31 Days: Day 30 – Discernment in Outreach

Outreach will indeed call for the need to be wise and discerning. Typically I can discern a true need from the “I’m dressed up to look homeless and asking for money but really I’m just fine” kind of a person. I’ve seen enough of both to recognize the difference. Not every time but generally speaking.

Last night Sophie and I waited in the van while Randy ran into the store to grab something. While we waited a man came to the window and asked if I could “help a homeless man out” (his words).  I’m not sure what got into me – possibly it was being on day 29 of 31 days of writing on outreach or having just meditated on Isa. 58 the day before (all about helping the needy) or what – but I totally fell for this man’s plea. It went like this:

  1. Me: Well, what exactly do you need. Are you hungry?
  2. Man: Yes Ma’am that would be good.
  3. Me: How about Mc Donald’s down the way?
  4. Man: Well I really would rather have a loaf of bread, bologna and some cheese.
  5. Me: Okay, we can get all that inside this store right here. My HUSBAND is on his way out right now.
  6. Man: I really like a certain kind of bologna and they don’t sell it in there. They only sell it at the gas station at __________ (on the other side of the tracks in a bad area of town).
  7. Me: Ummm, well I really think the meat inside this store will be just fine.
  8. Man: I can’t go in there. They’ll think I’m soliciting and I’ll get in trouble. Can you just bring it out to me over there on those steps (in a dark alley).
  9. Me:  (still not clueing in to what was going on) Okay, sure, we can do that.
  10. **Randy comes back to the van.
  11. Me: We need to get that man over there some food. The one in that dark alley.
  12. Randy: What? Why? No, we don’t.
  13. Me: Yes, we really do. He needs it. (I tell him everything the man said)
  14. Randy: I can’t believe you’re falling for this. (Man walks over to van window)
  15. Me: Fine, you tell him we can’t get him any food.
  16. Man: Sir, can you take me to ________ to get a certain kind of bologna?
  17. Randy: No, but what about McDonalds next door?
  18. Man: Well……..ummm…..can you just get it and bring it to me.
  19. Randy: No I don’t think so.

Randy helped me see this dude really was fine. He was preying on suspecting people like ME. I’m usually the last to fall for something like that. Now that I look back on the whole thing I realize how bad the whole thing was. He couldn’t be seen by either store because he’d been there before and had been asked to leave. He wanted a ride to a certain place, in a bad section of town, for a certain kind of food that couldn’t be purchased at any of the normal grocery stores in town. HELLO!!! Wake up Melody.

I hugged and thanked Randy when we got home for helping me see and for protecting us. We’d probably all be dead right now….. with a bag of bologna next to us! Okay, not really.

So yeah, we must be discerning in our responses to people when they ask for food, clothing and shelter. God tells us to provide these things for the needy and the poor but we must rely on His Spirit to help us know who the needy and poor are. Be wise! I’m preaching to the choir.