Yesterday about noon time, a man knocked on our office door. I opened the door and ask how may I attend to him. He did not know anyone of us for he was a stranger.
He said that he wanted us to pray for him as he will be going for cataract operation this coming Monday (3 September). So our church manager directed us to use one of the rooms to pray for him.
While in the room, as we were settling in, I asked him to tell me more about his condition and how may I pray. He said that he is a Christian and repeated about his cataract surgery, and showed me a set of paperwork as proof of what he said. I looked through those papers and everything seemed to be in place. There were doctors' official signature and hospital's stamp.
Then he went on to say that he has resigned from his job as a security guard due to his cataract, and he still short of $30 to pay some official fees that amounted to $150. Then he talked about his family is now in difficulty because he is not working anymore.
I told him that our church is very strict with financial aid, and will only go through official channel to help people. Therefore if we take up his case, we will make official reference to proper agency and ensure aid is delivered. So we will not hand out cash, especially to people we are not familiar with. He stared at me for a short while before saying that he just wanted someone to pray for him. And so we prayed.
After that, I asked him to tell me more about his church. He said that he has stopped attending his church due to personal issues. Then I asked him which church was he from. He replied, "Jesus Life Church."
"Jesus Life Church?" I reiterated to make sure I heard him right.
"No," he answered, "It is 'Jesus Lives Church'... It's a Methodist Church at Bukit Batok." I stared at him, waiting to hear more.
"It's true, I'm not lying. It's a Tamil (language) church at Bukit Batok. If you take bus 502, it's at the first stop around the corner."
I said, "Lourdsamy (his name), I'm not saying that you are lying, but I want to learn more about you."
We talked further for a short while before we shook hands and he left.
So the first thing that I did was to find out about 'Jesus Lives Methodist Church' at Bukit Batok area. I went to the website of the Methodist Church in Singapore to look for their list of churches. I couldn't find any church with that name. So I thought to myself, may be it is not a church but a preaching-point or community-ministry belonging to the Methodist. Or, may be it is a new one, and the list is not updated.
So I sent a message through the Methodist website asking if there is such church or ministry at Bukit Batok. Here is their reply:
I have a friend, David Ho, who serves at that preaching point. As far I know, it is not a Tamil ministry. Nonetheless, I sought for further confirmation asking if it is a Tamil ministry. They replied that it is not a Tamil ministry.
Lourdsamy was lying...
Those who work in churches as pastor or lay worker are familiar with such encounter. Lourdsamy was not the first one. We have strangers coming to us asking for various help. So far, the genuine ones are usually people whom we know, those who are part of the church.
There are people who hop around churches telling all sort of stories to manipulate Christians' sympathy. These folks know that Christians are called to attend to those, including strangers, who are in difficulty (Matthew 25:34-40). And if Christians or churches refrain from helping them, we are called hypocrites. If we help without reserve, I am not sure if that is really 'help' as it encourages these folks to continue going around lying to solicit money.
It is almost a daily affair for churches to deal with matter of this nature. Have you come across such situation before? How did you deal with it?