What Can We Do?

This was a tough post to give a title to?  Do we call them Beggers?  Street People? Homeless People? Con Artists?  I don’t know.  All I know is,  they are there.  Men, Women, young, old, all races and some are handicap.  It’s not pretty, no matter who it is.  It has really become more noticeable in the city I live in.  Several years ago, we never saw these type of people on the streets unless we visited a larger city.  Now, they are on almost every major street corner in my city.

It’s a normal day when  running errands and stop at a red light and look over and there is someone standing there looking at me as they hold a sign that usually says, “Homeless, need money for my family.  God Bless You.”  Whew!  It’s a killer.  Do I  look straight ahead and pretend they aren’t there?  Do I get mad, that they have messed their lives up so that I have to feel guilty and give them money to eat?  Do I have pity on them and go on about my way?  Do I give them money?  If so, how much?  A dollar?  Five dollars?  I don’t know.  If I do, will they just spend it on drugs or alcohol?

I was talking to a deputy in our city recently and she said to not ever give them anything.  They are mostly con artists.  Our local Sheriff’s department has food and toiletries that they give to people on the street.  Our city also has homeless shelters and organizations that help people in need.

I always feel compelled to do something.  I do feel that I am wise enough to know when it is a dangerous situation or a really dishonest person standing on the corner begging for money.  I recently have seen a certain man in different locations around town with a small oxygen tank and a tube in his nose.  I do know that those small oxygen tanks don’t hold enough air for him to be on the street all day.  Is that judging?  We recently had a lady that had one leg.  Her sign read,” I’m on my last leg.”  It does catch your attention, but someone told me that she walks on that one leg to her very nice car at the end of the day.  I don’t know….maybe someone loaned the car to her, maybe she is a millionaire, I don’t know.  All, I know is it’s hard not to have compassion on these people. One time I saw a young lady with a baby in a carrier with a sign that said, “I need a job to feed my baby.”  I called one of our managers at our place of business to see if they would like to check on her to see if she really needs a job.  They said they had already seen her and asked and she said, “No, I don’t have time to work.”  So go figure that one out.

I make large bags with toiletries and various items in them.  I keep them in a bag in my car and when I feel safe, I will hand one of my bags to one of the street people.  Recently, I handed one to a lady on the corner and she said “Thank you so much, I so hope there is soap in this.  I need soap so bad.”  As I drove off I thought, “how can this be?”  In the bags I made, I included  a list of local places to go to for help.  Maybe she will go to one of those places and be able to get clean.  I don’t know.  I then have to erase it all from my mind and not worry about her.

Another time,  I handed a man a bag and he said, “God bless you, thank you so much!  Be careful out there.”  He was telling me to be careful?  Wow, all I could think  was, “how do these people stay safe with all the cruel people out there?”

If you missed my post on how I made my bags, you can click here to read about it.

When I drive away from a street person, my mind is flooded with thoughts.  Here is a list of things going through my mind:

  1.  What would make a person be so low that they are on a street corner asking for money?
  2. Are they alcoholics?  Have they messed their life up on drugs?  Are they mentally disabled and don’t know any better?
  3. They are somebody’s son or daughter.  Where are their parents?  How were they raised?  Does their family know where they are?
  4. Do they have children of their own?  When I see an older man, I think, “He is someones Daddy.”  Heart wrenching!  How does that child feel to know their dad is out there begging?  Or do they know where they are?
  5. How in the world can they get a job?  No home, no car, no nothing!  How could they take a job anyway?  People complain that they aren’t working.  When they get that low, it’s a miracle if someone will take a chance on them.  What a terrible cycle to be in.
  6. As I’ve looked in the faces, I pray for them.  There have been many times I’ve driven off and actually cried.  I’ve even cried out to God asking, “Help them, Lord!  Send someone that can help them!  Keep them safe!”
  7. And finally, I think…..But…by the grace of God………I could be that person.  I’ve never thought of myself so highly that I don’t think I could have never been in that same spot.  When I look back on my childhood and where I’ve been and what I’ve seen…….I know that I could have easily went another way.  I praise my Savior every single day for making a difference in my life.   It didn’t look to promising  for a little girl who was obviously at risk.  He rescued me in the nick of time at the age of 14.   May I never think so highly of myself that I would look down on those that are caught in a horrible web of hopelessness.  Many times I see some situations and it breaks my heart that they would let themselves get into the situations that would cause them to fall to the bottom of the pit.

One more thing; the next time you pass a homeless person on the street corner, smile at them and pray for them as you pass by.  I have a feeling many of them never receive a smile in a day.  We all need a smile, don’t you think?  We all need someone to pray for us.  They especially need prayer.

I felt I needed to write this post for myself more than anything.  I do hope that it inspires you somehow, someway.  If it did, I would love to hear about it.

