I turned a corner in my car / automobile recently when several of the city's poorest jumped up and ran into the road with their arms outstretched. My passenger said: "That was truly extraordinary!" My policy towards the poorest was one of the success stories of my city ministry, although I only realised it later. Here, I think, are some of the things that contributed to this:
• I took time for them, in particular speaking about spiritual things, and their personal prioritiesOBSERVATION: In a strange way, the poorest seemed to be a great blessing to me. Above all, they revealed to me a world I wouldn't have known existed, and how it connected with my own. According to police, there were about 700 people on the streets in our area.
• I set aside about 10% of my disposable income for them, which I distributed in daily amounts. When my daily amount was gone, I told them so
• I told them what I was thinking. For instance, "Just look at you pressing in on me here. How do you think I should handle this?"
• They tended to be hardened people. I got tough with them where they caused me, or the Church trouble. I didn't hesitate to call security or police.
• But all was forgiven the next day, unless they were incorrigible
• I knew their names, the names of those close to them, and their personal histories
• Church charity was focused only on our own members, and this achieved a lot of good where it was intended
• The poorest were always welcome in Church, if they didn't cause disturbances (which they sometimes did)