Christian Charity + Giveaway

I work in a downtown area, and a coworker and I like to take walks in the middle of the afternoon when the weather is nice. It’s nice to take in the fresh air while stretching our legs and soaking in some vitamin D.

However, like most metropolises, Omaha has its fair share of homeless people, and a lot of them frequent the downtown area. It’s not uncommon for my friend and I to be approached by a person asking for money, change, anything we can spare. We usually just say sorry and keep walking. Sometimes we even cross to the other side of the street if we see someone out asking for money.

I often feel a niggling squirm of guilt, but then I make the usual excuse to myself to justify my behavior: I don’t have any cash (which is often true), I’m a vulnerable female in her 30s, the person might just take any money I give them and blow it on booze or drugs, the person might try to mug me while I’m getting out money, etc.

Now, I’m not saying these aren’t all legitimate scenarios. But as I thought about what charity I should write about, I began thinking of plain, simple Christian charity. Despite our fears or prejudices, Christ calls us to help the poor and the needy.

I was once downtown with my dad when a man in dirty, tattered clothes approached us. He asked us if we could spare a dollar so he would have enough money to buy a bus ticket at the terminal a few blocks away. I immediately averted my eyes and gave the man a mumbled sorry, and began walking away. But then my dad did something that I won’t forget.

He stopped, looked the man in the face, and told him he could give him ten dollars, but in order to get the money, he had to allow my dad to pray with him. The man was a little taken aback but agreed. As I watched, my dad took the man’s hands, asked him his name, and prayed that God would bless this stranger and give him a safe journey on his travels. He then gave the man the ten dollars.

Good Samaritan I asked my dad about it later, and he said he tries to keep a ten dollar bill, or a few bucks in his wallet for just this kind of thing. He said he won’t just give the money away, but he asks to pray for the person he’s giving it to. Some people have said no, but more often than not, they say yes.

It brings tears to my eyes to know I am so selfish and scared that I more often than not refuse to help someone out. I’m just like the “righteous” people in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, those who passed the poor beaten and robbed man by, only to be cared for by the last person he expected, a Samaritan. How can I be a living example of Christ’s love for others when I can’t even do that for one of God’s children?

That’s the kind of charity I want to be living, and in fact, need to be living.


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Stephanie Ludwig is a former reporter turned public relations professional who loves Jesus and writing about mysteries, music, and murder. She is an avid L.M. Montgomery fan, and collects anything having to do with Anne of Green Gables.

17 thoughts on “Christian Charity + Giveaway”

  1. Stephanie,

    I faced the same situations in the thirty plus years I worked in downtown Sioux City. Many times I directed them to the Gospel Mission a few blocks away where they could get food, shelter and a warm bed.

    1. Rose, that’s a great idea! I will have to look to see if there is somewhere close by downtown to suggest. The Open Door Mission is a bit far for many of them.

  2. Oh love that story about your dad. However, I think he could make that kind of approach because he’s NOT a 30 something female. There is something to be said for being cautious — I guess you just have to be guided by the spirit in each circumstance. I remember hearing a pastor address this issue about giving money to people begging on the streets and, while he agreed that the person might not use the money the way we would want them to, the money is still a gift and ceases to be yours once you give it away. I thought that was pretty profound. Also know people who buy coffee or a meal instead of giving money to a homeless person which I found to be a creative solution.

    1. Kav, I like what the pastor said– it’s not up to me how they spend the money. If I’m helping, it doesn’t matter if they appreciate it or not because Christ calls us to serve others.

    1. Thanks, Shari. My dad’s actions have always made a huge impact on my life, and a lot of my best life lessons have come from his example.

    1. Brenda, I’ve heard of blessing bags, but I’ve never made one before to carry personally (just the ones you throw together and bring to church so someone ELSE can do it). Thanks for the link and reminder!

  3. What an amazing story. I’ve met your Dad and thought he was a nice person, but now I am even more impressed. What a wonderful example for not only his daughter, but for all of us as well!

    1. Thanks, Melissa. This happened just two years ago, so it just goes to show that we’re never too old to learn lessons from our parents! My dad is a wonderful example of a man living God’s Word.

  4. What a moving post….and love what your father did. My husband and I have this discussion about what to do for the street people who ask for change. In the past, we have directed them to agencies for help. I do have trouble handing out cash at times.

    Recently, as a young woman accepted the money I handed her, her smile showed her meth-rotten teeth….and I did not like the idea that I was aiding her in buying more of this destructive drug….however, we are not to judge…and I do need forgiveness for that!

    We had just decided that we should carry ziplock bags containing a few items, including a scripture and prayer card. I hadn’t heard of “blessings bags” before, but that sounds like a good solution. Thank you, Brenda, for the link.

    Thank you for this call-to-action post!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sherida! I like the idea of carrying items that can really help someone, other than money. Great ideas!

  5. I don’t have a particular charity but I have had to use a food bank before and I have donated food back as a thank you.

    1. Linda, I think it’s wonderful that you donated food back to the food bank. That’s a great way to pay-it-forward!

  6. Steph, I think we all fall into that once in a while. I have given food to people instead of cash–if I have it. Although I did see one person then sell the food I gave him for money (probably for something I wouldn’t have approved of) I still do it when I get the chance. I also give to my local food pantry (both bought foods and home grown foods we have that would otherwise go to waste) so I know I’m helping those in need in my own community. Since my husband works in food service, we have from time to time (when we can, sometimes we’re not allowed) given perfectly good leftover food to the homeless shelters in Omaha. But I always feel guilt when I walk away from those opportunities to help. Often I pray afterwards that God will intervene on that person’s behalf. Especially if it’s a hiker.

    1. Dawn, I agree. I often pray for the people that I see, but I think my “silent” witness isn’t enough, that I really should be DOING something, instead of just praying. I think it’s awesome when you can donate leftover food to shelters! So much goes to waste otherwise.

  7. Wow, Steph, what a beautiful story! It blessed me this morning to hear this, I read it to my husband, who was also touched. I know I’m guilty of not giving to homeless because I don’t know if they’ll use the money for the “right” things, but what your dad did understood is that God knew. God can bless the person beyond what that $10 bill could. Thanks for the great lesson!

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