Thursday, September 30, 2010

Should We Ask For Money On Social Networks Like Facebook?

Asking for financial help for the work of the Lord is not wrong in itself. For so many years, ethical ministers have asked for financial aids for their ministries and organizations. Having initiated three orphanages, I am sympathetic to those ministers who need to raise funds. 

I remember when one of my orphanages ran out of funds, I approached my Christian business friends whom I personally knew and asked them for financial donations. These friends responded readily because they knew the ministry that I was involved with. They were confident that the money was used for the orphans.

Today, through the internet, many Christians have been scammed into giving to ministries that are neither authentic or even in existence. These bogus ministries utilize fear, sympathy and guilt-trips to suck the money out of sincere but gullible Christians. 

Many give false promises such as God will bless the giver with rich return if he or she will sow a 'seed faith' to their ministries. Very seldom does one hear these people asking you to sow to your church or bless your pastor with the extra love offerings. 

The good news is that you do not need to sow any so-called 'seed faith' into the coffers of these false ministers in order to receive the blessings that are already in your salvation. You are a good steward and should use your money wisely.

Today, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and many others on the internet are used for fund-raising purposes. Many unknown preachers and missionaries are posting on our pages requesting for financial gifts. Some are from small churches while others claim to run charitable ministries such as orphanages and feeding programs. Many even include convincing photos and commentaries that can cause compassionate tears to readily fall for their cause.

Many of the postings and mails are carefully disguised as 'Prayer Letters'. These communications usually begin with prayer requests. In a very subtle manner, the writers would make a very innocent request for financial help. 

How should we respond to all these requests from unknown sources? I have only one advice - do not give them anything! That's correct, you read it correctly! Do not give a single cent. The reason is obvious - these ministers are not ethical at all. 

To solicit directly from Christians individually is not an ethical practice... especially when there is no way of verifying whether these requests are from genuine ministries. For example, I received a request from a so-called pastor who asked for money to help his country that was suffering from a recent hurricane and massive floods. I deleted the request immediately. First and foremost, I did not know him or his ministry. Second, neither any of my ministry friends knew this person. ! rather give my donation to my church, the Red Cross or World Vision than to such unverified ministry.

How then can a ministry receive funding?

In many Christian denominations or organizations, their missionaries and ministers are backed up by their churches or supporters. The ministers in the fields have to submit regular reports so as to keep those who support them informed of the progress and development of their ministries. The denomination usually helps out in the time of crisis or emergency. Since the supporting churches and individuals are kept regularly informed, they are also able to help in the time of needs.

How about independent ministers? These ministers may not submit to any organizational leadership but they still need to be accountable to those who support them. First and foremost, they are accountable to the Lord and should depend on Him to open doors of financial blessings. God will cause people who know the ministers and their ministries to help them. In the time of needs, the close friends of these ministers would become their spoke persons to raise supports for them.

Ministers who use social networks on the internet to actively request funds from total strangers and believers are not only unethical but wrong. 

Do not respond to them at all!

It is good if you want to give to mission works or Christian ministries. However only give to those that you can verify as genuine. To be on the safe side, give to those ministries that are recommended or approved by your church leadership or pastor.

For the ministers who go around 'begging' for money on the social networks, it is best that they stop this practice. Let them learn to depend on God. This is not a cliché but the reality that all ministers have to face. If what we do is God's work, then He will surely provide.

In my own ministry, there are many times when the fund is low and ministry requests are heavy. Third-world ministry is not financially supportive and it can be tough to sustain such ministry. If my wife and I were to look only for financially lucrative ministry, we would have gone to only financially endowed churches in rich countries. We are smarter than that - we look towards our very rich God. Till the time of this writing, our God has never failed us yet.

Our intention and purpose as the servants of God must be clear and true. If we are not careful, we will become 'professional beggars'.We will end up begging for money everywhere we go. I personally know of a Cambodian preacher who spends 8 months of every year in USA to raise funds for his 'churches' in Cambodia. He claims that he has 40 churches but his right-hand man tells me that it is a lie. Every time, a foreign donor visits his ministry in Cambodia, his right-hand man has to gather Christians from other churches and even recruit ordinary villagers to put on a show for the visitor.

I know of another pastor from Myanmar who spends the same amount of time raising funds in USA. I visited his church and the facilities were really run-down. However, the pastor's wife, who was showing us around, was decked in gold chains, bangles and ear-rings. The church looked really poor but the pastor's wife did not looked famished or living in poverty. Then I learned from my local contact that the reason why this church was kept in that run-down condition was to invoke sympathy from foreign Christian donors. 

Many Christians, especially those from developed countries, are very sincere but some of them do not possess much wisdom. They can be so gullible that it has become  known that they can be fleeced. One Filipino pastor shared about an incident where a local minister showed a photo of a sport event and managed to convince his foreign donors that it was a picture of the crowd in his evangelistic crusade.

The money that should go to genuine ministries often ends up in the private coffers of these false ministers. Wise up now and let your church leadership guide you. It's nothing wrong to give and support ministries and ministers but it is absolutely wrong to give to ministries that are not verifiable or that are downright fakes.

1 comment:

  1. Praise the Lord, God is good all the time. Thank you Jesus for opening your servant mind & heart as he share with us the truth, nothing but the truth. This is happening almost everywhere even in INDIA country. I am not jealous of the thing/works around me. But, one QUESTION is "how long can this people keep on telling lie?" God people/children need to come together in one accord. God bless.........