Monday, February 14, 2011

to give or not to give?

I was wondering around the city streets of Indianapolis Thursday night with some friends and a young (I'd guess 27ish) homeless guy approached me. I knew the speech he was getting ready to make, but I wasn't expecting the level of desperation i met in his voice as he asked for some money to get something to eat. "I just haven't eaten for days and I'm really hungry...is there any way you could help?" Following is the argument I had in my head...

Yes, I'll buy you something to eat. On the other hand, many former homeless persons would see this as enabling whatever is keeping him on the street (the real life guy from the Will Smith movie about a homeless guy and his son says he never gives money to homeless people but to homeless shelters because most homeless people aren't being honest about why their in the street)...then I thought of Jesus saying that if you give even a cup of cold water in my name...then I thought about all the homeless people I see every time I'm in Indy (like the ones who have signs that say, "Why lie, it's for beer!" I sometimes say to them..."there are other homeless people here with real needs and you want beer?")...then I think that maybe he's an angel (Hebrews...some have entertained angels unaware)...then I think wonder what he would do with this money if I give it to him (by now the usual burger joints were closed and he rejected my offer to take him into a restaurant - AHA - he's not really hungry)...then I thought, maybe he is lying and maybe it doesn't matter to Jesus if he's lying or not...then I talked to him and asked about his situation (still more desperation)...then I prayed, "Jesus what should I do?"...He said to give him some money (not literally mind you...I wish it was an audible voice, but he usual just nudges me by his Spirit living in me)...so I pulled out some money and gave my usual speech, "I want you to know why I'm giving you this money. It's because I love Jesus and I want you to feel his love in some way tonight. Please don't waste this on drugs or alcohol"..."I won't," he promised, and then added, "God bless you." Again, I wondered if he meant it or was just saying it, but he probably wondered the same thing. I don't know what happened to that guy or what he did with that money, but I felt peace about my giving and prayed a prayer for salvation in this man's life. Why did I give to this guy? I felt the Spirit was leading me to...but that doesn't always happen...sometimes I don't.

Next time (there will be many next times)...I'll probably have the same internal argument...and the outcome may be different.

5 comments:

GO Prayer Team said...

Great story Mike! I find that for some reason I am a magnet for those that are on the streets. I think of two instances...one in Russia, one in Peoria. In Russia, a young teen boy approached me and another American for money. As there were many homeless begging for money, we were not unaccustomed to this happening. We were very sceptical of his intentions and kind of shooed him off. Then that night we both had horrible dreams about this boy and were "haunted" by his face all night. So the next day we set out to track him down. Finding him, we took him to lunch, shared the gospel with him and parted ways never to see him again. Angel? maybe? Needy? I think so...never passed up the opportunity again. Then in Peoria at a Steak n' Shake. I remember his name...Wade. Came up to me with all of the usual things...asking for some "spare change man". I was there with my Aunt who was not a believer at the time. Standing there at the cash register, I knew what I had to do. No "audible" voice as you said, but He was speaking to me. So I told Wade that I did not have any money on me (the truth, my Aunt was buying) then I told him that what I did have was Jesus and that I would pray for him right there in Steak n' Shake. So...Wade started to cry, got on his knees there in the front of the place, I put my hands on his head and prayed I don't know what over him. All I know is that Wade was moved, I was moved and my unbelieving Aunt was mortified. Wade left that day (angel? could have been) having been prayed for, my Aunt left that day wondering what in world happened and I left feeling like I had been obedient even though it was a little odd. So...I guess some day I will see the other side of those two stories and know for sure what was in the mind of the great artist that was painting those stories into our lives!

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for giving to that man. There have been times I wanted to ask for help to feed my son, or wait til a place was closing to see if any left overs could be given to him...I'd even choose not to eat so he could eat. My story doesn't matter because it is like many others minus the drugs ans alcohol. It is humiliating to be in a place of need, and turn to a stranger for a handout. I don't know what that man used your gift for, but you gave with love. I know I would have loved and been deeply touched to have you spend time in prayer and helping me find hope...that was the gift I would have desired most with you. I hope like me, he fed his family a little, and heard that Jesus loves him. Thank you Mike for showing loving compassion.

Amber said...

Mike, I sincerely love your honesty.

Anonymous said...

I totally know what you are saying about to give or not to give. I work at a local church and am the receptionist. So I am the first person that deals with many homeless people. There are many that we refer to other places and some that call and I am told we can't help. I struggle with this all the time. I always think of Daniel 4:27. So many scriptures on the poor. It hurts my heart deeply.

Anonymous said...

Mike,
I have been needy with kids to feed, and I have been in a place where I have been approached for help. I have always helped (brought an old lady mcdonalds, a veteran a warm coat and a meal and even an obviously hungry dog a few burgers before I brought him to the humane society). I never hesitate, because to me if I give it honors and glorifies god. What the recipient chooses to do with that gift is between that person and god. If Iam able I give, and have been a very humble and thankful receiver. God Bless you for this and so many other things