Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What do you do with the Sob Story?

This evening a man came to the door of the church with a sob story and asking for 7 bucks for bus fare. He sounded legit, but I’ve heard a lot of people looking for certain amounts of money for bus fare, especially back in Eugene the homeless (and anarchist… coincidence? I think not) capital of the US.
Well, firstly I didn’t have 7 bucks on me, but secondly I wasn’t sure if he was legit. So I went in and explained the situation to the church musician. He saw the number one concern in that situation to be my safety (which is good sense).
So we went back out and all we could offer the man was a prayer.
Seems like weak sauce to me.


LutheranChik said...

A lot of folks I know will give goods in kind rather than money, just to weed out the insincere. My pastor, though, will give money on occasion. He recalls dealing with an indigent individual whose sob story started falling apart, at which point he told the man, "You and I are both alike. We both tell stories for a living." Still gave him the money though.

Andy said...

It's tough. Jesus says to give to everyone who asks, but obviously if we did that a lot of people would take advantage (have you seen "Yes Man"?). Still, Jesus' command remains. I think the best thing we can give (and I really do think this is giving) is an ear, which you did.

A girl I know participated in a program at a local homeless shelter where she was asked to spend a day on the streets pan handling. She said the worst part was the people who would walk by and pretend she wasn't there.

If a person really is in need, our attention is quite valuable to them, and if we listen enough we might discern a right way to help. If a person is only pretending to be in need, your attention will probably annoy them. I'm reminded of the proverb Paul quotes in Romans, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads."

Christopher said...

Yeah, in my head kept ringing the words "did I ask for bread and I gave you a scorpion" and Kings "keep the bread fresh, because one day someone's going to come knocking on the church's door asking for bread."
I hardly even gave crumbs.

Andy said...

I think you did OK. In the passage about the bread and the scorpion, I believe Jesus says "How much more then will the Father give the Holy Spirit" -- at least in Luke's telling of the story. Prayer is no small thing to offer a person.

"I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...." (Acts 3:6)