Monday, December 9, 2013

I made it disappear

I feel as if the Missional Minded Monday posts should make a comeback. One of the most difficult parts of living on-mission in everyday life is that everyday life gets in the way. Serving others takes thought and effort. Quite frankly, sometimes I barely have the energy to get through the day and finish all my standard tasks, much less seek out things to do for others.

A week or so ago, a friend sent a link about panhandlers in our nearby big City. It wasn't groundbreaking journalist, but rather a reminder of what we all know. Not all people asking for money are homeless. The money doesn't always go for food. They aren't always approaching with bad intentions.

The agreed upon best course of action (in the conversation that followed between my friend and I) was to keep a bag in our cars. Crackers, bottled water, and a rain poncho would make good items to have on hand to give out if approached. Also, these are things that would easily save if we weren't making frequent trips into the City.

If I'm honest, I didn't think about it again after the conversation. Since Jay and I moved, I'm further from the City and I don't make trips as often as I use to. I never made up the bag as discussed. Even if I had, it wouldn't have served me this weekend. HOWEVER that doesn't give me a free pass for my actions.

Dinner club with friends - the holiday edition - involved dinner in the Old City, followed by a Christmas play in a storefront downtown theater. Jay didn't go with me, and since the move its no longer practical to meet and carpool. This meant I walked from the parking lot (across the street and down just a hair) to the restaurant alone. In the dark.

So when I was approached by a woman asking for money, I freaked and did something I detest. I lied. Dressed in sparkly pants, a fancy jacket, carrying a designer bag, I told the lady I didn't have any cash on me. Truth be told, I have $13 cash in my Coach wallet.

I have no doubt I took the safe course of action. Stopping on a dark street alone isn't a smart idea. However, as a Christian "safe" shouldn't be my goal. Should it?

I encountered a woman who told me she had not eaten in 2 days. I turned a cold shoulder. And did nothing. Where was God's love?

How do you handle situations like this? What could I do differently? Should I always assume right motives and trust God to protect me? Do you have a game plan for addressing the need?


  1. I know the "regulars" in our city. And I'll occasionally keep a few dollars in my coat/jeans pocket for occasions such as this.

    The past year, I had a discount card and Chick-fil-a was one of the discounts. I bought a meal and always got a free chicken sandwich. Often there would be a homeless person as I was driving away from CFA and I could hand them the food. Most took it. Some did not and that's when I realized that I couldn't feel bad about my gesture. They apparently didn't need the money that bad. (I was giving them food that would have cost more than the change in my pocket!)

  2. Our local news has been doing a series on this. The recommendation is not to give cash. They checked and most of the pan handlers around here have nice vehicles and nice houses. We were approached a few months ago and I felt bad saying no, but then a friend of my husband ran into the same guy at the same place with the same story about his car breaking down... I think offering food is a good idea.

  3. My dad has recently been diagnosed with dementia (previous diagnosis was Parkinson's, but it was changed last week...long story, lol) and a few months ago, a man and his two children approached my dad while we were pumping gas and asked for money. I was very hesitant and immediately angry because so many people (marketing ploys, mainly) have taken advantage of his condition and his inherent generosity to get money. And I was worried he would give them a bunch of money when they didn't need it. They talked for a second (I was in the car with the baby) and they walked off to a nearby store. I got out and asked my dad what had happened, and, very coherently, he said the man had said he was traveling with his children, trying to reach Florida, and they were hungry. Dad offered to buy them lunch in the store. Immediately, I was humbled. That's the only word for it. Humbled by my dad's generosity and ability to still take care of others, and I was ashamed of my own first reaction of anger.

    All that to say...give what you feel called to give. If you feel like you need to give money, give money. If you feel led to give food, give food. Whether the person chooses to use your gift wisely is his/her decision. That's my two cents at least. =)