(From: Power For Today Magazine, March/April 2013, Copyright 2013, published by Righteous Pen Publications. All rights reserved.)
Q:What is your advice for women who are involved with men in other countries?
A:Very early on in my ministry presence online, I had an email pen-pal who was in Pakistan. I had known him for almost six months when he approached me about marrying him. He expected me to believe God put us together and that I should want to move to Pakistan, follow behind his lead, have his children, be his wife…oh yes…and give up any hopes I had of making it in ministry on my own.
I was smart enough, even back then, to know this was not a good idea, and it most certainly wasn’t a “God-arrangement.” Not long after, I discovered this individual had arranged a marriage with another foreign woman, only for it to dissolve within two years. His answer? He’d reached a marrying age and needed to find an available woman, ASAP. He was not seeking a relationship…just a woman to fill a role.
Back then, I at least had some knowledge and correspondence with this individual before he popped the question. Nowadays I hear of women flying to foreign countries – far more dangerous than even Pakistan – on the promise of marrying a man they have never met in person – and have known for extremely short periods of time.
Hearing of women in foreign, long-distance relationships is becoming more and more common, especially with social networking sites such as Facebook dominating the internet. Taking up with a foreign man can seem romantic and exciting to some, especially given the fact that many foreign men approach American women in very romantic and intense tones. They also speak universally about wanting marriage right out of the gate, which is not as common in American society.
I think if we step back and approach this logically, there are many warning signs women should heed when involving themselves with foreign men. I know most women in these situations do not want to hear what I am about to say, but I ask you to hear me out. When considering a foreign relationship, there are certain warning signs and food for thought to ponder before making any big steps, and revealing too much information about yourself.
1) Scammers – I know that everyone thinks they are above a scam. We know the obvious signs of a scammer – someone asking you to marry them when you’ve never even spoken before, someone who asks for money right out of the gate, etc…but what about scammers who make a long-term investment out of a relationship with you? There are scammers who run what is called a “confidence scheme.” A confidence scheme works as a scammer establishes a certain level of trust with their victim in an effort to extract information that can be used to steal money or identity. People who ask probing questions that are commonly used as security questions – names of pets, parents’ names, where you lived, your former address, number of siblings, your bank, where your family is from – aren’t being inquisitive. They are asking to try and steal your identity.
Also beware the common profile of a scammer: someone who claims to have gone to the best schools in the world, is self-employed or somehow implied through an oil or gas company, and constantly claims ties to Africa – especially if they say they are from the United States, but ask you what country your state is located in.
2) Language usage – People in the United Kingdom speak differently from people in Russia, west Africa, and the United States. If someone is insisting they are from a certain place, but they speak in the style and manner of somewhere else – beware. Addressing people with “please” (such as “Please, where are you from?”) is not British, it is African. There are other variances in the language usage that are not common to the regions scammers claim to be in. If they don’t sound the part, they are not the part.
3) They require you to go to them – If someone is requiring you to go their country, that automatically means they will have the visit and arrangements on their own terms. In many of these instances, they tell you it is easier for you to get married or for the relationship to move forward if you go to their country. That may be true…but what about coming to visit you? If you’re already in a foreign country, that’s one thing, but why not suggest they come and visit you? So what if it’s more complicated? If they are serious about being involved with you, they will find some way to make it happen. Many also require you to pay your own way, which I would say is also a red flag. If this trip is at their insistence, they should cover your expenses. If they cry poverty and say they don’t have the money, then why do you want to marry them in a foreign country and get stuck over there in poverty?
4) Differences in culture – Different cultures have different standards of honesty and ethics. Some cultures do not regard being dishonest or withholding information as lying – they just see it as a part of their way of handling people. Some cultures are also decidedly manipulative, telling you what you want to hear in an effort to get from you what they want. It’s important to cut through what you may be hearing and discern the truth from what may just be being said in an effort to get a certain response from you.
I am very aware and do not deny that scams exist in every culture and there are many people who can do harm to someone right in their existing nation. I know there are people who insist international dating worked for them and was, indeed, the right thing to do. I also have heard numerous horror stories of stolen identities, women who wound up dead in a foreign nation, or who received threats to their welfare because of the people with whom they involved themselves. These matters require discernment; they require a level head and a voice of reason; and if wise counsel, never having steered you wrong, indicates this is the wrong thing to do – and they have justifiable evidences as to why it may not be right – it’s wise to consider what is said.
(Do you have a question you want to ask Apostle Dr. Lee Ann? Send it to us at email@example.com.)