I barely noticed him out of the corner of my eye. A young man, well dressed and clean, sitting beside the entrance to the mall with sign that read “Hungry. Please Help.”
I suppose I’m desensitized to such things. If I were forced to discuss it, I’d probably say things like, “Well he had on really nice clothes, he didn’t look homeless.” Or maybe, “Some of the people who hold up those signs make more money every year than we do!” I’ve seen the exposés. I’ve heard the stories of scams. I know that everyone who asks for help doesn’t really need it.
But my sons don’t know any of that.
“Mom, look at that guy! His sign says he’s hungry!!” Jamie said urgently, pulling me away from my discussion with my husband. “Uh huh, buddy, I see that,” I responded absently. I mean, we were busy. I didn’t have time for this. But the other boys were paying more attention that I was.
“Mommy, don’t we have some extra food?” Gavin asked. We had been running errands all day, so we had plenty of picnic supplies packed in the car. I began to feel the tugging of the Holy Spirit.
But by this time we were out of the mall parking lot and getting onto the highway. It would have been easy for me to ignore that still small voice. But the boys weren’t going to let it go. And I was pretty sure the Lord didn’t want me to let it go either.
“Turn around,” I told David. As kids, they didn’t have the skepticism that we grown ups had. I didn’t want them to! Our Lord taught about childlike faith. And isn’t this part of that? In their world, every person who asks for help deserves it. I certainly won’t be the person who ruins their innocent faith.
“Turn around Daddy,” Mason ordered. “We need to go feed that guy!”
So we did. David got off at the next exit and went back while I packed a lunch kit. I had plenty of prepackaged stuff in the car, plus bread and PB&J. Nothing fancy, but just what we had eaten for lunch that day. I had a large take and toss container in the car, and I filled it up. Sandwiches, juice boxes, fruit, chips, snack cakes.
The boys were so excited. “I hope he’s still there!”
“There he is Daddy!!”
So we pulled back through the entrance to the mall, and there was no one pulling up behind us. David stopped the car, and I got out and approached the young man. I told him that my sons wanted to bring him some lunch, and asked him his name. “Andrew,” he replied.
“That’s my 3rd son’s middle name!” I told him. “We’re going to be praying for you, ok Andrew?” His face lit up. “Yes please, and thank you!” he said.
Nothing fancy. No pamphlets, no public prayer or show. Just some food, a smile and a promise to remember him when we talked to our Lord.
I got back in the car, and we drove away. The boys were so happy. “You know Mom,” said Jamie, “I bet Jesus put us in just the right place today so that we could feed Andrew.”
By now, I was fighting the tears. “You’re right, buddy,” I told him. “Thank you for listening to Jesus today, boys and for doing His work!” And thank you for teaching your Mom and Dad to listen a little better to that still, small voice.
We don’t know what happened to Andrew, but my boys still like to pray for him every night. And I hope they never stop.