His smile lit up his face when he realized what I was asking.
He hadn’t seen me approaching since his bad eye was turned to me.
“How much?” I asked again, when I couldn’t understand what he said.
“Cent franc,” he responded, his thin hand pulling out the newspaper that had caught my eye. I rummaged through my purse to find the coin. When I placed it in his hand and saw the look of gratitude on his face, I wished I had given him more.
I turned and walked on, but the old man wouldn’t leave my mind. He was standing there, in the hot sun all day long, hoping someone would stop and buy his newspapers so that he could make another one hundred CFA. That’s less than $0.20. How did he survive? How did his family survive?
I wanted to weep. I wanted to turn around, run back and buy every paper he had. I wanted to do something besides walk away.
He opened my eyes that day. Every time I see men and women now, walking along the road, carrying something to sell, approaching the stalled taxis, hoping, hoping that they will make this sale, I wonder about them. And not only about their physical needs.
So many of the people I see on the streets are working hard, trying to survive physically and spiritually. Their value to their deity is based solely on their own merit. They are standing out in the hot sun, all day long, every day, trying to make their $0.20 add up. I wonder, if someone came swooping in and offered to cover all of their expenses… would they take the offer? Would their pride or fear, or distrust hold them back?
I see him standing in that same place almost every time we drive past. I pray for him often. The next time that I walk by I plan on stocking up on some newspapers. Yet I continue to wish I could do so much more. Thankfully, I know the One who can.