In the walk from his house to Send Relief’s New York City ministry center, ministry director Taylor Field may encounter as many as 20 people asking for money.
Field was raised in small-town Oklahoma, so he wasn’t used to having strangers approach him asking for help when he moved to New York. And throughout his time in the city has seen his fair share of mishandled situations.
He once saw a man almost throw a brick after being turned down for financial assistance. Another time, Field’s coworker bought a woman some baby formula she requested and then witnessed her immediately return it for cash in order to buy what she really wanted.
But there were other times when providing an instant response was incredibly impactful. After seeing a ministry worker provide help for a woman in need, a bystander said, “I want to be a part of a group of people who help others regardless of the end results.” He accepted Christ and began conducting outreach of his own.
A man experiencing homelessness received a sandwich from Field and began to cry and share his story. He once “had it all,” but he had fallen into addiction and lost everything. Field’s gift of a sandwich was the first positive interaction he had had with another person in over a week. He prayed right there on a park bench to receive Jesus as Lord, and he began to volunteer at the ministry center. After he disappeared for several weeks, he called Field from prison. He had been living on the run, but the Holy Spirit convicted him, and he turned himself in. That man eventually brought his cellmate to Christ and started a prison Bible study—all because of a sandwich and a simple conversation.
On March 18, Field and fellow missionary, Andrew Mann, are hosting an open discussion on first encounters with people in need.
“I want to help people understand how to handle this issue—not as a psychiatrist or social worker, but as a normal person,” says Field. “A hungry person has no ears, so meeting physical needs is really what opens up the opportunity for relationship; but it can be difficult to know how to meet those needs, especially in a dicey situation involving addiction or other difficult circumstances.”
To learn more about how you can respond responsibly and lovingly to those experiencing homelessness in your community, register today for the free March 18 webinar on first encounters with people in need.
Published February 24, 2021