5. Nine-year-old swimmer gives trophy to hospitalized rival – Josh Zuchowski and Reese Branzell are rivals, with Reese usually coming out first, and Josh a close second. When Reese was hospitalized with a bone infection, Josh won the Florida swim meet, then sent his trophy to the hospital, a gift for Reese. The attached note? “I won this trophy for you today,” said Josh, “and I hope to see you back in the pool.” What parent wouldn’t be proud of such a son?
4. Wrongfully imprisoned man has kind words for friend whose testimony put him behind bars – Ryan Ferguson, 29, spent more than 9 years in a Missouri prison for a crime he did not commit. When he gave a news conference the day of his release – cleared of all charges – he promised to do what he could to work for the release of Chuck Erickson, whose police-coerced testimony had put Ryan behind bars. Ferguson’s humble spirit and refusal to walk down the path of bitterness have gained him more than 90,000 followers on FaceBook, the “army” that – in addition to the efforts of his family and lawyer, Kathleen Zellner – he credits with having produced the judicial review that ultimately resulted in his release. Thanks, Mr Ferguson, for your positive model to everyone.
3. Teammates create an unforgettable moment for fellow player with special needs – In a story worthy of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Keith Orr – a young man with a learning disability – scored a touchdown for his team, the Olivet Middle School. His teammates left their coach in the dark, working for weeks in secret to devise a play that would allow Keith to score from within the 5 yard line. When the play worked, they carried Keith off the field in triumph. Looks a lot like Jesus to me.
2. Freed prisoner walks the way of peace – O.K., this one happened before 2013, but the movie – “Long Walk to Freedom” – came out this year, so I’m counting it. Nelson Mandela had every reason to strike back after having spent 27 years in prison. Even his wife, Winnie – who had suffered 16 months of solitary confinement – was ready for battle. Yet in a broadcast that many credit with averting civil war, Mandela committed himself to reconciliation between long-term enemies in South Africa. The rest, as they say, is history.
1. Pope Francis sets new tone for the Roman Catholic Church – With his emphasis upon reaching the hurting and marginalized, Pope Francis is leading the way, not with law but with grace. Even those not usually inclined to applaud Christianity have noticed, including Time, which named him Man of the Year.
How about you? What would be your vote for the top 5 Christlike acts of 2013?