I have an email friend, a Christian lady who is poorer and wiser. She handed over a large sum of money to someone I will call a Deceptive Person, who promised to repay at some stage. She did not check him out with her local church leaders, or indeed with any mature Christian brother, who would have seen through him immediately. Years later, she is still kicking herself. Recently we heard from her again…
Here is the gist of what I emailed to her:
"My opinion now is: forget about the money; write it off; let it go. Start from now, and have NOTHING to do with him. If you get an email, click on to Message and then Block Sender. Stop him in his tracks. Do not even read his ramblings.
"Just in case he tries to get in touch with you again, you had better 'gird up the loins of your mind' and get some backbone on this."
Meanwhile, I have been listening to Dr J. Vernon McGee teaching his way through the Bible (the website is ttb.org); the program is called 'Through the Bible' (a five year program on radio in America; excellent). He makes the point that each of us will have to give an account to Jesus, and so many Christians who gave money will be ashamed, because they gave to the wrong people. There will be no pat on the back from Jesus for handing cash to phonies, when good gospel ministries are struggling.
Dr McGee is with the Lord now, but said he knew of many ministries where the money rolled in and kept the ‘ministers’ driving Cadillacs, with $90 of every $100 going to the great man himself. This is the charity business, folks! They’re still at it, big time, using the TV to lure in the mugs. This is true in the secular world too.
There is one type - the pathetic person, the parasite who thinks he or she is too good to work (although they are able bodied), but they are so spiritual and so gifted that it is your job to support them. They make you feel so guilty if you don't agree. I was so glad to hear Dr McGee say: 'Don't give out of a sense of guilt.' Of course he was a real man.
As for the charities, several years ago in England we researched a list of big name secular charities, including medical charities and animal charities, and found that the heads of most of them were making salaries in six figures - with a lot of extras on top. See our article: ‘Charity’ bosses earning six figures. Charity began at home for them! The only charity which came out well was the Salvation Army, where the head of it was paid very little, only about £10,000 a year (about $15,000), which even then was about starvation wages.
Dr McGee urged people not to give out of guilt or sentiment when they are shown pitiful pictures, but to check out the ministries and find if they are really bearing fruit, if they are getting the Word of God out into the world, getting the scriptures out in such a way that people are coming to faith in Christ.
I am sure that Dr. McGee’s ‘Through the Bible’ is one of those ministries, and the program carries on though dear Dr McGee is gone to his no doubt great reward.
We also have a warning in our book ‘Cults and Isms: True or False’ on this sort of thing. Page 193: ‘Wolves on the Prowl: a warning to the sisters.’
I hesitated to put this article on, fearing it might stop someone supporting a GOOD ministry, but the main point is that we must be discerning and must check things out. The Bible warns that in the last days particularly men (and women) will be lovers of money and some will try to 'make merchandise' of you. The Lord expects us to think, analyze, use our critical faculties.
In the area of money, giving is actually one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit! What a wondrous gift to have! It is more blessed to give than to receive, so the giver gets so much joy. But it must be done wisely - giviing with wisdom to the right people, the right causes. We are also told that God loves a cheerful giver. How wonderful when the gift of giving is used well.
A few questions to ask a charity: What is the salary of the Chief Executive? What is the advertising budget? What is the policy towards Israel? If they won't answer, why support them?
Many Christian charities are anti-Israel and hold to the false belief that the church has replaced Israel and God is finished with the Jewish people. We personally like the charities which have a correct view on Israel. Israel has so few friends in the world. When the Lord returns, we want to be among its friends!
But even in the case of Israel you have to be discerning. The apostle Paul collected money to take to the church in Jerusalem. Today that would be called a 'messianic fellowship' (a fellowship of Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah). But some rich churches in America which send huge sums of money to Israel do not use discernment at all. They support secular Jews instead of messianic (Christian) Jews! Paul would be appalled.
The small church we attend in England sends aid to two messianic* fellowships in Israel, one in the north and one in Jerusalem. The apostle Paul tells us that as gentiles benefited so greatly from being grafted in to 'the vine' (Israel), it is our duty to help Jewish believers (and today many of them do need help). Our church also sends regular donations to an Israeli Christian charity which helps women who would otherwise have an abortion.
*'Messianic' is pronounced mess-ee-an'-ick.