So the phone rings yesterday morning.
Me - "Philo Presbyterian"
Young woman's voice - Huh? I thought I dialed a church.
Me - This is Philo Presbyterian Church.
YW - Do y'all have some food you can bring me?
Me - (inward sigh) I'm sorry, but we do not have a food pantry.
YW - You don't have any food? (I can tell she's scowling) You don't help people?
Me - No. We are in a small town, and we are a small church and we don't have a food pantry. Are you in Urbana? We are in a small town a few miles out of town.
YW - I thought you were in Philo.
Me - Yes. We are in Philo. Are you in Philo?
YW - I'm on Philo Rd.
Me - Well, we are a small church. I suggest you try the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, or the Times Center . . .
YW - I can't get out. I'm disabled. And the man I live with is disabled. He's sick and has to take a lot of pills and he's got no food to take the pills. Why don't you have food? I thought this was a church. Why you in the phone book if you so small you don't have food? If you don't help people? Can I speak to the pastor.
Me - I am the pastor. And we do help people.
YW - How you help people if you have no food?
Me - (to self: fair question, thanks for asking) We help people by supporting the Food Bank and Daily Bread. But we help with other things. Christian Education for children. Becoming better people. Giving clothing to local agencies. We pray and worship God.
YW - Well we haven't had a decent meal this month. I been to the LINK and they say I can't get a card. They say call back next week and I been calling since Monday.
Me - Navigating social services sounds like nightmare.
YW - Yes, it is.
Me - (losing resolve) Well. I'm sorry you are having such a hard time. And I'm sorry I don't have the help you are looking for. It must be frustrating to have to call all these people and get no help.
YW - Well, you say you pray. Say a prayer for us.
Me - I will. Do you mind giving me your name?
YW - (She tells me her name. I have to ask her to spell it.)
Me - That is a very pretty name.
YW - Thank you.
Then I get her address and phone number.
And after telling myself that it is stupid and will do no good, I put some canned goods and a loaf of bread and some butter and stuff from the pantry in a sack. Susan Kundrat (nutritionist) is on the radio, talking about how potatoes are such a good food, so I buy a bag of potatoes at County Market and take this measly amount of food to the YM. She doesn't look disabled. She is quite pretty. She invites me in and thanks me profusely and I suggest that she find a church and she asks me to pray again. So we hold hands, standing in her living room and pray together.
I don't feel good about helping and I don't feel good about getting involved in somebody's con.
If Jesus got me on his fishin' line, he'd reel me in, look disappointed, take me off the hook and throw me back. I can only hope the YW will be as kind.