Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Ethical Dilemma...Homeless...

So, we have had an interesting dilemma in our house for the past week. On Thanksgiving, a nice guy came around asking to do yard work so he could feed his son Thanksgiving dinner. Brandon agreed to allow it, and we even invited him for dinner, which he declined (saying he wanted his son to think that he could provide for him.).  I don't tell you this so you can pat me on the back. Just keep reading for a moment.  So Brandon gave him a decent amount of money...more like two or three trips of yard work would have paid.  He was so grateful and said that it would feed his family for a week!  We were encouraged, and on we went.  We figured he would be back in a couple weeks. 

If you are wondering where the random man came from...and this is not the first time we've had one is because when you live in a super old neighborhood, you also usually live near the procjects.  It is fine, but it is a fact of life :)  When we had our adoption yard sale, we had a lady come up from the projects (which she could walk from) and she said, "Well, if you ever need a babysitter, I would love to do it"...and gave me her phone number. Which was really nice and thoughtful :)

Okay, so anyway...this guy came back on Saturday (two days later) and asked if he could do work in the front yard.  I told him we didn't need it right now but asked him if there was a way I could contact him.  He said, "NO", but asked if I had any money that he could get food with.  I said yes.

Obviously we have a passion for the lost and broken. It is my heart to help. My goodness, we are adopting an orphan!  But do we really care? Do we care enough? Do I really want to help...or do I just feel like it's what I 'should' do? Because I can't figure out what I will do if he comes back.  How do I help the homelss without helping those that will not do the right thing with the money? Do I help anyway and just hope that they do the right thing? How can I make a sustainable change for them and not a temporary fix?  I have NO IDEA.  It is confusing.  How do I follow t he Lord in this area?

It's not keeping me up at night, but it does make me think.  Brandon keeps trying to talk me into adopting two babies at once because he says, "imagine if Briar were able to be saved by just providing him food and water....even if we had to make major sacrifices....we would do that!  We would do whatever we could to give him life.  And that is what those babies are facing in Ethiopia. No future.  No life.  But we can change that".  His heart is so big.  I love thinking back to the days right after we got married. We always talked about adopting two.  I just don't know if I can do both at one time!!!!! :) 

So fun to see the journey our lives are going on.  Who knows what will come next.

Trying to follow this commandment. Trying to figure it out.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'
-Matthew 25:31-40 (NRSV)

gray ric rac copy


  1. My great grandmother, Bigmama, fed people in her neighborhood. One lady, Miss Virginia, would walk down from the area called "Punkin' Bottom" from time to time and Bigmama would give her a brown grocery sack of items. Mr. Charlie, was not able to walk down, so when I learned to drive at 16, I began taking her up the road to Mr. Charlie's to make deliveries. He lived there with his special needs grandson, and let me just tell you that house was amazing. This was late 1980-something and the walls were wooden slats, the appliances and cabinets were old rusted metal models from Lord knows when, and the floors were wooden slats too - nothing was sealed, plumb, or new. But all was clean and tidy. Bigmama would give out essential items, like canned goods, but also home baked things as well. I have no idea how Bigmama knew of these folks. Who knows, maybe they just stopped by one day - like at your house.
    Anyway - blah, blah - all that to say - give them food. You can meet that need without handing over cash.

  2. Hey girl. Our church is in the middle of a not so great area with projects a stones throw away. Many of our members and most of the elders and a lot of deacons live in the area. Our pastor preaches and teaches on this dilemma a lot. The best advice i have ever heard on this is to fulfill the need the have asked for. If they ask for food, give them food. If they ask for clothing, clothe them, shelter, shelter (w/in reason and capability). Etc. Just like the verses above stated. The one thing they have steered us away from doing is giving money....not because they don't need it....but because and unfortunately their request has selfish motives to sin and not to provide. Not all of the time, but a lot of the time.

    They encouraged us to actually buy them the food, eat with them, buy the clothing with them, shop with them. Like you were trying to do with they guy. Asking them over etc. Eating with sinners, like Christ. If their motives are pure, and we pray they are, they will take you up on the offer. If they are not pure motives, they will usually make up an excuse to just get what they really want; money.

    Im not saying that this is what happened with your guy. i think its encouraging he came back. but i did just want to tell you what we have learned about this dilemma. and it definitely is a dilemma. Good for you guys in caring for this stranger. I pray he comes to Christ because of your kindness.

    Adopt two, just saying!!! hahaha just kidding. that can be very overwhelming, im sure!

  3. I heard somewhere that when giving $ to those in need or who ask for it, that giving in the name of Jesus and verbally telling them what it is meant to be spent on- then you have given as the verse says- you have done what they asked for by them in the first place. what they choose to do with that money is between them and the Lord once it leaves your hands.....
    before even hearing that....
    it truly is a dilemma. so many times when people have asked me for money, i looedk at them and said no (when often times i don't really have the cash) but also because i have judged or stereotyped them for using the money for drugs or alcohol. this is something i always ask the Lord for more help in this area......
    its hard when they just want the $ and won't accept actual food, shelter, or clothing.

    its encouraging to know that he wanted to work for money. maybe having little jobs around the house-maybe not inside- for him to do if he were to come a relationship can be's hard knowing how much to trust people (another dilemma in this area).....

  4. It is a dilemma. You want to help. We've been called to help. For God so loved that he GAVE... we should do the same. However, sometimes when we help it hurts. Christians have largely financed the building of the largest slum in the world in Nairobi, Kenya. The people stuck in a cycle of poverty because Christians on short term mission trips who mean well and have hearts of gold provide for them. They've never had to work. They've never been empowered to create. They've never been pushed to give of themselves. There is a book "When Helping Hurts" ( that provides some really helpful perspectives on your dilemma. Let me know what you think.

  5. Hey Brooke! I second Danielle's post! haha. After reading your post, I was scrolling down to type pretty much the same thing when I saw that Danielle already had. {Can you tell we go to the same church?} But I have seriously been blessed by the wisdom of our elders & deacons in this area. Tim Keller has a great book "Ministries of Mercy" too. But basically it comes down to this: meet the real need.
    If they need "money for gas", offer to go to the gas station and pay for a tank for them. If they need "money for food", give them a sandwich or take them out to lunch. If they really need what they said they did they will be thankful & you will be serving them! (They may even get more than they bargained for- a spiritual conversation with you.)
    And if they refuse your sandwich, etc they probably didn't have pure motives & will probably just leave & you won't have to worry about whether or not you're enabling some bad habit. Either way, you will be living out the gospel.

    So thankful for your hearts for orphans & the poor & powerless!

  6. I agree with Danielle and Bethany... give what they need, rather than money.

  7. Okay, so I agree too, about giving them what you need, but what if you don't have it?? We didn't have any food products to give that day. I didn't feel comfortable driving him to Burger King by myself (where he said he wanted to go) is tough. I am seriously going to buy some stuff to keep in my pantry in case it happens again! :) Thanks for the comments, friends!

  8. I have to tell you that my husband and I adopted 2 babies from Guatemala. It was a dream for us to just be able to get one, but then the Lord placed it on us to adopt 2, and he provided the path to do so. finances, help, everything we needed... and it was the best thing to ever happen to us. I think God may be speaking to you thru your husband, remember the greatest rewards are often met by the biggest challenges but You seem to me a girl that would be up for the climb!

  9. you are amazing...and trust me, you can do two. ;)