“Good afternoon madam, my name is Clark and I am calling you from the Telstra Technical Department. The reason for my call today is to inform you that some malicious software has been loaded onto your computer. This is the reason it is running slow . . .” I am sure you are very familiar with the rest of the conversation. The caller wants you to turn your computer on, follow their instructions, and become another “catch” for unscrupulous operators to either gain access to your computer or to persuade you to give them your credit card or bank account details.
About two years ago, after enduring these kinds of calls both at home and at work for many years, it finally dawned on me that by hanging up on such callers I was wasting golden opportunities. Overnight my practice changed. I started viewing each caller through spiritual eyesight, as candidates for God’s kingdom. They were no longer annoying, time-wasting, pesky, evil people. Now they were people whom God specifically sent my way for me to speak to about eternal matters.
I’ve tried different tactics over the ensuing months. They’ve centred around pleading with the caller to stop hurting people, to return to the values they had grown up with (that is, honest principles), and to leave this disreputable work and seek honest employment. I know of one man who got up from his chair and walked out of the room without a word to his colleagues. How I know is that another man I was talking to referred to this person and what he had done, and how they had no idea what had happened to him! My heart leapt with joy as I realised the Holy Spirit had gotten through and this man had listened and obeyed His promptings.
But, over time, those in charge of these call centres conditioned their employees to resist such pleadings. The girls in particular were the hardest to reach. They were very cold. So, realising that this form of appeal wasn’t working anymore, I prayed for God to give me a new direction.
The answer came from my prayer group. We decided to start praying the “Jabez” prayer. Jabez is an obscure Bible character, only mentioned in one place in the Bible, 1 Chronicles 4:10. He pled with God: “‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
In Luke 6:27, 28 Christ instructed His followers to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” With these two powerful Bible verses working in my life, I decided that whenever I engaged with a scam caller I should seek God’s blessings for that person, just as I was seeking them for myself.
And so I began. When the next call came through, while the caller was giving his opening address, I was praying silently that God would keep him on the line as long as was necessary. As soon as the caller asked me to turn my computer on I started praying—out loud. I opened with “Lord God Almighty” rather than “Father in Heaven”, as I had no idea if the caller had a Christian background, but I was sure he would recognise the word “God”. I prayed that God would bless him and his family, that his needs would be provided for, and that he would be a blessing in his community and seek to do good to others. I continued until I had nothing left to pray. When I finished, the man was very subdued and thanked me repeatedly for praying for him. He didn’t want to hang up. We chatted for a while.
Several girls I have prayed with stayed on the other end of the phone longer than I’ve ever had girls stay on before. One even waited until I’d finished praying before hanging up—a definite improvement on previous calls.
One man who engaged me in conversation revealed that he was a Muslim. He didn’t want to be doing this “job”, but he needed the money. We had a great conversation and I encouraged him to leave the room he was working out of and not come back. I also told him I’d continue praying for him.
Now these callers no longer interrupt my busy day in a negative way. In fact my prayer now is that God would send more calls my way! This is an opportunity to expand the influence of Christ’s kingdom and I am doing it from the comfort of my house. Not many opportunities like that are available to Christians today. I often wonder what would happen to the scammer industry if every Christian who owned a phone in Australia and New Zealand became an agent of blessing to these people who invade our houses to try and steal from us. If every Christian became a channel of prayer for individuals like these, I wonder what the eternal results would be? Can you see yourself praying for God to bless these people? To seek good for them? You will not necessarily see the effect your kind words and blessings have. You will be working with people on an individual basis and then, usually only a one-off call. I keep a list now so I can see when names are repeated. One poor girl phoned me three times in one day. I ended up asking her why she was running away from God!
Results for this endeavour will probably only be known in heaven. I look forward to being surrounded by a great crowd of people whose voices I recognise because they once tried to hurt me, and I had the very great privilege of praying for God’s blessing on them. Do you want to join me? Let’s join forces together to promote a better way of responding to these people who are out to scam us.
Diana Tanner is passionate about sharing Jesus however she can, including through Signs of the Times magazine. She lives in Perth, Western Australia.