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Cheated by a Brother?


This is the backstory. Like most Americans of modest income, Sheila and I received an economic stimulus check to help jump-start the economy in May, 2020 following the shutdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. We decided to use the funds to build a roof on our back porch. This would place our stimulus into the hands of a local builder who, in turn, would stimulate some other local person or business. We sought recommendations on Facebook, and soon I made an agreement with a local builder to do this construction work. The work began on Friday, May 8 and was completed on Monday, May 12. The builder was generally easy to work with and built the roof to my satisfaction. I was annoyed a few times during the job, partly because he asked me to be his gopher and drive to the store to purchase some items they did buy on the first day; mostly, however, because twice he "calculated incorrectly" or didn't take something into account, and his fee increased twice during the course of project. His arguments and the increases were reasonable, so I agreed each time. At the end of the job, he took a picture of the completed porch and asked my permission to post it on his Facebook page. I said yes, and we sent each other a friend request.

Picture of Porch Roof

In the middle of the job, he discovered that I owned a miter saw that was much better than any saw he owned, and he expressed a strong interest to buy it. He used it to cut the boards for our new porch, and he agreed to pay my asking price. At the end of the job, he claimed not to have enough money (even though I had just paid him for his work) and that he would need to complete one more job before he could pay for the saw. His brother, whom he described as "slow" but helped as part of the work crew, overheard this part of the conversation and remarked, "Oh! He has LOTS of money!" I dismissed the brother's comment at the time, and reasoned that the builder would have to pay his crew for their labor. He asked if he could rent the saw in addition to the purchase price. He had told me he was a Christian, and in appreciation for the good job he did on our porch, I told him he could take possession of the saw now (no need to rent). He agreed to pay for the saw on Monday, May 18. Sometime later, I told him that I would let him buy the saw for fifty dollars less even though he had already agreed to my price. Again, my intention was to bless him as a fellow brother in Christ.

Part of a Chat Conversation

The next morning, I received a call from the builder. He was bidding on another job, and he asked for my recommendation. When I said yes, he handed his cell phone to the prospective customer, and I gave a positive review. As a result, he got the job, and before the end of the week, the builder posted another picture on Facebook of a completed porch with some comment about another happy customer.

Monday the 18th came. The builder did not show up with the money, but he called. So, I felt fine that he would pay me when he could, and I didn't pursue him. Another week passed.

On Sunday morning, May 24, when we were about to leave the house for church, Sheila saw a post on Facebook that shocked us both. The saw of mine that he wanted to buy so much to use in his business was listed on Facebook for sale.

Picture of Saw for Sale

I called the builder to ask him about his Facebook post. He offered up a lie, which was that his Facebook account had been hacked. However, the post included a photo of the saw, which only he could have taken. Also, the ad mentioned that he had a certain amount of money invested in the saw, which was twenty dollars over the original price we agreed on. Clearly, this was not the work of a hacker. Within minutes, he blocked both me and Sheila, so now we are no longer Facebook friends (I confirmed that his Facebook account still exists). Presumably, this was to prevent either of us from being able to watch him complete the sale of the saw.

While we were on the phone, he told me that his mother was at Fort Sanders Regional Hospital, and he was staying with her there. We agreed to meet at the hospital after church, and he said he would come down long enough to pay me for the saw there. This turned out to the second lie he offered up to us. After church, Sheila and I made the trip to Fort Sanders Hospital. He didn't respond to text or answer his phone, so we waited at the hospital in the parking garage for about fifteen minutes. Eventually, he did answer his phone. However, he was not at the hospital. Now, he said he was in Jefferson City getting money for me out of the bank there (I assumed he meant out of the ATM). After leaving the bank, he would drive towards the Halls Community, and he agreed to meet us in Fountain City.

Fountain City is not far from Fort Sanders Regional Hospital, so Sheila and I drove there straight away. He had told us his reason for going to Halls was to pick up his daughter. As soon as he picked her up, he would call me and meet us in Fountain City. This turned out to be the third lie he offered up to us. When Sheila and I arrived in Fountain City, we stopped at the Dollar General next to Party City. We were there for about half an hour waiting. This should have given him enough time to complete his task, but we decided to give him plenty of extra time. So, we went to the nearby Chop House restaurant and ate in their dining room for lunch. We stayed there for over an hour. I sent text messages to the builder to let him know about our movements and how long we expected to be at each location. However, from that point on, I have never received another response from him.

Sheila and I spent the Memorial Day holiday in Gatlinburg as a short staycation. All the while, I waited to see if the builder would call me as he had promised. He did not call. I sent a text message to him on the morning of Tuesday, May 24. He did not send a reply. I also called and left a voice mail message for him on Tuesday evening at 7:00 P.M. He has not called me back.

To be continued...


When I wrote the original blog post, I was a bit of an emotional wreck. I wrestled with my carnal side over a desire to call down fire from heaven like the Apostles thought to do in Luke 9:51-56,

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

but I had this nagging feeling that the "fire" would come in the form of some trajedy with the builder's mother or brother. If one or both of them became seiously ill or died, I would have been riddled with guilt.

When the builder told me that he was a Christian, he also mentioned the name of his church. The idea came to me to try to contact his pastor. After some searching on the Internet, I found the church's web site and an e-mail address to write to. I sent a message to him on Wednesday (the day after my blog post). On Thursday, he called me; and over the following weekend we met face to face.

Without revealing any details, I learned that the reason that the builder did not meet with me at the hospital or later in Fountain City was because he was evading the law over some other matter. Before the end of that day, he had been taken into custody. I also learned that my contacting his pastor was a blessing ordained from God. The pastor checked in on the welfare of the builder's mother. She was under a lot of stress worrying about her son. She was concerned that his troubles with the law were related to a certain saw that had recently showed up at her house. He was able to assure her that the saw was not the reason why the police were after him.

I am greatful to God that not only was my property returned, but I didn't resort to giving into the temptation to "call down fire." The pastor I met told me how precious the builder's mother was: full of care and concern, always giving of herself, a dear sister in Christ. He also told me about the builder's brother: how he loved to be God's house, always prayerful and respectful, with a heart of gold.

Spirit and Truth Fellowship /