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More Than Peanuts

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Since we arrived in Mongolia, my wife, Renee, and I have wrestled daily with how to handle requests for money and food. We know we can’t meet every need. Nevertheless, how do we look need in the eyes and walk away?

We don’t want to harden our hearts. We ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” He stated, “‘The poor you will always have with you’” (Mark 14:7). Jesus could have met every physical need, but He didn’t. So we decided to build a relationship with just one of the street boys.

The day I went out, I came across only one of the children. I always try to keep a bag of peanuts or a piece of fruit in my pocket so I have some food to give. I introduced myself and asked him his age. When I gave the boy something to eat, I asked if I could take his picture (as a reminder to pray for him).

At that moment I noticed his feet. Winter was approaching, and his shoes were falling apart. The next time Renee and I went to the open market, we found an inexpensive pair of shoes and some socks for the boy. It was several days before I saw him again, and when I did, I asked him to wait while I returned home to retrieve the shoes.

The boy took off his filthy old shoes and socks and put the new ones on his dirty little feet. A crowd of his friends had gathered around him. You might expect that they would have immediately asked for something for themselves, but they didn’t. They were too amazed at their friend’s good fortune. They all walked off together, leaving the dirty shoes and socks on the sidewalk.

Renee and I often see the boy. He always says “hi” and walks beside us for a while. He has never asked us for anything. Sometimes we have something for him; sometimes we don’t. When we do, he always says “thank you”—a rare occurrence from the beggars here.

We exchange pleasantries with him for now, but Renee and I long for the day when we can tell him about the One who can give him so much more than shoes and a bag of peanuts.

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