Church Lady has been wandering the streets. On her journey she visited one of the best streets in the whole US of A – State Street, Santa Barbara, California. Some of the wealthiest and most famous people in the world live in the Santa Barbara neck of the woods. They probably love it because of the scenery and year round warm climate. But there is another group, not so famous, who also love to live in Santa Barbara – homeless street people. California and Florida top the list of chronically homeless populations. This makes perfect sense. None of us want to live in Maine without a roof over our head, when we can sleep on a beach blanket under the Santa Barbara pier. Being a beggar isn’t funny, but I do know some funny stories about them. This picture is one of them. We saw this while looking over the side of the Santa Barbara pier. I don’t think my hubby made any money, even though he hit the bull’s eye with this picture. One day friend and I were visiting Santa Barbara and eating at a sidewalk cafe. A man came up to us and asked for money for food. My friend had a plate full of french fries which she didn’t want to eat. She told him, “You can have all my fries,” as she handed him a napkin full of fries. He sneered at her and bellowed, “I don’t want french fries. They are not healthy. Just give me some money.” One of our boys was a skate boarder all through college. Yes, he was a late bloomer, or just didn’t want to let the late blooming “flowers” go. We went out for lunch at a favorite restaurant with him one weekend. He was dressed nicely and not on his skateboard. A street person, unshaven and wearing rags, came up to our son with a big grin and said, “Hi Benny!” Whoa! We felt a little nervous that our boy was on a first name basis with a beggar. But then Jesus crossed paths with a few beggars in his time. Indeed, Jesus said he himself had no place to lay his head – Jesus and the disciples hung out on the streets when they weren’t invited to dinner with the rich guys. We know he helped a few beggars. Here is the account of one blind man who got Jesus’ attention by yelling for help. Bartimaeus knew Jesus by name, and knew of Jesus’ famous ancestor. Still he had the temerity to cry out for help. “And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go they way,; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” Mark 10:46-52 (KJV)
So what can we followers of Jesus do when we cross paths with the street people? There are soup kitchens in virtually every city in the United States where we can donate our time and money.
But what if the person you meet up with on the street “doesn’t want french fries” or doesn’t want to get help to get off drugs? A relative of mine lived in Washington, DC where there are thousands of street people. For many months my relative gave them a couple dollars, but eventually realized that they were spending the money on drugs or alcohol. So he took a different approach. He gave them a business card for the local city mission and a quarter for them to call for help. Then he prayed. When the blind are willing to follow the WAY, they will find their way to life. So the best thing we can do is give them a roadmap with the directions to find help.