Many of you have probably noticed people carrying signs near highway on ramps asking for money. Maybe the person in front of you at the light gives them some. Are you tempted to as well to look good? Are we truly being merciful to the poor by giving these panhandler's money? What would Jesus think of us if we pretended not to even notice them as they stare right at us?
Our guests this week are a panel of people who either are homeless now or have been recently and a woman who has been ministering to them for the last six years as part of Hope In The Streets, a ministry of Journey Church. Some of the panel have extensive experience panhandling, and all of them are familiar with the conditions that drive this activity.
This forum will largely be a panel discussion between you and our guests, so it is important that you come with good questions. While we will start the discussion around the practice of panhandling, you should feel free to use this time to ask the panel anything you'd care to know about homelessness and alcohol/drug addiction (which they have all also struggled with). These can range from the practical ("where do you go when it snows?") to the philosophical ("does homelessness increase as a country grows more prosperous? Why?")
- There is little data about how much panhandlers make, how long they work, and what they spend it on, but a reporter from Portland interviewed 50 homeless people in the city to ask these questions and more.
- There are many passages in the Bible about helping the poor, as well as about when to apply "tough love". This article looks at scripture and concludes it's better to say no.
- Another blogger makes the case that Jesus would absolutely have us give to panhandlers here.
In support of this point, the Catholic Saint John Vianney wrote:
“There are those who say to the poor that they seem to look to be in such good health: “You are so lazy! You could work. You are young. You have strong arms.”
You don’t know that it is God’s pleasure for this poor person to go to you and ask for a handout. You show yourself as speaking against the will of God.
There are some who say: “Oh, how badly he uses it!” May he do whatever he wants with it! The poor will be judged on the use they have made of their alms, and you will be judged on the very alms that you could have given but