Today I had a remarkable experience. I was on Duke Street in downtown Kingston around 5:00 pm, I had a warm can of juice and proceeded to the closest establishment (a bar) that could give me a cup with ice. I was standing on the sidewalk drinking my now cool drink when the barman and I saw a very elderly man trying to take a step in the street. He had one shoe on and the foot without a shoe was quite swollen. The barman said that he thought that the man was pretty ill. I asked the barman if he thought that the man would accept the rest of my juice. He said “Its possible. Go try.” I went to where the man was and held out my juice. The look on his face was priceless. He looked genuinely grateful that someone would offer him something but even more, that someone would take the time to recognize him as a human being and friend. I helped him to the sidewalk and we both went our separate ways, but I can say that I am very grateful that I was privledged to have that experience. The whole thing only lasted about two minutes or less, but I hope that I won’t forget that precious smile that he shared with me.
Drugs and homelessness are very challenging here in Jamaica, and every day I pass people that are dealing with those problems on my way to work. Often, the same men, women, and children beg people for money and it is very difficult to know what to do. Giving money supports their drug and begging habits, but not giving leaves a person feeling like they are stingy and lack compassion. Often, walking on the street I have prayed for opportunities to show kindness that will mean something and not just taken advantage of. I pray that my heart will be open to future opportunites where I can continue to bless others through wisdom, kindness and compassion. The key to navigating these waters is to fully understand the depth of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmelss as doves.”