Monday, May 07, 2007

The Beggar

Please for give the rant, but I am little fed up and in need of journaling it out, and maybe some correction or affirmation (as it is appropriate)

There is a man who regularly stops in at the church. He usually comes by around 8:30AM when I am the only one in the office. He always has a story to tell and asks for $3 for the bus.

Because of this man we even thought there was a ministry need for us top purchase bus passes and distribute them to those in need. We bought 20 and 19 of them went to this individual.

Today when he arrived he came into the office, came around the building and chased me into the men's room. I had stopped after breakfast to go use the toilet. He had to come in the side door of the office, and did not use the restroom when he followed me in. I was so put out I asked whether he was chasing me, and why. He was very noncommittal about the whole thing as though he had every right to chase me around to the restroom and ensure that he could corner me.

From that point he followed me into the office. I had asked him what was up this morning and what he needed, he proceeded to talk about the tornadoes in Kansas and how it had ripped up the railways too. Then, as always, he threw in his pitch for $3 for the bus, as he needed to get to the doctor to deal with his nasal problems.

I was so fed up with him this morning I thought about giving him the $3 as soon as he entered the bathroom and sending him on his way. I am more than a little callloused about him and ready to call it quits on dealing with him.

I guess the question I have is how to deal with "frequent flyers" as the old story goes. I wonder what the role of the church in caring for persons such as him is, but also where our call to asking for something more and greater from the individual as (s)he is able to contribute to the life of the church.

Enough for now.



At June 27, 2007, Blogger Roadtripray said...

I am not sure from the post, did you give him the $3 each time, or a bus pass? At least if you're giving him a bus pass, it is presumably going for a legitimate purpose. Whereas if you give him cash he could use it to buy a beer or something worse.

Of course he could always go and sell the bus pass I suppose.

One town I lived in had a big problem with panhandlers asking for money. Unfortunately, I think most of them were not really needy, but were "working the system." People got wise and stopped giving cash, so then some men would stand at a local supermarket and say they didn't have any money to buy their baby diapers. It was thought that some were then returning the diapers to the supermarket for a refund to get the cash, so this one pastor asked the man his baby's name. He took out a great big marker and wrote on the diaper package, To Regina (or whatever the baby's name was), Love Rev. Wilkins. This way if the guy was legit, he got what he needed. If he wasn't legit, he wouldn't be able to cash in those diapers for money.

It's very difficult -- I wrestle with the same thing. I owned a store in the downtown district back in those days, and had people coming by all the time looking for handouts. I started stocking my breakroom kitchen with lots of food (hot pockets, tv dinners, etc), and I'd invite them to eat in our breakroom, rather than giving them money. Some seemed really thankful for the meal. Others got mad and left. I figure the ones who got mad and left just wanted the cash.

It's a quandry how to balance being generous and not turning down someone asking for alms, yet to be a good steward of the resources you and your church has. You'll never get rid of all the cheaters, but maybe with some clever ideas you can mitigate it some. In the end, we're called to have mercy, not to administer justice, so there is where our greatest importance should be.


Post a Comment

<< Home