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Getting scammed vs. becoming a better giver

I got an email. Hanif from Pakistan is someone I’ve been emailing for about half a year. I met him over the web. He signs his emails, “Your well-wisher in Christ.” Then this earthquake hit over there and 80,000 people or so died. Hanif wrote to tell me, “I have come from “Neelam Valley” which …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I got an email. Hanif from Pakistan is someone I’ve been emailing for about half a year. I met him over the web. He signs his emails, “Your well-wisher in Christ.” Then this earthquake hit over there and 80,000 people or so died.

Hanif wrote to tell me, “I have come from “Neelam Valley” which has been destroyed by the Earthquake. There are many people who are still without medication open wounded getting septic, and in cold.”

What do you do with that? I’ve got resources I could send Hanif. But people tell me, “You need to meet people like that before you send them funds.” So I haven’t sent anything. Instead I’ve asked Alli to look into it. Now, does that make me like one of the Pharisees in the story about the Good Samaritan?

Before you tell me, “No, how do you know you can trust this guy you never met?” I think we have to wrestle with this a bit more. Yes, on the one hand, we’re supposed to exercise stewardship – what if the guy is a charlatan? But on the other, what background knowledge did the Samaritan have on the guy he helped? Probably it’s just as important that we develop the habit of giving to those in need as it is that we exercise prudence in how we give. More of us should stop using the excuse of “I should learn more about this person before I give something to them.” Once we’ve got the habit of giving reflexively down, then we can hone the quality of our stewardship.

The people of the Neelam Valley wait in the cold, their wounds becoming more infected. This question of, “should I do something?” becomes very practical when you’ve been emailing a guy like Hanif for half a year.

Comments (5)

  • I think the key question that needs careful consideration is, “what is the Lord saying to my heart on this matter now, (seeing that He looks at the heart)?” I’ll certainly receive some inner gratification if I get to know the receiver well enough before I give. However, shouldn’t I see the receiver as the Lord Jesus Himself, (with Matt 25:31-46 in mind)?” Make no mistake about it, if we are great givers, we’ll be scammed sooner or later. But that is also a proof of our love for the Lord and His own. The determination not to be scammed could be a great hinderance to making eternal impact with our giving.

  • I love these blog posters who are too chicken to post their real name and too cynical to engage as a human being, preferring to snipe with remarks like that.

    The answer is that yes, as a matter of fact, I gave him and another young man named Emmanuel money. The relationship with Emmanuel has grown from there. The story has an amazing ending. Here are a couple of blogs about it:

    https://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=persecution-is-supposed-to-be-normal

    https://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=adopt-an-orphan-today-right-into-your-kitchen

    It has led to this: https://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=help-build-a-virtual-orphan-village

    I suggest that instead of sniping, you join us and make a difference.

  • I love your direct and honest response to this Seth, and also for sharing this story with your audience to see how we would weigh in and what we think the best decision would be. As I’ve been traveling, becoming a better giver and giving wisely have been common topics I’ve struggled with – there are many places when you meet good people that will tell you not to just give out money to beggars and other similar cases because of scams. I love reading your blogs and always appreciate your honesty. I’m currently on the race and also thank you for founding this organization!

  • Tori, I’m glad you have been processing this. Thanks for the kind words. I went and looked at your blog and your journey. You are doing so well – I love your hunger for righteousness balanced with grace. I hope that you continue to journey well. I predict great things for you in life.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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