so last nite we had another incredible time with enGAGE – our church congregation – i preached a talk called ‘The Crit of the Hippo’ – crit being and assessment, a mark, an evaluation… and hippo being a really big creature… so The Big Evaluation essentially… and of course the words ‘crit’ and ‘hippo’ combining nicely to form the word ‘hypocrite’ of which the original meaning was simply actor – so being someone you are not, or as the Cretans liked to do – ‘claiming to know God but by their actions denying Him’ [Titus 1.16]

during worship an older (50ish) homelessly looking white woman walked in to the service and then out through the back towards the hall and the toilets – my beautiful wife (aka the beautiful Val) came up to me twenty minutes later asking where she was and she had completely slipped my mind so i said i wasn’t sure and she went off to find her… apparently she found he naked (or close to, with a rag wrapped around her waist) taking a bath in our bathroom (well using the sink to give herself a clean) with Lindri, one of the other ladygirls in our church hanging out with her…

Lindri then came to me afterwards – after a fine preach and some interaction on being a hypocrite or matching what we say we are with who we are – and said that the woman needed a place to stay and she had no money and could we take her to the shelter…

and that’s where it becomes real, and uncomfortable, and messy, and confusing… cos i honestly didn’t know what to do – i did know that the hostel – which is more than likely full – has a cut off time and was most likely closed – i do know that we have a general policy of not giving money to people on the streets although we also have a policy of doing what we can to help them and at the very least buying them something to eat or maybe helping out with clothes and stuff – but the reality of last nite was there was an in-your-face situation and i didn’t know what to do and so we missed it

and later in bed tbV quizzed me about the whole thing which made me quite upset cos i knew i hadn’t know what the right answer was and cos we hadn’t really done anything (except not thrown her out of our church for taking a bath which i guess would put us ahead of at least one or two other churches) and cos it meant i had to think about it again and feel guilty and not just snuggle down in my warm bed and conveniently not have it invade my thoughts

Jesus said ‘whatever you don’t do for the least of these, you don’t do for Me’ and that is a haunting piece of scripture on any occasion you don’t give money or food, or walk past someone who is lying in the gutter…

another probably reality is that if we did take her home and give her a place to stay for one night, what then? Send her out the next night to sleep in the cold? Adopt her completely and have another person in our home and in our lives to feed and look after? And then the following week there will be two people in church wanting a place to stay and by then our house is more than full (legally i don’t even think we are allowed extra tenants but i don’t think that’s necessarily the point)

as a community we have been helping one of our own guys who has been struggling with a place to stay and money recently and so a bunch of us have done a little bit to help him out – there is a car guard at Ginos, our local restaurant hangout, who a couple of our guys have befriended and we are in the process of organising him a French bible – and there are kids from kayamandi and cloetesville and vlottenberg who a bunch of okes are engaging with every week and building into… so we are doing something

but none of that really helps that old lady from last nite and i am not satisfied that me not knowing what to do and doing nothing is even close to enough – i didn’t feel a specific prompting by God to do anything specific but as tbV said well hasn’t God already told us what to do in His word and yes. the least of these

so i don’t know. It’s easy to have answers when you are not faced with situations (and people). It’s easy to have theory and preach that powerfully or effectively. It’s easy to avoid or ignore or come up with some kind of justificationary thort or reasoning or whatever

all i know is i feel crap that we didn’t help that lady. I feel crap that i didn’t know what to do. I am glad she felt the freedom to hang out and take a bath in our bathroom and i am glad that some of the women from our congregation engaged with her and hopefully shared some life and love

so what’s your answer then?