There are many folks out there who are really in need. We have to realize this. For a Christian to practice the love of the Savior, Jesus Christ, we must understand this: James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. This tells us that we are to remember and help those with a genuine need. But we must also realize this: Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. I’ve been around the bush a few times. Maybe you might want to learn some of what I have in this ministry.
There are those out there, and I’ve seen it, that come on the Christian chat or message boards with a real need! They either have a spiritual need or a need for food and shelter or all three. I’ve tried my best to help these. Then there are those that are there to just plain out SCAM you!!! Here are a few suggestions to find out if you are dealing with a sheep or a wolf.
1. Never send money directly to them. I’ve made a policy with the Parsons Corner Ministries, that when helping others outside my city to contact a local pastor of a church in their city (easy enough to find one over the internet) and ask if they would mind distributing funds to the one in need. I’ve done this several times and have yet to have a brother turn me down in such a cause. If the brother on the other end spots or smells a wolf, he usually lets me know it.
Also, if they are a wolf and they know that you are going to send help in this fashion, they may try to give you an excuse why you shouldn’t! Warning, that is the first sign of trouble!!! If its a wolf, you just threw a monkey wrench in their plans.
o Proverbs 12:13 The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.
2. Can’t find a pastor to help??? No problem. Call one of their local grocery stores in their city and make arrangements with the manager to send a voucher / wire to them. After explaining to a store manager my intent to buy folks in need some food, they have been more than happy to help there. Ask that particular manager how he wants to handle it.
I usually ask him or her to allow them to buy food only. The same could be said for a motel if their need is shelter.
o James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
3. Never invite someone to your home! At least not until you’ve had a chance to check out their story and background. I realize that this circumstance involves a bunch of faith, but this could also spell trouble in the end. If I had done the proper checking beforehand instead of afterwards, I and my family would probably have not had some of the heartaches we have in times past.
o Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. This scripture says Be not forgetful, it doesn’t say Be Not Careful. Now does it? If they are running from some persecution or trouble, there may be two sides to that particular story.
4. Another suggestion is that someone on the chat or message board may not be very familiar with how the internet works. It’s very possible that some of that persons local charity ministries have websites. You could do an internet search for them, find the charity, and if you need to contact the charity for them, do so.
5. Everything done you should do in prayer! If you are a Blood bought, Holy Spirit led, child of God. The Holy Spirit will guide you in all things that you do. Especially in helping others and even more especially in seeing that you are dealing with a sheep or a wolf!
o John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
It all boils down to this, I have heard countless stories from well meaning Christians who have been taken by wolves over the internet or who have taken folks into their homes with disastrous results. Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Pastor Tim Davis is an ordained Baptist Minister and Sheriff’s Chaplain and has been dealing with online ministries for the past nineteen years. The Parsons Corner ~ Ask the Preacher at http://parsonscorner.org