Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

A Small Step In the Right Direction

with 3 comments

Karnut 6x7.0685There are a lot of homeless people who live in Austin. Some of them are Street Kids, homeless by choice (according to them) , embracing the lifestyle on the road. Some of them are down on their luck, just tying to get back on their feet. Some are mentally unstable. Some are addicts. Almost none are dangerous.

In my two years in town I’ve done a lot to get to know this community. I haven’t spoken much about it, because it feels braggy. But I have been working to grow my heart for the homeless for years. It started when Acts 3 challenged me to offer eye contact if nothing else to my brothers and sisters who dared to ask me for help. After that I started having conversations, and listening to stories. Now in Austin I often bring leftover food from banquets we hold at the seminary out to my friends who live on Congress and Guadalupe.

It can be complicated to get started thinking in this direction, but it’s worth it. As Christians we know that God loves the homeless (his son was homeless until he moved back in with his dad) We also know to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves, and we know that there are a lot of clever questions to ask about when helping hurts and assistance programs that could breed dependence. We are expert exegetes at getting out of biblical obligations like these. But I want you to try.

0007703408041_500X500I want to do something I don’t usually do. I want to give you an assignment. The box at left is called Kar’s Sweet and Salty Mix. It costs about $7 at Sam’s Club for a box that size. You can also get it on Amazon if you don’t live near a Sam’s. It’s the best value trail mix I can find that I eat myself.

I want you to buy a box and keep it in your car and then practice Luke 6:30 “Give to everyone who begs from you” (notice that the verse does not say to give them whatever they want)

Take the time to acknowledge that anyone begging has asked you a question. Look them in the eye, acknowledge their humanity, and give them something.

If you don’t like trail mix this also works with bottled water, and it works best with both! I like trail mix because it settles all the nagging doubts in my mind “But Ryan what if they are a con artist? What if they pack that sign into a BMW at the end of the day?” I say to myself “It’s trail mix, it’s for sharing! I would share trail mix with Hitler if he wanted some”

The goal is not to solve homelessness, the goal is to thin the wall that exists between you and your neighbor. It’s not that they need food (these bags are small) It’s that giving them something will make it less scary to interact. I know that it’s possible to do more. A lot of these people have dental problems and nuts can be hard to eat, some people have allergies, Sam’s is owned by Wal-Mart and the patronage is not ideal. But they are cheap and individually wrapped, and they last for a long time without refrigeration. This easy choice is a small step in the right direction.


Written by RyanGaffney

September 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Very achievable measurable challenge


    September 9, 2015 at 6:56 pm

  2. How about just saying hi and not giving them anything? That’s what I do.

    Migue Juanreichez

    September 17, 2015 at 11:57 am

    • That is a step as well. in some ways I think it is more advanced. A lot of people are afraid of the confrontation and are more willing to have the dialog if they have less initial guilt for not giving anything.

      On the other hand “Hi, NO!” could be a way to shut down the conversation pretty quick and still not open you up. So it all depends on things like tone of voice.


      September 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: