By: John Thomas Heiligenthal
It’s an ever growing trend to see busy street corners with homeless men and woman panhandling for spare change. “Dollar, man! Can you spare a dollar?” I’ve often heard this phrase as I’m walking into some of the big super saving box stores. Even as I’m waiting at a light at an intersection I have been approached. Crudely made cardboard signs that point to the fact that the person is hungry and in need of money and usually with a “GOD BLESS YOU” written or spoken.
“Sorry, I don’t carry cash on me.” is what a lot of people say; in fact it’s something that I say most of the time to homeless asking for a hand out. Our society in America has become heavily dependent on swiping that plastic card in our wallet for everything and therefor you may legitimately don’t have change on you. Maybe, you did have a couple bucks on you but you already have allotted that to your morning coffee or afternoon cheat snack that’s not on your diet. You can’t just be giving away your change to complete strangers!
Proverbs 19:17 ‘Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.’ But how do you know the person asking you for money will use it for good? That they will use it for food like their sign says. Proverbs 21:13 ‘Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.’ “But I can’t give a dollar out to everyone on every corner asking for money, I’m going to be broke myself!” Can you help that homeless person in other ways? They are asking for money or food and maybe you don’t have anything to help but we can’t be quiet about their situation.
If you give them a dollar did you just fund their drug or alcohol addiction? I personally have never had any luck at judging a book by its cover. But in our society we have come to realize that it is a problem and we know we don’t want to contribute to such things. So, where is the nearest shelter or church that you can direct the person in need to? Finding out that information can be a way you can help if you are unable or untrusting to give them money. Proverbs 31:20 ‘She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.’ This verse isn’t saying money was given out, it says she reached out to help.
As a Christian, God wants us to help the homeless and less fortunate out. Is it weird and kinda scary? I won’t lie, most of the time it is. It is out of our comfort zone, we are not inside the four walls of our Church. This is why Church is not a building or multi-million dollar theatre where God’s word is preached Sunday mornings. Being a Christian means that your Church is on Earth and with the people you interact with daily, including homeless people. Mark 16:15 ‘And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’ The Bible isn’t saying only talk to people inside your Church building about God but to everyone. “Dollar, man! Can you spare a dollar?” Be honest with them, get out of your comfort zone, give them a dollar, share with them a location to help them out…maybe just pray for them as you roll on by the street, just don’t ignore and hope the next person does something.
*An idea is to have some small business cards printed up with the information of a church or shelter that deals with homeless people. You can even staple it to say an energy bar or bottle of water and keep a few in your vehicle.