Almost a month ago I was driving home from Target with T. I had just dropped about 50 bucks on house junk... crayons, diapers.... stuff like that...
As we turned on to the main drag I saw a car, with a cardboard sign in the window... it read "Homeless Family". My heart instantly broke. It was cold that day and I picture them huddled in the car, dirty and hungry. My thoughts went immediately to " I should help them". We have plenty of room in our home for a small family. We have TWO bathrooms and FOUR bedrooms... with each set of parents getting their own room the kids could still have two between them. We have plenty of food and toys and everything.
But, I did not stop. I did not bring them home. And I found myself asking the question WHY?
Why don't we help people we need helping? I answered myself... fear.
The family was still on my mind when a few weeks later I found myself watching a documentary about a woman who goes to the Red Light District of Calcutta and gives cameras to the children. She stays and teaches them how to use them. She gets art galleries to show their work and she eventually (after so much trial and tribulation) gets 8 of them scholarships to a boarding school... an education... a way out. Of those 8 a few families wouldn't let their kids go, some went to the school but eventually dropped out and only ONE little girl was still in school a year later.
My heart broke. For the woman and the children. All that work... and one ... only one is saved.
At church the next week our preacher spoke on The Good Samaritan. I am sure you all know the story. A man is taken down by robbers and thieves and left on the side of the road to die. This road however is not a barren road, but a frequently traveled one. Many people walk right by him... finally someone stops. Mike (our preacher) said, it is not that the others were cruel ... it was that they assumed someone else would do it.... Mike calls that the bystander problem.... with so many people around... we just assume someone else will take care of it.
So I added lazy and busy to my first answer of fear.
I think it was Martin Luther King Jr who said "Stop asking what will happen to me if I help.... but ask what will happen to them if I don't." Mike added "We need to stop defining who we help."
I thought a lot about what would have happened if I had stopped and spoke with that family. Would have they even come with me? Should I have just bought them food or clothes... a hotel room for the night? Would they have in turn hurt or robbed me? Would any of my effort really have made a difference?
I don't know...I never will know...because I was just too afraid, too busy, to lazy to give of my time and resources with out knowledge of a return... and I made myself feel better by telling my heart... someone else will do it.