Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Wednesday, April 17

People in Need

15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

She knocked on my door at about 9pm.

"I've had my incapacity benefit stopped and I've been sacked [from her dishwashing job at a cafe].  If it comes to it and I'm homeless, can I come and live in your house while I sort myself out?"

The above verse is very much in mind.

I have a big house, with lots of rooms.  But they are all in use in one way or another.  OK, it would be possible to make space.

But the young lady in question has a history of mental illness (schizophrenia I think) and drug abuse, which may both be related to her past involvement with 'New Age'-type religions, and I suspect that she is also what we might call 'Special educational needs'.

I can't handle her.  I don't feel I have the skills to care for her.  I don't have the time to care for myself, let alone others.  I have to protect my family first. 

She used to ask for me to pray for to be delivered of a spirit that was in her - the ghost of a World War II tank veteran. 

She used to claim that Jesus had given her the gift on knowledge, and tell me all sorts of things about my life and family - sometimes uncannily close to the truth but inappropriate to be talking about.  She reminded me of the slave girl that predicted the future in Acts 16:16-18

She got a job dishwashing at a cafe - 9am till 12 pm one day a week (unfortunately Sunday).  One day she knocked on my door  asking for a lift because she was late.  I obliged happily enough.  But that meant she came to depend on me, asking for lifts instead of setting her alarm clock earlier.  I started to say no.  So that is probably why she got sacked!

She started asking for money, for the bus, for cat food, etc.  I started feeling that it was too much, she was using me rather than sorting herself out, and I started to Say no to this too.  Not that it would stop her coming again!

So I really don't feel that I can take her in.  I feel she will manipulate and abuse and may never leave.

Of course if it was a middle class woman, I would say yes, anything.  So am I really just a snob?  Our faith commands us to treat all as equals and not to despise anyone, and to accept being used.  So I feel guilty for turning her away.

What would you do?
What would Jesus do?

What will I do?  Well, I referred her to the Citizen's Advice Bureau.  But I shouldn't stand alone in this.  She is well known to the church, which has experience and access to other helping organisations.  They will also check her story - has her benefit really been stopped?  Will she not get other benefits instead?  Will they really make a vulnerable woman with mental health issues homeless?  I can help, without necessarily having to take her into my own home.

(But I still feel guilty)

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