The Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church is crying shame on fraudsters who are seeking to exploit the church.
President of the Barbados-based East Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Danforth Francis raised concern about what he said was an alarming trend, on the heels of an incident at the Government Hill SDA Church last Saturday.
According to reports, church members were left stunned when a man tricked one of them out of $100. He had approached the church, saying he wanted to make a donation to its Prison Ministries but that he only had a $100 bill and would need it changed.
“It seems someone attempted to change the money and gave him $100 in change without receiving $100 from him. Apparently, the man said he would have to go out to his car and get the money and then he disappeared,” said Francis.
The pastor said he was concerned that even the House of God was being targeted.
He added that the willingness of some church members to “open their arms” and trust strangers made them easy prey.
“A church is an entity that seeks to reach out to all aspects of the community and so we don’t turn people away from the church. We don’t have to know you to allow you to come into our churches, because that is the nature of the institution. We are a welcoming community, we want to share love and because of that, sometimes people abuse the situation.
“This particular situation is the first I’ve heard about, but we’ve heard of situations where people come to the church seeking help and they may not be individuals who need help, but are using the same concept of us being a loving, sharing and helping community and thinking that they can abuse those circumstances,” said the head of the administrative body for all SDA churches in Barbados and Dominica.
Pastor Francis said the local SDA churches will be beefing up security and increasing vigilance.
“We have to be careful and smart and the church needs to put in place a number of precautions for security. Let no one think that because this happened that any church in Barbados is open for that type of behaviour. I reject that because there is no excuse, regardless of how poor you are. We don’t have to steal and we don’t have to abuse each other,” he said.
In light of the recent upsurge in crime, Pastor Francis fears that Barbadians could lose their sense of community and become like people in some other parts of the world.
“In some countries further north, people are so afraid to let others into their sphere of operations and it becomes a very cold society. I don’t think that is what we want to have in Barbados, but with everything that is happening, we run the risk of eroding the love and people becoming hard hearted,” he said.
Francis however gave the assurance that the church remained committed to meeting the needs of those in the community, albeit more cautiously.
“We want a society that is more humane and we want people to be honest. If you are honest, you’re not going to steal from me. Instead, if you have a genuine need, tell me the genuine need and I will help you if I can help you. But don’t try to mislead me and deceive me to get help. Treat others like you would like to be treated,” he urged.
Francis called for an all-round effort to rid the country of the criminal element.
“We all have a responsibility as parents, children, other leaders – political and religious; all have to work together. We have reached a stage where some people feel that if they don’t agree with you, they must eliminate you….That can’t be the way. If someone does not agree with you, there is no justification for inflicting grievous bodily harm on you.
“In North America they say they need guns for hunting, but I don’t know why they need guns here,” the pastor declared.