It is quite confronting; the older beggar who drags himself around by his hands because his legs end before his knees. The woman who sits her scantily-clothed baby ten metres away on the footpath in front of a begging bowl. The person whose body is so contorted that my children want to look the other way.
How would you respond? Late last year our family moved to a large South Asian city. And like most cities in this region, it has poverty and desperation on a level we rarely see in New Zealand.
And the question I ask myself is ‘how do we respond to this’? One way of thinking says there are many needy people and we can’t help everyone, so we should smile and give a friendly greeting but otherwise be content knowing our work here contributes to bringing economic freedom for many.
But another way says these are people who have so little, and I have so much. How could I not make every effort to help who I can? Even though there are tens or hundreds of thousands of people in such circumstances, we should do what we can.|
What would you do?
The more I think about it the tougher it gets. And I recognise that how I feel about it now may change as time goes on. I mentioned in a recent newsletter to our friends and supporters (contact the Tranzsend office if you’d like to receive it) a story of a ride home we had one day in a rickshaw.
“Walking along the street as a foreigner we constantly have rickshaw and CNG (tuk-tuk) drivers encouraging us to take a ride. They spot us from miles away!
One day coming home from class we were surprised to have an empty rickshaw drive straight past us, even though we were calling out with arms outstretched.
After it had passed, someone else alerted him to our presence, and he turned around, picked us up, and started to take us home.
We noticed along the way that he drove a little differently to the other rickshaw drivers; he slowed considerably at intersections, gave parked cars a very wide berth, and wasn't keen on small gaps that other drivers would have shot straight through!
Perhaps he was just careful, but we realised towards the end of the journey that he likely had a vision impairment. Possibly something that a pair of glasses would fix, but on a rickshaw driver's salary, glasses would likely be out of the question.”
Should we have offered to pay for a pair of glasses for that man?
There is a danger of putting yourself in the position of being a saviour to the needy. And in Jesus Christ, every person already has a Saviour available to them. God doesn’t need or want me to fulfil that role! But in saying that, an aspect of Jesus which is especially striking is his heart for others.
Desperation and suffering may not be as obvious in your neighbourhood, but they will be there. Will you be alert for them? And when you find them, how much will you care, and how will you respond?
The questions I’ve posed above may not have easy answers, but looking at Jesus, we see that even though he chose not to respond to all the physical needs he encountered, his heart for people was huge. He wept over his friend Lazarus and over the people of Jerusalem for example. He never hardened his heart towards those in need.
And his heart towards us is tender and loving too. I encourage you to get to know the heart of Jesus, and let his love and care motivate you to demonstrate the heart of Jesus to others.
Article by Ryan.
Ryan serves in South Asia with his wife Sophie, and their two children.