Children of Godgreenspun.com : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread
I am posing this question to the community for opinions. I purchase lunch from a vendor, and recently a woman attached herself to the vending cart asking for money, she says, to purchase a meal. This woman is pleasant as she panhandles from cart patrons, exhibits no outward signs of insanity, and uses a container with the words "God bless you" prominently displayed on it. Today, she placed a Bible in the container. When previously questioned by a concerned patron, the woman stated that she had not followed the instructions of her social worker for food and shelter although she knows that she should and understands it is not necessary for her to beg for food on a daily basis. I give this lady whatever change I have because I feel the constrained to do so, even though I feel I am being manipulated. Please help.
-- Anonymous, August 10, 2000
Difficult question indeed. In the midst of my compelling desire to see none of God's children injured or impinged on, I am nevetheless somewhat cynical. I offer the following observations (spoken by permission, and not by "commandment"):
1) "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime." Is there anything you can do to assist this lady in getting a job? Is she in a "job-ready" state? My concern here is that you may lose the joy of giving and begin to feel put upon if she hits you up simply because she know's you're a soft touch. She may very well be needy, but that change of heart could lead to a decision that impacts the needier if you should decide to be less generous.
2) Don't be fooled by the Bible. In fact, you can't always trust what someone knows about the Bible ("The demons know the Lord, and do tremble"). If you are going to give, let it be from a pure, merciful heart, and not from motivation by guilt. Then your giving would be in vain, and the Lord would not be pleased (Matt 7:21-23).
3) Is she asking for money for food? Buy her food directly. This is where my personal cycnicism kicks in, given the prevalence of smoke, weed, alcohol, crack, and other drugs in areas where my "charity" is typically sought. You may choose to buy the food for her there at the vendor, offering to share that. Invite her to have a meal with you. Establish a fellowship that nurtures her soul and her being as much as the food nurtures her body.
If you are affiliated with a local assembly that has an active food relief progam, you may want to ask them about vouchers. Some churches with food pantries accept vouchers for the needy. Then you know the money is going to buy food, and the food is going to the needy.
Your question is a diificult one. We are compelled by example, calling, and desire to love "even the least of these", but we are cautioned to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Continue to bless, that the flow of your love may not be stifled, but let your blessing be to the constructive, and not the manipulative.
-- Anonymous, August 10, 2000
My first question to her would be: "Do you want to be made whole?" If her response is positive, then examine her needs and try to effect a permanant solution such as another respondent suggested.
-- Anonymous, August 11, 2000