India and Pakistan replete with evangelists and orphanages?
If you are a Christian who is sometimes engaged in social networks such as Christian forums, chat rooms, blogs, Facebook groups, etc, then you might have been contacted by individuals from India or Pakistan who commonly, but not always, have user names starting with “Evangelist” or “Pastor” and who claim to be involved with Christian missions and/or running an orphanage. Considering the amount of times I have been contacted in this way throughout the years, you would think there is a church or orphanage in every street corner in India/Pakistan.
I am not suggesting that all such contacts are fake, but I would advise people to not give financial aid to strangers they meet online (particularly if they are from India/Pakistan – where soliciting seems to be a common problem), and I would advise people from India and Pakistan to not contact strangers in this way since it might give all Christians from India and Pakistan an unwarranted bad name. There are of course sincere Christians from India and Pakistan who are engaged in the very work they claim to be, but since you cannot expect people to know this with certainty it is much better for them to give money to charities that they know and can trust. The best way to help financially is to do so through people who you know personally, or through churches or organizations that you really have confidence in.
The conversations with such Indians/Pakistanis that contact you online always tend to be the same, and they go through the same phases. (I am not suggesting all such individuals have the same interior motives as I describe here below.)
- First they make sure I am a Christian – something they probably know in advance since they chose to be contact me in the first place. Christians are supposed to be kind and giving…They might ask you what church you attend, to make sure you are an active Christian.
- After the first greetings, they usually start off asking “What do you do”? This gives me the feeling they want to know if I work, and if there is a chance I even earn a lot of money which I perhaps could spare. If there is such a possibility, it might be worth while chatting with me and becoming friends with me.
- They explain they are involved with missionary work and/or run an orphanage. They sometimes ask you if you want to see some photos which they are happy to send to you.
- They ask for prayers for their Christian work, due to the many needs.
- They express themselves with Christian phrases, they praise God, they repeatedly call you sister (or brother where applicable).
- They show an overwhelming interest in your country and in your Church.
- They proceed to invite you to India/Pakistan to evangelize, without even knowing anything about you – apart from your claim that you are a Christian. I wonder to myself how they know I am a good preacher and how they can be certain of that I do not teach heresies? When I tell them that I am sure they can spread the gospel in India/Pakistan just as well as I can, they still insist I should come. I explain that I would love to visit their country, but if the idea is that I should pay for costly travels to India/Pakistan surely the money could be spent more wisely on more important things? If I go to India/Pakistan to preach, then someone must translate to their language, so why not preach in the correct language to start with without my participation?
- They might even suggest they need evangelists from abroad due to the difficulties they have in their area to arrange Christian meetings considering much persecution, etc. But do they think a random Christian Swedish woman they meet online will sort it out much better? They might have heard about large Christian organizations that have arranged large meetings also in their countries, but what are the chances that I am involved in such ministries? Would it not be better to use google and contact such ministries directly?
- If the conversation lasts long enough, they might even more openly ask for money. You might suggest sending them Bibles, but remember that they would prefer money so that they can buy Bibles in their own languages. (With other words – it is more safe to not send any money.)
Again, I know there are well-meaning Christians from India and Pakistan who are not fake at all (some I have spoken with even know the names of some Swedish evangelists) but I still wish they would use another approach online. Each time I get contacted by someone from India/Pakistan, I get a red warning sign from the very first Hello.
My advice is: Please do not ask for financial aid online, and please do not give financial aid online. There are better and safer ways to support Christian projects.
Do not encourage anyone to ask for financial help from people they meet online. If you give money to people who contact you online, this will encourage even more people to do so and naturally also people who are not engaged in any Christian activities at all.