It doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but some who are seeking help knock at the door of the church. One family I remember in particular wasn’t in search of food or fuel, but just a campsite.
As most are, they were on the way from one place to another, and just needed a place to stay for a week while in Florida. I’m not sure why it was a week, but that was their story. They had a running car, a couple of kids, a tent, a propane stove, camping equipment, and food. They had everything they needed except for a place to pitch their tent for a few nights. But there was a campground just a few miles away, and they wondered if I could help pay for a site.
Not a problem. I drove down with them, went to the camp office and said I wanted to pay for a site for them for a week. It was pretty warm that afternoon, but it was cold, oh so cold in that office. The icy stare I got from the woman behind the desk would have made Frosty shiver. “We don’t usually do that.”
I said, “I just want to pay cash so this family can camp here for the week. I’m a pastor here in town.”
Her look softened every so slightly for just a moment, but then she held form, “We don’t like to do that.”
“I don’t understand.”
She stood up and walked from behind the counter, “It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you’re doing. It’s just that when the weeks up, we won’t be able to get them to leave. The we have to call the sheriff and I don’t want to have to deal with that.”
I just looked at her. She looked back. “But OK, I’ll do it this one time. It’s just that we don’t like to do this kind of thing.”
The campground wasn’t full or anything. No big events were coming up. But I understand. If you don’t want to have to kick them out, it’s better to not let them in. She must have had that experience before. I never thought of that.
It often isn’t as simple as we think. It usually isn’t easy helping people, no matter what anyone else might tell you. It’s rarely a “one and done.” There is sometimes another chapter to the story. Or someone has to clean up the mess later.