When Did I See You Hungry?

His frail fingers trembled as he took the nickel from the missionary’s hand.  The starving Haitian boy was wearing a pair of ragged shorts, threadbare t-shirt, and shoes that had worn out months before.

During the peak of the famine, homeless children and orphans looked for any way they could to survive.  If they could get a nickel, they could get enough scraps of food to live another day.

So when the missionary was walking on a road in Haiti and came across the sickly orphan boy sitting listlessly on the roadside, he gave the boy a nickel. 

The boy’s eyes were glassed over, as if he was there, but not.  His thin face showed the outline of his bones and it didn’t appear that his lip was thick enough to cover his jagged top teeth.  His arms, legs and ribs were but a skeleton covered only by dry, dirty skin.

The boy grasped the nickel, held it to his chest and curled up in the fetal position.  He tried to speak but couldn’t, and for just a moment, the missionary stared into the dying boy’s eyes.

The missionary scooped the boy up into his lap and began speaking softly to the boy as he rocked him back and forth in a slow, comforting motion.

The faintest smile came across the boy’s face, as if the nickel gave him hope that he would live just one more day, and maybe, just maybe, it was all OK.

Still cradled in the missionary’s arms, thirty minutes later the boy breathed his last shallow breath clutching the nickel in his hand.

When Did I See You Hungry story

A friend of mine went to Haiti for a week and spent time serving with this missionary.

He came back a changed man.

When he flew to Haiti, he had a suitcase full of new clothes, all for himself.  He ended up, however, giving them all away before he left.  He flew back to the States wearing only the rags that the Haitians had worn, including a pair of old shoes that had worn out months before that he traded for his brand new shoes. When Did I See You story

Several weeks after he got back, he told me the above story while standing in a church parking lot.  He would stop to wipe tears flowing from the flood gates of his eyes.  At one point, he bent over and put his hands on his knees overcome by emotion and an incredible sense of brokenness.

Even years later after my friend told me this story, sometimes when I see a nickel in the change of my own hand, it all rushes in living color back into my black and mind.

Just the thought moves me to a different place, off high center, out of a mindless complacency.  I need to lose weight, but there are starving children, malnourished people in this world.

What makes me so blessed? I didn’t do anything to deserve this.  In fact, realistically I should be on the side of a road begging for a nickel just to survive another day.

But I’m not, so I sit here and think about it.  Does thinking about it help? Does it change anything?


The smallest good deed far exceeds the greatest good intention.

Do something, Jeff.  Do something.

The Least of These




26 thoughts on “When Did I See You Hungry?”

  1. “What makes me so blessed? I didn’t do anything to deserve this.”—I think similar thoughts often. Whenever I’m tempted to complain about something, I remind myself how fortunate I am. How fortunate so many of us are in this country.

    There are still so many in Haiti who suffer. Some people are still living in tent camps eight years after the earthquake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is very easy to see everything you want to see, and overlook what you don’t want to see. It is easy to become so engrossed in our own then and there that we forget other’s here and now.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the encouraging words Lynn, but really, I’m cold, luke warm at best….and you know what the Bible says about luke warm! There is, however, and ongoing need that is so easy to forget, in Haiti, foreign lands, and across the street.


  2. Beautiful post. Such a poignant story. And I feel as you do…why am I so lucky? Why have I been so blessed? I feel i have to do something too. That may be a donation to organizations that are working in the field to help people like those in Haiti. Or maybe it is just going for a coffee with a friend who is in a difficult time or visiting someone who is ill in hospital. Anyway…thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gripping story Jeff, we support a local soup kitchen that feeds the destitute and homeless but as you have indicated, the need far outnumbers what is given and it’s not getting any better. We all can do more. Thank you for sharing. Grace and blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Appreciate it Bruce! I can definitely see you supporting others. (And thoroughly enjoying your blog) Jesus said the poor will always be here. There is, and always will be, needs to help with. Keep up the good work my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful heart wrenching story. It is so easy to give to missions to do good work, But the reality of it all is the guilt one feels when we ask ourselves ” is that really enough?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that we can only do what God calls us to do. We alone cannot save the world, but if we obey what he is calling each of us to do, he will complete the rest. We have a lot of people living on the streets where I live and sometimes it feels overwhelming. I am learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and give as he calls me to. I’m not always alert, but like I said, I am learning. I walked past one man and heard the Lord say, I was hungry and you didn’t feed me, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I looked at my young daughter, as we were walking home and said, “wait, we have to buy that man a Latte’.” We were walking by Starbucks. I asked the man if he wanted one and he smiled and said, “I was just thinking how nice that would be.” God can be very specific. Anyway, that is my take on it. God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wonderful story! God seldom yells. He simply speaks, and often, only in a whisper to an open heart! Your heart was open, and you heard the whisper! Lattes can go a long way to change a heart when the “whisper” is heard and heeded!


  5. Wow, that is all I can say. I am so very blessed and find myself complaining about stupid stuff. Ugh. I want to obey the Lord when he speaks. I pray that I can walk the talk and love the lost. God give me grace to follow your example. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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