Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Sponsoring Christian Anarchy

I received the following email today from, ostensibly, a certain Mr Aimiese Izikor;


Dear Friends in Christ,

I greet you out there in Jesus Lovely name. I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by me John 14:6. Jesus Christ is our salvation! I was searching for a study material when I came across your email and convinced you are a Christian.

Please do not be angry at this letter and undermine me because I am reaching you through the internet. God led me to your email and I know I’m blessed having to know you. I am a member of Living Faith Church. By His grace I’m a believer born again and blood bought( blood of Jesus). I am married with six children. I have a great passion doing the work of the master especially now I work on my own having not to be disturbed like when I was working 10 hours in the clerk office work.. I am not rich in this wordly riches but rich spiritually in Christ. I came to know Christ in 1984 and since then serve Him with commitment. I live in an area where there is much hunger and crisis but the Lord keeps us from them all. Our church is a small church with about thirty people. I am the church secretary as well as Adult Sunday school teacher. As you can see I can speak and understand English well as we are British colonised country.

I am writing you because I need your help for bibles. Bibles are costly here and many Christians do not have bibles. Most get theirs from people in other countries when they can reach to other Christians there. My friend told me to go internet where I can get some to help and I know God has directed me to you. My wife and I needs the super giant print bibles which has very large print and we need this due to reading difficulty. Please kindly send us two copies. Also I’m using this medium to request for additional 6 super giant print bibles for the aged ones in the Sunday school class. king James Version would be preferable as we mostly use this during service. If other version is what you have we would appreciate them. The bibles could also be used bibles as long as the pages are correct we would use them. All bibles are needed in English and please you can send them through registered or insured air-mail through post office. Post office EMS post is also very fast and safe. Please kindly help us and sow this seed to our lives here. Where a seed is sown, harvest will surely come and it will come to you. I would prayerfully wait to hear from you.

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

In His service


Aimiese Izekor
My address is
No. 456 Uwelu Street, NIPST-IPOB 3023,
BENIN CITY, EDO STATE,
NIGERIA.

 


Now I had to scratch my head because I couldn't at first figure out the scam; the guy just wants Bibles right? He doesn't ask for any information, and instead provides plenty of details which could probably be verified or otherwise.

I could only guess that unless it was a hook, a foot in the door so to speak, the most likely explanation was that in an age of increasing email-incredulity he simply wanted anything he could hock off on the black market.  Sure enough, a quick Google reveals that those enterprising Nigerians are not only scamming Bible Societies worldwide, they're even using stolen credit card numbers to make bulk orders of Bibles disappear into the alleys of Edo before the cardholder can say diaspora.

Now it probably doesn't reflect too well on my character, but I'll admit that after I figured out the scam it was almost even more appealing than if it was a genuine plea from the impoverished Nigerian Church.

Why? Well I'll get to that, but in the meantime, this scam demonstrates a few interesting things: firstly, demand for Bibles is outstripping supply in the mean streets of Nigeria. Secondly, when a Nigerian wants a Bible he goes to the black market, not the bookstore.  And thirdly, in West Africa, super-giant print KJV's are now denarius communis.

While it must be acknowledged that sponsoring the black market in Bibles must hurt the bona fide retailers, it could be countered that the black market is actually putting Bibles into the hands of those who want them cheaper than anyone else can, and to be frank, my sympathies lie with those who're hungry for the Word, not those who peddle it.

But on a more sinister note, who knows what those rascally black-marketeers are doing with the profits from the illicit Bible trade?  Not running orphanages I'd warrant (funding the ghastly debauchery of "Adult sunday schools" perhaps?).  Now for those with an irony deficiency, I don't seriously think that selling Bibles to fund the expansion of the kingdom of darkness could in any way be exonerated, yet there is something delightfully subversive about the thought of co-opting the criminal underworld into smuggling Jesus.  After all, didn't Paul say;

 "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."
- Phil 1:18
I guess it must be the anarchist in me.  Does anybody else fancy the idea of sponsoring Christian anarchy in Nigeria?  Just drop brother Izekor a line.

