When Helping Goes Terribly Wrong: The Risk of Giving

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Last Sunday, I was driving down the road with my wife and kids in the truck. In the back of the pickup (a common way to transport people here), I had two teenage girls who I was taking home.

As we rounded a corner, a guy flagged me down for a ride. Wanting to be a nice guy, I stopped the truck.

Immediately, the guy grabbed a kid and ran and jumped in the back of the truck.

I noticed that the boy was not happy about coming with the man, so I stepped out of the truck and asked, "Is that your son?"

He said, “Yes”, and motioned for me to get moving. Within a few moments, several folks came out of their homes shouting at either me or the man about something. (I couldn’t understand what they were saying.)

I had obviously just inserted myself into the midst of some type of domestic situation that was about to turn violent. The man was yelling and telling me to forget it and go. The others were yelling something. One of the girls in the back of the truck was clearly uncomfortable.

I tried to go and talk to the others about the situation, but no one would explain it to me. (They see that as a sign of respect to someone visiting the country that they won’t involve you in their personal situations). Eventually, the wife (I assume) motioned for me to go.

A lot of thanks I get for trying to help someone out. Grrrr.

Today, I zoomed past someone looking for a ride. Why? Because I was ‘burned’ last time I tried to help someone out.

That’s a great game plan, eh? Since it didn’t work out well for me to help someone one time, I shouldn’t help anyone again.

Wrong.

It reminds me of my small business lending program. I lent money to about 20-25 individuals. Less than five paid me back. Not one has an ongoing business.

One church leader and I even have a very strained relationship because of the loan program.

He wanted a much bigger loan than my max. I told him to prove it to me with less, and I would consider increasing it. He showed me his business plans and everything, but I was firm on the limit I had set.

Fast forward a few months, and his chicken business failed.

I think he felt embarrassed and ashamed. After my last break, I went to visit him, and he literally ignored me the whole time. When I started asking questions about him, others told me it had to do with the small business program.

Once again, I got burned trying to help someone. Actually, I tried to help a lot of of people, and I didn’t see any fruit come of it.

It’s easy to get bitter about giving and helping. Too easy.

The problem is that we can’t help in a risk free environment. We can’t give in a risk free environment.

Giving and helping involves risk – and a lot of failures. We must trust that God will find a way to use it for his glory. Eventually, the right person will be helped in the right way, and we’ll clearly see God’s plan.

Comments

  1. says

    Very true, Craig – as the world sees it, it is very risky to give. But I wouldn’t say we can’t give in a risk free environment. If you’re living from the reality of the Kingdom of God, there is no risk in giving – even when you will be abused or misused. The other person’s need is reason enough for the gift. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will always give exactly what they ask for, but it does mean we don’t have to worry about the risk associated with giving to or helping another. As you said, we can trust even in risky giving.

  2. JD says

    Thanks for writing this article. Sometimes I think it is easy for each of us to think we are the only ones that have this type of result. Unfortunately both of us have had results that were less than stellar. We used to think maybe we were unusually stupid or something to help others and end up with such disappointing results. We started praying about what we had done and felt God told us to not worry about how it all turned out but to make sure our hearts and motives were in the right place. It is not our responsibility to “fix” others and to love them the best we are able.

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