the weblog of Alan Knox

stories: Bill was hungry

Posted by on Feb 11, 2009 in love, missional, service, stories | 6 comments

This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)

Last month, on a Sunday, as we were getting ready to eat lunch together, one of our brothers walked in with a young man named Bill. Bill was riding his bicycle in the sleet, looking for food for himself and his sister. Bill told me that he was sixteen – I’m not sure how old his sister is. He told me that his mother was a drug addict and had left the house looking for drugs. Bill didn’t have any food for himself or his sister.

I talked to Bill for few minutes, then I fixed him some lunch – a meatball hoagie and some chips. It wasn’t much, but he was very appreciative. We asked if we could give him anything else, and he said, “No.” We asked him if we could give him a ride somewhere, and he said, “No.” We invited him to come have lunch with us anytime he wants to.

Since we’ve been meeting together as the church in the downtown area, I’ve been surprised at how many people we have run across who said they were hungry. We have always had enough food to share with them. Sometimes, the people will eat with us, and we are able to talk with them more – get to know them – find out about them and their situation – learn how we can serve them better. Sometimes, the people take the food we offer them and leave. For the most part, the people have always been appreciative.

I don’t know if Bill really needed food. I don’t know if his sister was really at home asleep. I don’t know if his mother was really a drug addict who had left her children alone in order to find drugs.

What do I know? I know that Bill (and others) told us that they were hungry. I know that we had food available. I know that we met their needs as we were able. I know that we offered to help them more.

Can we solve the world’s hunger problem? No. Can we help people who are hungry? Yes.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-11-2009

    If Bill took the sandwich and chips, it was probably because he planned to eat them. If he had insisted on cash, it probably would not have been for food.

    Perhaps Bill was not who he appeared to be. There is a person I know who claims to have the discernment to figure out that some of these encounters are actually with angels. Hmmm!

  2. 2-11-2009


    As Jesus is discussing neighbor in the Gospels, it leads to a parable. In that parable Jesus gives the example of the samaritan and the Jewish fella that got beat down.

    As we read the story their is something that struck me. The samaritan met the need with no conditions. He didn’t tell the guy to bring him his bank statement. He didn’t ask “well did you do somethign wrong”. He didn’t try to see if he was “worthy” to get his needs met. He simply so the need of this gentleman and took it upon himself to meet it.

    Why does the church look much more like the guys who sidestepped a person in need. We always place conditions because we don’t want anyone to “take advantage” of the church you know. Hogwash!!!!!!! We take advantage of God’s unconditional grace everyday and then turn a place conditions on others!

  3. 2-11-2009

    In the bad old days of NYC when someone approached for money and said they were hungry, if you offered to buy a meal for them, they often got angry. Wanted the money for other things.

    If Bill was appreciative, I would say you met a real need.

  4. 2-11-2009

    Update: Some of my friends have seen Bill a few more times. We are making ourselves available to serve him and his family more.


    Whether Bill is an angel or not, Jesus said that serving Bill is the same as serving Jesus.


    We’re very good at making excuses. Excuses keep us from obeying Jesus.


    Its my responsibility to serve or give as God has given me opportuinity and resources. The other person’s motives and/or purpose is between that person and God.


  5. 2-12-2009


    Based on my years of experience in inner-city ministry if he was satisfied with the food you gave him, the odds are he was being straight up with you.


  6. 2-12-2009


    Yes, he was probably being honest. But, his motivation can’t be my motivation.