Friday, April 15, 2005

Mission and being a mug!

Miguel was waiting for me. His sallow skin, dark eyes, lank hair all scream of his addiction to drugs- a heroin user. Miguel has been coming into church ever since I met him begging. We managed to get him into a rehab programme which he decided to opt out of. But he still comes. We've opened up choices but he has chosen to live in a violent squat and to inject heroin. Today his hunger is dominating - well a week on biscuits and water would. I get him some food and a drink while we do up a food parcel.

He needs some clothing so before the little charity shop opens we go and sort him out. As he changes into the fresh clothes he smiles for the first time "you know... I feel human again!!".

I speak before I think - "You know Miguel - I hope you are not selling these clothes so you can buy drugs...I'd be so disappointed if you were!" I already feel disappointed as his pained innocence is a little too pained and his lies a little too tangible. We talk some more before he leaves promising to prove that he hasn't sold the three coats I have given him!

What do we do just stop any help? The thought of subsidising an addictive habit is never far from our thoughts - it's a tough call and I know we'll help, help and help but I hate being taken for a mug!


Lucy said...

I have some similar qualms about giving to alcoholics. As much as possible we give food, rather than monsy to buy food, assistance to get what benefits they are entitled to, rather than money to help with bills (supposedly) and so on, but I'm aware that some things will slip through the net and be used to feed the habit, and it makes me decidedly uncomfortable. But limits on the type of help given I feel are justified in such circumstances. Help but without making it too easy for the help to be used for the substance abuse.

Rob said...


Glad you had a good time away.
This is always a tricky one but, I guess, in the end if we are mugs it does not really matter. If we are seen as mugs for God thats fine and we would all rather that than be seen as pious religious uncaring individuals.

WE have to find the right balance, true, but we also need to think when we get it wrong, which side of the balance do we want to fall down on?

Listeningear said...

that is some good advice Rob, yes I think the world needs a for more mugs. We have a worker that works with us and she gives and gives of herself and has the philosophy of never giving up... and guess what she gets the results, it may take several years but people learn that she is one person that will never let them down.


Mitch said...

Would it help to chain the coats to the inside of an addiction clinic?

Gordon said...

Mitch - we'll that one a go :o)

Gordon said...

I guess teh mug thing says something more about me, the whole thing about acting with grace and ache sometimes. I guess grace and pride don't mix that well!

Gordon said...

I guess teh mug thing says something more about me, the whole thing about acting with grace and ache sometimes. I guess grace and pride don't mix that well!

Kathryn said...

Don't be hard on yourself,'s such a difficult call, because helping someone to damage themselves is also part of the equation...but then, assuming that this is what they are doing can feel very much like being judgemental. I've been here again and again in my past life as a charity administrator: in that context, the Trustees of the charity would give me a rough time if they felt that I was giving "unwisely" but I always felt, with Rob, that I would always prefer to land on the "mugs for Christ" side of the fence.

Mitch said...

Sometimes (only sometimes) we pass things back and forth that we can't see and are hard to identify.

I know a woman here in town who has to make the same decisions. I'm very happy to let her do that.

I not going to suggest that you should push the man out, but have you considered whether or not you feel personally responsible for him? Or are you afriad to make a mistake? Do you know that he's not yours to fix? Do you have the hear to put a new set of clean clothes inside a secure building and direct him to go there instead if he wants to be truly clean?

Or do know something about him that tells you he's not ready to accept that yet?

Gordon said...

Thanks mitch that helps as well.

Steve said...

Hi Gordon. After nearly eight years of ministry, I still have no answer. Some people are obviously taking us for a ride, usually so they can subsidise their materialism. We gave food to one family every two or three weeks for about six months, until I noticed a new TV, Hi-Fi, computer, etc. I suggested we sit down and discuss budgetting and she never called again.

On the other hand,there are one or two on drink and drugs that we have helped several times. I have started challenging them about their honesty (names change every visit!) but still help them out.

Keep helping and let God do the rest

STeven Turner

Gordon said...

Nice to hear from you steve!

We always keep an eye on what we give to see if patterns emerge - good thing is that we have been able to help with budgeting in some circumstances.

I like the Keep helping and let God do the rest - thanks