What Should I Do When People Ask for Money?
All of us have had this experience: you’re walking down the street and a person comes up and asks for money. So what do you do? Well, the truth of the matter is there’s no easy answer. You need to pray for wisdom in that moment.
The most important thing to remember is the people you encounter are image-bearers of God, created with dignity, worth, and capacity. So our goal for them is the same as God’s goal for all of us: to restore us to all that it means to be human.
Unfortunately, such restoration can’t be accomplished by putting a quarter in the person’s hand. Many people we encounter are not in an immediate crisis. They’re in a chronic state of poverty caused by strained relationships, mental health struggles, chemical addictions. Your quarter can’t solve that problem. In fact, your well-intentioned handout could actually prevent them from getting the long term help they need.
So what do you do?
The first thing to do is to communicate to them through your words and your actions that they’re not invisible, that you see them, that you care, and that they’re not alone.
Secondly, research some churches and resources in your city that can really invest in people and develop long-term relationships that will be necessary to help them. You might even want to be part of that long-term restoration process.
Third, you’ve got to be open to many conversations. Experts in homelessness say that it can take 75 encounters before a person will trust you enough to take them to a long-term relational ministry. In certain situations, you might offer to eat dinner with someone, to provide them with a blanket, or offer a warm cup of coffee.
Pray for wisdom, expect to make mistakes, but through all of it remember what the goal is: restoring them to all that it means to be an image-bearer of God. That requires you to treat them with dignity and respect.