Letters blaming Satan for Covid-19 and natural disasters sent to Birmingham homes
The letters have led to surprise and sometimes concern on the part of residents receiving them.
Justin Tooze, 50, of Jockey Street, Sutton Coldfield, said that he was confused by the “strange letter” that he received.
He said that the letter had been by a local woman, a Jehovah’s Witness. While he said that the note had caused “no harm”, BirminghamLive reported that he was concerned about the impact the tone of the letter might have on someone who was vulnerable.
The letter begins: “Dear neighbour My name is [redacted] and I live in the neighbourhood. I am writing to my neighbours to share positive hope for the future.
“Over the past 18 months, events around the world seem to have escalated, from the pandemic to wildfires, flash floods and humanitarian challenges. This has led to many people wondering if there is a God why does he allow so much suffering?
“From my study of the Bible I have learned that God is not responsible for bad things that happen to us.”
The author then cites a verse from the Bible’s Book of John, explaining: “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one”.
She continues: “That wicked one is Satan, an invisible spirit who rebelled against God.
“However, the good news is that God has promised exciting changes for the near future. He is going to end suffering and make life on earth a delight for us.
“One of the reasons that I believe in this promise is that in Numbers 23 v 19it tells us that ‘God is not a mere man who tells us lies.”
In closing, the letter encourages Mr Tooze to contact the author to if he wishes to learn more “about God’s promises for this earth”, or to visit the Jehovah’s Witnesses website.
Mr Tooze, who is currently recovering from a brain aneurysm at home, told BirminghamLive: “I found it a bit strange. It’s a bit weird. A random letter off a random person I have never met.
“At first I thought it was from somebody I knew. Are they writing to help me?” he said.
“Personally, I don’t mind people preaching. It’s up to them but when it’s a random letter than mentions Satan, the pandemic and wildfires, I didn’t totally understand what it was.
“If anybody is going through the issues I’m going through, or the vulnerable, it could affect them.
“It is preaching verses of the bible and stuff like that and when I was trying to read it, I found it hard to understand and thought, what’s going on?
“If anybody is suffering with mental health issues and receives these letters, how are they going to react? It might be somebody out there who’s received one of these letters and is a bit intimidated by it.” He said that he had spoken to his girlfriend about the letter, who told him to ignore it, but added: “People who are vulnerable they could take it the wrong way”.
Mr Tooze initially posted about the letter on community site Nextdoor, receiving more than 70 responses from neighbours and community members. The comments following his post contained around 50 more reports of such letters, being received over the last year or so.
While many said that they simply read and recycled the letters, others said they appreciated the effort demonstrated by the handwritten notes.
One user said: “I’ve had one (letter) earlier this year. Hand written and felt so personal I kept it for a couple of weeks. I didn’t go any further with it, it felt so comforting in a strange way”.
Responding to the number of people who had received letters, Mr Tooze told BirminghamLive: “It must be costing the people sending them a fortune in stamps”.
A spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK said that the letters may have been sent as a part of some Jehovah’s Witnesses “personal ministry” to offer words of encouragement to their neighbours and invite them to join the church, as public preaching work had been suspended due to the pandemic.
“Since March 2020, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Britain have suspended their door-to-door and public preaching work,” the spokesperson said.
“In addition, all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are holding their meetings via videoconference. These steps have been taken to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“Despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic, Jehovah’s Witnesses remain active in trying to reach as many people as possible with the Bible’s message of hope.
“Some as part of their personal ministry may choose to send letters by post to their neighbours to offer encouragement and invite them to look at the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
The spokesperson added: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are motivated by love of neighbour when reaching out to people to offer comfort from the Bible.”
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