One of our Katy Christian Magazine family, Victor Yong Jen Ong, has been the victim of a scam, which he detailed in a recent article. Victor donated his life savings, $55,000, to the Lev Lalev-Israel Girls Orphanage. He later questioned whether that orphanage does, in fact, exist, suspecting that a physical location of another organization was used to stage photos and convince good-hearted people that they were saving young girls’ lives.
Lev Lalev claims on its website that its mission is to help feed poor Israeli children. “Through your Israel charity we provide the children with nutritious hot meals three times a day, a warm home environment, and gives [sic] them formal and informal educational opportunities. Each girl is evaluated when she first comes to the Home. Then trained professionals create a specialized mental health and educational program to address her needs. Additionally, through Jewish charity sponsors the girls go on trips throughout Israel, attend a three-week camp in the summer, and receive a full new wardrobe for the holidays. Jewish and Israel charity support helps these girls celebrate their life cycle events with dignity and joy.”
Sounds like a beautiful program that needs our support, right? But a Google search on this program led to Charity Navigator, a site that monitors 501(c)(3)s and provides a score based on that charity’s level of trust. Charity Navigator rated Lev Lalev a 19 out of 100 based entirely on its financial accountability, or lack thereof. The website reported nothing else because it had no information about any aspect of the organization’s work, reputation, or reliability.
Beyond that one rating online, and the organization’s website and Facebook page, there is nothing – no reviews, no mention on church or synagogue pages, no inclusion on reputable lists of non-profit organizations – that endorses or even verifies the existence of the organization. One woman, concerned that she had been scammed after donating to the organization for years, posed that question in the forum on The Yashiva World. Two responses came from people claiming that they have visited the orphanage and it does exist. Another cautioned about the many scams out there and the need to thoroughly research any organization before donating.
Meanwhile, Victor has gone through every channel imaginable, including begging the Congregation B’nai Chaim of which he is a member to intervene on his behalf. They are unwilling to help him, saying that they do not want to be involved, and while Victor continues to request the return of his life’s savings through any means he can find, he has been devastated by the knowledge that doing good can backfire so badly.
We live in a world where having the kindest heart imaginable can make one the victim of fraud, greed, and abuse. I have no idea whether Lev Lalev is a legitimate organization with horrible communication or whether they are a bunch of scammers with a talent for pulling on heart strings and taking what isn’t theirs.
But I do know Victor, and I know his heart. More importantly, God knows his heart. Victor will likely never see his money again, but he will see God and spend eternity in His embrace.
It’s hard to have a positive attitude when someone sets out to take advantage of you. It’s hard not to feel humiliated when you’ve been played by someone with an ulterior motive. It’s hard to have something you have worked so hard for taken away by people who don’t deserve it. This is the world we live in, and sometimes, the world is evil.
But God knows Victor’s heart, and God will protect him. We can’t allow the bad in the world to make us bad, ourselves. I’d rather Victor stay sweet and kind and generous then be hardened, jaded, and stingy.
2nd Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Victor will be rewarded for his kindness, his gentleness, and his ardent desire to do what is right. I believe we all will. We may have to wait a long time, and it may come only in the afterlife, but I’ll take that over a moment of gratitude here on Earth.
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