Want a happy way to start to your morning?
You’re not getting it.
Whetu Abraham is 54-years-old and a “partial tetraplegic with head injuries.” He sits in a wheelchair. He can’t afford dental care. He no longer has his life savings.
Meanwhile, he has been giving the Napier, New Zealand Oasis Elim Church the little money he does have, year after year, and they have accepted it… seemingly without any guilt whatsoever:
[Said Rest home manager Lucy Dever] “He’s got no family or next-of-kin on our list, and they’ve taken everything from him. It is unethical, immoral and I believe un-Christian.
“He used to have a nest egg but now he has no life savings. He believes if he doesn’t give it to them, he won’t go to heaven.”
About a year ago, when she discovered the rate at which Mr Abraham was handing over his life savings –- he gave about $10,000 in 2008 –- she spoke to church pastor Bruce Collingwood.
“I explained that he is not a wealthy man. He is nearly on the poverty line and the money he had, he needed. Sure, some could go to the church, but not all of it.
“The pastor said it was Whetu’s choice and said it was tithing [taking a tenth of a person’s income for the church],” Ms Dever said.
She questioned how it could be tithing as Mr Abraham was “certainly not” on an income of at least $100,000 for the church to take 10 per cent.
Mr. Abraham then gave nearly $12,000 in 2009. The church knew his condition but they took his money anyway.
Ms Dever said she spoke again to Mr Collingwood in April this year when she discovered Mr Abraham had exhausted his life savings.
“He [Mr Collingwood] said there was nothing wrong with what they were doing and he has a different outlook on money.
Mr Collingwood declined to comment yesterday.
“I don’t like the spin of the media. No comment at all thank you.”
Ugh… makes you sick, doesn’t it?
I would think most pastors would suggest that people give (tithe), but not to the point where it gets in the way of their own well-being.
One reader had another big question: Where is that money going?
She wrote in an email:
… This really makes me angry and I wish more people would publicly stand up and condemn this sort of appalling behavior. I grew up in a Pentecostal church and now that I’m an adult (and an atheist) I remember how my pastors were driving the newest cars and had designer clothes, when my family was about as poor as it’s possible to be while still having a roof over our heads. We were living on rice and milk powder, and yet still giving money to the church. These pastors have no qualms about fleecing poor people, and I’m sick of them being protected because of their “beliefs.”
I’m not sure where the money is going, and I certainly hope it’s not for personal gain. This story is disturbing enough as it is. In either case, it’s about money that the church (and it’s leadership) should not be accepting.
I emailed Pastor Collingwood last night to see if the story portrayed his church accurately, if his church plans to give anything back to Mr. Abraham, and if the congregation plans to do anything to help him out.
He wrote me back saying he didn’t feel the article was accurate. He said he may be issuing a response of some sort — but it was suggested to him (and, honestly, I agree) that he should wait a day or two because it’ll allow for a less reactionary, more accurate/factual response.
If and when he makes a statement, I’ll post an update.
***Update***: The pastor sent me this statement:
This article most certainly did not portray our church accurately.
Anyone who knows our church knows we do a lot to help our community and would only ever try to help people not hurt them
We have cared for Whetu for over 11 years and have helped him in many ways and will continue to