Brothers and Sisters (and others): What should I do?

I'm in a bit of a dilemma right now.

Actually, I've been in this same dilemma for the last few years. Are you ready for this....are you sure?

I've resided in the great Windy City now for 6 years (less two months). I've lived in some fairly affluent neighborhoods, and in some not-so-affluent neighborhoods.

Where I live now (Logan Square) is right in the "middle" of the "affluency" scale.

This is the dilemma: I am constantly being approached by "pan-handlers." All the time. I am trying to remember a single day when I've not been asked for "change for the homeless...." Usually this is at the train stop, near the bus stops, near the places of business where I frequenty (grocery store, pharmacy, mostly), and even in front of the Church facilities on Sunday mornings.

And many times, it's the same people. I wonder why, many times.

I don't want to seem cold-hearted, non-compassionate, or uncaring--but I'm basically weary from getting "hit up" all the time.

When I first moved to Chicago, I remember going in a drugstore and buying a sandwich for a man who said he was "hungry and need something to eat." I spent my own money, and even asked him what he would like. He said "a sandwich." So I spent four bucks on a sandwich.

Which he promptly threw in the garbage can as soon as I turned my head. I walked over to the trash receptacle, and sure enough, the unopened sandwich was right there!

Sometimes the people asking for "spare change for the homeless" have a cigarette in their mouths, and often smell of alcohol. If they are truly hungry, I don't mind buying them a sandwich---but they will not con me into giving them "change" of any kind.

I can remember a lady holding a child down near all the Marshall Field's State Street store and telling me this sob story of how she needed to get on the bus with her baby, and how she needed 2 dollars to do this. I heard her out, and then waited for the bus with her.

When the bus arrived, I got on first, and offered to pay the bus driver to take the lady wherever she needed to go.

The lady REFUSED to get on the bus. The bus driver told me that she is one of the "regular con artists" at that busy area. She just wanted my cash--which she didn't get.

So what is a Christian supposed to do?

What say ye?

3 comments:

God's Child said...

I never have cash on my b/c I use a debit card all the time. I just say, "I'm not carrying any cash". I guess soon enough they'll catch on and have machines you can swipe to donate them some money.

Why not volunteer for an organization that helps the homeless and do your part that way.

Cynthia D. Grant said...

You could start to pray aloud for them right there on the sidewalk.

Something like:

Heavenly Father,You promised to supply our needs, and here is one who has need. I do not know the details of this life, but You do. Put your angels around and protect and minister to them. Open their heart to hear. I know you love them, let that love become real to them today.

If they are still standing there when you get done, ask them if they have ever heard of Jesus.

Nathan said...

Some good suggestions here Phil.

I like what you did - because it's exactly what I do - find the need behind the money and offer to fill it, actually begin walking in that direction, and they either allow you to meet their need or their true intent is exposed!

You need to be willing to give without strings attached -like when the dude threw the meal you bought him in the trash... and you must control the dialogue. About 80% of the people who panhandled me in Cleveland didn't take me up on it, the others, I got to buy a meal at the grocery store... a $10 shopping spree for them! What fun!