A Smile for the Homeless

imageMr. Versatal

The children and I spend our days at the park, walking the trails and beautiful streets of our subdivision, or reading and living and loving in our comfortable home.

But sometimes, when we venture into the city, our paths come across theirs. Those people; dirty or sad-looking, holding out a hand – or cup, looking at you forlornly or perhaps staring at the sidewalk. They have a cardboard sign as they sit there on the sidewalk or lay curled up on the park bench.

I’m ashamed to admit that far too often, in my life before children, I would pass by hurriedly, avoiding eye contact. Because I couldn’t  always give financially, I’d hide behind my husband and choose not to see.

But the Lord has a way of changing a person and He has used the little ones in my life in so many ways to touch me, change me, mold me…

And as we walked passed the old woman on the sidewalk in front of the bookstore, wrapped in blankets with her cup out, Chloe smiled at her and the woman smiled back.

My eyes filled with tears and my heart broke as I realized the power of a smile and the importance of valuing people – all people.

When we see those who are down on their luck, begging on the sidewalk, sometimes we can help financially and sometimes we can’t. But even when we can’t give money, we can always say hello as we pass and offer a smile, showing them and our children (and reminding ourselves) that each person is so valuable to Him.

We were in Paris, France this time last year. It seemed that everywhere we turned, there was a need; a cardboard sign, a hand extended, a cup held out. We offered our meager change where we could, we also shared tracts in French and on a few occasions, a sandwich or something to eat. What a great opportunity to talk about the blessings of God, of thankfulness, of giving, of those who don’t know the Lord.

While we were there, my husband shared with me a story {urban myth?} of a man who made more begging than he would had he had a full time job. He also reminded me that some may use the money for drugs or alcohol. I pondered this and the other thoughts he shared. Then I came to this conclusion: I’m asked to give a cup of water in His name and what happens next is up to Him. I’m accountable for my actions, not anyone else’s.

So whether I am giving a smile, a greeting, a tract,  a sandwich or placing our meager financial offering into that outstretched palm, I can bask in the joy that obedience brings, trusting that the Lord will use whatever I have given for His glory. {I will say that most of our giving is done through our local church, supporting missions, missionaries, orphanages etc. around the globe. But just because we give through the church doesn’t mean that we can’t give to those in need when we can and when we feel led.}

Have you ever struggled with this?


  1. We really struggle with this. We live in a climate where there are extremes and people are pretty friendly. Our community really bans together when there is flooding or power outages or whatever. There is a good network and community sense. Most of the people are religious, and there is an overall help your brother attitude. During every summer, however, all of the sudden, a few people pop up out of nowhere and start begging near our Walmart parking lot. We have parks near and in our largely rural community, that at the same time, have RVs with Texas, Florida, or whatever license plates parked in them. It doesn’t take long to put 2 and 2 together when we see one of the ‘beggars’ sitting with a friend or their mate or whatever at one of the nicer eating establishments in town later on in the week. Have to say it is hard to pay for people who like to travel the country to keep up their lifestyle in such a dishonest way.

    • @RG I definitely can understand your situation! In those circumstances, perhaps offering a smile and hello rather than a financial offering would be better 🙂 You can’t give financially to everyone. Have a great weekend!

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