Chinese Church Voices

Responding as a Christian to Beggars

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

How should Christians respond to those who play loud hymns and beg in front of the church on Sunday? What should the believer’s attitude be towards them? Can a Christian refuse to give money? What does the Bible say? A believer in China discusses this difficult issue in the following article from the Gospel Times.

Say “No” to Beggars Playing Hymns in front of the Church

Every Sunday, I see someone blasting super loud hymns and begging on the road in front of the church, causing a huge traffic jam. After worship, eight or nine hundred people rush out of the church, and with lots of tricycles, motorbikes and cars passing by, the narrow road becomes even more congested. Some believers stop out of sympathy to give money to the beggar, which makes the situation even worse, possibly causing minor accidents.

One time, I walked up to the beggar and said to him, “please do not stay in the middle of the road. There are a lot of people, and this causes congestion and is possibly dangerous.” But he looked displeased and wouldn’t move. I didn’t give up. Instead, I started to observe this man. He curled up one of his legs on a flatbed and used his other strong and powerful leg to push along like rowing a boat. Nobody stopped and gave him money while I was standing there, so he felt more displeased and stared at me fiercely before finally moving to the side of the road.

The following week, I met him twice in the city; I recognized the harsh sound of hymns blaring all over the street. Perhaps he discovered that people who believe in Jesus have more compassion than those who do not. We should happy be about that. However, I would not encourage believers to give money, and misuse our love to aid deception and greed.

Kindness should not be used by greedy people to encourage unhealthy behaviors. Some believers might say, “I don’t care if he’s using hymns to win our sympathy. I will act kindly, and if he is deceptive that’s his business. Some day he will answer to God.” I really appreciate the kindness of these brothers and sisters, but they do not realize that this kindness feeds greed. Paul said that our love should abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. Christians should have love, but not without principles, and not in a way that encourages deception even when we know we are being deceived.

Our love should not be used to encourage greed and deceit and to benefit those who reap without sowing. This beggar is not a godly person. He begs in front of the church but does not enter to worship God. Instead, he waits until the worship is over and then starts to play hymns. Yet the hymns do him no good, since they are not able to bring him to repentance and restrain his selfishness.

Today many people take advantage of begging to benefit themselves. For instance, they pretend to be disabled, use children to beg, and even develop begging groups. As the government takes measures to prevent such begging behavior, Christians should support the government. Playing hymns while begging along the street is not preaching the gospel, but rather destroys the good image of the church in public and makes people who are prejudiced against Christianity even more disgusted with it. Even worse, as a result some people might consider Christians a group of greedy, lazy, and begging parasites—no matter whether those beggars are Christians or not.  

Saying “no” to beggars doesn’t mean to despise the disabled or beggars. After all, everyone faces different situations. We Christians should try our best to help those who are truly in need. However, we won’t encourage believers to live by begging nor to use hymns to defraud others of love and money, which indeed makes us parasites.

The Bible says:

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11)

Christian love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, yet blind love won’t be remembered. Once upon a time, Peter helped a disabled man at the entrance of the temple to get up and walk, so that he would stop begging. Now the entrance of the church has become a paradise for beggars, turning hymns of worship into tools of begging. Even if beggars truly are disabled, hymns should not be used as a tool of survival.

Some people might be concerned that those who are truly in need may not get help if we don’t help them. In fact, the government provides monthly living allowances to the disabled and other people who are in specific difficulties. This amount of allowance won’t make them rich, but at least ensures their basic living needs. Furthermore, for most disabled people who are not completely paralyzed, related organizations such as the Federation of the Disabled can help them get a job to support themselves. We can temporarily support those people who have an urgent need, but eventually they have to work on their own for a living.

Christians should never be indifferent. Instead, we must show love and kindness to real beggars, because we know that everyone has personal dignity, and this is especially true for disabled people. Love shown to the smallest and the weakest will be remembered by Jesus.

Original article: 抵制利用赞美诗在教堂前的乞讨行为, 福音时报
Translated, edited, and reposted with permission.

ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

Written or edited by members of the ChinaSource staff.          View Full Bio

Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.