“In God We Trust”

24 01 2011

US coin“In God We Trust.”  Have you ever really thought about what those words mean and why they are on every single American coin and currency?  Do you ever think about how God wants you to use that dollar before you actually use it?

We’ve all been taught not to give homeless people money because they may buy drugs or alcohol.  True—they certainly might, and many will.  We’ve been taught that if you want to feed them, buy them a meal at McDonalds.  If you want to clothe them, drop your old, worn wardrobe off at a shelter.  But by all means, DO NOT GIVE THEM ACTUAL MONEY.  At least, this is what I have been taught many times over by well-meaning individuals, books, news articles, and even church groups.

However, my perspective on homelessness and especially how to help the homeless has changed dramatically after reading two books in the past month:  Same Kind of Different as Me and What Difference Do it Make? by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.  These books chronicle the lives of two very different individuals.   Denver Moore was a modern-day slave, sharecropping in the deep south until he hopped a train to Texas one day where he lived on the streets for years.  Ron Hall was a millionaire art dealer.  Deborah Hall, Ron’s late wife, brought the two men together, and the results were mind-blowing.  Through their growing friendship, Denver taught Ron much about the homeless community—how they live, work, con, and simply try to survive from day-to-day.

In one eye-opening passage in What Difference Do it Make? Moore wrote, “When you give a homeless man a dollar, what you really sayin is ‘I see you.  You ain’t invisible.  You is a person.’  I tells folks to look at what’s written on all the money they be givin away:  it says ‘In God We Trust.’  You just be the blessin.  Let God worry about the rest.”

Moore recanted several stories to address this point.  In one, Hall really wanted to give a homeless man some money, but all he had was a $20 bill, and he certainly did not want to give that much to a man who appeared completely intoxicated—slurring his speech, and walking haphazardly about the streets.  Moore encouraged him to hand over the money, and so Hall did.  As they left the area, Moore told Hall that the man had recently had a stroke, which of course explained why the man’s behavior was the way it was.

Moore told another story of a homeless man who did in fact go to a bar to get hammered after receiving some cash from a well-wisher on the street.  While in the bar, he struck up a conversation with a woman who eventually persuaded him to return to his home and apologize to his family.  She drove him to the bus station, paid his fare, and he was received like the prodigal’s son by his family.  Despite the fact that he chose to use his money to buy alcohol, God turned the situation into a blessing.  This man turned his life around. 

In reading these accounts, I am reminded of these scriptures:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done.”
–Genesis 50:20

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
-Romans 8:28

So the next time I see a homeless person, if I am able, I will give them some cash.  I am not the judge of how he spends it.  God is.  My concern is simply to “be the blessing and let God take care of the rest.”

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14 02 2011
Giving to God (first, last, or not at all?) « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] American dollar and coin has the phrase “In God We Trust” on it.  Do we really trusting God enough to follow his commands on […]

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