Dresden's streetcar operators sit alone up front in their own cabin, connected to their passengers only via security cameras and an intercom. Although Dresden's trams carry thousands of passengers through the city each day, drivng one of them can be a bit lonely and impersonal. In nearly nine months of living in Dresden, I have never seen a passenger communicate with an on-duty tram operator.
Hans (not his real name) drives one of Dresden's big yellow streetcars that stops directly in front of the EV Free Church of (FeG) Dresden. He was curious as to why so many people would always get in and out of the streetcar at that stop, but—cut off from his passengers with a tight schedule to keep—he never had opportunity to ask anyone about it.
Herr T. and his wife are Christians who live right next to that same streetcar stop. A few years ago, they began to wonder whether any of the tram operators had ever heard about Jesus and they had an idea: They decided to prepare small gift packages for the streetcar operators consisting of a few sweets, a Christian book and an invitation to the church's Christmas worship service.
So, each Christmas Eve for the past few years Mr. T. has been spending a couple of hours waiting at "his" streetcar stop. Each time a streetcar with a different operator would stop, he would knock on the operator's cabin door and say: "Merry Christmas! I just want to thank you for your kind service to our city and want to give you a small gift of appreciation." They wondered whether these small acts of kindness were making any difference at all—until the church's baptismal service in June 2014.
Hans, one of the baptismal candidates who was baptized in the lake pictured on the right, stood up to tell his story: "A lot in my life has gone miserably wrong, particularly in marriage and family. I was a broken man when I heard a knock on the door of my streetcar cabin one Christmas Eve a few years ago.
"A kind man thanked me for my service to our city and gave me a gift with a Christian book. I had never been to church or read the Bible, but his act of kindness touched me deeply and I began to read. I started asking myself questions that I'd never asked before. I realized I needed help and began to wonder if God could even help someone like me.
"Although the process lasted a couple of years, I ended up attending a worship service at the EV Free Church of Dresden and God began to work in my heart. Earlier this year, during the church's Alpha (Christianity 101) Course I decided to accept Jesus' offer of forgiveness for my sins and begin following him. I've gotten a new start in life and I'm here to proclaim publicly that I have decided to follow Jesus."
When Herr and Frau. T. heard Hans tell his story they hugged each other and shed a few tears of joy. Their efforts and prayers had not been in vain.
It's hard to know where a small act of kindness will lead—sometimes it may make a big difference and even have eternal consequences.
– Jeff Ingram #DresdenInitiative
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