Would you help me if I was homeless?
One Thursday evening in July my parents arrived from Australia for a visit. They got here safely but one of their bags didn’t make it here with them! It was tracked down to their last stop in Dallas and was meant to be delivered on Friday. However by 9.30pm we gave up hoping it would arrive and I decided that I really needed to go out and buy an adapter so Dad could use his CPAP machine to help him breathe while he slept. He had slept one night without it and managed with borrowed clothes for the day but I wanted to know he was breathing and sleeping well. I worked out Walmart had adapters and off I went to buy it.
Getting back in the car after buying the adapter I headed towards home, stopping at the lights just past the parking lot. Looking out the window I realized someone was standing at the intersection with a sign on his front. On it was written “Hungry, Can you help, Homeless.” He wasn’t looking at anyone, his head was hung and he appeared quite dejected. I quickly looked around the car and found nothing to give him and was grabbing at change when the lights turned green and I drove away feeling bad that I hadn’t managed to help and wondering what I should have done.
I quickly decided that I still wanted to help and even though it was getting really late and I wouldn’t get to bed when I’d committed to, for me it was important to do something practical to help someone I saw in need. All the way home I thought about what food I had that I could get for him and prayed that he would stay there long enough for me to get back to give it to him. I decided I wanted to put some snack type packets of food in the car so I’d have something if I ever saw someone like this again. While I was thinking about this I drove past my turn off!
As soon as I got home I let my parents know what I was doing and packed up some food. Dad came with me to go find the young man again. We reached the spot I had seen him but he wasn’t there anymore. Looking around quickly to see if he was still nearby Dad spotted a young man walking away down towards a coffee shop. When I could I turned the car around and we drove back to the area we had seen him heading. There sitting outside the coffee shop was a young man with his head in his hands which I was sure was the one I had seen at the intersection.
I parked the car and Dad got out and went over to speak to him. He asked him if he had been up at the lights and he said he had. Then Dad asked if he had managed to get some food and from the car I saw him shake his head. Dad told him that we had some food for him and brought him over and gave it to him and he told the young man that he was sorry he couldn’t offer him a place to stay.
Driving away I expected to feel good about doing a good deed for someone however instead I started second guessing myself about whether what I had given him was good enough. I began wondering about where he would sleep and questioning why I didn’t think to offer to buy him a drink. I began thinking again of what I could do in the future.
My husband and I have often talked about taking our boys to give food to the homeless. We want them to grow up learning to do practical things to help others. Even when we talk about investing in real estate we have dreamed about being able to afford to help someone out with a place to stay until they get on their feet.
I also wished I had been the one to go and talk to the young man. Yet when I thought about it I wasn’t sure it would have been the best idea. It pains me to think that some of the reason was because I wanted to be acknowledged for helping him, for him to know it was me that saw him and got the food! I did honestly want to help him because my heart went out to him and I felt for him. If I was homeless and hungry I hope someone would help me!
Regardless of whether he knows I had anything to do with it God knows and that really is all that matters. I’m praying that more and more my heart will be right and my need for recognition will disappear and the joy of giving will be enough. Matthew 25:37 – 40 puts it this way, “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
I know I love helping people and I want to be used by God to bless others. Knowing that when I do things for others He views it as if I’m doing it to Him makes it all the more important to me to reach out and touch others with loving words and deeds.
It’s easy to think it won’t happen to you but what if it did? The words on the young mans sign struck a chord in my heart – “can you help?” – I had the ability to help and I chose to make a difference for him. What about you? Would you help?
© Copyright 2015 Kerryn Booth