Remember those wrist bands with the letters WWJD on them…they stood for What Would Jesus Do and when they were “in fashion” every Tom, Dick and Harry were wearing them – they even started printing t-shirts, caps, keyrings and a whole lot of other paraphernalia with the acronym on it! They were supposed to make a person think in any given situation of how they’d react to certain things and perhaps even change their normal behavior by making them think what Jesus would do before doing something.
This morning, I got thinking about this. I drove my usual route into work and at the Malboro traffic lights, the usual newspaper sellers were there – a man and a lady who walk up and down the ramp every single day trying to sell newspapers. The lady generally stays out of the way and walks along the grass verge until somebody signals for her to come over or her “usual” customers drive by. The man is super friendly but not in an in-your-face kind of way – he walks in between the two lanes of cars and waves and smiles at the motorists driving by, he even chats to a few of the regulars but generally, he’s quite inconspicuous.
Last week Thursday and Friday morning, I noticed that he wasn’t there. Now, although I greet him every day, I’ve never chatted to him and so I wasn’t exactly going to roll down my window and question his whereabouts when he showed up again on Monday morning. So Monday and Tuesday went by and I did the regular “wave and smile” to him when I drove past. This morning, he was there again as usual, but this time, he crossed in front of my car and walked up alongside my window. I thought that he was going to probably just walk past my car onto the next person wanting to buy a paper but then he stopped at my window so I rolled it down to say hello. He greeted me and then pulled out a piece of paper that he had put in between the newspapers that he was carrying. He asked me politely if I would mind making a few photocopies for him – “what’s a few”, I asked? he said “as many as you can please sister”.
So of course, I read the letter myself. It’s a well written letter with a few spelling and grammar mistakes but then again, we’re not all writers so it’s to be expected. The letter says that he received very sad news last week and that he’d had a very sad weekend as he’s grandmother passed away of a heart attack. Not only did she have no insurance but it now leaves him as the only person who’s earning income in his family as she was a pensioner getting a monthly pension and that in a nutshell, he is beside himself as he has no idea how to cope on the R85 a week that he gets paid. R85????!!!!!!!!!!!!!! R85 is what I spend on a meal FOR MYSELF at lunch on a day like today when I’m joining friends for lunch across the road at Allora, one of the more “fancier” restaurants in the area. In fact, R85 cannot even buy us Friday night take out – Nandos a few weeks ago for three of us cost me R225!!!!!!!!! Ok, granted, he may now be the only person in his household and they may be getting money from somewhere else as well like maybe an insurance policy paid out from a deceased grandfather or mother or something but still, R85???????!!!!!!!!!!!!! How does one person come out on that let alone more than one person in a household? I don’t even think that R85 would cover Ethan’s three meals, fruit, yoghurt and snack for the DAY. Wow!!
The letter then goes on to ask for donations to assist him and his family. So that got me thinking – what would Jesus do? The scary thing in this country is that I don’t know this guy from a bar of soap and while thinking about this letter and his predicament, the following thoughts popped into my mind;-
– Has his grandmother REALLY passed away?
– If I (or anybody else) donates money, will it go to a good cause like food for his family or will he/they use it for something else like drugs?
– How can I help him further than giving him a few notes?…I was thinking in the line of checking if anybody needs a garden boy and then I thought, I don’t know this guy from a bar of soap, what if he’s a serial killer/murderer/rapist/thief and then I get him a job (even if it’s as a gardener once a week) at a friends’ home and he harms the family or steals from there?
– Surely as a person just selling a newspaper for a couple of hours in the morning, he can go and get a job as a gardener/washing cars/car guard for the rest of the day (although R85 a week could be the pay he gets in total for a number of different jobs – I’m just assuming here that that’s what the newspaper pays him)?
And so now I’m in the dilemna of what to do for this man. Human instinct and the fact that I want to help as far as I can of course comes to the forefront of my mind, but is it not natural to try and guard ourselves and our loved ones against harm and not put somebody who we barely know in a position that could possibly put ourselves and our loved ones at risk?
My heart goes out to this man – if this is the truth and he is in this terrible predicament of not only losing a loved one, but of having to support himself and a family on R85 a week…I wish I could do more! For now, I’ll make the photocopies and I’ll give him some money that will hopefully help him and I’ll keep him in my prayers.
Is it really that easy to do what Jesus would do nowadays in the society we live in???