Blog: Max Dawson
December 28, 2015
It was just last week that it happened. I was visiting a sister at the Memorial Baptist Hospital here in Beaumont, Texas. The sister has had a number of health issues over the past six months. Another sister in Christ had been sitting with her all day. It was almost 5:00 p.m. and another person had come to sit for the evening.
I volunteered to walk the sitter out to her car. As we walked through the parking lot there was a man sitting in one of the garden areas in the lot. As we passed him, he asked me, “Didn’t you used to own a used car lot here in town?” I replied, “I am a car guy, but I never owned a lot.”
He then asked, “Are you the kind of person who helps those who are needy?”
This happened, of course, just before Christmas. But, whether it is Christmas or not, Christians try to help folks. I asked, “What is your need?” He then proceeded to pull up his pantleg and showed me where his leg had been injured. I assumed that was why he was at the hospital–to have that leg treated. Again, I asked, “What is it that you need?” He told me that he needed food, implying that he had not eaten in some time. The man may have been homeless and seemed to be genuinely in need.
I looked back at the hospital and said. “It’s 5:00 o’clock, I am sure the cafeteria in the hospital is open. Let me walk this lady to her car. I will be right back and I will get you a meal.”
It couldn’t have been more than a hundred feet from where the man sat to the lady’s car. She was parked only two aisles over. As soon as I got to her car, I turned back to help the man.
He was gone. Gone in less than sixty seconds. Unbelievable. I looked around and tried to find him. Maybe he had begun walking toward the cafeteria? But no. He was nowhere to be found. It was one of the best disappearing acts I have ever seen.


I hate to be cynical, but I think I know why he was gone. And it wasn’t because he thought the hospital food might have been bad. Hospital food might have a sullied reputation, but that wasn’t it.
I don’t think he was hungry.
I have dealt with enough of these situations over the past 45 years to learn that much of the time the person only wants money. I am guessing that this man was hoping I would give him ten dollars and be done with the matter. I have learned that it is not good to give money in most situations like that. Even if a person needs money for gas, I have found that the best thing to do is follow them to a gas station and buy the gas for them.
But to put money in their hands–money that I fear will be used for alcohol–does not help person at all. Buying food or gas is a better way to help in most cases. Another word of caution: There is sometimes danger in stopping and talking to a strange man who asks for help. Always be careful. This may sound sexist–and I will probably get blasted for it–but I don’t recommend that women stop to help men in nearly any situation. Maybe that is an expression of my cynicism again, but there are lots of bad people in this world who would harm the unsuspecting.
Bottom line: While I know there are people out there who are less than honest, that should not prevent us from helping needy folks. We must not lump all those who ask for help together and judge them all as scammers. It is easy to be cynical about helping strangers, but we must not become hardened to the point where we pass up those who are truly unfortunate and needy. Remember the words of Proverbs 19:17. It urges us to be compassionate to the needy.
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.”
God has blessed us. We should be a blessing to others. Let us bless with wisdom.