I’m a sucker for a sob story….seriously when encountering someone who is in need my first response is “I have to do something to help this person!” That is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to missions because in different cultures (particularly those filled with poverty) generosity towards those in need will result in people coming to your door every single day looking for help.
This makes it tempting to not help anyone and avoid the crowd on your porch. But what if you’re a big softie like me? Is there a middle ground between saying no fifty times a day, and feeding the entire community?
While I don’t know all the answers to that question the Lord is helping me understand generosity towards the needy can be done without being overwhelmed…but there have to be rules.
Saturday afternoon about 2:00 there was a ringing of the bell outside my house. I came out to find a little boy and his younger brother standing on the porch who wanted to play with my iPad for five-minutes (a boy from Church had been allowed to do this a week earlier). I told them that was okay and provided cookies and something to drink…after which came the iPad time and a Gospel presentation 🙂
Unknowingly I had made a very big mistake
- Because that boy came back Sunday morning before Church (I sent him home)
- Sunday afternoon after lunch (I sent him home again)
- Monday afternoon
- This morning on the way to school (no games but being a sucker for a sob story I gave him a peanut butter sandwich)
- And during his lunch break at school today with two of his friends
Now using my iPad as an opportunity to share the Gospel and giving out a peanut butter sandwich every once in a while is a good thing. My mistake was not laying any ground rules about visiting my house, so during the last hour I’ve created some hard and fast rules about being on Mr. John’s porch
- You can only come between 3:00 and 4:30 (thirty minutes maximum per child) anybody who comes outside of those times won’t get anything
- Your allowed to visit for iPad time three times a week. If you come more than three times you are able to listen to the Bible story, but cannot play with the iPad
- Juice or water will be provided, but you only get one peanut butter sandwich a week (except for special occasions)
- Only three children on Mr. John’s porch at a time
- If you ever visit during school time again you can’t come back for a week
Of course creating those rules is the easy part
The difficult part is enforcing them
Children all around the world are used to having rules or structure in their lives. What they aren’t used to is people who will be strong enough to carry out the consequences. For me this means sometimes the big softie who would gladly feed all the hungry children of St. Vincent has to become “mean.” Not mean in the fact of treating the children unfairly of course. But following through with promises and consequences when a child pleadingly asks for one last chance.
It is honestly hard turning needy children away who need to hear the Gospel. But in a small way I’m giving them something much more precious than a peanut butter sandwich. I’m giving them an understanding of structure, justice, and how the world truly works.