I also wrote a post about having compassion.  Click here if you would like to read that post.  I never want to lose my compassion for others.  I have a feeling you don’t either.

In this day and time, safety is very important.  Discernment and wisdom are needed, too.  I’m very careful who I give the bags to and I never put myself in a situation that would be dangerous.  Just felt like I needed to clear that up.  It’s never dangerous to pray for those you see on the street as you drive or walk by.  Anyone can do that, don’t you think?

 

14 Comments

  1. I try to put food at a Food Pantry located 702 S Main..and you can donate whatever your heart desires..food item cans with a easy to remove top…and toiletries

  2. My girls and I just had this discussion a couple of days ago! Do you acknowledge them and just keep going? Do you give money? Food? Obviously, you can’t help everyone. Like you, I’ve heard of people handing out “blessing bags”. Sometimes, you feel compelled to give a few dollars or buy a meal. I think you just have to do what you feel in your spirit.

    1. I agree, the Lord will give you a nudge when there is someone truly in need that crosses your path. And other times, we might be the one that just needs to do something even if they don’t need it. I think a compassionate heart is important.

  3. This is really a tough issue. I frequently give them a dollar or so even though I know that is not the best solution but when you are at a stop light, there is not much time. I figure the rest is up to God – at least I tried. We recently bought gas for a couple trying to get to another town. When we left the station they pulled right back to the same spot and put their sign out again. Who knows????? I used to carry blankets in my car – especially in the winter and I would give someone on the street a blanket…till one day I offered a man a blanket and he simply told me that they didn’t need any blankets. A very tough issue. I often wonder when I am missing Jesus…

    1. You are so sweet. Even though they took advantage, I believe the Lord will bless your willingness. Our son was walking in a parking lot and someone drove up and asked for gas money. He asked them to follow him to the closest gas station. They then sped off. Lot’s of people taking advantage of the goodness of people. Tough issue, I know.

  4. Hey Beverly,

    Thank you for this post.
    My heart often breaks for the homeless also… and I too, think these same thoughts and ask the same questions myself.
    Several years ago, our Sunday school leader challenged us to pray about purchasing lunch on the go and not eating it. Instead, pray over it and ask Christ to lead us to he person that needed it. Our Sunday school teacher knew that we never missed a meal for sure!
    So, one day (that same week) my daughter and I set out to do just this. She was only about 2 years old at the time. We purchased our lunch at a local drive thru, pulled over and prayed. We set out and before long, there was a homeless man standing on a corner. We pulled up to him, told him that our lunch was his. He stood there amazed. My two year old took a nap hungry that day. She was born with a servants heart and even at 2 years old with me telling her that our lunch belonged to someone else… she said, “Ok Mommy”… I too got hungry that day. But the hunger headache passed and I thanked God for the opportunity to be His hands and feet to someone in need.
    Another time, we cooked hamburgers at home and I wrapped some up and set out to deliver them to a local homeless spot. They were no longer there. It still makes me sad to have missed them that day.
    Other times, we do give them money. I do agree that they should use local outreach sources provided.
    We let the Spirit lead our decision – what they choose to do with it is between them and the Lord. That’s how we make sense of it – if that makes any sense at all.
    I think the Lord just wants our servant heart. You are so right, that it could be any one of us standing on that corner. I am thankful everyday for His abundant blessings and for saving me when did!
    I am certainly thankful for your servant heart, Beverly. Your care packages are such a great idea. I think I will present this to our Home Group and that this can be something we can pay forward as families while keeping our children involved!

    Thank you!
    Shelley

    1. Shelley! I love your story! It gave me chill bumps! What a precious way to teach your daughter. That is something to always remind her of doing and she will always remember it. You are such a sweet mommy! Thank you for sharing. I just may have to those ideas soon.

  5. Oh, Beverly, I just encountered a situation like this with my two oldest Grans a couple of weeks ago. A lady was sitting outside of our Talbot’s and Chico’s stores (very nice area). She saw me walking by with the two of them and told me she was hungry and asked for some money. I was so shocked and a bit rattled because we were just a few feet from her and I had the Grans with me. She looked totally harmless and I told her I was going to give her $2 and if she was not telling me the truth then that would be her issue, not mine. I then loaded up the kiddos and left. They had soooo many questions and I talked to them about it and I’ve thought about it for a long time. I think I’m going to fix some bags and keep them with me and put some Christian tracts it them as well. It’s a sad world!

  6. Well written Bev, and wonderful advice! I follow God’s lead on who I do or do not help. And I’m always reminded of what my sweet Daddy has always has taught me “ya never know why a person does what he does until you walk in their shoes”. And this is a good reminder too…Judge not , lest you be judged!

    1. Thank you, Tammy! That is a very true statement that your dad taught you. We just never know what someone has been through. Thanks for sharing.

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