Any Spare Change Please?
by Sarah Mursell
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I was asked in the street last week,'Could you spare some change please'?
Often I am in a conflict between two minds when people are begging for money.
The reason is, that there are many drug users in the town where I live, not to mention homeless people. However, I've learned from having a similar way of life in the past, that most are homeless as a result of choosing to get wrecked instead.
Since those that beg have wised up to the fact that if they ask for food money, many kind folk will offer to actually buy them some, they ask for £2 to get into the homeless shelter for the night. The trick is, that no one can actually prove that they won't indeed truthfully use the money for that purpose.
Getting back to a conflict of opinion, there is one half of me( and in all of us I expect) that tells me it is not wise- rather dangerous to give someone money, whilst knowing full well they are now £2 richer toward their next hit. I might as well go a step further, be a real pal and score for them as well!
It is similar in a way, when our church gives food to the soup kitchen at harvest time. I am then aware, that most people will spend all their food money on drugs as well, because they needn't buy any food. My sister used to know people who would say,' Oh, it doesn't matter about food shopping, we can just go down the 'soupy'.
She has a point in the way that we are helping to keep them as they are, by not having to help themselves.
On the other hand, and this is the big compromising thought, Jesus tells us to give to all no matter what, although I've just realized that verse ( Matthew 5 v 42) is concerning our enemies.
I don't imagine that Jesus wants me to give people money to buy drugs with- not if I'm sure that is what they're doing.
As for the 'soupy', I can only conclude that for a start, not all who go there take drugs. Most of all, Jesus' love is unconditional to everyone. How often in the past I have been in the same state they are, and still- even though I certainly did not deserve it, Jesus never saw me go without my food, shelter and even family love and support.
However, I'm still not sure exactly what to do or say to the next person to ask have I any spare change please.
I f I were to say, ' I can offer you eternal change- the love of Jesus-choose or abuse it', I honestly don't think it would help them to God- in fact it might just put them off for good. Either that, or I'd get beaten up!
I would be really interested to know what you think, or any similar experiences you may have had.
So..... any spare ideas please?
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My friend and I went to San Antonio for a "girls weekend" a few months ago. We headed down to the Market to do some serious shopping - only to realize we had gotten there about an hour before they opened. So, we drove around downtown looking for some great "photo ops" when we noticed the number of homeless people on the streets. We decided to go to McDonald's and purchase 10-12 breakfasts and pass them out to the homeless people God brought our way. One particular couple stands out in my mind. They were an older couple, huddled together on the sidewalk, leaning against the wall trying to get out of the wind. We stopped and I got out and took them each a full breakfast. The woman was obviously mentally ill (as her husband had to tell her what the food was). The man looked at me and said, "Just when we think God has forgotten about us, He sends someone like you to remind us that we have not been forgotten." I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was then that I realized that if we allow ourselves to be open to the Holy Spirit, God will be faithful to show us who and HOW to help! I pray God continues to tender your heart to those people He would have you help! Blessings!
Read my article "Homeless, Will work for food." There you will read of one experience I had and it framed the answer once and for all in my heart and mind. If I give and they abuse the gift; if it were a true gift, then it is not up to me to tell them how to use what is freely theirs. I see believers withholding good, but not for the good of the beggar, no, it's self serving, they don't want to feel guilty. Hardly a dying to self. So, you lost a couple dollars; better a couple dollars lost than a stingy hand of control that keeps you in the grip of selfishness. If the Father says "Give" then give, don't do His talking for Him. Conversely, there have been times (few and far between) I have been told "I'll provide, you aren't the one I will use to do it, this time." There really is no ONE answer to "Any spare change please?" I just have a strong tendency to give; I'd rather lean toward that and hear Him say "no" then harden my heart and and miss hearing Him say "yes." Wouldn't you?