8 comments:

  1. ehehehe. I like it.
    Funny that he clarified whose blood he's bought with, don't you think...?! :)

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  2. Yeah, I'm tempted to write back and ask if he still has the receipt... Maybe he really is a clerk?

    And super-giant print KJV's??? Who'd a thunk it.

    Apparently the truth is still stranger than fiction.

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  3. Oh, and Paul, you thought Sunday School here was bad...

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  4. Great post Peter. Regrading 'Sunday school' I find Izekor’s idea of Sundays school - as brazenly fraudulent - less likely to be harmful than sincere Sunday school where the lines between the amazing work of God and the fraudulence of man are systemically hard to locate. (Though, of course, all Christian ministry has this problem. With Barth I'm inclined to think that the totally godless and the brazenly irreligious do not escape the sovereign designs of God and the miraculous redemptive inbreaking of the divine, and in some ways they are more in ‘harms way’ from God than are the religious who think we have God in a bottle and that we are doing His work.)

    Sorry to do this again Peter, but reading this wonderful post of yours I must recommend two titles. The first is from one of Brisbane’s most humble and Christlike people, Dave Andrews. The title: “Christi-anarchy”. The second, that French firebrand Jacques Ellul: “Anarchy and Christianity”. The third (did I say two titles?) again Ellul: “The subversion of Christianity.”

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  5. Hi Paul,

    I think I mentioned that I've got a terrible habit of reading too many books at once but this is getting ridiculous! My other problem is that I find good books can't be speed-read, they need to savoured at conversation speed: sipped like fine whiskey. At this rate I'm going to be reeling-drunk!

    But seriously; I've got a hunch that I'll one day consider myself even more greatly indebted to you for the reading course you've set than I do now. Praise be for the good Dr. Tyson!

    I've actually got an Ellul here that hasn't been opened yet (Presence of the Kingdom). Dave Andrews, from a bit closer to home, is the more exciting proposition; current and local is a heady mix. The Amazon reviews are effusive.

    And re Sunday school; am I the only one to whom capital 'A' Adult denotes instruction of a dare I say, intimate nature?

    I would like to blame that on my orthographical pedanticism, but it's also entirely possible that I need to pick my mind up out of the gutter.

    You've shown yourself free of both peccadilloes, well done brother Paul ; ]

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  6. Yes, its way too much. And like you, I'm an advocate of slow food, slowness in general, and slow reading in particular. (Though, with this philosophy, "Church Dogmatics" is going to limit what you can get around to reading in one life time...) So, as they say in parliament, I retract that comment.

    Yes again, Adult Sunday school entirely escaped my total depravity (can't think why). Now that you point it out, it is very funny! Still, there is no more AO text than the bible in my opinion - no sweet Victorian sentiments can survive just about any reading of the Scriptures - so as the bible is an afront to all respectable, polite and santized propriety, I also advocate that no minors under the age of 18 should be allowed to go to Sunday School.

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  7. Paul,

    In an update; I was telling my wife how much I appreciated your advocacy of "slow food, slowness in general, and slow reading in particular" (well spoke btw) when she decided that maybe you weren't such a good influence after all!

    I was dawdling in the rain at the time, on our 'date' in town (shwarma at the Jerusalem cafe) expounding on slowness as an ethic, an antidote to all (well, not in the universal sense) the World's ills.

    God has seen fit to bless me with a wife to whom 'slowness' is far too redolent of indolence to be entertained for long. I can assure you, I'm resisting manfully ; ]

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  8. It is always thus between the sexes - viva la differance! - how we need them and they us!

    (But yes - your wife is right, I am a bad influence, and I need Annette far more than she needs me to be slow. My wife has been waiting for 9 years now for me to finish my studies, get a job and get us a house that is big enough for the six us and my books to live in - she's a very patient woman, but this slowness thing is reaaaallllyyy getting to her now. If only I could help her! I'd be happy to work for money if I could find anyone to pay me to sit still, think, pray, read and do a bit of conversational teaching. sigh... fat chance... You don't need any help milking cows or something Pete?)

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