I’m Going to England! Well, Maybe Not…

November 19, 2015 | by Pastor Jim Harrison

What a blessing! What a privilege! What an acknowledgement of God’s favor! What a scam.

As I checked my email this morning, I was surprised to find an invitation to speak at a conference coming up this January in the UK. How exciting! Imagine, preaching in the land of men like Charles Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones!

Actually, those thoughts never crossed my mind since I knew right away that things were not on the up and up. The nature of the invitation was confirmed as I read through the email, but it was the mere existence of the email which gave it away. You see, although there are fine churches in the UK, I don’t have a personal relationship with any of them. And yet, here is a church which is sending me an invitation to come, all expenses paid, with a generous honorarium, all because they happened to come across the Red Mills Baptist website. Yeah. I don’t think so.

As I got into the email, I began to smile with amusement as these fraudsters tipped their hand at every point. The name of the supposed church issuing the invitation is the Victory Outreach Church. Generally, church names are a good indication of the kind of church one is dealing with. A church with the word “Victory” in its name is inevitably going to be heavily charismatic, with an emphasis on some kind of deliverance ministry. Not exactly the kind of place that would be issuing an invitation to the pastor of a small, reformed Baptist church 3,500 miles across the ocean.

Neither would I be a natural choice to speak at a conference entitled, “Divine Restoration and Testimony Conference”, whatever that means.

According to “Pastor Jonathan Rogers”, the Lord “directed” him to issue this invitation. I understand that the Lord works in mysterious ways, but still, if He wanted me to speak at a Charismatic conference in England, one would think He would tell me, as well as “Pastor” Rogers.

Well, God didn’t tell me any such thing, and He never told this “Pastor Rogers” any such thing, either. The whole thing is the Christian equivalent of the same Nigerian email scam that’s been going on for years. The only difference is that this one is targeting pastors.

And that is what grieves me.

What is the assumption behind such an endeavor? The assumption is that pastors are so full of pride that some would inevitably fall for such a scheme. After all, why wouldn’t a church on the other side of the ocean, whom I have never heard of, issue me an invitation to come and speak at their conference? Clearly they are wise and discerning. It makes perfect sense. I’m only surprised that it hasn’t happened before! I’m only surprised that it doesn’t happen more often! It’s only the recognition that I deserve. I’ve always thought that I should be speaking at large conferences right next to the “big names”.

The sad thing is that it only took a short internet search to find that there are actually people who responded to this. In what high regard must one hold oneself to think that this kind of offer might be legitimate? What level of pride must reside within a man to believe that such an invitation would be issued based upon no more than someone perusing their website. (I should clarify that women also received and responded to the same email).

Oh, how sinful is the human heart. How quick we are to think well of ourselves, and to believe that others ought to do the same.  How desperately we need to understand and embrace the truth of our fallenness. May we all, pastors, elders, and laity alike, allow the truth of the biblical doctrine of man’s depravity and fallenness to lead us to humility.

May the indwelling Spirit make it so.

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