Written By Kim Cheung, China, Originally in Simplified Chinese
I was on my way home after an evening out with some friends. As I exited the mall, I plugged my earphones in to listen to some music while locating the nearest bus stop.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little grandma begging on the steps. She looked small and frail, and was about 80 years old. She had a white porcelain bowl next to her, which held only two coins. Bags of plastic bottles, clearly collected off the streets, were neatly arranged around her.
Even though she caught my attention, I had no intention of stopping to interact with her. I had grown used to seeing beggars of every age group in my home town, and had heard too many stories of how some of these beggars would cheat people out of their money, that I’ve subconsciously grown to think that all of them are frauds—and this grandma was no different. Furthermore, my mind was preoccupied with my own needs and my own problems that needed solving.
But for some reason, something tugged in my heart and I felt moved to retrace my steps and talk to the grandma. At the same time, I battled with an internal struggle: if she’s simply lying, wouldn’t I be wasting my time? After all, it was almost nine in the evening . . .
In the end, I followed my heart’s urging and walked back to her. I didn’t have cash on me, so I walked up to her and asked, “Have you eaten yet?” This time, I saw her face more clearly. She was so very skinny. The wrinkles on her face seemed to be deeply etched, and her mouth looked entirely sunken in—maybe because she did not have many teeth.
She stared up at me in surprise for a moment, then replied, “Not yet.”
I then told her, “I do not have cash on me at the moment, but I can buy you something to eat. Would that be alright?”
She nodded, “Yes!”
I immediately walked into the mall beside us and bought a meat bun from the little restaurant just beside the entrance. I asked for an extra soft one, and handed it to the grandma. “Eat while it’s hot,” I told her.
She took it and looked somewhat surprised. Then hurriedly she said, “Oh, thank you. Thank you so much!”
“No problem. Go ahead and eat it,” I urged. Then I looked at the bags of plastic bottles, and wondered if she had anything to drink. “Do you have water?” I asked.
“Yes, yes,” she replied.
She was dressed in clothes that did not look very thick. Her tone of voice also reminded me of my own grandmother and those of her generation. I suddenly felt sad and wondered, would I ever see her again? How much time did she have left? Did she know the Lord?
I squatted beside her and asked, “Do you have a place to live?”
“Yes. I live with my daughter. But our situation is difficult. My daughter is sick, so I came out to beg for some money.”
“Do you have a way of getting home?” I asked, “Do you need any money for a ride?”
“I can take the bus,” she hurriedly replied, “I have a bus card.” She pulled her bus card out for me to see.
I really wanted to share the gospel with her right then, because I did not know if I would ever see her again. But I did not know how to begin. I continued asking her more questions, “Are you often here?”
“If there’s nothing else going on, I’m usually here,” she said. Then she asked where I lived and urged me to go home soon, apologizing for taking up my time. She also thanked me again for buying her dinner.
Sensing that our conversation was now over, I patted the grandma on her shoulder and told her, “It’s a small thing. God bless you. I’m a Christian. Jesus loves you!” After that, I said goodbye and left.
On the way home, I felt very conflicted. On the one hand, I was pained by her difficult situation, and I felt sad because I did not know if I would see her again and if she would come to know the Lord. On the other hand, I felt warm and moved that we were able to have that brief interaction.
Even though my interaction with the grandma was short, it helped me experience the truth that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I could spend a few dollars or even a few hundred dollars buying myself a present or eating expensive food. But none of it could compare to little money and time I had just spent blessing someone else. When we give and see others helped and encouraged by what we give, that feeling is just amazing.
The more I began to think about my encounter with the grandma, the more I began to feel ashamed of my self-centeredness. How many people are there around us that we can offer such simple help to? But because we are so engrossed in ourselves or do not want to be inconvenienced, we blind ourselves to them.
As Christians, we clearly know the Lord’s teaching: that we should do good to others whenever the opportunity arises (Galatians 6:10). The Scriptures also say, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27), and, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).
Furthermore, Jesus told us to be the salt and light in this world—we are to be witnesses for Him on earth, and spread the gospel to the corners of the earth. How often do we completely neglect the mission our Lord Jesus has given us, simply because we are completely preoccupied with our own problems?
When we can walk away from our self-centeredness, from our self-pity, and self-righteousness, we see how much the world needs us. The people begging on the sides of the street, who have no place to call home, are forgotten by society. They no longer have friends or family, and are even looked down on by passersby. What they need most at this time might not be one or two coins tossed to them, but real love and comfort that comes from fellow humans.
The greatest commandment God gave us is to love. The next time we see such people seeking help, perhaps we can extend some help and offer them some comfort?
This Christmas season, let us walk out of our own little worlds, and open our eyes to see the people around us who truly need help. Let us do something kind, and share with them our love and the good news of Christ.