The hot air on the crowed train in Chennai, India was stifling. The sweat on my arm made me stick to the stranger pressed up next to me. I was riding with my friend Nemmi to her home a few miles outside of the city. The blind and disfigured beggars made their way up and down the aisles singing and holding out their tin cans for a donation.
Growing up in Chicago, I have always been taught not to give to beggars. They would just go buy beer or drugs anyway. I watched my friend Nemmi, who made a meager $24 a month, give a few coins to every single beggar that asked for money.
When we got off the train and proceeded to her house, there were more beggars. Nemmi gave to all but a few. She knew them by name. She would smile and nod to each one. I couldn’t take it anymore. “Why do you give to so many?” I asked her. “Because if I don’t, they won’t eat.” It was simple as that. Nemmi gave to them because they were hungry. She had almost nothing to give, but she gave it anyway. Nemmi was aware that she had what she and her family needed to survive. Any money beyond that was given to the needy.
I was challenged to my core. What do I do with what’s left? Why do I cling to the loose change in my pocket?
Why do you?
I am not saying we need to give to every beggar we see on the street. Even Nemmi said she would not give money to those who were capable, but too lazy to work. But what can you give? Sure, the economy is bad, but you and I are not starving. The fact that you are reading this right now is proof enough. You have a roof over your head. You probably have a car and a computer, and enough money for your basic nescessities. So do I. Out of the abundance God has given us, What can we give?