Top Christian Ministries Get Fleeced
By Gary Amirault
This year seems to be a harvest year, and the harvest was indeed plentiful. The leading Christian ministries headquartered in the United States were fleeced of hundreds of millions of, no not wool, but millions of your hard earned dollars. It seems their tickling ears just couldn't resist a rumor floating around the Christian financial community that a Philanthropic organization headed by an Evangelical was offering a matching fund program which guaranteed them a doubling of their, (or should I say your) money. By being able to drop names like Rockefeller, Billy Graham, etc. as references, John G. Bennett was able to convince the financial officers of the leading Christian organizations to invest hundreds of millions of believers money into a fund called New Era.
New Era, an interesting name considering John Bennett had many connections Evangelicals would term "New Age."
It seems Mr. Bennett had concocted what was known in the investment field as a "Ponzi scheme." The idea is to take the money the latter investors give to pay off the earlier investors. Then the news goes out that this thing really works. Greedy people looking for a quick dollar are usually the only ones who fall for such a scheme.
An accountant from one of the Christian Colleges saw through this scheme and recommended his college not participate. They rejected his suggestion. He followed up on his hunch, reported his finding to the proper federal authorities and the hammer came down. It was a scam.
A partial list of those Christian ministries who were fleeced are:
- James Dobson's Focus on the Family
- Pat Robertson's 700 Club
- Bill Bright's Campus Crusade
- Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship
- World Vision
- Youth For Christ, International
- Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship
- Salvation Army
- Walk Through the Bible Ministries
- Young Life
- Moody Bible Institute
- Christian Broadcasting Network
- Wheaton College
- Chapel of the Air
. . .and the list goes on and on and on. The government estimates as much as $550 million dollars were involved. Surely these ministries will throw the blame onto anything other than themselves.
The American church, as I mentioned on the audio tape entitled, the Church is a rich prostitute, owns over a trillion dollars of real estate, stocks, bonds, etc. It's gathering and use of this money is on extremely unscriptural grounds.
In the last Dew I recommended some of you to ask for names of ministries in foreign countries that you can personally help without Tentmaker becoming a middleman. Can you now begin to see why I recommend this method rather than the ones being use by the above listed ministries? The god of Mammon rules in the American church, I don't care what anyone says. It reigns supreme.
Handling finances is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian walk. It is easy to get duped. This area is the area of ministry I hate the most. I know I am just as capable as falling into these pits as well as anyone else. I have shared some of that on a tape, Plates, Buckets, Bags, and Envelopes. I sure don't have all the answers on the subject of the proper way to manage ministry money.
Many ministers do the best they can and still fall short just like the rest of us. Fortunately, we serve a God of mercy. Some ministers, unfortunately too many, are in ministry purely for self-gain. These stars will all eventually fall. At least one of the ministries involved in this "Ponze scheme" will be out of business next year due to their loss.
Please do not let these kinds of events stop you from giving. If you do, you will fall into the same pit. Rethink the whole concept of what is a ministry, how should it be supported, how can you be the best steward of what our Father has given you to invest.
One suggestion that might be helpful is this: Jesus said if you see someone hungry, feed him. He didn't say send the money to a ministry headquartered in a nice posh office building on prime real estate that will only be able to send less than 10% of your dollar to the hungry one. (Because their salaries and expenses and profit-making schemes that fail have eaten up all the rest.) Give the dollar directly to the hungry one. Give him Christ the True Bread at the same time. Enter into your ministry, the ministry of reconciling the whole world ... one at a time.
I encourage you once again to write for addresses of those overseas who desperately need you. Your dollars personally invested into the poorer countries of the world will reap a return far greater than "Ponze schemes." A dollar plowed into Africa or Asia will do far more than what a dollar can do invested in many American ministries. Please pray about writing for those addresses.