Where were you on May 5, 1961? Of course, some of you would have to admit you were too young to remember or had not entered this world at the time. Me? I was in the seventh grade 58 years ago this weekend. It was a Friday morning. The time was 8:37 Central Time, 9:37 Eastern. At that moment in U.S. history time would seem to stand still for millions of people in the U.S. and around the world.

One of the most significant events in U.S. history was started and completed in 15 minutes and 28 seconds. Up until that time few things had ever happened in this country as uplifting as what took place during that short time. I was privileged to witness the event, the whole 15 minutes and 28 seconds of it–me and 45 million other people in this country alone. The celebration would begin 11 minutes after it was over and the world would never be the same again. All because of that 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

It was May 5, 1961, and sitting atop a Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket was a man named Alan Shepard. The capsule was called Freedom 7. Even though three weeks earlier the Russians had done the same thing with a man named Yuri Gagarin, that didn’t matter, this was an American.

But it all started with that 15 minutes and 28 seconds in 1961. It changed the hearts and dreams of young boys who wanted to be astronauts. It opened up a new world seen only in Sci-Fi movies the decade before. The world changed in 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

It is easy to get caught up in the big projects and works in a congregation and life, forgetting about the little things that can and are done by so many on a weekly basis. Taking just a few minutes here and there can make a huge difference in the lives of people. Knowing that someone cares for them can do more than any huge project could ever do.

A note jotted down and mailed, a phone call, a hospital visit, stopping to talk, dropping by for a short visit, these things and others don’t take much time, but to the recipient, it can be just the note of encouragement they need to make it through a rough time. Not everyone has hours a week that they can spend, but everyone has 15 minutes and 28 seconds somewhere in their schedule they can use to be an encouragement to others.

I encourage us to take the time every week to encourage someone else, to lift them up and let them know they are important. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much time, but when we work together building up, a few minutes can multiply many times over. If each of us spent 15 minutes and 28 seconds a week encouraging someone else, in a year we would have spent hundreds of hours encouraging thousands of people.

Alan Shepard’s flight was only 15 minutes and 28 seconds, seen live by more than 45 million people encouraging him to succeed. He was a pioneer of the race to space which would culminate eight years later with over 500 million people watching two men step out onto the surface of the moon. I was one of the 500 million who watched exactly 3000 days later, on July 21, 1969; and it all started with 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

Who can you encourage with your 15 minutes and 28 seconds this week?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV2011)

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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