‘Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”’ Acts 3:6
When Peter and John arrived at the temple gate called Beautiful, they were met by the a beggar who asked them for money. Something, as I have mentioned in a previous email, which is part of everyday life here in Goiania. Everywhere you go, there are people asking for money or trying to sell something to support their families or their addiction. It must be said that this intrusion is not always welcome by those being asked.
My guess is that the Beautiful Gate was called beautiful because of the beauty of the place itself. Maybe there was a view to be seen from there, or maybe the architecture was inspiring. We will never know for sure but I can imagine that for some the experience may have been spoiled by having to deal with the beggar. Wonder and faith would have been mixed with shame, guilt and anger. ‘If only this man could beg somewhere else’, some may have thought. But there he was. Spoiling the experience at the gate. Many may feel this way about those who beg on the streets of most major cities around the world and see them as those who ruin the experience for others. Others, however, may be heartbroken and wondering how to help people who seem to be so far beyond hope.
Since arriving in Goiania a recurring question in our minds, when faced with the huge challenge before us, has been: What do we have to offer?
Peter and John’s has helped us to start the process of reflection as we try to answer this question.
In verse 4 of Acts 3, Peter and John look intently at the man. They didn’t just look at him actually, they saw him. They did not divert their eyes to the view, they stopped and saw the man. This is the first lesson for us, we need to see. It is so easy, when faced with challenges, to look the other way. When we look but do not see we fail to respond. There is an old Brazilian saying that expresses this well: “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t feel.” Peter and John though, they saw him and felt they needed to respond.
Having said that responding is not always that simple. What can one individual or group of people do when needs are so deep? How can we respond when anything we do is a drop in the ocean. Peter and John, recognised that they could not give him enough money to meet his need. He needed healing, dignity and transformation. Those money cannot buy. So, recognising what did not have, they gave him that which they did have. The power of the Holy Spirit! Only through that power can the deep needs of those we meet on the streets of Goiania be met. Only God. Only Jesus. So to answer the question of what we have to offer… well we can only bring Jesus with us. We need to rely on the power of Holy Spirit. So we pray he will fill you and us to bring that power wherever we go.