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Poor people.

Do you get an image in your head when you read those words?  If you haven’t been poor, it is likely that you do.  Or if you don’t know someone who is poor – the same thing applies.

It’s probably the image of someone wearing ratty clothes, is disheveled and messy.

Poor people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and wearing all sorts of clothes.

Many people I know have a fear of approaching someone who is poor, or worse in their mind – homeless.

I think it’s the fear of what might happen – What might I lose or have taken away from me?

Maybe it’s a fear that I might have to do something – and I’m not sure what to do with poor people.  I’m busy after all doing stuff that’s important.

But have you ever spent time with a poor person?  Can you name a poor person that you know?  Do you know that person’s name?  How about a homeless person?  Know anyone by name?

It’s really, really easy to just drop a few dollars into someone’s hands and be off with your life thinking that you did something for someone.  But did you?  Or did you just buy off your feeling of guilt for not knowing what to do?  This isn’t something that is taught in school – how to handle an encounter with a poor or homeless person.

The first step in an encounter with a poor or homeless person – find out the person’s name.

Step two – listen to their story.

Step three – find out what the person really wants – it might not be what you expect.  But here’s the thing – it’s their life, not yours.

Step four – walk with the person and be supportive.  While you are doing that – draw out the value of the person you are walking with.  Everyone has value, find out what that value is and draw it out of them.  It’s like drawing life out of death.

A person’s name, being heard, expressing desires, and finding value is what being human is all about.  It’s what we are called to.