QA - Driving by the needy"
Pr. Jaynan Clark
March 8, 2012
"I feel so guilty when I just drive by someone on the corner who is begging but I don’t really know what I should do as a disciple. Any suggestions?"
Turning your head and acting like they are not there doesn’t work. Like you said, if you have an ounce of compassion you will not be able to leave it behind because the “it” is a him or her, a child of God. If you have come close to or have fallen through the cracks yourself as an individual or a family then you know that ignoring it is not an option because you remember all those who didn’t ignore you and yours. We turn our heads because we are ashamed. We turn our heads because we are afraid. We turn our heads because we are selfish and don’t want to share what we have. We turn our heads because we are sure they will just use it to tie-one-on, so to speak, so you will be just adding fuel to their fire. You turn your head and drive on and Jesus is the voice that confronts you, not a guilty conscience but a call to discipleship.
We all are beggars at the feet of Jesus and at the foot of His cross. Thanks to Him we don’t get what we deserve but what He bought and paid for with His life: forgiveness, hope, new life, a fresh start now and not yet. Real resurrection here and now. More than money, that is what needs to be passed on.
Consider the safety of the situation. Are you alone? Jesus sent the first ones out two by two so perhaps you need to bring someone back with you. Do your homework in your local community, in your Jerusalem. What is available? Is there an effective ministry like we have here, Union Gospel Mission, that you need to become more familiar with and active in. UGM here provides you with cards that have scripture and information on them explaining how they can get help to end their time on the street and get a chance at a new start. Volunteers are available as disciples to walk with them over a two year program that is very faithful and productive.
There is probably some ministry in your area doing this, if not then you should get involved in starting one. We all need to be about meeting real needs, one lost sheep at a time, no child of God left behind. Consider bringing in your car snack bags, food vouchers, prepaid cards to restaurants or for gas so that you can give something tangible and not worry if you just distributed drug or alcohol money. Many on the streets here in Spokane are making a “living” begging and don’t really want to get clean and sober at the “mission.” While one cannot assume that is the case … handing them the information about the help that is available and talking to them does help you understand the differences of folks out there.
Offering to pray with them is usually shockingly meaningful for them (and you) and welcomed. I rarely leave any conversation any more with just an offer that I will pray “for” someone but now go that extra step and pray “with them” as I believe that is what Jesus calls us to do as His disciples. He doesn’t much care that it takes you outside your comfort zone because life in Him is not about our “comfort” but about our true identity as His disciples. To be Christians and disciples means that you are one of the transformed, dependent children of God not conformed to this world lost sheep. You are sent out to “search and rescue” those not yet found.
Beggars, we all are, so let’s not think of them and us but “we” the people of “the Way” together on the streets and not just in the pews.