Today, as our family was taking a tuk-tuk back home, we saw a couple of young boys begging for money and they came right up to the tuk-tuk with desperate eyes. After we did not give them any money, Marcus questioned us pointedly, “I thought we were suppose to give money to the poor?”. As parents, we both smiled with uncertainty as to how to respond but we also recognized his kind and generous heart. Marcus said he had never met anyone that begged for money like that before. We told him he has seen many beggars in Canada and Cambodia, but we admitted that it was a new thing for us to be approached in a tuk-tuk. We felt challenged to dive into this complex issue with a 7 year-old.
How do we teach this passage but also explain child exploitation to him? How do we teach him to love the poor but also be street smart? It seems simpler to give a handout to everyone that asks, thinking we’ve helped people. We are more aware that giving cash to beggars often only benefits the adults that exploit the children. How do we discern when to help and not be calloused to the needy?
We explained to Marcus that God can you give us wisdom. We need to pray for the needs of others and be willing to use our resources (time, energy, money etc.) in all situations as God calls us in order to show Christ’s love. We shared with him examples of times we have helped others with medical bills or cooking meals because we felt like God was leading us to bless them with the resources He had given us. We give not to gain merit but because God first gave to us. Here in Cambodia, we are surrounded by the poor and our future ministry will be focused on some of the poorest in the world. We will need more Godly wisdom and discernment daily in each unique circumstance. Parenting just stepped into another level!!