I got an email. Hanif from Pakistan is someone I’ve been emailing for about half a year. I met him over the web. He signs his emails, “Your well-wisher in Christ.” Then this earthquake hit over there and 80,000 people or so died.
Hanif wrote to tell me, “I have come from “Neelam Valley” which has been destroyed by the Earthquake. There are many people who are still without medication open wounded getting septic, and in cold.”
What do you do with that? I’ve got resources I could send Hanif. But people tell me, “You need to meet people like that before you send them funds.” So I haven’t sent anything. Instead I’ve asked Alli to look into it. Now, does that make me like one of the Pharisees in the story about the Good Samaritan?
Before you tell me, “No, how do you know you can trust this guy you never met?” I think we have to wrestle with this a bit more. Yes, on the one hand, we’re supposed to exercise stewardship – what if the guy is a charlatan? But on the other, what background knowledge did the Samaritan have on the guy he helped? Probably it’s just as important that we develop the habit of giving to those in need as it is that we exercise prudence in how we give. More of us should stop using the excuse of “I should learn more about this person before I give something to them.” Once we’ve got the habit of giving reflexively down, then we can hone the quality of our stewardship.
The people of the Neelam Valley wait in the cold, their wounds becoming more infected. This question of, “should I do something?” becomes very practical when you’ve been emailing a guy like Hanif for half a year.