Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to handle beggars. It works! English. Tue, Aug 26, 2008.

08/26/2008. 1060. Wow! This was a whole new feeling. I've done similar things, but this event really changed my attitude and how I feel about giving money to people on the street or who beg at intersections.

I was getting off the Interstate on my way to an appointment. At the end of the ramp, there was a scruffy man holding up a sign that said he was a homeless veteran. From my experience, and going by what real vetetans tell me, this guy probably wasn't. His face also told me he was likely a hard-core alcoholic.

The light turned red just as I got there, and I avoided eye contact with him, so he actually stood slightly behind my car, off to the side. I had time to reach into the back seat and grab some DVDs, and I chose "The Testaments" out of the bunch. I got out a dollar bill and held it against the DVD case with one hand, rolled down the window and called him over, holding it so that he could plainly see the dollar bill on top.

He politely took the dollar and the DVD. I said that if he didn't have a DVD player he could give it or sell it to someone else. He took it back to his standing spot, and put the DVD case down on the ground with his other stuff. By then the light changed, and I took off and he went back to holding his sign up.

As I drove away, I realized I felt better about this encounter than I have with almost any other beggar. Even if the $1.00 goes to booze, it was a cheap price for me to pay in order to create an opportunity to get some kind of gospel material in his hand. So realizing that, I have no stress or indecision or worry about whether this guy was truly needy or deserving or worthy in any way. It just doesn't matter any more. The $1.00 was just the opportunity cost to me. I've spent plenty more buying meals at restaurants or making trips just to place gospel material. In fact, spending $1.00 to create an opportunity is cheap compared to the $800/month cost of supporting a full-time missionary companionship. Do missionaries make 800 contacts per month? What is the cost-per-contact of two full-time missionaries? I think I got off cheap. It's not a waste, no matter what he does with the dollar, as long as he watches, or someone else watches that DVD. And if he sells the DVD to someone instead of giving it away or keeping it, it still doesn't matter, because another person is exposed to gospel material.

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At 8/27/2008 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Eric Nielson said...

Excellent idea.


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