The Beggars, The Holy Spirit, and a Story

I live in the suburbs of the Balitmore/D.C. Metro area.  Like all metropolitan areas, we have our share of people who beg for money on the side of the streets.  I know from experience that some of them are homeless, living underneath an overpass, perhaps finding a bed at a local shelter, and if they make enough money from begging then they can afford a cheap motel.  I also know from experience that many of them suffer from mental illness and/or drug addiction.  Lastly, I know from experience that some of them are running a con game.

Regardless of who these beggars are, they are a person created in the image of God.  So what do we who follow Jesus do?

Earlier this week, I saw a new face standing on the street asking for money.  She is a young Latino woman.  I had a couple of dollars that I handed her and also gave her my card, telling her that I could try to help if she wanted more help.  Little did I know but because of a language barrier, she probably did not understand me much of what I said.

After I drove off I prayed for her and that is where things went sideways.  My personal mantra for the way I want to live my life is to “live like Jesus.”  Now admittedly, I don’t always do that well (more than I like).  Part of living like Jesus means becoming more attentive to the work and leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.  Normally, I am great at seeing how the Holy Spirit was trying to work from the rear-view mirror.  However, this time I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

I could merely hand money to this woman and that might help her eat and find shelter for the next day or so.  But it seems as though Jesus would have done more.  After all, rather than just offering a hand-out, he healed a leper and a blind man (Mk 1.40-41; Lk 18:35-43).  And this is what the Holy Spirit was convicting me of.  So it seemed that I should at least approach this woman, introduce myself, and be a friend like Jesus.

Well, today I saw the same woman asking for money on the street near the Starbucks I frequent.  So this time I parked my Jeep and approached her.  This is where I learned she speaks Spanish, which I speak very little of.  This woman’s name if Maria and from what I gather, she is a couple of months pregnant and living in a cheap motel.  I tried my best to tell her that there was ways of help and gave her my card.  She said she would call.  Maybe she will and maybe she won’t.  If she does, I will need the help of a few of my fellow Christians from the Columbia Church of Christ who speak Spanish fluently and then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will go from there.

That’s the story.  I don’t have allusions that I can end poverty and homelessness.  But I do believe that as Jesus followers, we are called to be friends with all people, including those begging for money on the side of the street.  I also believe that the Holy Spirit is at work, convicting us to follow Jesus and that we must recognize Spirit’s work and obey it.

And the most amazing thing is that the more I obey the Spirit, the more convicted I am that Jesus is the way, truth, and life (Jn 14:6).

10 responses to “The Beggars, The Holy Spirit, and a Story

  1. Rex, I like your story; that is the Lord at work! My wife befriended a homeless lady; we tried to ‘rescue’ her but she preferred her lifestyle. She became pregnant too, and then the corner where she begged near the Atlanta Federal Pen, was empty; she was not there. My wife prayed for her. One day my wife’s car broke down in a bad part of town; she got some directions and made it to a car repairman; it was a miracle because we met an outstanding mechanic, honest and who did good work. But while waiting in the waiting room for the car repair, my wife was reading a newspaper that was several months old; and she read the obituary section; and in it was the obituary of the very homeless lady Mary had been the angel to. Cortney had died and the Lord, the loving one, who knows when a sparrow dies, let Mary know the whereabouts of Cortney. So now we pray for Cortney’s soul from time to time because ‘it aint over till its over, and it aint over yet, because there aint been no final trump and the clouds aint parted and the dead haven’t been raised and the Lord has not descended with a shout. Glory to Him, who is the Resurrection and the Life!

  2. Awesome! I will pray for Maria also.

  3. “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” — Matthew 6:1-4

    • Thank you for this reminder. I am sorry if my post came across as though I am telling this story only to parade my own righteous deeds before others. My hope in telling this story is that other readers might learn from it, be encouraged by it, and be inspired to reimagine the ways in which the Holy Spirit is leading them to be like Jesus to others. I hope that helps explain the post a bit more.

  4. Rex, thank you for your story and, yes, certainly if we are calling upon the Holy Spirit to work in us we are going to find ourselves in some different situations. And it won’t be easy but there is a peace in knowing He is at work in us.

    I once mentored a young pregnant 19 year old. She was staying at a home for unwed mothers during her pregnancy. She was very rough around the edges as she belonged to a gang. I won’t lie, it was sometimes very uncomfortable, like when I would have her come over to the house. Never really sure what she was capable of. It was difficult to get through to her at times and then there were times she would seem so vulnerable and I could see the child she was. Anyways, to make a very long and complicated story short, I found out several years later by her social worker, after she had left the area, she had been murdered in a gang shooting. The boy who shot her did so to become a member of this gang, no other reason. It really left me heart sick and for years I wondered if I could have done more. Sometimes, I still wonder. Even though this ended so tragically I take some comfort knowing Shawna saw another side of life regardless of the choices she was making. I am grateful for the memory of seeing her smile and that she loved going to church with us. You never know how these things will work out, but in the heartache you can’t imagine doing anything else. I will be praying for your efforts to reach out to those who need to know love really does exists.

    Isn’t it amazing what we can communicate even if there is a language barrier? There are some great apps that might help with that! God bless, and thanks for letting me share this story. Amy

    • Thank you for being Jesus to Shawna. It is never easy to befriend such people and part of that reason is because we don’t have all the answers. Yet God reminds us that he will work through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

      Also, that tragic ending gives you a glimpse of how God feels as he witnesses the many acts of injustice committed in this world.

  5. Rex, please keep telling these stories. You are so right, this is how we encourage one another, through our life experiences. We need to know the ends and outs of each others struggles, the good and bad, this is how we fellowship. Far different than what the Pharisees were doing.

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