God, Perspective, Trusting God, Uncategorized

Homeless: A Heart Like Jesus

Home doormat

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Can I be honest and say I am a cynic?

And I am convicted.

As I watched this video, I was challenged to think about what home is.

I’ve seen and given to people who were wearing new tennis shoes and decent-looking clothes, and I’ve questioned if they were really homeless, or if they were trying to turn a quick buck.

Homeless man near bridge

I’ve wondered if the money I give would really be used to buy food, or if it would purchase the temporary buzz of drugs or alcohol.

I’ve walked with someone who asked if I had spare change into a convenience store and bought him a sandwich.

I’ve offered to buy a McDonald’s meal for someone asking for cash, only to have it turned back in my face.

I struggle with knowing how to best identify someone truly in need and how to genuinely help them.

I don’t want to be a cynic when it comes to my fellow man.two homeless men

I want to have the heart Jesus does for people who are homeless. For those who have lost family, jobs, identity. Jesus loves those who are homeless, as well as those who have homes of every shape and size. He doesn’t view them with cynicism.

Would I want to be identified as, “that homeless woman?” Or would I want to be identified as someone who is more than a label, a preconceived notion?

Do I think giving money to someone on the street is the best answer? Not usually, but maybe sometimes. I need to offer more than my cynicism.

I need to first pray for a heart that sees people as Jesus does—through eyes of compassion.

sofa and light

Sometimes, God may ask me to give money, and trust that He will work through that act. Perhaps that person will still spend the cash on something harmful. But who knows how a simple kind act will feed a hurting heart? The question is, will I be obedient and trust Him?

What do my actions teach our boys? I don’t want them to infer the lesson that the homeless are all frauds. Many are not.

I need to have a heart that is open to the Spirit’s prompting, and brave enough to engage, rather than avoid eye contact at a stop light.

Looking out the window

Every person, every person, has a story. (Click to tweet)

He or she is more than the sign they hold. It’s not up to me to discern their story and determine whether or not they are worthy of my cash, my efforts.

The man holding the sign that shares he’s a homeless veteran tugs at my heart strings. I know some veterans have walked very difficult roads. He looks me in the eye, wondering what he’ll see. I can’t always hold his gaze.

homeless veteran

It is up to me to pray for them. To pray for discernment and see if this is a person God is calling me to reach out to in some way.

When I have room in my heart to help, God can move. Too often, I’m busy, too busy to listen to the Lord’s promptings in those seconds it takes to make decisions.

Eyes of compassion copy

I am the last person to make suggestions about what to do with the “homeless situation” we see in our cities and towns.

I just know that God is calling me to move out of my comfort zone, to have a heart that’s more open to Him and more closed to the cynicism that has permeated my thoughts regarding people on the street corners.

What about you? How has God moved you to help people who are homeless? For you parents, how do you teach your children about people who are homeless?

Today, I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup

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16 thoughts on “Homeless: A Heart Like Jesus”

  1. Great post, Jeanne.

    I look at it from the mandate that when we’re asked for our coat, we should give the shirt, too…and when asked to go a mile, go two. There’s no implication of ‘need’ in this command – indeed, the ‘go two miles’ bit comes from the fact that a Roman soldier could lawfully ask a bystander to carry his equipment a mile.

    It’s about being asked, and responding with an open heart.

    So when I was out in the world and a stranger asked for cash, I emptied my pockets. If I had a buck-fifty, or two hundred plus, it was given.

    And yes, some might have gone to buy alcohol or drugs, but there are people who are running from some pretty frightening things. and while drugs or alcohol are not solutions they ARE temporary refuges…when no others are available.

    Our society is a disgrace in dealing with this issue. I have no words to describe my contempt for our ‘leaders’ who fiddle around with micro-aggression laws (did you know that asking someone where he’s from is a form of bullying?).

    And for those who take the service in arms of men and women, and stigmatize them for not being able to ‘deal with it’…did you know that 23 veterans kill themselves every day?

    They’re put into harm’s way with moronic rules of engagement that showcase what the idiot Stanley McChrystal called ‘heroic restraint’…letting themselves get shot up and blown up to spare the civilians who were hiding the terrorists. That would screw up Gandhi’s mind; a nineteen-year-old lance corporal from New Jersey would have no chance.

    So, yeah, give when you can, and never judge. Better a bottle than a bullet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, I so appreciate your heart in this matter. And the statistics you’re sharing are staggering. I’m praying about how our family can become more intentional about helping people who are homeless. Your thoughts are insightful.

