How to Love a “Frequent Flyer” – a HUB NETwork “Watch List” Story by Rev. Dennis Whitmore

Published January 8, 2014

Greetings all:

The effectiveness and practical ministry tool which the HUB NETwork provides was proven this morning, yet again.

At 9:15, just as Sunday school was beginning, a 60-something year old man came looking for assistance (gas & money).  Our folks made him welcome with coffee and snacks as he waited for the pastor.  One of our elders informed me of our guest.  I asked her to ask his name and go to the HUB Watch List which we keep in the office by the phone.

Daniel Shearer is on the list, from Greencastle, known for panhandling for money and gas.  Warning was: do not help financially. The elder returned with this information for me.  I met Daniel and he was quite pleasant and polite.  Had a story of course; heart condition (carries his nitro in a vile on a necklace).  Assures me, as he tells his story that everything can be verified as true.  I politely listened, engaged in some general chit chat, as we moved toward the office.  He said he sleeps in his car, his wife’s in a nursing home, and he has health issues, particularly his heart.  Looking for help with cash and gas.  I asked if he knew about REACH.  He’s never heard of it, he said.  I said that I had a number he could call and that maybe they could help.

In the office, I called the REACH/ CASA weekend hotline and introduced myself; that I had a Daniel Shearer here who needed some help.  Then I handed him the phone.  He had a pleasant exchange with the helpline.  I didn’t get into details about what was said or what I would do, except that we had no money here.  I invited him to stay for Bible study and church.  He proceeded to tell me he has his two Bibles in his car, etc.  I then said that reading it is one thing, doing what it says is another.

We moved toward the front exit doors where again I invited him to have more coffee, stay with us for worship. He said he was going to go on to other churches to see if he could get help.

I believe the Holy Spirit took it from there as I turned and looked him in the eye.  With authority and a  calm tone of voice I said to him that I knew who he was and why he was there.  I said that it was no accident that he was lead to come to our church;  because I had a message for him that he needed to hear.  I told him that what he was doing was wrong.  I knew he was from Greencastle, that he panhandles churches and that now he was doing this in Washington County.  I warned him that he’s taking the Lord’s money.  And God sees what he’s doing.  I urged him to repent of this, because one day (pointing to his chest) that heart will stop beating.  And then he will stand before God.  And what will he do?  “Are you ready for that Daniel”, I asked.  I kept eye contact the whole time, was firm but gentle, and without anger.  I looked at him and loved him enough to tell him that what he was doing was going to cost him greatly and not too very far in the future.

I asked him if he understood what I was telling him.  He said, “I know what you’re saying.”  I warned him that if he was going on to other churches in Clear Spring to continue this, that they would know him and that if they didn’t, God did.  And that it would be best for him to take a different attitude. He had no defensive reaction or resentment or anger toward me.  I had his full attention and I think that if he even had wanted to walk away from me in that moment,  he couldn’t.

I told him to come back and that I will help him in the right way if he will do what is right.  I put my hand on his shoulder and, without pausing, I prayed for him.  We shook hands and I again invited him back to see me. He thanked me and left.  I felt in that exchange that God was using me to convict his heart (John 16:8).  Armed with the information I had from the HUB Watch List, I was able to speak with authority into his situation, blowing right through his stories and his charm.  I had him and he knew it.  After he left, I prayed  that God would use our conversation to bring him to repentance (II Peter 3:9) and save his soul.

In the past I might have given $10-$20 to a Daniel and “err on the side of mercy”.  Actually I have come to realize that many times when I did that, I erred on the side of self-serving cowardice.  If I had given him $10 and never had that talk,  I would have done Daniel a terrible disservice and God’s desire for Daniel even more so.  But this time, with God’s help, I looked at him and loved him (Mark 10:21a) and told him what he needed to hear.

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