the world: Peace and Salvation in Christ.

Be the ripple. Be the person that has a positive effect on others around you.

You never know the kind of impact you have on another.

In my case, it took 50 years for me to track her down and tell her thank you. Her small act of kindness was a just ripple to her, but it was a tidal wave to me.

Lee Walter

Lee Walter is Sunday School superintendent at Columbia Bible Church in Kennewick and vice chairman of the Tri-Cities Child Evangelism Fellowship. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 4253 W. 24th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338. Or email