Romans 1:30 has an interesting line that, I think, applies in this situation. In talking about people who actively rebel against God, the Apostle Paul writes that “they invent new ways of doing evil.” Identity theft is something we’ve been hearing about more and more in the news. It’s not entirely “new” exactly (people have been assuming false identities since King Saul pretended to be a peasant while seeking a medium to conjure back the soul of Samuel the Prophet in the book of 1 Samuel). But a lot of the techniques and methods people are using to steal the identities (and finances) of others is getting more and more creative… and more and more vile.
The bad news is that someone was able to clone and steal my church debit card info to buy some stuff online including, among the more interesting items, some online gaming supplies. Fortunately, our bank and our book-keeper’s vigilance caught the vagrants within a couple of days of the first transaction and all the money spent is to be returned right away. It wasn’t more than a few hundred dollars; that’s the good news… and from the stories I’ve heard from others, we’re quite fortunate.
Stealing from a church? How much lower can you get? I do hope and pray that God dispenses some swift and lasting justice on these villains. And truthfully, I desire that these villains would repent and turn their lives over to Christ. But there’s more…
We’re about seven days out from having our first public worship gathering in the community. We’ve spent several months praying as a small band of leaders and we’re about to move into the next level of what it means to be a local community of Christ-followers trying to impact our area. While we’ve experienced so much favor from so many in our steps forward, we’ve also experienced some significant challenges and spiritual attacks in the process. Without making a list of those challenges and attacks, let me simply say that this “attack” on our finances was, in so many ways, a grand way to tie up a chapter of experience that could be summarized in this sentence: God likes what we’re doing and the Devil hates it!
Not wanting to sound melodramatic, Satan has attempted so many different methods to bring us down only to watch his flaming arrows get doused in the shield of Faith that God has protected us with. The devil is quite clever and quite merciless, but God is never surprised and His mercy is new every morning. And this situation with our finances is no exception. God prevails where the devil meant harm and destruction.
So among all the challenges Pathmakers Church has survived, you can add Identity Theft to that list. And it gives me great hope and confidence that if Satan would even go to the trouble to try to take the money we’ve been given for ministry, Pathmakers Church must be about to do something really special in God’s larger plan.
Prepare the way!