Tuesday Topic- Begging

A question that likely all of us face, stateside and overseas alike!

From Shilo: How do you personally deal with the issue of begging? What guidelines do you use in determining how much and how often you will give, and to whom?

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8 Responses to “Tuesday Topic- Begging”

  1. 1 Becka April 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I try to see all beggars through the eyes of Christ. There are so many instances in the Bible that I can draw on for inspiration on how to behave. I think one of the biggest dangers for Christians is focusing on how the other person should behave, and ignoring our own behavior.

    Christ showed compassion. He showed kindness and gentleness without bitterness. I try to model this even when I have no money to give (or when I do not feel led to give)
    Every beggar is an opportunity for me to show Christ’s love as well as an opportunity for me to practice gratefulness for my own blessings. Every beggar that I meet will either get a genuine smile, a sympathetic touch, or a bit of my pocket change.

    I try not to judge on whether or not the person has a “right” to beg. Even the scammers get met with compassion, afterall, before I met Christ, my heart was no less scuzzy than theirs.

    I have frequently been led to pray for the person, but as of yet have been far to shy, especially when I can not yet pray in their language. I am ashamed though, because if the Holy Spirit leads me to pray with someone, who am I to allow shyness to hold me back?

    There is a beautiful short movie called “The story of a Sign” that I would encourage anyone to watch (and it is child appropriate in my opinion). Just google it… it is posted in several places on the web. I would link, but my internet access is too slow to pull it up.

  2. 2 Erin April 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    This is a topic our team has talked about. There are a lot of begging here, between children, adults, seniors, and disabled. One thing my team mate does is keep a box of crackers or granola bars, or something else somewhat healthy and gives those out instead. When I do feel led to give, I always take the opportunity to talk. It may be a quick hello, what’s your name, a quick prayer, or just a friendly phrase, but I always make eye contact and give a touch. The seniors here who have no family and the disabled are truly left to fend for themselves. I almost always give to them. If I see able bodied people on the street, often times I give, but just a little. And with the kids – it’s a complicated thing. Many street children here are glue addicts, and they use whatever little money they have to buy glue. So with them, if I have the time, then I try to take them to a fast food place and buy the food for them so I know it is being used well – or I give them some food I purchase from a street-side vender. But I always end the conversation with a quick prayer or blessing.

  3. 3 Karen April 20, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I will usually give some money to the old ladies who sit by a supermarket begging. Usually they are just sitting there quietly. I feel for them, because they cannot get a job!

    With others it depends. We try not to give money to kids or teens because they will buy glue to sniff. We’ll buy them a small roll or something from the fast food place.

    We try to be careful about giving money to those who have the opportunity to get a job, or those who just need to learn to spend their money a little better. We may help them a little, buy some food, or let them use our phone. In the instance of one of our neighbors, he was really taking advantage of us – wanting to use our phone several times a day, asking for money, asking for other things. He does get a pension, and I’m sure it doesn’t go as far as the days in a month, but we don’t want him to become dependent on us!

  4. 4 Nancy DeValve April 21, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Where we live I have noticed that the beggars have staked out their territory so the same beggars are always in the same place. That makes it a little easier to be friendly and get to know them just a little. So there are certain beggars I always give to.

    Generally I don’t give much to people I don’t know. We live in the poorest country in the world according to the HDI, so I stick with giving to people I know. The needs are just so overwhelming here and I can’t possibly give to everybody. But we do try to give generously to people we know who have real needs.

    We have also chosen to not give to the “talibey”, the little boys who beg for the mosque. Everything they give has to go back to their imam who often misuses them and has them working for him for his advantage. I’m torn on this issue, though, as these little boys are really in sad shape. If I knew for sure the little boy was getting the money or the food I’d be more likely to give, but they are supposed to take it all back to their imam.

    This is a difficult question and even though I’ve been in our country for over 20 years I still struggle with whom to give to and how much to give.

  5. 5 Ashley L April 21, 2010 at 11:29 am

    This is always a hard one for me! I would love to give often and generously, but I have heard so many sad things about people scamming and how the people doing the begging are taken advantage of. Supposedly even the old grandmas have to be “employed” by a scammer to be able to beg without being in danger. This makes me sad because I want to help the older women and such, but I don’t even know how much of the money they even receive. Food, kind words, and other non-monetary things are ways that we try to help, but I know they need money too. We have also left clothes and other items out in places where we often see homeless people.

    My husband and I still do give money to beggars from time to time since we don’t know the truth of each situation. Though we don’t want to perpetuate scams, sometimes we would rather just give money accidentally to the wrong cause than not give money to the right one out of fear of helping a scammer. We leave it up to God to lead us in each circumstance as well as ask Him to use the money for His purposes once it is given.

  6. 6 Shilo April 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for your input ladies! Much appreciated!
    We always give a drink of COLD water here since it is so hot and I try to give a sandwich or an apple.
    It is difficult to communicate often because many of the people that come around begging are indigenous and do not speak Spanish. But yes, showing love and kindness by giving something practical is “speaking” hopefully in a way that will also bless.
    Bottom line, I suppose it is like everything in our lives…moment by moment depending on Christ to guide our steps and being sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.

  7. 7 Phyllis April 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    We give food. Lots of food! 🙂 I try to always have instant meals at home to add hot water to and hand out. If we’re out, we buy food and give it.

    This is kind of related: I wonder how you all handle loaning out money to various friends?

  8. 8 RebeccaC April 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Sounds like our response is very similar to the rest of you: whenever it’s within my power, I give “something”. Generally it’s a yoghurt or a bread of somesort. It’s hard, since often I suspect that the beggar in question is in better shape financially than we are! lol I do draw the line at the traffic cops. Although, technically they’re not begging. It’s more like extortion. But, that’s a different topic.

    As far as loaning money to people, our general rule is that we never lend something unless we’re prepared to not have it returned — whether it’s money or tools or dishes. In the culture in which we live, returning things just isn’t very common. Returning things in good shape is even less so. If one of the brothers comes to borrow a tool, generally my husband or one of the boys goes along to “babysit” it.

    Loaning money can be very problematic, since the person who borrowed it and then “flaked” on repaying it feels guilty and thinks that the lender is mad (whether or not that’s true). I avoid lending money for any reason and when I do give money to a friend, I make sure that they understand that it’s a gift and they don’t have to pay it back. You’d be surprised how many people will go to great lengths to pay back a gift!

    As I’m typing this, two boys from the nearby village just showed up. Funny how they always arrive just as we’re about to serve lunch! Teenagers! Are they the same in every culture???

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