When the sun shines in Texas you want to get out, but you don’t actually want to be outside. A few weeks ago on a sunny day my family and I ran a couple of errands (because that’s what “going out” means when you don’t have money). As we were leaving Target, our last stop, I developed a hankering for ice cream. My wife ecstatically informed me that she had $6 in her wallet, so I started the car and began driving with my eye on the prize—Andy’s Frozen Custard.
Trapped by a stop light at the Target exit, I saw a fellow who looked to be about thirty, wearing faded blue jeans and a grubby white t-shirt that 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 conversations where 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 others they are poor. Besides, they use all of the money to purchase booze and bongs. Finally, the light was green so I could leave my uncomfortable predicament behind.
I didn’t say a word. If I had mentioned the situation to my wife we might have had to do something about it, so I remained silent as we drove to Andy’s. Along the way three distinct thoughts flashed across my mind 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.” That thought was followed by, “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. Then a third, and somewhat sarcastic thought, in a way that almost seemed to be giving up on me, said, “I hope you enjoy your $6 ice cream.”
The thought that finally persuaded me to turn around was when I considered the two daughters standing there with mom and dad. At first I was annoyed at this site because I believed they simply brought their children for pity. But my wife is pregnant with our little girl. And being a dad of a daughter, even while she’s in the womb, has already changed the way I see things. So I decided that even if they were not completely honest, no one who is in a stable situation, financially or otherwise, would be standing outside Target 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. 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 me, as he was Latino 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. To be honest, I had never experienced anything like this. I had heard of people being deported, usually because of crime, but to my knowledge I had never talked to someone in this situation. 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.” And I realized something. Behind every policy, every platform, every vote, every political Facebook post, there is a face. A real life person.
You may still believe he was lying, and to be straight, 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.
One of the biggest social issues 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. Welfare 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 issues. And how you vote is not the only way to get involved. I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you believe the following Scriptures should be applied in our lives?
“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:34)
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
“When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:22)
“For I 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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