“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;” Luke 6:37
“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,” Matthew 25:35
I want to be better.
I came to urban ministry nearly four months ago. Up until then, my concerns for outreach were centered around the phone calls I received in my rural ministries, many of which were from people dialing every church in the yellow pages until anyone answered the phone. The requests fit a myriad of scenarios. Some were ridiculous, “Help me pay my $1200 electric bill. It’s about to be shut off.” Others were beyond comprehension, “I’m calling for X. She wants to relocate from Baltimore. Would you pay for 6 months rent?” Many times, I would be asked which church was I calling from again, as they had called so many. On one occasion, I called a cell phone and listened to a ring back tone, which I had learned the week before costs additional fees on a cell phone account.
In my current call, the church is located in the city center. Nary two days go by without someone knocking on the door or calling on the phone asking for money (bills! bus fare! ID replacement! Refrigerator! My favorite- motel, because he wasn’t interested in the mission.) Sometimes they want food. One man wanted a blanket. Honestly, I am tired of trying to discern which requests are authentic needs, which are heroin funders (yes, I’ve been taken in twice) or poor money managers. Which one is the working poor or the fool adept at depending on the generosity of others to fund their life, with no effort on their part?
I want to be a vessel for love. I know people get the short end of the stick in this life. They are the product of their environments and their station. Addiction is no joke- in its death grip there is little room for moral decision making.
I am on the verge of losing my compassion. Lord, help me. Give me a lasso of truth or some kind of ESP to discern the addicts (drugs or handouts) from those truly in need. I don’t want to judge, for I know Jesus calls us to give like the widow (she who gives when there is so little) without asking for a track mark check or an income/expense statement. However, I know who gives the money for these requests, and very often it is the widow herself- fixed income, living on a budget, wearing clothes she hasn’t bought new in several years. Her nails aren’t done but she does do drugs- for cholesterol, diabetes and heart problems. Those pills are expensive and often she’ll weigh the cost of where the money should go: pharmacy, groceries or church.You could say she’s had advantages, regarding color or economic status, and perhaps she did.
All I know is that the weight of being the steward is one I bear with serious consideration. Since the requests won’t be going away, I’d like some divine help.
Anyone got a lasso of truth they’d like to lend?