September 2011 Letter

 

Proverbs 22:7   7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

 

The Bible is a much more practical book than most people realise, and it has a lot to say about money and debt.  In Old Testament times, the quotation above could be literally true, as a person who couldn’t pay what they owed might actually sell themselves and their family into slavery for a number of years to pay off their debts.  That may not happen today, but for anyone who finds themselves caught in a spiral of debt in these difficult financial times, the sense of being enslaved can be very real. It isn’t just the debt itself but the feelings of shame that go with it that can stop people from asking for help even from those they are closest to.

 

One of the things Jesus said he came to do was to release those who were imprisoned and let the oppressed go free, and anything that holds us back from the ‘fullness of life’ God wants us to have is a spiritual as well as a practical problem.

 

But first, something very important.  If your heart is starting to beat faster just now and you feel the urge to shove this issue of the magazine under a cushion and go and do something else, just read the next sentence.

            There are NO insoluble debt problems.  NONE

            Those aren't my words, but those of someone who spends his life dealing with people whose debt problems seemed so overwhelming to them that in many cases they were considering suicide.

             However bad things seem when you are in the middle of them, there is a way out and there are trustworthy people who can help you in confidence and without trying to make a profit out of your situation.

            So take a deep breath - or two or ten - and carry on reading.

            Maybe you are the exact person God was trying to reach when he put it into my head to address this topic in more detail – or maybe it isn’t you but someone you love and are desperately worried about.

 

So if debt is a cliff that none of us want to fall off, where do you and I and the people we care about fit into the following scenarios?  

- Are we back in the car park with the windows rolled up quoting ‘Never a borrower or a lender be’? 

            - Eating our picnic and admiring the view, using credit cards for convenience and paying them off every month, with a vague feeling that they are ‘useful for emergencies’?  (Though in a REAL emergency like a job loss, using a credit card to try and solve the problem could be the equivalent of trying to put out a small fire with a bucket of petrol.)   

            - Walking backwards with a camera, using cards for this and that when things get tight and not really paying attention to the way it mounts up? 

            - Clinging to the edge, with a total balance that frightens us and payments that seem to suck half our income away almost before we see it? 

            - Or worst of all, have we or someone we love already slipped off the edge into debt crisis, with not enough money every month to pay the minimum payments on our debts and still pay for food, housing, utilities and essential transport?

            The good news is that even in the worst case, this cliff isn't a straight plunge to the bottom.  There are some good strong tree roots sticking out that you can grab hold of, and the emergency services are standing by - you just need to call them and they WILL help to winch you back up.

            But sadly there are also some vultures circling who want to make money out of your crisis, so don't phone some company just because you see their advert on the television.  Even if they claim to be 'Free' they may be making a hidden profit out of the extra loans or services they sell you, so their advice may be in their best interests, not yours.  For instance, a consolidation loan which turns credit card debt into debt secured on your house could result in you losing your home.

            Instead talk first to one of these trustworthy non-profit bodies:

                        CAP - Christians against Poverty.  This is a Christian organisation which exists to help people out of the slavery of debt.  You don't have to be a Christian to go to them for help - it is open to everyone.  We are lucky enough to have local branches in Exeter and in Exmouth.  They can visit you at home.  Look on their website www.capuk.org or ring their national number 01274 760720.

                        I've been a supporter of CAP for some years now and their regular newsletter is full of stories about people whose lives have been changed - saved from despair or even suicide.  In my view the work they do is truly part of what Jesus was talking about when he said that he came 'to set the captives free'.

                        CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau.  Most people have heard of them.  Debt counselling is one of the things they have people trained to do.  Their website is www.citizensadvice.org.uk.  There are local branches in Exmouth (01395 264645), Sidmouth and Exeter.

                        CCCS - Consumer Credit Counselling Service - probably the biggest Debt advice charity. Website www.cccs.co.uk.  Tel: 0800 138 1111

                        Other non-profit charities - there are a number of other trustworthy charities.  A good up to date list with contact details can be found at www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/debt-help-plan#help .

 

A really good book to read, whether you know someone who might need help or just want to understand more about the issues, is ‘The Money Secret’ by Rob Parsons.  I usually have a few copies I can lend out or it is available from the libraries as well as bookshops.

 

            If credit cards had been called 'debt cards' would they ever have caught on?  My generation has grown up taking them for granted, but the more I become aware of the way they can suck people in, and the more it seems that they are designed to do exactly that, the more I wonder whether I want to be part of that system.

 

Rev’d. Karen Spray                            01392 877400                  church@revdkaren.org.uk

 


Rector's Pages
Webpage icon Rector's February 2016 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's January 2016 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's December 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's November 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's November 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's September 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's September 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's August 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's July 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's July 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's June 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's May 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's April 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's April 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's 2nd March 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's March 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's February 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's February 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's January 2015 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's December 2014 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's December 2014 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's November 2014 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's October 2014 Letter
Webpage icon Associate Minister's October 2014 Letter
Webpage icon Rector's August 2014 Letter