Recently, I republished a column written years ago describing a missed opportunity to help a mother attempting to buy $7.43 worth of baby food in a grocery store. There are no acceptable excuses. I messed up. The column serves as an ongoing reminder to be more vigilant for the opportunities God gives to help someone in need. I vowed to do better.
Then, God handed me another opportunity. The phone rang in my office and the voice on the other end asked: “Do you have church tonight?” Being somewhat of a salesman, I immediately began describing all the exciting services and activities occurring but he interrupted me. “My wife and I would like to come. What time?”
After giving more information, he then asked: “Can you pick us up?”
I hesitated. Not being a question I anticipated, my eagerness switched to concern. “I’m not sure.” I replied. “Where are you?”
The location described was another city, miles away. He and his wife were standing in a phone booth just outside a hotel. They had no car and were obviously looking for more than the location of a worship service. We had no transportation available and I was hesitant to commit the life of one of our drivers to a mystery voice on the phone who was sounding increasingly suspicious.
So, I said: “I would love to help you but we have no one available to pick you up. I’m sorry.” After a few more minutes of conversation, he thanked me and hung up.” At first, I was relieved but that reaction was soon replaced with guilt. Bible verses singed my conscience.
“Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well”-but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all-it is dead and useless.” (James 2:14-17)
Strong and clear language:
·         Faith doesn’t mean much if not backed up by action.
·         When someone needs food or clothing you don’t just say, “God bless you!”
·         Faith without good deeds is dead and useless.
Had I refused to pick up a couple who genuinely needed help simply because of inconvenience? Could this be another opportunity from God to help someone in need? Was I guilty once again of displaying faith with no action? Yet, there was a very real chance the voice on the other end of the phone was a con. There was also the risk of picking up strangers who could be dangerous.
There wouldn’t be much time to dwell on the situation because later that same evening while teaching a Bible study in walked a couple who claimed to have called hours before. Once the class was over and everyone but the couple left, we talked. After the earlier phone call, they found someone who gave them a ride to our church. Although originally from our area they recently moved back after he lost his job: Now they were here with no car, not even a license to drive, virtually no possessions and no where to go.
Once again, I faced a dilemma. Was this a God given opportunity to help a couple in need or a slick con with me as the mark? “Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing and you say, “Well good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well’ but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” Now, it was my turn to respond.
Next week: There are more surprises in this true story so don’t miss the exciting conclusion.

How would you respond to this situation? How do you feel God would lead you to action? Please respond to the blog or email me at with your answers.