There's a homeless man in the parking lot at our church. Well, kind of homeless. He does have a camper on the back of his pickup truck that he's living in.
I met him today. I only first saw the truck last night (though, apparently he had been there since Monday night). He had run out of propane, so he couldn't cook his food (and I presume it was his heat at night as well). He came to ask for money to get some more propane. I got his story in the process. He was let go from the job he had at the government liquor store a while ago. He's hoping to get a job at the nursery by church when the poinsettias start coming in in a couple weeks. It's just him and his dog, down on their luck.
Of course, the fact he had worked at a liquor store put up a red flag--but it still seemed like I should help him. I'm never sure how to deal with the homeless or others who need help. Of course, I want to help them, but I'm never sure whether I should give that person with the sign on the street corner some money or not. I'm not sure whether I can trust them to actually use the money for food or whatever they say they need. I want to make sure they're good stewards with my money.
Of course, it's not my money, is it? And I'm not commanded to make sure they're good stewards. I'm told to help those in need (without much evaluation as far as I can tell). Sure, discernment is needed--which is why my dependence upon the Holy Spirit is critical.
I did end up giving him $20 (US--which won't go as far here now, but it'll buy a tank of propane; it was all I had, too). I probably should have gone with and paid for the propane so I could make sure that's what the money went for. But I felt it was the right thing to do. It was hard to say no to him, after we've been out of work and people took care of us. And I connected him with a guy from our church for a few days of work. And I prayed for him--which is the best place to start, I think. Actually, I think talking to him was the best place to start. It's good to put a face on homelessness.