Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.

Least of These…

on July 3, 2013

Something very interesting happened to me yesterday. I’m not sure how I feel about the events, but I figured I would share it with you anyway.

Now let me preface this story with a little about my background. I grew up in Hannibal, Missouri which is a pretty small town. It was pretty safe, and I lived a pretty sheltered childhood. I would would walk to the grocery store and play at the neighbors’ houses. Pretty much the only rule in the summer was to be home before the street lights went on. There were people who were homeless in Hannibal but I had very little contact with them. I was taught that it was their fault that they were homeless. In fact, the impression was that they were lazy or stupid. That something was wrong with them, and that they would take advantage of you and use money you give them to buy drugs or alcohol. Now I’m not saying this is correct but these are the things that I was taught. I avoided people who were dirty and sometimes even gave them a dirty look.

Last summer, in our training a wonderful woman of God named Lorenza came and talked to us. She is from Texas and is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She has been called to a ministry of “doing nothing,” as she calls it. She has sacrificed her health benefits and safe comfortable home that is afforded most ordained elders to become homeless and live among those who are considered the least of these. At first, I was confused by her and her perspective on why she would do this. Who would do this  and why? As we listened to her story, I was moved beyond my original perspective on people who are homeless to one of compassion. Not all people are the same, and I shouldn’t assume that all people who are homeless are lazy or will take advantage of you. There are some that for one reason or another cannot afford housing. I began to think about this more and more.

Now, of course, I live in a big city, and it isn’t uncommon for me to see people standing on the corner asking for money or sleeping on park benches. Most of the time, I don’t do anything and then after I drive away in my safe, comfortable car I start to ask myself is there something I should or could have done to help the people who I see on the corner. I don’t typically carry cash so I generally don’t have anything to get, but maybe I could keep some crackers or something small in my car to hand out.

Now last week, on my way to a Family Fun Night I saw a man under an overpass from the highway as I was stopped at a stoplight, and I did have a couple of dollars so I gave that away. I didn’t really need it. I make more than enough money to pay for gas and groceries. He thanked me with a big grin on his face and said “God bless you lady. I have enough to go get a sandwich at that shop over there now.” The light turned green and I went on my way, but I could tell that the man was grateful for what I had done. And honestly, it wasn’t much!

So I’ve been thinking about this for the past week or so and then yesterday as I was leaving work I saw a man and a woman walking through the parking lot. I could tell by what they were wearing that they were living on the street. I waved and then immediately they asked for help. The man immediately said that they were hungry and that his wife had been attacked by a dog and was hurt. He said they needed a place to stay and some food. Well I didn’t have any cash on me and didn’t feel safe inviting them to stay with me nor is it allowed under my apartment lease. I don’t know why I did this but I told them I’d walk over to the Subway and buy them a sandwich. I explained that I didn’t have a lot of money but I could spare $5 to buy a footlong and that would help feed both of them.

So as we walked the 3 or 4 blocks over to the Subway, we talked a little bit. I explained that I worked at the church as a missionary. The man smiled and said thanks for your service and shook my hand immediately. Then he began in on the signs of the beast and a whole lot of things about the signs that the end times were coming. He talked about the government implanting chips in people who were going to get the national heath care. Now I don’t know a lot about the Book of Revelations. In the churches that I have attended that is not a topic that is typically addressed. It actually is avoided most of the time as something confusing and somewhat irrelevant to our daily lives as Christians. In fact, I don’t even remember talking about that book during my New Testament class in college. So I pretty much just listened to what they had to say as we walked.

When we got to the Subway the woman and I walked in and the man stayed outside presumably to continue trying to get more help. At this point, I began to feel a little more like I was being played by this couple trying to get at my soft side. She knew the people who worked there by name, and they knew her order by heart. It made me feel a little less comfortable with the whole situation, but  I went through with buying them a sandwich and then left and went on my way.

I honestly still don’t know how I feel about that situation. I kind of feel used. It didn’t give me the warm happy feeling that giving that man from under the overpass money did. I keep thinking about them and the things that they said. I feel like they knew the whole area really well and are working the system. But then I think about scripture and what Jesus would have done. He probably would have sat and shared the meal with them. I guess it doesn’t really matter what their intent was but that I tried to help some people that I saw were in need.


One response to “Least of These…

  1. Cara says:

    I am kind of like you. Not sure if you got took or not. You gotta wonder what puts people in those situations. Was it the result of their behavior or was it a series of just bad luck. I hate to reward bad behavior, but on the other hand am always will to give a hand up, but not a hand out. I would be more apt to purchase food for someone than to give them money. I would rather know that they had food than to purchase drugs, cigs or alcohol with the money I gave them. You have a kind heart, which puts you at a risk of being took and they (those out to scam you) can see you coming from a mile away. Most of the time your instincts are correct. If you have the gut feeling and it doesn’t make you all warm and fuzzy. I would find out were your shelters, food pantries, etc are in the area and direct these people to them. Wish I had time to read more of your stories. Your description on fb made me curious and just had to find out what you were up to. Hope all is well 🙂

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