Dear friends in Christ, greetings in Jesus’ lovely name. I recently received a revelatory message from Nigeria, directly to my inbox, unfiltered and unhampered by the array of anti-spam measures that usually insulate me from friends in Crap like “Pastor” John Izejoko of Benin. He does not want money, oh no; he wants Bibles.
“Dear friend in Christ,
Greetings in Jesus lovely name. I read about you online in your web and thank God for meeting you and knowing about you. I pray my message finds you doing well in Christ. I also want you to note that all I’m asking for from you is neither silver nor gold but God’s holy book. Meeting one through the internet especially now that all evil abounds in it can be very distrusting but mine is all about God and outside of it nothing.”
Jesus’ name is lovely, isn’t it? I think the loveliness of his name is probably the main reason that people who like Jesus like Jesus as much as they do. If John really read about me “in my web”, I don’t think he’d be talking about Bibles to me. Hello, John, I’m an atheist and I recently did a video for a black metal band. So I’m not really doing well in Christ, whatever that means. Sounds a bit unpleasant, to be honest. He’s right, though, that all evil abounds in the internet. Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Those are proper evil, aren’t they?
(Lengthy, repetitive, bullshitting attempts to legitimise the “ministry” that “John” works for omitted) “Most people here are from disjointed polygamous family background and hence the need to teach and focus on Christ based families. Matthew 6:33 is a powerful scripture in my life. When I trust God enough to pursue His will for my life first, everything else follows!
My major purpose of writing is to seek your help in the area of God’s word the bible. We have many in our church mostly the elderly ones who do not have bibles and cannot afford them. I am seeking your help for 15 Giant Print Bibles King James in English for such ones, even if they are used bibles. I seek also for my personal use a good Study Bible preferably Dake or Thompson Chain Reference Bible or any other study Bible you know can be of blessing to me. This is our need and nothing else. You can send this to us through the post office. Express Mail International or Insured mail would be better and safer. My address is 55 SPAMBA-SPAM 5555, Benin, 300001, Edo State, Nigeria.”
NOTES: 1. God’s will was that you tell lies and attempt to commit fraud using fractured English spam on the internet? He really does move in mysterious ways. 2. The ambiguity of para 2’s first and second sentences running into each other is quite poetic, I think. We have “…God’s word the bible” then immediately “we have many in our church mostly the elderly ones who do not have bibles…” The Bibles are elderly? The elderly Bibles don’t have Bibles? Is this like a matryoshka doll or Inception, where there’s a Bible inside a Bible inside a Bible, and so on? Presumably the Bibles inside the Bibles also need Bibles. One begins to see why Nigeria is experiencing such a severe shortage of Bibles. Any given Bible is like a black hole, a singularity of other Bibles. 3. Also, are the required Bibles giant ones, or is the print giant but the Bibles normally proportioned? I need to know, because obviously there’s a huge difference in postage costs between the former and the latter. To be fair, though, I’ve seen worse syntax and more nonsense in undergraduate student writing by native English speakers and in press releases from PR companies and art galleries.
“Flooding has affected many parts of Nigeria and many lives have been lost and we feel sad and sorry for those and their families. A pastor friend in Delta State had their church washed off. We heard over the radio news that similar thing happened in New york… We would be delighted to have you come to visit us, as much would be accomplished for the Lord in our working together. Write soon and God bless you.
Yours in Christ, John Izejoko.”
Let’s all visit John in Benin! I love the imagery of his “pastor friend” having his “church washed off”, as if he’d become encrusted in ecclesiastical growths of stained glass, pews and pulpits that needed to be scrubbed away in a hot bath. It’s Luis Buñuel meets David Cronenberg.
Although I’d never previously heard of this weird Bible-scamming underworld, apparently it’s a well-established thing that some churches or religious groups have fallen for. It’s mentioned on the Nigerian spammer-baiting and/or time-wasting 419 Eater.
While searching for information on the subject I also found this interesting paper (PDF) by Cormac Herley, a researcher for Microsoft who concluded that these types of scammers may purposely offer preposterous stories and claim to be from Nigeria despite Nigeria’s reputation at one of the most corrupt, lawless and dysfunctional countries in the world*. There’s no smoke without fire, incidentally; the majority of these scams and scammers really are from that part of the planet. Herley’s take-away message would be funny if it wasn’t so desperately sad and depressing; because only a total idiot would fall for any of these Nigerian spams and get involved with sending money or goods to a total stranger who contacted them cold, the absurdity and blatant sketchiness of these attempts at fraud is actually a very effective filter mechanism that enables the scammers to focus their time and energy on bilking only the minority of irredeemable morons who don’t know an obvious fraud when they see one, are clueless about the perils of using the internet and ignorant about foreign countries, and who generally lack basic common sense.
Hence, perhaps, “John Izejoko”. John “Is a joke-o?”