Pursue Righteousness

Read this featured blog post by Pastor Tony Rea

Pursue Righteousness


I Can (series)

In the early 1970s, a new Detroit mayoral initiative called the “Ten Point Plan” was set in motion to ensure city residents and the police make a concerted effort to work together. As a part of the campaign, mini-police offices or mini-stations were established throughout neighborhoods, businesses, and shopping centers. These mini-stations were manned by a small squad of police officers and they were specifically designed to bring the police to the people, along with building positive law enforcement relations within the community.

I worked the mini-station program for about two years; and from my vantage point, it was an extremely successful initiative. I was assigned to the Orchestra Hall mini-station (at the south end of the precinct). My appointment allowed me to interact as a public relations officer for city residents and also provide safety and direction for non-residents attending theater events.

On one occasion, I was sitting at the mini-station desk when a woman walked in to file a police report. She told me she had just been robbed. I asked her what was taken and she said $3000. Then I listened in amazement as this gal explained to me what just happened to her.

She was standing in line at the bank. (Remember when we used to do that? I’ve not seen the inside of a bank in years—thank you, mobile deposit.) While in line, a well-dressed woman approached the victim. This woman had a thick accent and claimed she was from Nigeria. She said she just moved to Detroit and had been waiting at the bank for about an hour, praying the Lord would lead her to a trustworthy person. 

She then showed the gal filing the report a big bag of cash and claimed she had $10,000. She said she didn’t trust the US banking system just yet, so the Nigerian woman (I don’t remember her name, so let’s call her Buburu) wanted this gal to open up a new bank account in her own name. Buburu then handed the victim the bag with $10,000 and asked her to open up the account. The only requirement was for the woman to “show good faith and provide evidence of financial responsibility” by putting some of her own money in the bag before opening the account. Buburu said $3000 would suffice.

At that, the victim withdrew $3000 from her account and, with the help of the Buburu, placed her $3000 in the money bag along with the $10,000. Then together they walked over to the manager’s desk to open the new account. Just before it was their turn to be serviced, Buburu excused herself and said she had to use the restroom. The victim waited there at the desk, and I’m sure by now you know the end of the story: Buburu never came back. After waiting a long time for her to return, the victim finally looked in the bag she was holding and there was nothing except cut up pieces of newspaper. The victim told me she gave Buburu all the money she had in her account.

What I just described to you is called a “pigeon drop.” A pigeon drop is a con (originally confidence trick) in which a mark or “pigeon” is persuaded to give up a sum of good-faith money in order to secure the promise of sharing a larger amount of money. Ultimately, the scammers pull off a surreptitious switch and disappear with the good-faith money. The mark is left holding a bag, wallet, or envelope filled with worthless paper clippings.

After I made the report and the woman left the mini-station, I thought to myself, “What in the world made this gal actually withdraw all the money she had out of her own account?” That seemed so foreign to me; something l would never even think about doing. But, unfortunately, this same kind of thing happens all the time—in various forms. According to the experts, the main reason this con works so well is the sight of all that money and the thought of getting something for nothing. For just a split second, greed kicks in, and it can make you do something that’s just not rational.

Now please don’t get me wrong, some people (especially the elderly victims that are usually targeted) are oftentimes very trusting and they just have a sincere desire to help others. Not everyone is overly selfish, greedy, or full of covetousness. But then again, sometimes it’s just holding all that money in your hand, seeing it, and thinking about the endless spending possibilities…

There must have been a good reason why God called out covetousness and made avoiding its deception and greed one of the top ten commandments.

I Timothy 6:6-11

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 

But you, man (or woman) of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.