June 11, 2009

Denying Help

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:15 pm by Editorial Team

The hardest challenge in interacting with those in poverty is in determining how to help. I feel the challenge almost everyday, both at work, and after work. I find it easier to help people at work, because it’s part of my profession. And yet, when I interact with people after work, I find myself very reticent to help.

We have a man who comes around our house asking for money or odd jobs. We expressly try to avoid “giving” him money and giving him odd jobs to “pay” him for work. We’ve wanted him to come by and work alongside us so we can get to know him better, but somehow, we never can get that to work.

Last night I was getting some groceries, where I was the only white person in the store. A lady approached me in the store, asking for money or a ride to the shelter. Knowing I was low on gas and didn’t have cash, I turned her down. I know those were terrible excuses, and I ignored her humanity by shrugging her off.

It’s so easy to want to help people and get caught off-guard when an actual opportunity arises. It’s frustrating. I want to get rid of my selfishness.



  1. Justin said,

    Daniel… so glad to see you’re blogging!

    I’ve found that opportunities to serve are often inconvenient. But part of salvation is helping people when its inconvenient. We’ve been living in our urban neighborhood for a year and 4 months now. And really just in the last 6 months have I begun to get involved in the lives of the people around us, at least intentionally. When opportunities to help people began to come along, I found I was always in the middle of something, and it was always something I wanted to do. But by sacrificing my wants and desires, I realize more and more that I can be controlled by what I want. Its taking those little steps of giving someone a ride when you really need to be somewhere (church sometimes) or sitting out on the porch talking (really mostly listening) to a guy you just met, smoking cigarettes and drinking a beer, or allowing a neighbor to stay the night when her housing situation has gotten violent, even though that neighbor is essentially like a child mentally, and you know you aren’t gonna get much sleep.

    I’ve found so much salvation in those situations, not just a freedom from sin, but a freedom to be who I was created to be, and be a part of the redemptive work of God in the world.

    You on twitter?

  2. drg02b said,

    Glad to hear. We’ve tried to do similar things with our house, but it takes time to build trust.

    I barely have time to blog, let alone twitter. Besides, I refuse to buy in.

  3. Justin said,

    It does take time to build trust. I think the key is learning to see the potential in people and offering your trust, even when the smart money says you shouldn’t. Sometimes that goes a long way. Because we believe in the resurrection, we are free to trust and move into situations that aren’t always safe. That’s where substitutionary atonement just isn’t the whole shebang. When death was conquered, we are no longer controlled by fear…. fear of standing up to injustice, whether personal or communal (state sponsored) fear of being a force for peace in the midst of violence, etc.

    Sometimes you just gotta step out on faith, and see the redemptive and often times crazy work that God has in store for you.

  4. Daniel said,

    Getting a little heretical with that theology. 🙂

    You read Surprised by Hope ? NT Wright – good eschatological read.

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