Tag Archive: acts of kindness


It started with a #neknomination [well, let’s be honest – it likely started with a drunk Australian feeling like this was something he thought was a good idea for more people to do?]

an online video’d drinking challenge game where you “film themselves drinking a pint of an alcoholic beverage, usually beer, in one gulp and upload the footage to the web” [wikipedia] and then nominate two other people to do the same, paying it forward so to speak [where “it” was a silly drinking game that has caused the death of up to four different people so far] with the resulting nomination needing to take place within 24 hours.

then it hit South Africa and, in particular, a guy named Brent Lindeque who started out his #neknomination driving in his car and then turned the whole thing on his head by driving up to a guy begging on the side of the road and passing out a sandwich and a cooldrink to the man. the challenge was transformed into RAKnominations and South Africa responded in a big way by filming videos of themselves doing Random Acts of Kindness and challenging others to do the same.

inspired by my mate Howard Fyvie who went and sang to a group of senior citizens and handed out cake and had polaroid pics snapped with them and then being nominated myself by Jono van Deventer who Howie had passed it on to [after he paid for some random lady’s shopping and then serenaded her in Spanish at her car] i endured a hectically crazy busy day trying desperately to make my #neknomination happen to no avail until at 11.15pm i stumbled upon an idea that might work, filmed it and got it edited and uploaded by 7.45 the following morning with minutes to spare.

in my #neknomination that eventually happened, i had a brief conversation with a mate of mine, Richard Bolland, who had expressed some hesitation, particularly to the random and once-off nature of these acts of kindness, seeing them as a great start, but really feeling like if they just happened and were walked away from that maybe they were not the most helpful thing and how do we encourage people who are stepping up and doing great acts, but challenge them to get more deeply and long term involved to be agents of long-term real change?


this morning i awoke to find two that seemed to have longer term effects at least so it feels like we are getting closer:

Ashton Hayes joined in and his #neknomination stepped it up a gear, inviting the whole of South Africa to get involved in rebuilding the burnt-down roof of a house for a woman who looks after 14 children in a local township.

South African fast food chicken join Nandos joined the #neknomination train by renovating the kitchen and dining area at the Sithandiwe Disabled Day Care Centre just outside the Alexandra township.


My friend Dave Gale shares some of his hesitations with the whole RAKnomination vibe:

My main concern with the RAKnominations that have arisen as morphed versions of the drinking dare Neknominations is about motivation.  I’m not objecting to them or wanting to belittle the effort that people have gone to, just questioning what lies behind and drives the actions.

It’s a reaction to a public dare, so it naturally has elements of pride, fear and guilt as motivating factors. People are not so much called to act as they are driven.

Granted, it does force you out of your comfort zone, make you reach into your wallet, challenge your creativity and cause you to look someone less resourced in the eye while you bless them.  But then, most likely you’re gone, back into your world, apart from ‘theirs’.  If it changes you, causes you to linger in ‘their’ world, to get to know them, begin to share resources between you (who says it has to be only one-way traffic?), reduce that economic isolation gap between you, it is a whole different world.

The filming of it and publishing that film adds another dimension.  You need it to prove you really did do something and have earned the right to dare someone else to keep it going.  I understand that, but it feels a bit chain-letterish. Chain-videoish? There’s a new word for you.  Matthew 2 comes to mind.

It should not be about you or anyone else other than the people you feel God is calling you to bless.  It’s about relationship. It’s about resources God as father has placed in your hands. It’s about living in a manner as close as possible to what you’d imagine God would like his Kingdom to operate like.

So, a question I am asking myself of late is: “What does this kingdom of God look like and what is the commander’s objective in this whole kingdom-building deal?”

Best I stop criticising what others are doing, no matter what motivates them, and look to my own heart and actions.  Common Change for me provides an opportunity to begin changing my world, need by need. [where Common Change is the non-profit organisation i, brett, work for where groups of people share resources to empower people in their groups to walk alongside and assist their friends who are in need]

God bless Brett, and keep challenging us to question our motives and live this kingdom life to the full. 


I asked my mate Richard to write some thoughts on this:

“This week I have been sick with the flu. If I didn’t know any better I would walk to the medicine cabinet, pick 2 or 3 random bottles/pills and swallow them in the hope that it would cure me of my illness. Luckily I am wiser than that and have been taught which medicine to take or to visit a doctor and get a medicine prescribed to me.

We often view the poor in the same way and attempt to solve their problems without any knowledge of the consequences of our actions. We give diarrhea tablets to people with a cough and wonder why they’re not getting better or we give a panado to someone who’s broken an arm. Sometimes we even get offended when people correct us and in return shout: “But I gave them medicine, surely it helps in some small way!”. We don’t realize that sometimes we can be doing more harm than good or not solving the problem at all.

I’m hoping that my metaphor is working here and we see that we need knowledge before giving and if we don’t have that knowledge we need to seek it out. The ‘oath to compassionate service’ has really helped me gain that knowledge before giving out the “medicine”: We should never do for others what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves. We should limit one-way giving to emergency situations. We should seek ways to empower through employment, lending, and investing. We should put the interests of the poor above my own self-interest even when it means setting aside my own agenda. We should listen closely to those we seek to help. My hope is that if we follow this oath we would do no harm to the people we are trying to help. “

Richard then referenced the first South African #neknomination video of the guy handing the food to the man on the corner:

The idea of basically handing out food to anyone who seems poor with absolutely no intention to build relationship or understanding. Its a good example of something being very good on the outside, but potentially damaging with no long term help. It’s such a grey area because it makes me feel good watching that video. But we’ve got to ask ourselves how much good it does.

