Last week, there was a homeless man near us in need of money. He was holding a sign. We have seen him many times before, and honestly, there are times when I see him and later realize he became a part of the scenery for the moment. This week was different. I parked near him as I ran an errand in one direction and my son ran an errand in another direction. As my son passed him, this homeless man, greeted my son with a warm smile and hello. No questions. Just a greeting. When we met back at the car, my son said, “Mom, I need to do something for that man. I have seen him before but this time is different. I need to do something for him. I only have a little bit of money. Do we have anything else with us that we can give him? Mom, he said hello to me and I just know I am supposed to give him something.” Kalun feels moved by this man’s situation. He recognizes that this person is homeless, without work, unkempt. At fourteen Kalun realizes that he has a lot. He has a job – he mows the lawns of a couple of neighbors, and he has been blessed. He has been diligently saving for a drum set. He realizes that he has a five dollar bill in his pocket and he feels an urgency to give it away. He is a little nervous to deliver it alone. My eldest daughter pipes up. “I’ll go with you.” She has faced rejection from strangers many times. She offers to deliver the money. The grateful man receives, smiles and waves. The whole family feels the warmth of his smile. He waves emphatically and mouths his thanks. My children are beaming as if they all gave him money.
Caity takes us down memory lane, “Mommy, remember when we carried those bags in the car? We need to do that again….the Manna Bags?” I do remember. My bible study put together many bags that we each carried in our cars to give away as needed. The bags included toiletries, several non-perishable food items, a bottle of water and a book of God’s promises. The kids were on the look-out for people in need. Now they want to pack these bags again…to have them on hand. I agree. Why not? Of course we should.
Kalun always said when I grow up I am going to be a pastor. He would explain. A different kind of pastor. Not the kind in the church, but the kind that goes around telling people about Jesus and the kind that can help by giving people money and food and clothes. I told him that sounds like a type of missionary. He was satisfied with that at the time. Now he thinks more about music. I think he can do both!
Shani is ready to pray. Always. Nervous, but ready. She will approach someone with an injury. She immediatly begins to talk story. “What happened to your leg?” “Hey, I noticed your arm is in a sling, can we ask what happened?” “Well, can we pray for you?” “God loves you and he wants to bless you, can we pray for you to be healed?” These are some of many conversations she may begin to have with people anywhere. The car wash, Wal-Mart, KTA, the mall, you name it. People sometimes are not sure what to say. They may feel awkward. She has become very bold. Compassionate.
Our youngest daughter has caught this desire to pray for the needs of others. She sees a need and she is often moved to tears. She will cry and say “Mommy, can we please pray for them?” Recently a friend at church came in with a sling on her arm. Tala immediately approached me and whispered in my ear. “Mommy, we have to pray for Aunty.” I agreed and we asked to pray. Tala silently extended her hand and placed it on this woman’s shoulder. Such compassion. Such faith.
What has stirred this compassion? Reading scriptures about caring for the poor and oppressed…reading testimonies of people who have received miraculous healings? Maybe the reality of their own beginnings…stories of their own birth families, and the struggles of generations? Understanding the needs of others and wanting to help…having a sense of what it means to practice true religion and take care of the least of these in our communities. Being a believer. Seeing beyond themselves and not being afraid to look at the needs of others.