In November 2015 a Syrian refugee living in Germany caught the attention of the world’s media. Alex Assali felt so much gratitude for the way he had been accepted and welcomed into Germany, he was determined to serve his new adopted country in some practical way.

Despite the fact that he was unemployed, he used what little money he had to provide hot meals, free of charge, to the homeless. The image shows him preparing his food outside Berlin’s Alexanderplatz station.

A sign pinned to the front of his serving table reads: ‘Give Something Back to German People is a Christian, Syrian German project to help the homeless and anybody who needs help in Germany. Our target is to give back to the people who helped us. We do not want anything in return, we just want to treat others with love. We want to be a positive part of the German community, and want to act as one (Syrians and Germans united) in order to help each other.’

In more than one interview Alex expressed his surprise about the media attention his simple initiative was attracting. This was not his intention. Worldwide interest seemed to be generated when someone who was inspired by his initiative shared it on her Facebook page.

In a world which is increasingly characterised by self-entitlement and self-promotion, it is refreshing to see someone simply acting out of a thankful heart. In Alex we see a person who is so grateful for what has been given to him that he is compelled to give to others, at the expense of his own comfort and convenience.

Alex challenges me to be a thankful person who generously and cheerfully shares my time and resources with others, in gratitude to those who have given to me.

How does he challenge you?

Photo: Facebook/Tabea Bü