It’s A Struggle

I have to admit being a minister of a small church (under 70) people is sometimes a daunting task, especially when I am the only one on staff and all requests for food, rent assistance, etc. is filtered through me.  It seems that at least for the past few days we have had many people “in need” arrive on the steps of the church building.  Unfortunately when this happens the people of the church call me – why can’t they help them?

Most of the time there is usually a story to tell and then the punch line arrives and they tell us what they need – usually money.  We have a rule that we don’t give out money.  If people need food they than ask if they can have a food voucher, but we say no because we have learned that a lot of people buy smokes or buy a pack of gum and than get change back.  We politely tell people we will give them non-perishable food items and/or go grocery shopping for them.  We have discovered that those truly in need will take anything they can get and those who don’t need food walk away.  Every time someone walks away empty handed I wonder if I am turning them away when they are truly in need or if they are “scamming the system”?

This week we have had two individuals need assistance, except this time assistance with their cars.  One individual who lives in the van with his mother says they got pulled over by the police for an unsafe vehicle (no brake lights).  The story was told that if I give them $350 they could buy a new van and their current vehicle would be taken to the junk yard.  This was on Sunday.  On Monday they again arrived at the building and after a long discussion I said I would fix their break lights.  Upon fixing their break lights they then said that their van was no good and unable to be driven.  Again they said they needed $350.  The money is not an issue because our church practices tithing and so the mission team can easily purchase this van for them.  I contemplated this all day on Monday and after deciding to send an email to the mission team requesting to purchase this van I replayed the different conversations in my head and discovered there were two stories – each contradicting themselves, but they were so close I could hardly tell the difference except for two key statements that the mother and son made.

Turning people away is not really an option for me or the church.  We are in the “serving” business and the church must serve those in need.  How though do we decipher between those in need and those “scamming the system”?  Should we decipher or should we help all those who knock on our doors?  This is a major struggle I am having and I believe I will continue to have this struggle as I continually learn what it means to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.

Published in: on June 19, 2007 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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