As my husband and one of our friends stood outside of the local Mosque, they began to pray that God would give them an opportunity to share His word. They were starting to wonder if the Imam would even show, but were still hopeful that God would make a move. Soon, “E” (a Nigerian man) came over to them, asking if the Imam was around. “E” was hoping to meet with him also so he too began to wait.
In that time of waiting, my husband and our friend were able to learn a little about “E”. He has a wife and son who are temporarily staying in Brooklyn, while he is currently living in the Bronx. He was waiting to ask the Imam for formula and diapers so that he could send them to his wife, as she was running low on supplies. After listening to some of his story, and accepting that the Imam was in fact not coming, the guys took “E” to the store and bought him some formula. This was the beginning of their relationship.
After a few months of reaching out to “E” by having routine Bible studies and helping him to buy formula and diapers, my husband asked me if I would be willing to let him come into our home. I replied yes. But, a few days ago, as my husband and I were coming home from one of the Albanian restaurants we reach out to, we just happened to see a sign that left us feeling a little uncertain.
You see, as time has gone on, “E” has proved somewhat untrustworthy, causing us to question whether he actually has a wife and child. A few of our suspicions include not being able to see his family, because they conveniently live far away and he lives with a roommate, which makes it seem like maybe he isn’t married at all. He also says he is here to look for work, but whenever my husband stops by, he is always asleep, claiming he was looking for work until four in the morning and he also won’t accept help in looking for a job. All of these things are small and possibly inconsequential, but still, there are some suspicions.
Now, back to the sign; it read “do not give Enfamil to strangers”. Of course, we were slightly in shock, because we assumed formula was one of the more safe items to buy for someone, and far better than handing out money, so we looked it up and were surprised to see that formula has become something of high demand. People have begun to steal it from stores, and ask for it on the streets, because it is a good halving product for drugs. If your drugs are running low, or you want to dilute the strength, just add formula. Coincidently, Enfamil is the formula that “E” always asks for. If he wanted, he could get a different kind of formula from various food banks, but none of them give out Enfamil, so you either have to buy it yourself or have someone else buy it. In my head I instantly assumed that “E” must have been scamming us the whole time and almost told my husband that I had changed my mind about having him over. I didn’t know if I wanted a drug addict around my family.
Whoops. Where did that thought come from? Instantly, different stories from the Bible started pouring into my heart. Hadn’t Jesus surrounded Himself by sinners? In Mark 2:13-17, Jesus eats with sinners, even though it made Him “look bad” and it was probably a little dangerous. We are called to love others at all times; not just when it is convenient or safe.
“E” may be lying about his family and maybe he is scamming us by reselling what we buy him, or maybe he is a drug addict, or maybe he has been telling the truth and he really does need to provide for his wife and baby. But whatever the case, we will continue to reach out to him, knowing that God is in control and knowing that we are called to love; not separate ourselves from uncomfortable people.
So now we pray for wisdom in this situation, while scheduling a conversation with “E” that will hopefully reveal truth. We will love without enabling sin, and maybe we actually will meet his family.