I was walking into VGC the other day when a woman approached me, clutching a young boy at her side. Now people who know me say I walk on the road straight faced, without looking to the left or to the right, but this woman was in my direct line of view, so I couldn’t escape. She came up to me and began a lengthy narration of how she was at Ajah and didn’t have enough money to get to Oshodi. She said she needed three hundred naira.
Now, I know that no one is unfamiliar with this scenario; it happens more often than we care to remember. Of course, I was thinking, “See me see wahala oh, is it that you didn’t know you were going to go to Oshodi tonight? How come you left the house at all if you didn’t have a means of getting back?”
We all know the common rationalizations. “They are all liars; lazy ones at that. They want to reap where they did not sow. I’m working hard for my money yet someone wants to come and share it with me.” Some of us even assess the ones with obvious limb deformities and conjure up images of the guy you watched on CNN who could paint with the brush in his mouth or the one who played the piano with his feet!
Now while it may be true that they are lazy liars, or that they really can do something with their lives besides begging, I believe that any one who can leave their home (or wherever it is they lay their heads at night), pick up a young boy as an escort, park themselves at a bus stop and beg for money is in need of some sort of help, whatever form it is, whether spiritual, emotional, psychiatric, material or financial.
If you, like Peter and John, can genuinely say, ”Silver and gold I have none”, you need to at least stop and heal, preach, save, encourage – do something – but please, don’t walk away. Walking away cannot qualify as a Jesus trait no matter how lofty your rationalizations are. If you are convinced that there is a demon of laziness, of deception or whatever it is, then cast out the bloody demon. After all, in HIS name, you will cast…
The point is DO SOMETHING. If you can’t cast out the demon, pray for the person, invite them to church or buy them a meal, then please just give the three hundred and smile and move on. Apart from the advantages of an assuaged conscience and the joy of seeing someone light up, there is still the matter of, er, faith with works to show for it!
Someone may say: “ah the Bible says ‘Anything not done out of faith is sin’. What if I don’t feel like giving?” God will not let us reach the point where we can’t give three hundred naira except we feel like it! If you don’t feel like giving all the time, you need to check that faith, if it exists at all. And no! Dont wait to hear God! It’s very unlikely that he’ll speak at that point, because he has already spoken on the matter, and because the traffic is moving and you may never see that little boy again.
I gave the woman her three hundred naira, moved on with a light heart, knowing that to give out of love can never be sin (so that’s one less uncertainty).
It’s really not your business if they are being deceptive or not, is it?
Only God knows!