Friday, 11 January 2013

Form letters from Africa

Have you received a letter like the one below? (At the bottom) Or perhaps even the very same one?

Lovely, isn't it? Do you feel moved to respond?

Before you respond, pause and have a think...

  • He's a man with a professional occupation and a regular job. Yet he can't afford to buy a Bible - really?
  • He maintains a wife and six children, and has leisure time which he can afford to spend browsing the Internet for your website. Yet he can't afford to buy a Bible - really?
  • He's a man, allegedly, of such industry and effort that he can single-handedly build up a prospering church from nothing; but apparently that church can't afford to buy him a Bible. Or doesn't want to. Does that strike you as odd?
  • Oh - it's a one-man ministry; like so many of those in his part of the world; does that concern you?
  • He does not just want a Bible. He wants the most expensive ones he could find. Does that surprise you? Those needy believers with no Bibles... they know exactly how to specify the deluxe model, and the best shipping methods? Is that interesting to you?
  • What do you expect he's planning to do with them? If you said "I expect he wanted the copious study notes", then can I presume that you've not spent much time in African churches?
  • I also removed the address. Nigeria. Nigeria and Kenya are the two epi-centres (though it's across all Africa now, from what I hear) of health-wealth charlatanism; for every honest and misguided man who sends an email like this, there are scores of charlatans who are simply "farming" from the cyber-cafes, to gain money dishonestly. The odds are that if you send something, you're funding and encouraging the growth of charlatanism. Do you want to do that?
Many of us in the West have been raised upon Live Aid. We are drilled by the present UK government with the idea that the more aid we give, the kinder we are. It's easier, after all, to just give than to discern.

Of course, there's only so much damage you can do with a Bible. I have given out Bibles reasonably freely in Kenya (normally a token contribution to prevent simple taking-for-resale) - but not the expensive study Bibles, which would certainly raise wrong expectations. But you should be aware that the man below has likely spent an afternoon or morning farming the web, copying-and-pasting this totally impersonal email to a hundred people. Two may respond. Those contacts will be carefully cultivated; Bibles will just be the beginning. That's the hook. If you're caught, you may spend even a few years believing that you're performing a great ministry. When the bitter truth hits you, you'll be really sorry you didn't pay more attention to what I'm saying now.

The African church does not need your quick-and-easy donations and quick visits. It needs your best men to be sent to give their strength on the ground over a sustained period of time.

Dear friend in Christ,

Greetings in Jesus lovely name. I read about you online in your web and  thank God for meeting you and knowing about you. I pray my message finds  you doing well in Christ.

By His grace I’m a pastor in God’s vineyard. I was born-again in July  of 1985 at the age of twenty-three and married the same year and have  been blessed to see God work in many different ways for the last 27  years by the grace of God. My wife Helen and I are blessed with six  children. I have a certificate in College of Education and I teach as an  occupation in a primary school. My wife works at home for the children.  We are not rich in the things of this world but blessed in Christ. I was  called into the ministry in 2007 while still in another State. We moved  into Oredo Community December 2010. When we came in here there was no  single church in my quarters. My family and I would move 20 kilometers  to fellowship in another church. Because it was raining season most  times we would be unable to go to fellowship then we resulted to having  a fellowship in my sitting room. After three weeks of fellowship three  neighbours joined and then more and more people came in. We had about 12  persons in six weeks, it was then I had the calling to start a church  and we moved into a rented car park. In another three months the  fellowship grew to 20 and above. Today there are between 45 and fifty  members in the church. The name of the church is Believers Bible Church.

I have dedicated this ministry to reach unbelievers with the gospel of  Jesus Christ, teach people to become fully committed followers of Jesus  Christ through discipleship, and to help people build healthy and healed  families based on biblical values and principles. Most people here are  from disjointed polygamous family background and hence the need to teach  and focus on Christ based families. Matthew 6:33 is a powerful scripture  in my life. When I trust God enough to pursue His will for my life  first, everything else follows!

My major purpose of writing is to seek your help in the area of God’s  word the bible. We have many in our church mostly the elderly ones who  do not have bibles and cannot afford them. I am seeking your help for  5 Giant Print Bibles King James in English for such ones, even if they are  used bibles. I seek also for my personal use a good Study Bible  preferably Dake or Thompson Chain Reference Bible or any other study  Bible you know can be of blessing to me. This is our need and nothing  else. You can send this to us through the post office. Express Mail  International or Insured mail would be better and safer. My postal  address is (snip),  Nigeria.

We would be delighted to have you come to visit us, as much would be  accomplished for the Lord in our working together. Write soon and God  bless you.

Yours in Christ,

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