Action Zones 

Very Sad but True

Revd Betty Trinder
Methodist Minister for Gorleston and Bradwell

Last week I was personally targeted as a minister of a church for an elaborate hard luck story that pressed every Christian button of "Good Samaritan", "loving our neighbour" and "feeding and clothing those in need and in doing so serving Christ" and "we might be entertaining angels"
Over the course of 4 days an Irish man calling himself Roy Johnson gave me a story that he was a temporary worker in Great Yarmouth, staying at a B&B and needing to return home to Southern Ireland but had his bank card taken by the cash machine as someone had blocked it with another card. He had money being transferred from family in Eire and was suffering from diabetes and running short of insulin and medication. He told me that he was a born again Christian who attended church regularly in Eire and  often crIed, shook and generally was very distressed that he should be in such a predicament but that he thanked God for leading him to me. He was pressing all my caring for others Christian buttons and throughout it all he promised he would pay me back the money he owed me as soon as the bank transfer came through
He is about 5'6" tall aged about 50 with a short blond fringe.  On calling the police I was told this was not a crime as I had freely loaned him the money and even though he did not pay it back I could only pursue him through the civil courts. I have since discovered the address he gave me in Southern Ireland does not exist and he had moved from the B&B. It may be he has left the area but please take extra care when helping strangers. Do not give them money but instead check their story out as best you can, take them to the police station and offer to be a friend if they need support, take them to the bank and see if their story is true
I was busy and in a hurry so trusted a very plausible story and performance and when I said, "I am giving you this money in good faith, do you swear you are telling me the truth" the man openly professed Jesus Christ as his Saviour and he was telling the truth. This is what is most shocking to true Christians, the ability to lie using Christ as a weapon against those who only want to help
Please do not be cynical about giving charity and helping the needy but equally learn from a very expensive lesson that it is better to take a bit of time to check on a story rather than try and clear the mess up later