What do you do when you are confronted with a fellow human being who has no legs and who has been reduced to begging on the streets in order to supplement the small disability pension he receives from the government? As a Christ-follower, what do you do?
Hillary from the UK has lived in India and knows that some beggars are owned by a syndicate and others purposely maim their own children to profit from begging. So how can you know who is genuine? Well, for Hillary, she doesn’t think it is for her to decide. She feels it is simply being compelled to show the love of Christ without making any judgement of why or how the beggar came to the decision to beg. God knows his heart and Hillary’s purpose was to be the hands and feet of Jesus, whether she thinks beggars deserve a handout or not. After all, didn’t God shown His mercy and love to us, when we least deserved it?
Hillary got to know Gregory’s story because she took the time to show interest and reach out with God’s love. He lost both of his legs in a train accident as a child, 40 years ago. He isn’t married, has no children but lives with his 78 year-old mother in Split, Croatia. He takes the bus home at the end of the day. The proceeds of his begging on the streets of Split help supplement his small disability pension. He wears leather pads on his stumps and walks with the aid of two very short sticks. Kneeling beside him they were eye to eye. In his broken English, he told Hillary that he believes in the Bible, but not in “the Church”. Like most Catholics, his faith is based on doing good works and hoping it is enough. As Hillary spoke of her faith in Jesus, she tried to explain that we can have assurance of forgiveness and eternal life because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. She asked if she could pray with him and his eyes teared up – Hillary’s overflowed. Hillary prayed that God would bless him, that her Heavenly Father would lift up Gregory’s spirit and provide a job for him so that he could hold his head up high. They spoke some more and Hillary asked if she could fetch him some water as it was hot and he had found only a small patch of shade. He said it was OK and pointed to the money in his bowl, but Hillary declined and soon returned carrying a bag with water and the makings of a sandwich. She also returned with one of the local believers. They gave Gregory a book about Isus (Jesus). Hillary asked him for permission to take a photograph of the two together explaining that she knew many people who would pray for him. Hillary asked him for his address so that she could send a copy of the photo to him, to remind him that she would continue to pray for him. Hillary gave him her address and asked him to send me a postcard now and again, to keep in touch. He was happy with the idea!
So, don’t just glance at this photo in passing – stop and pray for Gregory. And next time you see someone on the street begging, remember they are only people like you, with dreams and struggles who would be blessed by a specific prayer for them. So dare to ask, “If you could ask God for one thing for you personally today, what would that be?” Take time to listen to their heart and then pray with them. You will both be blessed and who knows what God will do with this act of kindness?