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Last night, Matt and I spent our final evening in Waikiki. We have several days left on the island, but we won’t be making it down to Waikiki because of our busy packing/cleaning/final tasks schedule. Anyway, we were down there with some friends of ours for dinner and because there was an hour wait for a table, we strolled the main street to kill time. We were walking along and I happened to glance at the edge of the sidewalk and saw an elderly man who was extremely skinny, sitting cross-legged on the ground, chin to his chest, with a sign in front of him that read: “Terminal Cancer… [the rest I don’t remember, but the basics were along the lines of please help, God bless.]” He had his shirt pulled up and he had a tube going into his stomach.
Immediately, I felt the overwhelming urge to reach out to him, so I stopped and fished out a dollar from my purse. My dollar was the first to be placed in his small box; not a dime was in there yet. I don’t know how long he was sitting there, but he looked like he had been there awhile. From that one dollar, he profusely thanked me, and blessed me, “God bless you, thank you.” Honestly, it took me a few minutes before I could swallow the lump in my throat. I felt so unbelievably sorry for that man. I immediately regretted only giving him a dollar, I had much more to spare, and if I could go back, I’d have fished out a few more bills for him. Most people these days are very skeptical and would say to me, “He was probably lying. Trying to get booze or drug money.” I will never know if he truly was a terminal cancer patient or not, but the fact is, he was skinny beyond belief, and he was sitting on the sidewalk with his head down, basically degraded to the status of a dog. My heart broke for him.
I have spent a good chunk of the day today, thinking about this man. Thinking about how I wish I would have given him a few more dollars. Praying for him, whatever his situation is: drunk, mentally ill, physically ill, lost, alone… whatever characterizes him, I prayed for him and his life. I prayed that he is saved or that if he’s not, that he finds God. I can’t think about him without the lump in my throat coming back.
The thing that made me really sad, and angry with society as it is today is this… a little further down from this man with the ‘terminal cancer’ sign stood two 18 or 19 year old boys with guitars. Their sign read “Broke college students, need money for beer :)”. In their box was at least 10 crumpled bills. In the man with the terminal cancer sign, zero. That disturbs me beyond belief. It doesn’t matter if you doubt the man with the terminal cancer sign, the fact is, he could be homeless with terminal cancer. He might not be, but he could be. The college kids, they are obviously not in dire need of anything; their parents [or scholarships, either way] are paying for thousands of dollars of tuition for them to get an education. They had ten times the money that this skinny old man had in his bucket. The irony of what our society values makes me sick. I prayed hard for that man and I prayed that he will be taken care of, even if it isn’t until the next life. I also prayed for society. If we will give money to students to blatantly say they want to buy beer, but not to a man who very well might have terminal cancer, but is obviously homeless and in need of food, I think society and those in it need some massive prayers.
All those thousands of people milling the Waikiki streets, spending thousands on their Hawaiian vacations and not one person had donated to this man. I think that speaks volumes for how jaded we have become in society today.
If you want to, I ask you to pray for that man. If he’s lost in the evils of alcohol or drugs, then I pray for freedom for him; I pray for an escape. If he is sick, I pray for relief, even if it’s in the form of a little food. I also pray he finds salvation, if he hasn’t found it already.
God asks us to take care of those that are in need. The world would be such a better place if we all tried a little harder to do that. Next time, I’m giving a couple dollars, instead of just one.
God bless all of you, and tonight, let’s pray for those in need.