Friday, September 3, 2010

Pay It Forward Friday

This week, while at Target with both kids, I was loading up the back of our car when a woman approached me.  She was African-American and seemed to be in her 40s.  She appeared normal and carried only a small black purse.

She began to tell me how she had contacted Mary Jo Copeland's place and was able to reserve herself a spot but all she needed was bus fare to get herself from the St. Paul Target to downtown Minneapolis.  She asked if I might have some bus fare for her.

I told her I rarely carry cash, which is true but came out sounding like an easy lie.

"Hold on," I said, "Let me see if I can at least find some change for you."

"That would help," she replied, "thank you."

In my car's ashtray and in my wallet I managed to scrounge up a little over a dollar.  Maybe two.

She thanked me and proceeded on asking another Target customer for money.

But as I got in my car and started to leave I wondered if I had done the right thing.

I know that some times these types of requests are really only a cover for feeding into the person's poverty.  But I also know that as God's servant we should always assume the best in other's intentions.

One way to deal with this predicament is to give them exactly what they've asked for.  For example, Brian has told me that whenever he's approached by a beggar asking for money for coffee or food he just invites them in to Starbucks or the nearest restaurant.  He'll buy them a large coffee or a big breakfast and then be on his way.

Giving this woman a ride to downtown Minneapolis would have taken me all of ten minutes.  But I was alone with my two kids.  But she was a woman with very little possessions.

Do you think it would have been OK if I would have offered her a ride?  What would you have done?

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