I Got Suckered By A Scam Artist

I walked past the shivering transient without really seeing her. I barely glanced up as I hurried to get out of the rain. I rushed through the door into the hotel lobby, but my steps slowed when I heard a baby cry. Turning my head, I looked more closely. The woman sat huddled under the overhang. She had a little boy on her lap and a stroller by her side. The stroller was covered with a blanket and plastic bags stuffed with odds and ends overflowing from the basket underneath. She held a cell phone in her hand and stared at the screen, seemingly oblivious to the wailing of her infant. I watched for a moment and then walked away. I was cold and tired, ready to check in to my room and get some rest after a long day of training. As I handed the hotel clerk my credit card, I argued with myself. She might be waiting for someone. There are plenty of other people here who could help her. She has a cell phone. If she can afford a cell phone, she can afford a room. As I finished my transaction and turned to grab my bags, my eyes were drawn back outside. It was dark and I could barely see through the rain, but the screen from her cell phone cast a little bit of light. Her toddler was now running up and down the sidewalk. He splashed through the dark, stomping his feet in the puddles. She didn’t seem to notice him as he played. She is oblivious to everything around her. She is probably on drugs....

When Your Convict Neighbor Shows Up Drunk To Church

Several months ago I learned an ex-con lives fifty feet from my front door. I share my response here. Thank God for grace, huh? We have been slowly making connections with Richard. A plate of muffins here. A dish of enchiladas there. Fixing his computer. Inviting him to church. Sharing a cup of coffee. One encounter at a time, we are loosely stitching together a relationship. Richard has come to church with us several times since Easter Sunday. Each time, I silently pray that Jesus’ love would pierce Richard’s heart. And each time, I am reminded that we can not limit our witness to Sunday mornings. We can not place all of the burden on our pastor’s shoulders. It is our responsibility – yours and mine – to witness to our neighbors. God placed us exactly where we are for a reason. He desires for us to share His love with everyone we come in contact with. And maybe that looks like inviting them to church. Or maybe it looks like a plate full of muffins. We can not minister to the soul of a man without also ministering to his body. It would be easier if this were not true. My life is busy. I have a lot of tasks on my to-do list. Baking muffins for my neighbor isn’t exactly my top priority. I would prefer to simply be able to extend an invitation for a Sunday morning service, sit silently next to him in the pew, and leave all of the hard work to my pastor. But it is not my pastor’s responsibility. It is mine....

She Wears My Shoes

It was my son who first asked the question. “Can I give them my shoes?” I stopped and looked at him. “What, honey? Your shoes?” “Yeah, mom. They don’t have any shoes. If I give them mine, can I borrow your flip-flops for the rest of the trip?” We were walking the streets of Addis Ababa, searching for a taxi large enough to hold our family of eight, and we had gathered quite an entourage of street children. They followed us first with outstretched hands and then with laughter as we stumbled through our very limited Amharic. They were hungry: it was obvious from the hollow of their cheeks and the way they snatched at the granola bars we offered. They were dirty: they lived on the streets, after all. Almost all of them were shoeless. They followed us for almost a mile as we wound through the trash, the goats, and the street vendors. Chattering as they walked, the children called loudly to each other and seemed oblivious to the mud squashing between their toes. The recent rain left puddles of dirty water and soft ground between the broken concrete. One little girl in particular stayed close to my elbow, staring at me intently as she walked barefoot over the rough terrain. Her head-scarf had been bright and colorful at one time but was now a dingy brown with tattered edges. Her dress sagged from one shoulder. Her face, hands and feet were dirty, colored by her surroundings. Using one of the few Amharic phrases I have perfected, I asked her name. “Kidist,” she said with a wide...