Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Agressive Panhandling: Giving the face a name & making a difference

Recently there has been a new buzz on FB. It seems people are tired of aggressive panhandling in our city and are trying to bring a stop to it. Or atleast maybe help people become aware of the pattern. Or perhaps they just want to vent and Facebook provides a place for that as well. 

You see, in our little ole town of Bellingham panhandlers have been on the rise. Not only the people that stand around waving their signs on corners but we are now being approached in parking lots. The sad stories the beggars share vary greatly (sometimes even by the same person)  but the basic request is the same: "MONEY please?"  

Recently a Bellingham local created a FB Page called Gas Girl Bellingham. People are rapidly liking this page and sharing their feelings of frustration and anger. There is name calling, there is an abundance of heated words and there are assumptions being made. 

It wasn't until a friend posted a rant on this new FB Page that I actually clicked on the link and read through what people were saying. It was then I was hit pretty hard. As I read through the last post, there, in black and white, was a young woman claiming one of the women pictured was her child's Grandmother. I can't say what she posted was complimentary to the woman. Honestly, it was sad to read what the girl thought of her. Still, it did give the woman a face and a name - a FAMILY. This woman did BELONG somewhere. 

My heart instantly went out to this woman. You see, my past could have easily led me to this point. I won't go into all of the depressingly sad choices I made in my younger years - but it is only by the grace of God he lifted me out of the pit. Somehow in my desperation of digging deeper and deeper into the muck I looked up and found Him reaching down with his loving hands waiting to scoop me up into His arms. All I had to do was begin to move in his direction with the simplest of words, "Help me", and He immediately rescued me from my despair. 

I have spent a lot of time pondering on the "WHY". Why did I know to look up? How did I know to ask? When covered in the grey storm clouds of chaos and confusion, how did I know I needed to cry out to God at that particular time? Was it the praying people in my life? I honestly believe this is a BIG part of it. 

So then, if indeed this is a part of my rescue story...What if these begging people are out there and no one is praying for them? What if there is no one who loves them? What if everyone is so tired of their junk, their lies, their brokenness, that the hearts and thoughts of those that know them become... "Let 'em have it" or  "They get what they deserve!" And if family feels this way, how much more will strangers? 

Don't get me wrong,  I understand the fear of the unknown. I myself have times where I feel I don't want to expose my children to the potential risk a stranger might bring. Heck, there are times I feel uncomfortable with people approaching me at all. It is true though, that begging person on the street you see, that face has a NAME and a FAMILY. Even if they don't have family anymore they do have a CREATOR who loves and adores them. Who is just waiting to RESCUE them, if given the chance.

I wonder if everyone has given up on them, sees them as hopeless, worthless and is scared of them. If they simply make us angry because they ask (even if the ask is for an addiction). Well, how will they know the love of God? The love of God is RELATIONSHIP. The word relationship that we are talking about is an action of interaction, caring, loving. How can we possibly do this? 

As I bring this post to a close I think I am asking each of us to ponder and pray. There is not one of us who can possibly know for certain the "why"  behind a persons life choices. The "If" we should help them. The "How" to make a difference. We cannot possibly know what will make a lasting impact, but if we pray, God can and will use us in the lives of others. He will give us discernment and wisdom. Most importantly he will give us His HEART for the broken. On our own we are all broken with no hope. With Christ ALL THINGS are possible. So let's lean into Him and find the hope for the future. 

The more we reach out in love towards others, especially when they haven't earned it, will bring life change for the receiver and the giver. 

Ephesians 2:7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.  

-Simply Sublime

No comments:

Post a Comment