Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Hard Expensive Lesson

Our epic adventure with the "new people" is over. After an extensive investigation, we learned the recent "converts" had more to be concerned about than "baggage." They are professional thieves.
People of this kind make a living off the generosity of churches. We had taken them in with the intent of truly helping them and seeing their lives turned around. For their part, they intended to take the church for every penny they could get, and frankly, they succeeded fairly well. The combined total in cash, food and merchandise exceeded $1000.00 within one month.
The scam operates the same all over. A couple arrives in town and either shows up at church or calls. Either way, a plea is made for money for a variety of excuses: The car broke down. We're trying to get home to see our dying mother/father/sister/brother. We are out of gas. We are out of food. We need a motel room. We had a fire. etc., etc.
If the couple is successful, they may convince enough churches to have a different church making contributions each week. Once the couple is found out, they simply move to another town and start over.
In the case of the particular couple in our church, they simply became too greedy too quickly and that raised enough suspicion to begin an investigation. Greed is always their undoing. They never know when enough is enough.
This has been a touch and expensive experience for our church, but we simply have to learn when to say "no." This is a fair warning to all churches. Be very careful about how you help people. Have a plan in place for those times when people come calling for a handout. Trust me, they will. Have a plan and follow it faithfully. Don't jeopardize your church by unwise sympathy and careless procedures. Don't give money to strangers no matter how real they may seem to be. Confine your help to your own people, those who belong to your church those who faithfully attend, and those you know personally. In the long run, you'll be glad you did.

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