A friend from high school posted this on Facebook today: ”Homeless lady……no place to go…..no job….disability pending……she called desperately begging for me to help her……panicked and scared…..what do i do with her?” This friend works at a church in my hometown, so I’m assuming the lady called the church asking for help. When I read the comments she received back, I got just a little…well…angry. No offense to anyone who commented. I know they were earnestly offering the only advice they knew to give, and at least were willing to give that. But the advice they gave just stinks!!! Basically they said, “Send her to the government. They have the help she needs.” REALLY?!?!?
We can do better.
The lady had enough wisdom to know who had the answers to her problems…the church…and the church is going to send her to the government? I don’t even know where to start with that backwards thinking. So I’ll just offer my own advice. I know I’m full of unsolicited advice, but in this case, my friend DID actually ask for some.
It’s not an accident when someone crosses our path. God trusted us with this point in time, with this person. The lies tell us it’s all coincidence, so we just ignore those around us, but we can do better. Here’s where I would start…
First of all, none of us have to live in fear and panic, regardless of our circumstances. God does not give us a spirit of fear. So start there. Remind the lady of that. Calm her fear. Pray with her. Remind her that God sees her and He WILL take care of her. Remind her to ask Him and thank Him. Thank Him for all that she DOES have, no matter how little that is.
Next, tend to her immediate needs. And yes, I know my friend can’t take on the world, none of us can. But we CAN do what we can do. And we should. Does she need a meal, and can you afford an extra one? Then feed her. Does she need a ride to the doctor, and do you have transportation and a few extra minutes? Take her. Can you make some phone calls and find a place she can sleep tonight? Start dialing. Does she have immediate needs that you can’t meet? But maybe you know someone who can? Call them. What does she need right now that YOU can do? As Nike would say, just do it!
Now for longer term solutions. How did she come to this circumstance in the first place? If she found herself with no place to go, it’s likely that she has not maintained relationships with friends and family. Few people will take in strangers. It’s not wise for our own safety. But most anyone will take in a good friend who’s in a bad situation. Invite her to come to church and make some friends.
Find out what she knows how to do that may be of value to someone else, and connect them. Help her find some work. Don’t do for her more than she is willing to do for herself. You would do her a disservice to feed into any feelings of helplessness. She is not helpless. God is her helper, and He gifted her with talents she can use for others.
Most of us believe the lie that the little bit we can do is not enough, so we don’t even bother to do that. We can do better.