What do you do for the poor?

What do you do for the poor?

The UN estimated that the world has 150 million street kids.  In Egypt there are around one million and most of them are believed to be in or around Cairo, I saw many while I was in Cairo.  In Nepal the number is unknown but as I walk the streets I’ve seen many, we took a few to lunch a few days ago.

I have a heart for street kids, for the homeless and for beggars but often I am left wondering how to help them.  Giving them money is said to instill a poverty mentality and/or create entitlement issues.  Some of them don’t even want food, they only want more drugs or alcohol, and tend to get angry or upset if you refuse to give them anything.

Sometimes, I ignore them and it’s selfish of me but I find myself feeling helpless.  Maybe you have experienced the same feelings?

Jesus doesn’t call us to ignore the beggars, He tells us to take care of them.

Being passionate about another ministry doesn’t exempt you from taking care of the orphaned and widowed.  All followers of Jesus are called to remember the poor.

We see from Paul in Galatians 2:10 as he is heading out to preach to the Gentiles that James, Peter and John remind him of this, “That [Paul and Barnabas] should continue to remember the poor, the very thing [Paul] had been eager to do all along.”


Sometimes taking care of them means giving them some money, bringing them into your home, it could mean buying them food, but what I’ve learned lately is it just means noticing them.

They are the forgotten or annoying in the eyes of most of the world.

Street kids are unfathered and I cannot imagine growing up with a father.  Having good fathers can either create a great men of God or raise up a generation of broken boys.

Showing them love through attention is often what they need more than anything.  Something I learned while working in Honduras with Tony Deien on the World Race is that we don’t owe them any money and he tells them to their face, “What have you done for me?”  But then in the same sentence he invites them to talk to him, invites them to his own home and loves them.

Love is a relational process.

How do you show someone love if you wont even make eye contact with them?

Kids playing on a building in the streets of Nepal.

As Zeb, Sunoh, Neil and I were walking down the street a few days ago these three boys asked us for money or food.  Sunoh told them, if you take us to get momos we will buy you some too.  (Momos are these steamed dumplings that are amazing.)  So they took us to get food and we treated them to a meal.

Then yesterday I hear this story from Neil and Zeb.

We were walking down the street to get food and the three little boys found us.  So we bought them food  then after we got them food, another lady came up with her daughter so we bought her food, then the boys brought back one of their friends and we got him food.  We ended up buying all of them food and more and more kept coming.  We didn’t know what to do and we kept trying to get away because we couldn’t buy all of them food.  We just can’t afford to buy everyone food and we didn’t know what to do.  We kept trying to escape and we finally just got in a taxi and drove away.

Neil said, “What would Jesus have done?  I don’t know.”

Zeb described it as one of the hardest moments of his life.

So we sat in our new hostel debriefing the moment of pain and brokenness wondering what Jesus would have done.  We know He fed the 5,000 and then again the 4,000.

Where does He challenge giving to the poor because it creates a poverty mentality?  When does Jesus decline to heal someone or provide for a need because He doesn’t have time or money?

What would you have done?

  • Alys Seay

    I don’t know Hugh… I struggle with these exacts things here in Thailand, too. Thanks for writing about it and reminding me I’m not alone. Love ya bro!

    • Love you too Alys! I miss Thailand, I would come there in two seconds if I could.

  • Sunoh Choe

    i totally agree though, sure we might develop the reputation as “the generous foreigners feed hungry kids” and have kids waiting for us at each corner but that’s better than being “the rich foreigners who look away from us.” I think looking at our heart each time we see the poor is what we should examine. If our first instinct is to look away, I think there’s something wrong

    • That’s a really really good point! I’d rather be generous.

  • asaprex .

    I guess if you go go with lots of cash or lots of faith but not without both

  • Nice compilation. You missed the Facebook and instagram apps though… strange 😉 haha!

    • Zebulun

      I’ll try not to forget next time! 😉

  • lovas94

    I just started using Pozzr (pozzr.com) and it works well so far. Has anyone else tried it?