Another good analogy I can think of is the starfish metaphor. Often people think ‘giving’ is like throwing a starfish back into the water. “but its making a difference to that one” When in actual fact all you’re doing to throwing a glass of water onto the starfish and saying that you’ve saved it.


i don’t think Dave or Richard or myself are trying to slam people who have taken part in #neknominations [well except the drinking game people – stop being STUPID – you might be fine at it, but somewhere along the line you are going to challenge someone who isn’t and they will try and up yours and another person will be seriously injured or worse!] or at least the RAKnomination ones… but what we are saying is examine the motivation of the videos and the effect. even with something as amazing as helping rebuild a roof or fixing up the kitchen for a home – stay in contact, build relationship, look for where that person can help you , share stories, get invested and do whatever you do for a longer period of time.

let’s face it, at Common Change, which Dave referenced, we have a saying which goes something like this: It’s not that the rich and the poor don’t like each other, it’s that they don’t know each other. Get to know someone, hear their story and then suddenly you are not faced with random homeless guy, but Peter who is your friend. I tend to want to help my friends and walk journeys with them. Then we will start to see real change.

let’s face it – i am extremely proud that South Africans took a stupid drinking game and added life to it – the acts of kindness have been great, BUT it would be even so much greater if we were able to shift the momentum that has been grown through the RAKnominations and transform it into longer term acts of change that will benefit individuals, families and even whole communities… instead of a 24 hour timeline for creating a video, what if people started committing themselves to get involved volunteering for six months at a place of need in the community… and what if that spread?

i VFSMnominate you South Africa, let’s show the world one more time, that we can lead the way…

[i just watched this clip today which seems to be a lot closer to how these things can look – evidence of relationship already plus also partnering with an organisation that has long-term involvement and knowledge of the community and is made up of people living in the community – more of this please: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MfpfEgJQ_s]

updated 21 Feb: Here is an incredible clip by Shane Vermooten which gets to the heart of what I’m speaking about in terms of inspiring to long-term change and transformation – come on:

this is a clip with the passing-it-forward [Jesus kinda provided the inspiration with ‘Love your neighbor’, right?] idea that is powerfully dramatised and passed on to me by my friend Kevin Smuts:


and then a friend of Kevin’s posted this short and true story which is apparently the inspiration for the first piece.

while i hope our motivation for doing ‘random’ acts of goodness is never to try and one day get free medical procedures, these certainly are a great reminder of how generosity breeds generosity… and the best kind may be when you don’t expect to be rewarded in any way…

what is something generous you have the power to do today? 


being a parent of young children can be one of the toughest things in the world.

for some parents, more often than not it can be more a matter of survival than thriving and any hope of finding creative ways to raise your little people into being the world changers you hope that will be one day is often replaced by just trying to make it to the end of the day without killing any of them.

which is where this series comes in. i am not a parent myself, but i have heard some inspirational stories recently of some parents doing some things, which in some cases are very simple and in others took a more invested amount of involvement, which are likely to teach their children great lessons about living life well and ultimately will change the world. the idea is for me to collect a whole bunch of these ideas to hopefully inspire those who maybe don’t have the time or inclination to sit down and try and imagine them for themselves.

the hope is that you will find an idea, or ideas, that might work for you or that these stories might spark a different idea for you to try with your family.

let me say that i think being a parent is one of the most important ‘jobs’ in the world. it is so crucial and important and because there is no test you have to take to become one or manual to read that shows you how it will all play once you have one, must rank as one of the most scary things you can do in life, in terms  of worrying that you will get it wrong.

which is why learning from those who have walked the journey can be a powerful thing…


I heard the story of when my bossman and his wife Meeghan went out for a meal with their young son, Justice. After the meal was done, they turned to Justice and said he could look around the restaurant and pick any family he wanted and they would pay for that family’s meal. So essentially they were the ones doing the good deed, but by inviting Justice to make the choice it suddenly started to feel like his good deed. So he picked a family and they went to the front and paid for their bill and the other family’s meal. Then the hardest part happened when they took Justice out without being able to watch the family receive the gift [a further lesson in terms of doing something good in secret].

‘There are a lot of times that people get to thank us or times we get to witness the impact of our sharing. This was a moment that it wasn’t necessary and perhaps more important for us not to need or receive.’ [Meeghan]

Simple, yet profound, because that is going to be a story that sticks with him. And because, more importantly, he was a part of it.

That is what this series is all about – as a parent, what creative life lesson have you been able to teach your child, or what practice do you do as a family that you feel will help them grow up to think differently and be different from the herd, in a world changing way?

Meet Sally and Cayden

Meet Julie, Eli and the gang

Meet Bruce, Gemma, Emily and Mikaela

Meet cousin David and the members of his clan

Meet Candi, Noah and Tyla

Meet Three Manns and a little Goat

Meet Nigel and Trish and their five kids who moved into a dangerous area in Hillbrow, South Africa

Meet Lara, Chris and their daughters who also moved into a dangerous area in Philadelphia, Americaland

Meet Lisa and her children Hailey, Noah and Isaiah who also moved into a dangerous area in San Francisco, Americaland

Meet Dalene Reyburn and read the letter she writes to her two boys to see them grow up as world changers

Meet Ro, Ad and Aaléyah and hear about the time they gave Jesus a shark!

A very worthwhile addition to this list is a reading of this letter from Magda Pecsenye to her sons about stopping rape [Excellent read for any parent!]

Look forward to sharing and hearing some more stories.

[If you have one you would like to share please email it to brettfish@hotmail.com – I won’t necessarily use them all, but it will be great to have a whole bunch to choose from]

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