      And, I couldn’t agree more. NEVER judge another. We rarely know their story. Thanks friend.

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  2. I’ll admit my first initial reaction is to say “no” when asked for money. There have been a few times when these people are lingering near my car in a grocery store parking lot and it feels downright uncomfortable. There have been a few times I have been prompted to follow through. One evening when I was with one of my sons, I was approached by a young teenage boy who said his dad needed gas for his car. The gas station was across the parking lot so I followed him over there and did fill up their car. I have a hard time as a single woman being approached when I am by myself.

    I guess I am more cynical than willing to listen what God might be telling me to do. I will be praying about this further. I have considered making bags full of a few essential items to and out. Hmmm! Maybe this is the route to go. Great reflection that has me thinking!

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    1. Mary, when I was single, I had a man approach me at a gas station AT night. I was so nervous, but at the same time, I sensed the Lord telling me to do something. I prayed like crazy, took him into the store and let him pick out a sandwich to eat. He seemed grateful. When I’m alone, I admit, I usually avoid eye contact because of my safety concerns.

      I posted this on my Facebook page, and a number of people have offered great perspectives and suggestions, if you want to take a look. 😉

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  3. Great reflections here. I am really torn about this sometimes. There are so many homeless people that sometimes it can feel overwhelming and I wish I could help them all, but other times I feel cynical and question what people will do with the money if I give it to them.
    I think the key is, as you say, to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and to actually slow down enough to do that as it’s so easy to rush on by.
    I think giving to people even when they don’t deserve it and regardless of the outcome is a reflection of God’s grace towards us. It’s just hard to know how to put that into practice sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like what you shared about God’s grace, Carly. I never want to negate it. Like you said, we need to pray for the discernment to know when to put it into practice. Thanks for sharing that. 🙂

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  4. Jeanne,
    I am such a trusting soul, that I think sometimes I need to be a little more cynical. I was approached by a young woman with a baby girl in her carseat in the parking lot of a local pharmacy chain. She said she was a victim of physical abuse and she was leaving her husband to drive to her parents home in Texas. She left in such a hurry she wasn’t able to pack diapers and formula for her baby and her husband had already put a “cancel” on using their credit cards. She even had tears to go with her story. Needless to say I bought her diapers, formula, and other “essentials” for a long trip with an infant. I held her hands and prayed for/with her and her journey. Turns out later I found out she was a scam artist – pulling the same act to get “free” supplies for her baby. All I can hope is that God will somehow use my acting as Christ would have acted and the prayers I offered on her behalf will sink into her soul?? I may have gotten scammed, but perhaps God used me to chink away her hardened armor to the world?? Great thought provoking post…wish I had a sure fire answer???
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. Bev, it’s such a delicate balance to be a trusting soul, being compassionate toward those who appear to have nothing and knowing who’s real and who’s faking it when it comes to asking for money. You bring up a good point. Even when we do give, you went the extra steps and prayed for and with this young lady. We never know how God will use those encounters. We have to trust and know that God works in ways we don’t see. Thank you for sharing your story here. I appreciate your transparency.

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  5. I really enjoyed reading what you shared about reaching out to homeless people. I have dealt with the same thoughts, fears and wonderings. It would be nice if we had the heart of Jesus, to see them as He does. It would make it easier to part with the money, but then it’s something that God has graciously given us. It’s hard because what I would do if I was living on the streets is and would be different from the person who I give my spare change to.

    I don’t make a lot of money as it is as a way of living, and so I have tried to keep to a simple lifestyle, and it does change how you see others living. A lot of emotions come up, and to be honest having less sometimes seems like a punishment from God,but I have also learned that it isn’t, it can be a blessing. I’m to look for His riches in my life because what God gives isn’t necessarily something that I can buy in a store or order online. peace, Tamara

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    1. Tamara, I appreciate your struggle and your perspective. I have a hard time giving to people on street corners because I don’t know if they are genuinely in need or not. We’re not rich, but I’m not afraid to give to others. I’m learning to really seek the Lord on this. I often end up giving to organizations that help those in need, and sometimes we help at food banks. I want to have my boys serve with me at a homeless shelter, and give in that way.

      I love that you’re learning to look for God’s riches in your life. I’ve been thinking about all the stuff we have. Sometimes the stuff blinds us to the gifts God’s giving us. Thank you for the reminder to look for His riches in our lives. So thankful for your thoughts!

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    1. Renee, I imagine you’ve heard some stories as you’ve volunteered at the homeless shelter. You are in a unique place to offer community. I will stop over at your blog. Thanks for visiting here!

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