Trust but Verify

Earlier today I received a call from a guy saying his name was John Wesley (phone number 321-576-2185 you’ll understand why I post his phone number by the end of this post). John said he his wife (Mary Anne) and two daughters (Jessica & Denise) had visited Tapestry a couple of times. He started telling me that he was in Florida because his mother had been killed by a drunk driver. He quickly opened up about his struggle with being angry with God over the situation.

John Wesley called from Fern Park, Florida. Funny I thought he spent all of his time in Georgia.
John Wesley called from Fern Park, Florida. Funny I thought he spent all of his time in Georgia.

To be honest I was eating it up – I am a sucker for trying to help people who are struggling with faith. Still I didn’t remember him which is odd for me. There are some parts of being a pastor that I might not get right, but I definitely connect with the guests who visit Tapestry, especially guests with kids because we don’t have a lot of kids. So he continued talking about his struggle and after 10ish minutes he said they were driving back home to Stevens Point when his car threw a rod. They were now trying to buy Greyhound bus tickets back to Stevens Point but they were $125 short. As a minister for quite a few years I have dealt with my fair share of people asking for money. Some of the have been genuine and some not.

My radar was buzzing. Still, I typically try to side on preferring to be snookered than to ignore real need. Matthew 25 haunts me. I don’t want to ever ignore Jesus when He shows up as one of “the least of these.” So even though red flags were going up I still wanted to help the guy if I could verify a little info. So I told him that I wanted to help him but his story sounded like a few attempts I had experienced with people trying to scam the church. So I needed for him to answer a few questions. I asked him when they had last visited Tapestry. I asked him this while I was looking through my electronic record of guests who have visited Tapestry. He said it was at Easter and I might not remember him because the church was pretty busy. You need to know that when I told this story to Tapestry tonight everyone busted out laughing when I reached this part of the story. You see, unlike almost every other church in the nation, Easter is typically a low attendance day for us. The congregation of Tapestry is so young that most of the “threads” are traveling to relatives’ homes on Easter Sunday. Our Tenebrae gathering (usually on Maunday Thursday) typically has 3 to 4 times the attendance of our Easter gathering.

Of course, John couldn’t have known this because he was just trying to scam me. You can see other churches that have received the same phone call and story here. I told John that my brother-in-law lived about 10 minutes away from where he  was stranded and I could get him to quickly drop by and see if there was anything that could be done for them. Click … our phone call was ended when John suddenly hung up. I called him back a few times and for some reason he wouldn’t answer my calls. I really love going to a non-ordinary church.

SIDE NOTE – just in case you didn’t figure it out I posted the guy’s phone so that other churches might find it if they are contacted by him and search for his phone number to verify his story.

One Reply to “Trust but Verify”

  1. Hahaha! I’d tell John, “nice try!”

    But seriously, thanks for sharing this information. I’ve read a lot of different phone scams reported at several consumer protection websites and we have to be cautious at all times for us not to fall victims to these schemes. I agree with you, “trust but verify.”

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