How Do You Extend A Helping Hand

The Bible reminds us of the enduring presence of the poor and needy; this truth remains evident in today's world. We don't have to search far to witness the overwhelming need surrounding us, with many individuals who could benefit from a helping hand. It's important to note that offering assistance doesn't imply a mere handout; rather, it signifies extending a helping hand.

So, what should one do when approached by a person on the street asking for money to alleviate hunger? Even in our relatively smaller community of Lafayette, IN, such encounters occur more frequently than one might imagine. Allow me to share a couple of instances where I faced this situation.

It's often easy to dismiss such requests with grumbling or even worse. However, one occasion, a gentleman caught me in the right mood, asking for money to buy a Coke from McDonald's. Instead of immediately dismissing him, I conversed, asking him questions. I expressed my uncertainty about his intentions—how could I know if he would truly use the money as claimed or instead indulge in drugs around the corner? He insisted, swearing on his mother's grave and every other grave imaginable, that he would never deceive me. I chuckled and remarked that he had every reason to lie. Still, I reached into my wallet, withdrew a $5 bill, and said, "Go buy yourself something to eat. However, if you choose to spend it otherwise, that's on you. Remember our encounter, as I'm still around, and our paths may cross again."

A few days later, I ran into him again and asked, "What did you do with the money I gave you?" He chuckled and pointed at his cigarette. I laughed as well and said, "I hope you enjoy it."

In another instance, while heading to a restaurant for a business lunch, a man informed me that he had just been released from prison, was hungry, and requested money for food. I replied, "Meet me back here in an hour, and I'll have a sandwich for you." After completing my business lunch, I purchased a sandwich for the man and searched for him, but despite walking around downtown Lafayette for 30 minutes, I couldn't find him. Naturally, I felt frustrated and vowed to never repeat the experience.

Yet, on a different occasion, as I was leaving my office late in the evening, a woman suddenly emerged from around the front of my vehicle in the dark parking lot. She explained that she was homeless, cold, and hungry and asked if I could help her. Initially, I grumbled a "no," and she started to walk away. However, the good Lord prompted me as I remembered I had a Wendy's grilled chicken sandwich in the back of my truck, which was intended to be my supper on the way home. I called out to her, saying, "Hey, if you'd like a Wendy's sandwich, I have one." She returned, accepted the sandwich, and expressed profuse gratitude. I simply bought another sandwich for my journey home, and it was perfectly fine.

While the good Lord doesn't expect us to give away our resources indiscriminately, showing compassion and mercy to our fellow human beings never goes out of style. It's essential to exercise discernment, but extending help and support to those in need is equally important.

-From Brad Neihouser


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