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Written By Ed Arnold
Pastor Jim Kok (JK) has been the Care and Kindness pastor at the Crystal Cathedral Ministry since 1984. He has devoted his career to the care of hurting people and has trained others to practice acts of kindness. Pastor Kok began the Care and Kindness seminars on the Cathedral campus 15 years ago, and today, the group travels to wherever someone would like to have a conference. Pastor Kok has a new book, The Miracle of Care and Kindness: Changing the world one act at a time, and it is available in bookstores everywhere. Ed Arnold (EA) interviews Jim.
EA: What a wonderful day it is, especially when I have the opportunity to talk with one of my very favorite pastors and one of my very favorite people, Dr. Jim Kok. Our founding pastor, Dr. Robert H. Schuller said about Jim, and I'm going to quote this: "All of my life as a pastor, I've dreamed and worked for followers of Jesus to be the nicest people, and no one speaks more sincerely on the subject than my beloved friend, Jim Kok."
Jim has had a career devoted to care and hurting people, and to train others to practice acts of kindness. He's written six books, and this morning, we're going to talk about his latest book, The Miracle of Kindness: Changing the world one act at a time.
Please welcome, Dr. James Kok. It's always good to see you, Jim. Now go ahead and give me the answers to the first three questions people always ask.
JK: Fine. Yes. And 6'6.
EA: Okay and the questions that usually go with it?
JK: How's the weather up there? Did you play basketball? How tall are you?
EA: You did play basketball. Where did you play?
JK: Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
EA: How was the team?
JK: We were better than Hope College!
EA: Too bad we don't have Dr. Schuller here to kind of counter that!
JK: We won three championships.
EA: Okay! Talk about this wonderful new book of yours what it's about.
JK: Well this is a message for everybody and the message is that you are such beautiful, wonderful, good people. You are such precious people. The love of Jesus lives in you whether you've never been in church before or not. That is still true. The love of Jesus lives in you.
So what we need to do more of is to let that out. Everywhere we go, it is so simple and it is so needed. Everybody can do it. It can be just a smile, a tap on the back, or it can be something big like visiting somebody in the hospital. But everybody must know that God is love and love is God and God is in them and when they do even a simple act of kindness, they are giving God to people. We all know from our own experience how healing a word of encouragement can be so we all need to do more of it because it's possible and it's needed.
EA: When you first came to the Crystal Cathedral in 1984, you were concentrating on what your normal pastor duties would be. What made you decide to go more into the loving care and kindness?
JK: Well when I came here, I realized that I couldn't do it alone. I had been a hospital chaplain and I had done a lot of person one-to-one stuff, but I realized we had so many people.
But in the process, I realized we all have so much to offer and we are all the walking wounded. We all need it from each other and we all have something to give. So it's a process of realizing that it's our task as people to care and love and lift and encourage people.
EA: And now you've reached way beyond just the Crystal Cathedral and our area here in Orange County. Talk about the Care and Kindness seminars that are taking place.
JK: Well we started the Care and Kindness conference here about fifteen years ago and today we are making ourselves available anywhere that someone wants to have a conference. We have a foundation that's trying to support us, so we are out there encouraging churches.
I just came from Noblesville, Indiana, where a Presbyterian church there had a weekend conference. I went and was one of the primary speakers because we really want this to be what Christianity is about. We emphasize that we're here to get people to heaven and I'm happy for that, but I believe Jesus' mission was to make heaven on earth. When He said "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," I think He was telling us His mission and He's giving us our mission. This world is so wonderful, this country and Canada and some of the other countries that hear this message, they are such wonderful places mostly because of the love of God, the instrumentality of God.
You take a place like this. I don't remember the name of the architect, but he was an instrument of God. This fabulous organ was made by an instrument of God. And you know we need to love and honor those people. No matter what their faith might be they are instruments of God.
EA: Who should attend these conferences and what actually goes on? How does it work?
JK: Well they are conferences. We have workshops on everything from grief to alcohol problems to how to be a better listener. And then we also try to inspire them to be giving people and how to do more and more for others.
You know this great music we've heard today, what is it good for? Well one of the chapters of the book is "It's Sunday but Monday is Coming." That music is healing. It has healed us. Why? So that we can be out there tomorrow, loving, caring, working and producing more to make this world a better place.
So that's why we come to church. It's Sunday because Monday is coming. Not just to soak in this. We've got to use it.
EA: There are a number of miracles that you reference in the book. Talk about one that might be your favorite.
JK: Well one of my favorite stories happens to be here in church today. Don Heinlein, who is sitting right down front. Some friends urged him to come here to the Home Builders Sunday school class, and he and his wife's lives were changed by their goodness, their kindness, their friendliness and their love. That's just one of the magnificent stories, but there are all those little ones, too.
The Care and Kindness conference was stimulated in me when I heard a story from one of our committee members. She came up to me and said she had been waiting in the car when somebody knocked at her window. She opened the window and there was another woman standing there, and this woman said, "thank you for smiling at me when I drove in. I've been so discouraged today and your smile just lifted me and healed me." That's one of my favorites.
EA: How can folks here and those watching put this to practice?
JK: Well I think everywhere we go, you go to Walgreen's or Ralph's or something, people are around you. When you notice people, say something to them. When you notice what they're wearing, or you notice their hair, say ‘you're looking good.' Give little compliments. That's the simplest way. It's everywhere and it's available and it's possible. It's something we as Christians need to be doing all the time to show the world that God is love because that is love. You're giving love, you're giving God to people, and that is important and necessary. We have to be special and it's so easy to be that special.
EA: Is there something you want to add before we wind this up?
JK: Well this Care and Kindness committee has a plan. On October 13, they are going to honor a dozen people who have been wonderful helpers here, and we need you to come. We're going to have a big celebration appreciation banquet for people who have been ushering for forty years, who have been tour guides for thirty years, one man who has been out in the parking lot for forty years. We are going to honor them and appreciate them and celebrate them. So that's called the celebration banquet on October 13. Please come. We need you. The cost is $25.00 each.
EA: Well I tell you, you've made a big difference in a lot of lives, not only here but around this great nation of ours. Jim, God loves you and so do I. Thank you so much for being here.
JK: Thank you, thank you very much.
EA: Jim's book, The Miracle of Kindness: Changing the world one act at a time is available in bookstores everywhere.