He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Nail Salon Stranger
Panhandling I would say is my most difficult thing to handle in urban ministry. My husband and I have had multiple nights of being awaken from out of sleep to be asked for money. While this blog post has nothing to do with you "knowing" what we do, it has everything to do with the everyday struggle of wanting to know, "God should I give?" "How much?" "What if this person will not do what they said they would with what I give?" In ministry God continues to answer all those questions for me as I look to the Holy Spirit for wisdom, grace and discernment.
Today as I sat in the nail salon getting all cute for my foreva boo (lol), a man walks in stands over me as I am serviced and says, "Hey big sis, uh, I have cancer, will you please feed me"? ( at the time I was thinking: first of all..who you calling BIG?! You dont know me bruh! --have to keep real and let you know what was happening in my heart in that moment)
My heart drops as I continue to listen to his story of being sick, and having no food. The owners of the salon begin to ask him to leave me, (their costumer) alone. I proceeded to explain to him that I didn't have any cash on me, which I didn't, I also explained to him that I could not take him anywhere and that I would meet him at the restaurant next door and buy him whatever he wanted to eat. He waited, and while he did, he begins to preach scripture in a way I had never heard before. I mean, he was everywhere with his words, some of which were not words of Christ but of M. L. King. and in the middle of every 4th sentence he would look at my daughter and say,"God is good..." and she would respond and say,"all the time!" I was so confused.
Anyway, I walked over to the restaurant to purchase him a meal and when I get there the owners and workers were blocking him from entering their establishment. It seems my friend had insulted many of the workers and would not leave as he was asked to. He was known as a constant beggar/trouble maker in their place of work. The owner begins to warn me not to spend my money on such people, they begin to explain to me that this guy was a con artist and the very food I had purchased him was about to be taken to the dope man who has been sitting on his tail all day selling drugs. The dope man receives free food in return for the drug addict to receive free crack and everyone is happy. The owner begins to tell me that I needed to be smart and not be naive and to remember what the bible says..which is,
"if a man DONT work, HE DONT EAT"..
I immediately got frustrated and all sorts of questions pop up in my head...
" God what about the example you give us in Matthew 25:35-40?" What do I do with that?
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I shared that verse with the owner and she just didn't get it. She believed I was taking that verse out of context and that I just needed to be smarter. Though I didn't agree with her, I knew her talk was coming from a lady who was tired of being hustled and who knew what these streets were all about. I humbled sat and listened to all she had to say.
As a friend and I talked about this later, she reminded me that many times we encounter situations of pan handling it really is about God wanting to do something in our hearts as much as it is about whether or not this person will really eat the food I buy them. God always wants to show me where my "treasure" in this world is. Do I trust HIM with my finances? DO I not know that all that I have belong to him and that he calls me to give these things away as he see fit?
Today, God used what others thought was foolish giving to teach me again what it means to live sacrificially. I may not ever know what he really did with his food, but what I do know is God prompted me to do something and all i wanted to do was obey. What happens after that is in Gods hands and its not for me to control. I think that's the way I need to think in all my giving.
Its lessons like these that makes my heart glad about where I am. I had an encounter with God today and I am so thankful!