Friday, December 23, 2016


I was testy yesterday because of an exchange with our bank after we had been bilked. It had cleared a cheque from our Benevolent Fund which was altered from $50 to $150 by a fellow we had assisted, with some reservation. We felt that his story was suspect, but it is often difficult to verify need, so we often choose generosity over suspicion. Amazingly, he was back seeking more help after he had defrauded us and was probably aware that we wouldn't have received the altered cheque back. He is "at large" at the moment, as police have already charged his wife for stealing from churches on a recent Sunday morning and plan to charge him as well.

I visited the bank and the cheque cashing store, aptly named Cash and Dash. The cheque-casher knows the guy and mentioned that it was a larger cheque than many she sees from Bridge St. Interesting. Of course people often tell us they don't have bank accounts, and they want the money immediately anyway. We agreed that in future if they have any questions about the amount they'll give us a call. The bank was very apologetic, citing the busyness of this time of year.

The temptation is to just get angry about this and cynical about requests for assistance in general. Yet I realize that I should reserve my indignation to those who can defraud others in semi-legal ways, including the president-elect of the United States. Why get wrapped around the axle about someone who is after twenty bucks?

The day before this incident a woman stopped by and paid back $180 we figured we would never see. This was actually the sum of several requests for help by this person, who always promises to repay us. She has in the past, but the total was climbing and we'd assured her that we didn't expect her to do so. The "mixed blessing" of her repayment was that she had won $500 on a scratch ticket, so wanted to settle up. Our administrator Carol asked if she just wanted to give us a portion, so she wouldn't be left without money, but she insisted.

In the end I'm surprised that people don't try to bilk us more often. We have hundreds of people who join us for meals in one of our three ministries. Ruth and I sit with them and share conversation. Not once has anyone asked for money, even though we discover many could use it.

This is what we need to keep in mind and heart, not just in this season of generosity but all through the year. Christ invites us not to harden our hearts, to listen with compassion, to share with humility because we are blessed.


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