“Hey, Can you Help Me?”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw an unkempt man walking toward my car. Oh no, I thought. I make it a practice not to give money to people on the street. Here I was in the drive-through lane at Burger King. From about 15 feet away the man asked, “Would you buy me the cheapest hamburger they have? I’m starving.”
From the safety of my car, I responded. “Sure, I can do that. Do you want fries?”
“Yeah. I really appreciate it.”
The disheveled man had become a person with a voice, a personality, a need.
“I’m happy to do it. God loves you!”
He smiled and pointed his index finger at me. “Jesus loves you. The Holy Spirit loves you.”
I grinned, suddenly feeling quite comfortable with this stranger, and told him I’d meet him at the end of the drive-through, then ordered for both of us. After paying and collecting our food, I handed the man his food and coke, along with a packet of protein bars, juice, wet wipes, etc. that I keep in my car for occasions like this. “Here’s a little something for later.”
“Really. What’s your name?”
“Thomas … I’m the doubter who put my finger in Jesus’ side.”
“Hi Thomas. I’m Carol. Is Jesus your Savior?”
“Yeah. I love him.”
“Me too. I hope you have a good day. God bless you.”
He raised his elbow to touch mine. “And you … peace up!” as his thumbs pointed upward.
It’s easy for me to judge someone who is homeless…to think they must not be trying hard enough, might be using the system. And while that may be true for some, Jesus didn’t tell me to check a person’s attempts at finding a job before giving. What if he required me to be ‘worthy’ before he would love me? I don’t know what caused Thomas to become homeless. I don’t know his story–his family, education, the experiences and relationships that have brought him to the circumstance in which I met him. But his request gave me an opportunity to serve–and his response about Jesus made us family. “There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.” Deuteronomy 15:11, MSG.
What are some practical ways you’ve found to help those in need? I’d love to hear your thoughts.