[This blog first appeared on Family Talk. Click here to read it there.]

It was nighttime, and it was freezing. The temperature outside was 20°, but with the wind chill it felt like -5°. I cautiously ran over the slippery snow covered parking lot from the warmth of the grocery store to my already frozen car. I put my bags in my left hand, and stuck my right hand into my right pocket searching for my keys. Naturally, they were in my left pocket. I shifted my body awkwardly, and tried to reach my right hand into my left pocket without dropping any groceries. Success. Barely.

By the time I got into my car, I was wishing that I had brought a jacket. It was supposed to be a quick trip in and out of the store, and I expected my car to still be warm when I got back. But it wasn’t. I was only in the store for 7 minutes, but because of the temperature outside, that was long enough for the car to become ice-cold.

I started my 1997 Corolla, backed out of my parking space, and drove to the red light at the corner of the shopping center. That’s where I saw him. He was hunkered down by a road sign, and was holding a sign of his own that read: Hungry. Need food. God bless.

I felt like I should help him. I wanted to help him. But I didn’t have anything in my bags that could work for his dinner. I had just bought hot sauce and a bag of clementine oranges—not exactly a meal for a homeless guy, or anyone for that matter.

The light turned green, and I drove away convicted that I should help him. I tried to ignore the Holy Spirit, but by the time I got home, it became too much to bear. How could I leave this guy outside in the middle of a winter storm?

I walked into the house, dropped the groceries off in the kitchen, and walked back to the front door. “Tonight is going to be different!” I explained to my wife as I grabbed my keys. “I’m not going to be someone with good intentions, I’m going to be someone with good actions.” I told her about the homeless guy and she agreed that I should help him. But before I walked back out into the night, my 3-year-old son grabbed my arm and asked, “Daddy, can I come?”

“Why not,” I responded, and walked over to the closet to help him with his shoes. We got in the car—that was once again freezing cold—and drove back through the snow to help the homeless man. When I got back to the shopping center, he was still sitting down by the sign. I pulled into the gas station across from where he was sitting and waited—I was trying to figure out what I would say to him. “Hello random stranger guy. My name is Daniel, and I was wondering if you wanted to go to dinner?” As I said it aloud in the car, I decided to drop the “random stranger guy”, and try a simple “hello.”

A few minutes went by before I was brave enough to step out into the cold, but by the time I reached for the door handle, I watched someone open up their window and hand the homeless man some cash. Immediately, he got up from his seat in the snow, crossed the street, and walked into the gas station. I watched him walk in and stall for a few minutes in the warmth before he grabbed several VERY large beers and walk back up to the counter. I couldn’t believe it! Here was the typical homeless guy using the cash he had been given to buy alcohol. I thought about leaving. But the Holy Spirit told me to stay, “You’re not going to let his choices get in the way of helping him, are you Daniel?” So I waited.

He walked out of the store carrying a plastic bag of beer. I rolled down my window.

“Hey there!”

“Uh. Hello.”

“Want to go get some dinner?”

“Uh. Sure.”

“Get in!”

The homeless man walked over to my car, laid the beer in the floorboards, and sat down in my car.

“I’m Daniel, and back in the back seat is my son Noah.”

“Uh. Hi. I’m Abraham.”

We drove down to the Chinese place on the corner in awkward silence. Normally I don’t have a problem thinking of something to say, but then again, I had never picked up a random stranger to take him to dinner. We walked into the restaurant, and I told Abraham to order whatever he wanted. He did. And we sat down to enjoy the food.

“Are you a Christian?” Abraham asked.Surprised by the seemingly random question, I responded hesitantly, “Yes.

Why?”

“Because Christians are the only one’s who take me out to eat.”

I was almost proud, but I sensed there was more to this story.

“Are you going to tell me about Jesus?” He asked.

“Sounds to me like you already know about Him.” I replied.

From that point forward—once Abraham realized that I wasn’t taking him to dinner with some ulterior motive—the conversation between us was effortless. Abraham told me about his family, the story of becoming homeless, and how he planned on escaping homelessness. It was a great conversation, and I wish I could tell you the rest of the story, but I’m out of room. But let me encourage you with this.

For the next several weeks, my 3-year-old son Noah talked about that encounter regularly. He told his mom about Abraham, and about how we took him to eat. It was a great teaching moment for him as I was able to tell him about how Jesus says we are to feed those who are hungry. (Matthew 25)

As you and I look for ways to live intentionally as Christians, let’s not forget that there are a lot of “hungry” people around us whom we can help. And if we get our kids involved—even as young as 3-years-old— we can teach them about what it means to look out for the “least of these.”

[This blog first appeared on Family Talk. Click here to read it there.]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers