In Matthew 25 in the Bible it says,
Then the King will say to those on his right. ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
I’ve been thinking about this passage over the past couple of days. In Moscow there is a lot of poverty. It’s an expensive city and I think a lot of people here find it hard to be able to live here. Everyday I see people begging outside the metro, many of them holding up signs saying things like ‘Help me to buy medicine.’ ‘Help me to eat tonight.’ The most heart wrenching one so far was one held up by a girl who looked a couple of years younger than me: ‘Help me, my parents have died.’ It broke my heart.
Before I go on I want to point out that I KNOW that Moscow is not the only place with poverty. I know there are homeless people in the UK just as much as here. I know a lot of people can’t understand why I want to help people in Russia and not in the UK. That’s not the case! I want to be able to help people everywhere but I can’t save the world! To those who criticise me for working with the poor in Russia and not in the UK I challenge YOU to help those suffering in the UK.
Anyway, over the week I’ve been here I’ve been noticing these people who need help more and more and two days ago I suddenly realised that I always just walked past them. I may have noticed them but I didn’t do anything. When I see a homeless person I always think, ‘Oh I shouldn’t give them money because they’ll probably only spend it on drugs or alcohol’ or ‘I bet that sign they’re holding is a lie. They’re just trying to get my money for alcohol.’
But who am I to judge these people? How do I know they’re going to spend it on alcohol? Maybe they really do need money for medicine or food. If they were that desperate for money that they would stand outside a metro station holding a sign begging for money then they are clearly suffering.
I had been praying that God would show me how I could be of use in Moscow and two days ago when I had this realisation I then walked straight past a woman holding a sign saying ‘Help me eat tonight’ and suddenly heard ‘When you did it to one of the least of these’. I knew God wanted me to give some money to this person. But I was scared. What if giving money to the homeless was frowned upon in Russia? What if someone shouted at me for doing it? Then I looked around and noticed that there was no-one around (I was walking through a subway). It was just me and this woman. I stopped and gave her what was in my pocket, 10r (20p), she looked amazed and shouted thank you to me as I carried on walking. I didn’t want any glory for giving her that money. I wanted her to know it was from God. As I walked away I prayed and prayed and prayed that she would use that money for something she needed and not alcohol or drugs.
In the UK I have a money box that I put all my loose change in and then I give it to charity. Here I’ve started carrying it in my pocket, so I can give it to those I see who are in need. I don’t know what they are going to do with it; I can only pray that they will use it for good.