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We know that people will take advantage of the church. Recently, I was in a service where a young woman showed up asking for ‘food’ and I overheard one member saying that the congregation had already helped her once. The woman had sat next to me during the service. She asked me if I could help her with ‘just food.’ I realize that some advise people not to give money to those who are ‘begging’ while others advise that it’s not for us to judge the person but to give if we’re able to give. My thoughts that day were that this woman’s problems go far deeper and she wasn’t just wanting to scam people for money. I tried to focus in on her as an individual and see her spiritual needs but also saw that she had zero self esteem/self respect. 

The fact that she was willing to show up at a church service to beg demonstrates to me that she was willing to endure humiliation, judgment and scrutiny as though that was nothing new to her. How would you treat someone in this situation? 

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                • Annette, yes it’s difficult to communicate in writing. I don’t exactly think the congregation failed this woman. I probably was wrong by giving her a bit of money. Without knowing her full story, it’s difficult to know what I should have done. I didn’t even know the congregation had helped her once until I overheard it that day afterwards. But I would like to know how to handle those begging for future reference. That includes those begging with their signs at intersections or on the street. Not all of them are homeless or addicts/alcoholics. Generally, addicts and alcoholics can’t quit ‘cold turkey’ because doing so endangers their lives due to withdrawals. It’s a good topic and worthy of discussing. 

                  • Amanda, I think there are a couple of issues that need to be addressed. The responsibility of a church body to take care of needs around them and the responsibility of individuals whom the Lord puts next to others at specific times. 

                    • Amen!


                    • I think that local bodies of believers should be reaching out to their immediate communities. Really getting to know their neighbors and asking the Lord to show them how to bless them. I've known people to specifically move to neighborhoods for that very purpose. They've done things like making a community garden for example. There are so many creative, wise ways we can help the beggar that would be longlasting but it requires getting dirty hands.

                    • I think part of the problem is that the church has helped create a culture of temporary solutions. You have an immediate need ... only meet that one. Which causes dependence not freedom. There certainly are times and places when those immediate needs must be met but we need to have a bigger view. Is the church really committed to get messy and live life with folks in need. Truly we are all needy, in need of Christ as you have mentioned before. The call to make disciples ...... Jesus did NOT say ..... evangelize, convert and THEN make disciples. 

                    • Yes, Annette, and many subcategories fall under those primary categories. For instance, I’m sure each of us longs to create interest and desire in a seeker’s heart through friendliness and warmth. However, what about the person not seeking to know Christ or become a Christian but only turning to the church as a resource for financial assistance or food?

                      I’m positive all of us desire to build relationships with fellow believers who’ve already received Christ, but there’s the need to recognize that all new Christians start out as babes in Christ and must spiritually grow. That means not everyone is at the same place in their walk with the Lord or on the same page as every other believer. We are works in progress. The atmosphere in a church or group or even an online Christian network can appear threatening to those who are hurting or suffering in some way. We want to show that we care for and accept hurting people. I know that the congregation I attend truly desires to be a place where members experience restoration, healing, and spiritual growth. 

                      Sometime ago, I was a listening to a sermon that was about attending church, and the speaker said we are living stones, not just mere brick. Bricks all look alike and are cemented together and made to fit, but stones are hewn and chiseled and hammered and carefully worked over by the master builder in order for the stones around them to all fit together and they need each other to hold them up. As living stones, it's true of us. We may not like the process of being worked over so that each of us will fit together, but when one is missing, the whole structure, or building, will suffer. 1 Peter 2:4-6. 
                      We live and learn more or less, and none are perfect. We fail in many ways, but must somehow get up and continue onward towards the goal. Jesus is our goal. 
        • The woman didn’t come jus to me, but yes I was one of the people she begged from. When I first arrived, I saw her standing in the foyer and went to her to introduce myself because it was the first time I had seen her and always want visitors to feel welcome.  I greeted her, told her my name, then went into the sanctuary. I wasn’t the only one she begged from but she did sit next to me in the pew once service started and that’s when she asked me if I could help her with food. I agree that all of us come empty handed before God with nothing to offer. 

  • No money should be given to her as it would be used for bad things ? You don't even know this person and you are already judging her and here you are preaching about not being judgemental. You amaze me Mr Zomok! Folks like you brings low reputations to the Christian folks. I don't have to know you to say that coz you already sold yourself out. 

    • Steady on Noah, I think you are falling into the trap of judging a fellow Christian whilst you yourself are speaking of being judgement.  If you read Steve Zomok's comment he was recommending the use of discernment, this entails previewing the situation through the Holy Spirit, something I try to do in similar situations.  It is true, that by throwing money at the situation, one can do more harm than good, especially where there drugs involved, I will NOT enable anyone to sin more, because that comes back to me.  Neither does God wish us to support someone's drug abuse, the advice of many Christian organisations here in the UK is not to give money, take a beggar to a cafe and buy them a meal, or even pay for a night in a refuge, even take them home and minister to them.  But discernment gives us the information we need to make those decisions, Jesus had the permanent connection with the Spirit, but we need the gift and work at it, with judging others, my friend.


    • Thanks, Noah. She told me only her first name. I didn’t ask her any personal questions but listened carefully to what she did say on her own. I don’t think she will return. She might but I doubt it. It seemed to me that ‘begging’ had become natural to her. Her needs are more than ‘food’ or ‘money’ in my mind. I think she needs spiritual counseling and an elder in the church would be a good person to offer such counseling in my point of view. I don’t know how the church leaders handled it, other than what I overheard people saying out of earshot of the woman. Regarding giving money—I have given money to beggars at intersections, holding their signs that said out of work or hungry, etc... and just prayed that God would intervene in the situations and help them use it for good and not bad. Once the money left my hands, my thoughts were it’s out of my hands now. 

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