WWJD – What would Jesus do? Most Christians from the West are familiar with this acronym. Many wear bracelets or other jewelry or clothing items labeled with this to help remind them to think about what Jesus might do in a particular situation and to imitate it. I was never caught up in this popular idea, but it recently came to mind.
During one of my errands the other day I was in my truck waiting in traffic, at a four way intersection, for my turn to go, when I was approached by a blind man, a young girl who was his guide, and a teenage boy who was badly disfigured from what appeared to be burn scars. It is quite common here for blind and physically disabled people to beg for money or food from people waiting in traffic. I have been approach many times by blind men and their guides.
Beggars tend to make me uncomfortable. I never know what do give them. A lot of questions run through my mind. Should I give them money? How much? Should I give them food instead? Should I give anything to not encourage begging? How can I really help them? I have given food and money in past occasions. When I do give, it is usually less than a dollar. Sometimes I do nothing and go away feeling bad about it.
On this occasion I only had 1,000 Naira notes ($6.40), which is a day’s wage for some people and did not want to give that much. So I did my best to ignore the pleas and prayed that traffic would soon start moving. I also wondered “What would Jesus do?” What would he do for these people pleading at the car window? Would he have given them some money and left? I don’t think so.
Jesus did not have a car so he moved slower and could take time to be with people. He was also focused on other people and not about doing the “to do list” for the day. After talking to the woman at the well he spent two days in the village. Maybe I should have pulled over and spent some time with these people getting to know them, pray for them, and share the Gospel with them. That certainly would have disrupted my plans for the day and created a full time ministry. I would also need to learn Hausa very well since I am sure the blind man did not know English. I am not sure they would have wanted to talk to me. They were focused on getting enough money for food for the day.
I also thought about the story of Peter and John in Acts. When seeing the man crippled from birth they did not give him money, but healed him instead. Imagine if I could have reached my hand out the car window touched them and said “be healed” and have the man receive sight and the scarred boy healed? Image the joy everyone would have experienced! Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and solve everyone’s problems, but I don’t and never will. If I did I would get the glory instead of God.
Perhaps I over spiritualize the whole thing. These blind men have no opportunity for ‘regular’ employment so they come up with their own employment. My donation is part of their salary even though I get nothing in the way of goods or services in return. But I do get the satisfaction that I helped another human being in a desperate condition. I cannot image they have a rewarding feeling at the end of the day, but they likely have enough money for food.
I have been in the homes (if you can call it that) of some of these men and seen how they live. These homes were not fit for animals much less human beings. These men are desperately poor and are barely surviving physically and are dead spiritually. Begging does not seem to be a well-paying job.
In the end I did nothing. I am not proud of that, but really struggle to know how to help these people and what Jesus would do in these circumstances. I expect that he would have showed them love and compassion, and in some way pointed them to the Father and eternal life. I suspect he would have found some way to spend meaningful time with them. I need to find some way to do this without being overwhelmed by the need.