Homelessness is rampant in my community.
I live in Portland, Oregon and while I am familiar with homelessness I have never seen it more visible in this city. It doesn’t surprise me anymore to walk by a dozen people asleep along the sides of buildings on my way to work or to pass a camp of 10-20 people living out of tents.
What really struck me though was what a new friend of mine told me over dinner about the problem. He said, “it’s very easy for some people here to make a significant amount of by begging. Some people can make upwards of $300 a day.”
The comment stunned me, but not for reasons that I believe most would think of. The first question I thought of was; what does it say about a city, society, and culture that is willing supporting and funding the problems that so many of us are fighting to rid the world of?
Let me clarify.
Generosity Toward Those in Need
“A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them … Which of these three … was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
What troubles me though is the possibility that we are simply carelessly giving money to quiet the voice in our hearts that challenges us to help. I know for certain I’m guilty of this.
There have been times when someone has asked me for money and I’ve handed it over, because I felt there was nothing else I could do or that it was the easiest thing for me to do in the moment.
I know the stories that many of these people will use the money on drugs or must relinquish it to someone more powerful than them (It’s certainly not every case or even most cases, but it is always a possibility), but there I am again handing out cash.
Despite all of the resources we have thrown at poverty throughout our history it still remains, so why do we keep doing the same thing expecting different results?
What are we to do then?Go and do likewise. #Jesus #generosity Click To Tweet
How Can We Show Generosity?
As always I think the answer lies in prayer and bring open to the movements of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. God will work though us we when turn to Him and ask, “God what is it in this moment that you need me to do for this person?”
Through this one question we unlock the power to make substantial change in the lives of individuals, families, communicates, countries, and all the whole world.
As my network has grown in Portland, God introduced me to the right person to answer that question as it related to my scenario. A mentor introduced me to an non-profit organization called Sisters of the Road Café.Start by being open to #generosity. Click To Tweet
A Great Example of Generosity
A group of volunteers dedicate themselves to providing a dignifying meal and experience to Portland’s homelessness. They also advocate for the rights of the patrons they serve in the city’s political settings.
I support this cause by buying meal tickets and distributing them to people that God brings into my life. It’s a beautiful situation, because these volunteers don’t just address the current needs of the community, but are working daily to bring about long term solutions.
For someone like me, who isn’t educated on the social and political forces that lead to poverty, Sisters of the Road provide me an avenue to help in the now and in the future.
I hope this article stirred you to think about generosity. I know it pushed me to move beyond just satisfying the guilt I felt when I saw the poverty in my city.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start by being open to generosity and what you do know about your community. Seek out the knowledge experts and organizations who are already working on the issues.
I’d like to close with a quote by legendary basketball coach John Wooden that I feel can help us lead extraordinary lives of generosity.
“You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”