We met a homeless man during our visit to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis this week. He was sitting on a park bench with a large backpack at his feet and he kept wiping the sweat from his brow with a dirty rag. There was a little wooden cross around his neck hanging from a green piece of yarn. As soon as we walked by him Titus tugged on his mom’s arm and said, “I want to give him my money.”
I love the tenderhearted compassion of a child. Their first reaction, when seeing a person in need, is to help. And I hate that my first reaction was, “Don’t make eye contact. This is a big city. There are places he can go to get help.” I hate that I even hesitated. This was not a pushy time-share salesman on the street corner of some tourist town begging for “just a moment of your time!” This was a man who carries all his worldly possessions in a sack and doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. We’ve become so jaded by the world. I wish my attitude was more like Titus’ and I’m glad God is using my children to make me more like Him.
We went back and introduced ourselves and he told us that his name was Steve. I explained that as we walked by, my son felt like God wanted him to stop and give some money. Tears welled up in Steve’s eyes as Titus held out a roll of coins that he had brought along to use at the gift shop. Then following Titus’ lead, Evie reached into her little purse, pulled out a dollar, and timidly offered it to Steve. I asked if we could pray for him before we left and he said, “I’d like that very much.” He stood and I put my arm around him and prayed for him then we went on our way.
It wasn’t much money. Barely enough to buy one meal. But Steve received something infinitely more valuable. The love of God, poured out through the obedience of a child. On a day full of sight-seeing, I thank God for opening my eyes. It was a brief encounter and took almost no time out of our busy day, but I pray that experience stays with my children forever. I know that I won’t soon forget it.