Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pressure to Give Money

“…But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given under pressure.” II Corinthians 9:5b

Naseema grew up in a poor family and is the only follower of Christ. It was an exciting day when she and her husband arrived in Canada. The prosperity of their new land dazzled them. If they could just find jobs they would buy a car and house and send money to their poor relatives back home. They felt an obligation to do so.  Naseema’s husband started working as a security guard but she had to wait a long time to find a part-time minimum wage job. Phone calls came from her family demanding why she hadn’t sent more money to them. Her mother needed rent money and her nephew needed an operation. Naseema, feeling guilty and always remembering Isaiah 58:7, tried to explain that she couldn’t send more but her family was unable to understand. When she couldn’t fulfill their demands she experienced emotional stress which took a toll on her physical well-being. All her family ever talked about when they called was money. She met a person who convinced her to invest in something that would bring in more money. Naseema fell prey to the scheme and instead of gaining money she actually lost a considerable amount. Soon Naseema and her husband began having major fights about money as both wanted to send it to their respective families. At the same time Naseema’s family kept calling and demanding money. When she said she couldn’t send more they began to curse her over the phone. That stressed her out even more. She knew that they could use magic on her when they started cursing. She was terrified of magic being done on her. Her family was not happy that she had become a Christian. That was already against her and now they thought she was making it up that she didn’t have as much money to send as they demanded. She felt trapped and afraid. She desired to buy new clothes and furniture and became obsessed about wanting money. She met a lady who bought lottery tickets every week and went to the casino to gamble regularly. She urged Naseema to also buy lottery tickets and go with her to the casino. Naseema didn’t know how to say no to her. She knew she would have to keep many of her decisions and activities a secret from her husband and that also made her feel guilty.  A cloud of fear hung over Naseema that if she didn’t give money to her relatives God would punish her. She didn’t want bad luck to happen to her.

This story is a composite of some Muslims and believers from Muslim background who feel pressure to send money to their families.  Budgeting information is certainly needed but even more than that it would be helpful to address their root fears such as dealing with family obligations, receiving condemnation from family, punishment from God, being cursed and magic being done on them. Issues like underlying greed, deception of quick money schemes, lying to spouses and keeping secrets may also need to be addressed.

Dear heavenly Father, please give me discernment how to help my friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.