Bad news for anyone who donates to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church (or wants to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity): Thieves made off with a safe containing an estimated $600k in cash, checks and credit card receipts collected over the weekend. News 92FM Houston reports:
*Lakewood Church has sent out a notice that donations collected at services Saturday and Sunday, the 8th and 9th, were stolen. And, they advise anyone who gave by check or credit card to watch their bank accounts very carefully and report any suspicious activity. *
So much for “thou shalt not steal.” The heist, monumental in nature because of Osteen’s following, reveals a sad fact: No matter how much good we do in the world, there will always be individuals looking to take advantage of that good will. The social contract dictates that churches, schools, libraries and other institutions that benefit the greater good should be immune to this sort of thing. Most times, they are. But obviously not always.
It also calls attention to something else: Churches, by and large, still depend on physical currency to change hands in order to support their cause. It’s amazing to think we’ve come this far, but the truth is that online giving platforms, like FaithStreet’s, are now more secure than a heavy duty safe. $600k, as we’re all aware, is an astronomical sum. It could still be sitting safely in an online account if only more people came around to the idea.
If you may have been affected, Lakewood suggests keeping an eye on your accounts for suspicious activity. Those who gave by check are probably ok, unless the theives find very convincing Joel Osteen masks. Those who gave via credit card might have more to worry about. Cash? That cash is long gone.
Until faith and love are able to rid the world of those who would harm us, it’s incumbent upon us to protect ourselves and our assets. Online giving is but one way to do that.