Rob Westerman, pastor at Springdale Nazarene Church's campus in Norwood, Ohio, recently surprised 15 customers at a local grocery store by paying for their items.
Over the course of two hours, Westerman entered the store, paid for an individual's groceries, then quickly disappeared to do it again. Recipients included a woman who forgot her wallet, a man who was recently mugged, and a woman who bursts into tears when her $8 bill was paid.
Mike Lewis, Westerman's friend and the director of JesusPainter Ministries, recorded the interactions and uploaded the video to Facebook. As of Tuesday afternoon, the video had more than 25 million views and over 800,000 shares.
"The intent of the video wasn’t to go viral," Westerman said. "The idea behind it was that doing good is contagious."
The outing is not the church's first random act of kindness.
"We have this dollar bucket; people put $1, $2, $10, whatever they want in it and we go out and do things with it," Westerman said. "This is the first one we've recorded, though, because we wanted to show the congregation what it looks like."
The outreach was a chance for the congregation to be the light in a dark world.
"There have been some not-so-positive things going on in Cincinnati, so we just decided to be the change we want to see," Westerman said.
In addition to sharing a positive message, the video also allowed the church to build relationships in the community.
“We’ve had a chance to talk with people in the video,” Westerman said. “They sought us out after it was over, once our contact information started getting around.”
Hundreds of others have reached out to Westerman, Lewis, and the church.
"If we’re faithful, God will do amazing things," Westerman said. "God took $400 and spread His message literally around the world."