by David Schnittger
Notice the beggar under the blue umbrella above the hood of his truck
I grew up in Oklahoma City, a beautiful southwestern city. When our family left OKC in 1984 to attend seminary, there were no beggars at the intersections. When we moved back in 2013 there were beggars at practically every major intersection. I thought this was because of the Obama economy. In June 2018, OKC continues to have beggars at practically every major intersection. We are 1 ½ years into the recovering “Trump” economy, when over three million new jobs have been added to the economy. OKC has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Yet, there continues to be a proliferation of beggars on street corners, many of them healthy looking men.
Let me tell you about “my” intersection. I live near an access road to a major highway. There are many cars that stop at this intersection, which I can view from my front yard. There are often beggars at this intersection. Last summer, there was a teenage man at the intersection almost every day. He was dressed in “preppy” fashion. His “parents” would drop him off in their late model SUV each morning and pick him up each afternoon promptly at 5:00 p.m.
After school resumed, he was replaced with the current beggar. Every morning, this healthy, middle-aged man pulls his late model black pickup truck into the parking lot next to the intersection. He gets out, walks to the bed of his truck, pulls out a wheelchair, a cane, an American flag, an umbrella and a cardboard sign. He walks swiftly to the intersection, sits in the wheelchair and waves at oncoming traffic. He has the cane in one hand and a flag in the other. Business must be booming, as he owns a pickup truck I certainly could not afford. I took a picture of this man under his blue umbrella and his pickup truck (see above).
My friends, this man is not a beggar – he is a scam artist! I suspect that many of the beggars in your town are scam artists as well. They are playing upon your sympathies to rob you of your hard earned dollars in order to subsidize their indolence.
If you would like to help the unfortunate and truly needy, let me suggest that you support the Gospel Rescue Mission in your community. There are 300 Gospel Rescue Missions in North America – havens of hope for the lost and lonely who call the street home. Inside are hot food, clean clothing, temporary shelter and the possibility of a more abundant life in Christ.
To find a Gospel Rescue Mission near you, go to www.agrm.org. There you will find an interactive map listing all 300 members of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Each of these are fundamental in their Statement of Faith and are members of the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA). The needy who enter their doors will find their physical needs met and their spiritual needs as well through a loving presentation of the Gospel.
The Bible encourages biblical charity, and Christians are the most charitable people in the world. Christians have pioneered charitable work in the fields of medicine, education, agriculture and helping the homeless. However, Christian charity must be wedded to Christian discernment. The Bible says to the indolent, “. . . if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). Let us truly help the homeless by aiding responsible organizations that present the Gospel!