Posted by: Andrew Webb | November 21, 2013

A Tip For Pastors – Sometimes Your Best Resource is a Motel Owner

 If you’re like me, you get many calls from people seeking assistance. Sometimes they are looking for food, money, rides, or help paying for rent and electricity. The hardest part of this process is is figuring out if you are dealing with one of the many grifters who will contact you, or if you are dealing with the genuine article.

Most pastors already know how frustrating this process can be. No one contacts them and says, “Hi, rather than giving you a bogus hard luck story, I’m just going to tell you straight up that I’m going to use any money you give me to buy Meth or Crack, additionally any food or items you give me will be taken back or sold, and if you pay my rent, it will simply make it possible for me to stay somewhere while I’m scamming other churches and doing drugs.”

So how do you identify the person who is going to abuse your help?

Well here’s a tip that might help. If the person contacting you lives at a motel (as roughly 60% of the people who contact me do), get their name and the name of the motel, then call the motel itself and ask to speak to the manager, explain that you are a pastor who has been asked for assistance and then ask about the person or family who contacted you. They’ll know if they are doing drugs, prostituting themselves, etc. and they’ll also know if they are getting money from other area churches.

Another helpful methodology is to do a Google search on the person’s name, your town name and “arrested” or “charged.” Usually scammers will already have racked up a long string of arrests before they contact you. For instance, just today I was contacted for assistance by a woman whom a Google search revealed had recently been charged with three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.


  1. Excellent observation! the Church should remember the Didache’s instruction “1:6 For of a truth it has been said on these matters, let thy alms giving abide in thy hands until thou knowest to whom thou hast given.”

  2. I do believe you got to be careful with respect to avoid being taken in by a scam artist. However, we cannot become so cynical that we lose our compassion toward others who may be in a dire situation.

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