Why are there more beggars around the holidays?
As I said earlier, I had to work hard to find some new traditions I had not talked about for Christmas, and my family came up with two things that were not exactly Christmas traditions, but I think need to be put in a blog. The first one came from my son, and it was a really good question, so I will tackle it first.
There are more beggars out around the holidays because of the simple fact that they know that people are more willing to share at Christmas time. This goes back to the blog on A Christmas Carol. There have been studies and on a good weekend beggars on a corner can make $100 to $180 dollars a day, but during the holidays that can go up to $200 to $300 dollars a day. The other problem is that there are professional beggars. In other words, there is a large group of people whose only job is begging. You may have seen in Houston on the news a couple years ago, where a man was using his children to go into busy streets to beg and he was arrested for child endangerment. When they checked out where he lived, they discovered that he had a nice apartment with several large TVís and all the latest electronics, which had been purchased from money they got from begging.
This is why I am very leery of giving any money to a beggar. In seminary, I had a friend who was in charge of the Mission in Montrose that ministers to run-away and troubled teens. He told me never to give money to a beggar because in the example of the teens he works with, that money will not go for food or a place to stay, but drugs or alcohol. He said if you feel compelled to give them something, give them food. My wife read a book several years ago call Shop, Save and Share. It was about how to get the best deals using coupons. In that book, part of the sharing was to purchase extra canned food with the savings from the coupons and leave the extra cans in the car. Then when you come across a beggar who says, ďWill work for foodĒ give him a few cans of food.
Another thing my friend from seminary said is never take one of these people home with you to do some work and then feed them because many time they will come back later with friends and rob you. He says the best thing to do is use the example that Jesus gave us in the Good Samaritan.
Luke 10:25- 37
25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Now what my friend means by following the example of the Good Samaritan is you see the Samaritan takes care of the manís immediate need to stop the bleeding and other first aid. In the instance of a person who really needs help, they will take a meal or canned goods. Then the Samaritan did not take them to his home but took him to an Inn. In Bible times, Inns were more than a place to stay, they were also like a hospital; they would take care of sick people, for a price of course. Therefore, for us today that would be equal to taking the person to a place similar to my friendís mission in Montrose here in Houston, the Star of Hope Mission or the Womenís Center. There are several places like this in the Houston area. They are much better equipped than you are to handle the problems of the person. The next part is also important not to forget. On the next day, the Samaritan gave the Innkeeper money to take of the man. He did not give it to the injured man, but to the Innkeeper. Therefore, we need to support the places that are set up to help these people so that they can continue their purpose to care for them.
I think my son asked about a very appropriate subject at this time of year that we all should think about. How you can show Godís love to these people, help them and keep ourselves safe in the process.