A dollar for coffee

Early in the morning on this winter day, I was going to the office. It was one of the coldest mornings of the season. I was in my warmest winter jacket but was still feeling the frigidity of the cold. Visibility was generally poor because of the snow. It was somehow windy. Visible steam was coming out of my nostrils like the smoke of cigarette every time I breathe out. I was striding at a quick pace just to get to the cozy warmth of my office in time. I was in the world of my own, thinking about my schedules for the day. I was trying to figure out the priorities for the day. I said to myself, “Brother John should be in the office by now,” I thought, “and as soon as Sister Vicky comes we shall assemble to have a short prayer.” “Those money orders must be deposited unfailingly today. I will need some stamps to mail the Christmas gifts I have in my office. I will also need to mail the holiday seasons greeting cards. I will need to cancel doctor’s appointment I have today because of volumes of things I need to do. Oh yes, I have to call Ohio this morning before I go to the bank! I have …” A shrieking shout cut the train of my thought. “A DOLLAR FOR COFFEE!” Still on my momentum of fast pace striding I walked past him. I stopped momentarily to look at the direction where the sound came from. I saw a man wrapped himself in a discarded carton by the street corner. He was only depending on the heat leakages coming out of the boiler of a building however, he was still shivering. Then I remember the scripture that says, “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13) I said to myself, “Obviously, you need a hot coffee in this cold winter.” I came back to him. I dipped my hand in my pocket to minister to him.

The poor are screaming for help in our midst today. They are using all the means of communication available to them. The cry of the poor is not only “A dollar for coffee,” it is not only for coins or food remnant. It is also their obvious deplorable lives; it is the eyesore these once-upon a time beautiful people had become in our society. It is the stench that is oozing from their undetoxicated bodies that sometimes forces us to cover our nose with hand-kerchief. Even if you have an underdeveloped sense smelling like myself, you cannot miss these beautiful people lying on the subways seats to occupying three seats in the subway car. This is the only bed they can legitimately lay their aching bodies on and fall asleep. This is their sitting room and dining room. It is when the special members of our society cover themselves with paper carton and shivering in the frigid cold winter and are only subsisting on the heat leakages from the boilers of the Con Edison. Their deplorable conditions are screaming for help when you find them at the street corner with pan in their hands. The public shelter program that the government provided for them may not include the facilities that will make interaction with other members of the society possible.  Perhaps nobody is providing role model for the people that need counseling and encouragement.  This is one of the reasons why some do not always stay in the government facilities provided for them because they want to mingle and interact with right-thinking and fortunate people of the society. They want to have opportunity of beholding the glory of God in the brilliant light of the days in a colorful interaction with people.

Again, the senior citizens in the public and private nursing homes are some other categories of poor people in our society. Their grown up children have got married and settled in different cities and in different states. Their grand children are in the private and public high school minding their own business. The aged parents have retired, and no income is coming for them to maintain themselves. Due to their old age, they cannot run around to maintain themselves in the sophisticated society. No extended family relationship as it is being operated in other cultures. Loneliness sets in at their old age. None of the children want to harbor a helpless aged parent and the cost of maintaining them privately is exorbitant and not affordable for the children. The children decide to take the easy way out, by shutting their ears to the cry and needs of their poor parents. They bundle their fathers and mothers into the nursing homes with intention that the workers in the homes will provide maintenance for them and keep them company.

And yet there are other members of our society that are classified as poor. They are the people that are naturally incapacitated as a result birth defects, blindness, diseases like multiple-sclerosis, spinal cords related diseases that permanently subjected them to the wheel chairs. The deaf and dumb and the people with cases of psychiatric problems are also in the category. You may not find these people around in our street corner notwithstanding, nobody can claim lack of knowledge of their existence. The fact that you possess all the physical abilities that these precious people lack is enough indication that the hearts of the less fortunate poor people are crying for help.

Many people in their self-justification may be of the opinion that it is their fault to be homeless. Perhaps they say it was because of the wrong people they hung on with in their youthful age that let them to become homeless. Perhaps they thought it was because of drug related problems they were involved in. Their situations cannot be narrowed down to these self-inflicted societal problems alone. Some found themselves in a serious depression. Some are subjected to horrible situation that permanently alter the course of their life. Some are subjected to orientation of abject poverty right from their childhood and were unable to find their feet in life. Some are as a result of psychiatric problems of which after they were healed, they were unable to easily blend and fit-in in the society. Some have spent the best part of their life times in the big house behind the bar, and the good trend of life had left them behind. The list of the reason why people become homeless are endless but certainly the mercy of God endures forever.

Pan-handling is illegal in our society, especially in the mass-transit system and other public places. But it is equally a violation of the law of God to neglect the poor among us. God commanded in the book of Deuteronomy, You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. “For the poor will never cease {to be} in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.‘ (Deuteronomy 15:10-11) God reminded the Israelites and His words comes to us today that, “The poor will never cease to be in our land and we shall freely open our hands to our brothers and to our needy and poor people in our land.” These poor ones are living among us in their uncomfortable state of life to justify the definition of their lives. They are the integral part of our lives and they are poor in order that we may behold the glory of God in our affluence. The way we minister to the poor whether generously or neglect is a test of our faith. They are the missing link to the path of our breakthroughs because the Lord says, “We shall generously give to them, without any regret whatsoever or the thought that we have wasted our resources on people that do not deserve our mercy, because for this thing the Lord our God will bless us in all our works and in all our undertakings.” Take a cue today from the exemplary leaders of Israelites in the way they lived according to the precept of the word of God. “And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren; then they returned to Samaria.” (II Chronicles 28:15)

Ministering to the needy and the poor does not stop in doling out few dollars and feeding them with remnant food. At times by the design of fate, it takes our means of livelihood to minister to these special people. Many of us are working in the nursing homes now to clean and dress, and serve the senior citizens and the disables in our society. At times, some of the nurses assistants considered themselves as unfortunate people that are doing menial jobs for living. Little do they know that it a path to the spiritual stardom of their lives as it is an opportunity for them to be ministers to these poor senior citizens. As God had designed it, you replaced their sons and daughters that have abandoned them. And the blessing of God they abandoned when they abandoned their parents becomes yours and your generations as you sincerely minister to them. Many times we think one has to operate from the pulpit before he can be an effective minister. Far from this thought. You are a faithful minister that God has presented an opportunity to love the unloveables, to pray for those who never know that they are being prayed for and keep them company as if they are your own parent. At the same time you are presented an opportunity to point them to know Jesus Christ before they see death. Whenever you are in your cozy home in this winter, remember the important members of our society that are outside in the cold. Beloved of the Lord, do not depart from the honorable course of meeting the needs of the needy and the poor for the glory of God. The Lord will bless your labor of love in Jesus name, Amen.


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