On Saturday the Hankey family went to the cinema in central Cardiff. After the film we hurried back to the car along St Mary Street in two units – me and the girls in one, Michelle and the boys in the other. As we dashed though the drizzle we passed several homeless guys sat on grubby blankets in doorways seeking shelter from the elements. Having spent many years in Cardiff this sight was nothing new to me, so I just walked on by as quickly as possible in a bid to get the kids back to the car before they got too cold and miserable.
But that’s when Anastasia spoke up:
“Daddy, why aren’t we helping those men?”
I was stunned to a standstill.
“What’s wrong?” Asked Michelle?
“Ana wants to helps those homeless guys.” I replied.
“Yeah, Ezra just said the same thing!” She replied.
So after a brief family street conference we decided that we should offer to buy the men a hot drink each, and Ezra accompanied me to go and take the order, which I phoned through to Michelle and the others in a nearby Costa. I then went with the kids as they delivered the drinks to the grateful guys. It was a beautiful moment,but one that I have to confess challenged me deeply!
Why did it take the intervention of my 5 year old twins for that to happen?
I mean I had seen the same men as they had just seen. But whereas my instinct had been to rush on by, theirs was to reach out and help. My response was the most cost effective – we could have saved time and money if we had just passed by. Their response was more costly…but certainly more compassionate!
Now I know that historically I have not generally been indifferent to the poor. Indeed much of my ministry has involved a great deal of serving the impoverished and the downcast. And certainly when I was younger and less time-pressured I’d regularly take time to sit with, eat with and pray with the homeless in Cardiff and beyond. But not on Saturday. In fact the truth is – the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!
- Have I got cynical about helping the homeless over the years.
- Have I lost sight of the world beyond my immediate family and their needs.
- Do I deep down feel the need to protect my kids from the realities of the streets?
- Is there a lack of love in my heart towards other people right now?
- Am I just too busy?
To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s any, all or some of the above. All I know is that I have much to be thinking and praying about (and probably repenting of!) And as we begin our new gospel adventure in the inner city of Cardiff, I thank God that He has blessed us with beautiful kids whose eyes are open to the broken world around them, and whose hearts are soft and courageous enough to dare to believe that they can, and should, do something about it!
Father, forgive me for being so cold-hearted, bitter, cynical, busy and selfish that I don’y always see the opportunities that you surround me with to make Christ known in this broken world. Please forgive me for the times that I have modelled the example of the Priest and the Levite more than the good Samaritan to my family. Thank you for the lesson you have taught me this week through the faith and kindness of my precious kids. Please bless them. And please give me the grace to once again see the world through the eyes of a child. For your glory. Amen.
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus