Running a couple of errands recently, my family and I were about to head home from our last stop. As we got into the car I had a brilliant idea. “I’m feeling some ice cream,” I said with an eyebrow raised, hoping for some affirmation from my wife.
She gave it.
“I have six dollars in my wallet,” she answered with excitement. The perfect amount for a cup to split, because we’re cheap and pretend to be relatively healthy.
Trapped by a stop light at the exit, I saw a fellow who looked to be about thirty, wearing faded blue jeans and a grubby white t-shirt which hosted sporadic paint stains. He was standing with his wife and two daughters, holding a white sheet of cardboard with large handwritten letters which, in so many words, asked for help.
At first I tried to ignore this family and avoid eye contact so that I wouldn’t have to think about what I should or shouldn’t do.
When that was no longer possible I began replaying in my mind all of the times I’ve been informed not to give money to people who stand on the shoulder of the street asking for it, because they don’t really need it.
Many of them, I’m told, are making a fortune in their hobo modeling careers by convincing people they are poor. And others use the money on alcohol and drugs.
Finally, the light was green so I could leave my uncomfortable predicament behind.
Inner turmoil over ice-cream money.
I didn’t say a word. If I had mentioned the situation out loud to my wife we might have had to do something about it, so I remained silent as we drove to the ice cream shop.
Along the way two thoughts ran across my mind—without an invitation I might add—like mental billboards as I navigated South Broadway.
First was the scripture in Matthew 25 where Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” as well as the end of that passage, “As you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me,” (Matt. 25:45).
I sat quietly.
The other thought was the image of the two daughters standing there with their mom and dad.
At first I was annoyed at this site because I assumed they simply brought their children for pity. But my wife was pregnant at the time with our little girl. And being a dad of a daughter, even when she’s still in the womb, changes the way you see things.
So I conceded that even if they were not completely honest, no one in a stable situation, financially or otherwise, would be standing outside with their whole family, begging. They were doing something I’ve never been desperate enough to do.
I finally worked up the courage to ask my wife, “Should we go help those people?” And that was all it took.
A lesson I didn’t expect to learn.
Upon arrival I got out of the car, gave the dad our ice cream money and apologized that it wasn’t much. He smiled and thanked me. Then I asked how I could pray for them.
At first he didn’t quite understand what I said as he was Hispanic and spoke little English. So I made a gesture with my hands and simply said, “Can I pray?” He eagerly agreed and with a bit of broken English said three words I did not expect to hear: “Pray for deportation.”
I didn’t know what to say.
Feeling helpless, all I could think of was to look him in the eye and say, “I’m so sorry!” He graciously smiled, but with an anxious countenance. He continued, “We love America, and job, and family, and home.”
If you thought this story was about giving to the needy, so did I. As it turns out, God had a different lesson in mind for me.
In that moment I realized something. Behind every policy, every platform, every vote, every political Facebook post, there is a person—a real life human being.
You may still believe he was lying, and the truth is, he could have been. There is no way to know for sure. But whether his story represents him or someone else, his story is true.
Being holistically pro-life.
One of the biggest social issues most Christians rally against today is the injustice of abortion. And I for one make no apologies for that. I want to do everything I can to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
However, standing against abortion is not the same as being pro-life.
Believing the gospel means that we, like Jesus, have a mission: “That they may have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10). Being on Jesus’ team means we are pro-life in every sense of the word. And there are far more pro-life issues in our world that have gospel implications than just abortion.
Immigration is a pro-life issue. The refugee crisis is a pro-life issue. And if nothing else, giving to the poor is a pro-life issue. Regardless of your political views, as Christians we are all mandated to care about these things.
I want to end this article with two scriptures that I think every Christian who considers themselves “pro-life” should consider.
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:34)
“For I (Jesus) was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.” (Matthew 25:35)
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