Lucky God is one of the chosen

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If God has ever considered trading the riches of Heaven for those of Earth, He may have struck lucky. The Almighty has been chosen by American Family Publishers, a sweepstakes organisation, as a potential winner of $11m (pounds 7m).

In what appears to have been a case of extreme computer eccentricity, a letter of notification was sent by Family Publishers earlier this week to a small Pentecostal church in rural Florida. Rather than being for its Pastor, Bill Brack, however, the letter was addressed directly to God.

"God, we've been searching for you," it declared, insisting that He - alongside millions of others all across the land, including myself - had been "positively identified" as being in the running for the multi- million pay-out.

Like most sane people, Pastor Brock would have normally thrown the envelope away unopened. It was only when his youth counsellor spotted the addressee that he saved it.

The letter inside, adorned with the usual quasi-official seals and stickers, went on: "What an incredible fortune there would be for God! Could you imagine the looks you'd get from your neighbors. But don't just sit there, God!"

Pastor Brock is holding on to the letter. "I want to consult with my church board, before doing anything crazy," he said yesterday. However, he says that if God were selected, he would play the Almighty for the sweepstakes people.

"I believe in God, but I don't believe in sweepstakes," said Pastor Brock, whose church is the Bushnell Assembly of God north of Tampa. "But if they turn up at the church door with $11m then I will believe in sweepstakes too."

Of course, responding to the letter would entail God giving something back to Family Publishers. In my case, the quid pro quo was agreeing to subscribe to a motley range of weekly publications I had never heard of.

There was nothing on the list likely to be of much use in Heaven. But then, of course, we know now that God does not live in Heaven, after all, but in Bushnell, Florida.