Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Guide to Giving to Beggers

I don’t see so many beggers in Pensacola, but I do see a lot of men sleeping rough; the warm temperate climate here attracts a lot of homeless. The churches provide hot breakfasts, sometimes, and there is a homeless shelter and long term transition facility downtown. Giving to beggers was a much bigger issue in Qatar and Kuwait, where the begging woman with the baby in the souks or the guy with the plastic bag full of urine and blood would accost me, and I always had half a feeling I was being scammed.

Today’s reading in Forward Day by Day puts it all in perspective:

THURSDAY, September 23
Luke 4:14-30. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

Snow fell on me as I waited for a cab. A rumpled homeless man in a stocking cap and fingerless gloves asked me for money.

I like to know that anyone I give money to is worthy (which usually means working or actively looking for work) and I don’t want him spending the money on alcohol or drugs. So I donate through a church or community organization. Pastors usually encourage that kind of giving.

I gave the man twenty dollars because I’d just been to the ATM and had nothing smaller. He stared at me for a moment and stammered, “Ma’am? You meant to give me a dollar, didn’t you?” When I said no, he put his head back and began to yell, “Thaaaank you, Jesus!” over and over. He went to a nearby coffee shop and came out with a huge cookie and a cup of coffee, still singing out, “Thaaaank you, Jesus!”

What if a beggar misuses my money? That isn’t my business. Giving to a beggar is between me and God; what he does with the money is between the beggar and God. (2004)

Thank you, Jesus. 🙂

September 23, 2010 - Posted by | Charity, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Spiritual

3 Comments »

  1. Often giving beggars money doesn’t help the situation, but while I lived in Ghana (handicapped people) and Armenia (grannies in slippers)it often was difficult to pass by feeling all high and mighty about how “it doesn’t solve the problem.”

    Sometimes I gave them money because I didn’t want to be wrong about their real need for it. I love what you wrote:

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    Comment by Miss Footloose | September 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. Ah, those pesky html tags: This is what I quoted from your post:

    What if a beggar misuses my money? That isn’t my business. Giving to a beggar is between me and God; what he does with the money is between the beggar and God. (2004)

    Comment by Miss Footloose | September 23, 2010 | Reply

  3. Miss Footloose, I am so glad you feel that way. I came across a verse in the bible that makes our obligation clear – give to anyone who asks of you. Pretty clear.

    I make an exception for Nigerian scammers. I also made exceptions for many of the known scams in Doha, but generally speaking, I got used to carrying money that I could freely give and trust that God was in charge. We also consider tipping a way to help God funnel money where it might be most needed . . .

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 23, 2010 | Reply


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