A Baltimore cop was out patrolling earlier this month when he observed something that made him pause to take a picture.
University of Maryland police officer Eric Gaines was stunned to see a teen stooped down next to a homeless man, talking to him and praying with him. He snapped a photo to share the act of kindness with others.
“I was blown away. It was amazing,” Gaines told WJZ-TV. “You don’t see that often, especially in the young youth of Baltimore.”
The photo quickly went viral after Gaines posted the scene he encountered on social media, gaining more than 36,000 shares on Facebook:
Eighteen-year-old Stephen Watkins said he was on a bus home from school when a song he was listening to inspired him to get off at an earlier stop in order to bless a complete stranger.
“I prayed for him. I said, ‘God right now you’re using me to bless this man,’” Watkins told WJZ-TV. “Thank you for showing me this song.”
“I knelt right here and touched his shoe right here,” Watkins said. “He was lying right here and his head was right there.”
People who saw the picture shared their reactions to the photo with WJZ-TV.
“I didn’t really believe it at first, but now that I really see it, here, we need to come together as a family,” one woman said.
“I think it was great for him to do that, to take time and pray for a man because the man actually needs help,” Marvin Edwards said.
While many were struck by the teen’s compassion, Watkins explained that sharing his faith and caring for those in need is nothing out of the ordinary. Steven told WJZ-TV that he and his twin brother Stephan preach in the streets all the time.
Though the teen hopes the kindness will prove contagious, he’s not motivated by “shares” or “likes.”
“It don’t want no glory because it was all for Him,” he said.
Officer Gaines told WJZ-TV that he hopes the picture will spark other acts of kindness across the city and cause people across the country to view Baltimore in a more positive light.