A friend of ours, while we were visiting him, invited a stranger into his home to stay while she figured out her next move. This lady, who called herself Dana, had been on a cross-country tour by foot for at least a year. Essentially, she was homeless and, perhaps, on the run from the evil in her past. We had the opportunity to meet Dana and found her to be charming, intelligent, and well-spoken. A vegan, she enjoyed cooking and cooked the four of us a wonderful Thai-inspired meal.
Dana, wearing a hoodie inside our friends home with the hood up (which, to me, is a classic form of self-protection), was understandably guarded around us. However, she became relaxed enough around our friend to remove her hoodie and open up to him a bit about her abusive past. Dana, unfortunately, also demonstrated some mental health issues, in the form of extreme paranoia. Did you know a large percentage of the homeless population are homeless due to mental illness?
We commended our friend on housing Dana; she stayed with him a week. He wasn’t afraid to “get his hands dirty” helping someone. We also appreciated getting to know her a little bit; someone who, due to her homelessness, I may have been nervous enough about encountering to cross to the other side of the street to avoid rather than engage.
My friend’s parents, on the other hand, weren’t so happy with my friend taking her in. My friend’s parents are more comfortable addressing problems such as mental illness and homelessness by making monetary donations rather than one-to-one assistance such as my friend provided.
What is the appropriate response to someone in Dana’s situation? As Christians? As fellow human beings? Sure, there’s personal risk involved (which is what my friend’s parent were worried about) in doing something like taking in a “Dana” versus throwing money at the problem.
My friend inspired and motivated me! On our recent road trip, a vanful of young people had ran out of gas and were at the gas station fundraising. I convinced my husband that we could buy them a $25 gas station gift card.
Matthew 25:40 New International Version (NIV)
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’