Making Life Hard One Card at a TimeOne thing that I have seen again and again remove people from the mission field, or prevent them from entering the mission field, is personal debt…

Personal debt can take many forms, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Credit Card Debt
  • Student Loan Debt
  • Vehicle Loan Debt or Lease
  • Mortgage*

I have seen numerous message on twitter from people along the lines of wanting to join missions, but can’t because of debt. I have also seen people leave the missions field because of debt they had at home from before they joined or even because of debt they have incurred while on the missions field.

A friend of mine, Creagon Muldoon, who also works with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) to mobilise people into missions recently posted this on Twitter:

Creagon – Creagon Muldoon

Praying for God to mobilizes the next of student movement. Wondering how He will overcome the 2009 average student debt load of $24,000.

Debt is very debilitating to someone wanting to follow the Will of God of their life.

There is not one positive mention of debt in the Bible. Debt is always presented in a negative light. It is not a “salvation” issue, but there is not one time mentioned in the bible that debt is used to bless His people.

Here are a few Bible versus about this topic taken from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University site.

1. Proverbs 13:22  "A good man leaves an inheritance to his childrens’ children" indicating that God wants us to make a difference, financially, in our family tree.

2. Proverbs 21:20  "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has."  This gives us an idea of how God wants us to save for a rainy day, to set something back for safekeeping.

3. Proverbs 22:7 states that "The rich rule over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender."  Really?  The Bible discourages debt?  Does God really want me to pay my debts off and avoid debt?

4. Luke 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it."  Does Jesus really want me to save up and pay for the things I buy?

The final one should be very challenging for us. I can’t tell you how many times have I been in a meeting and heard people “stepping out in faith” to go on a trip that they can’t afford? It’s one thing to be planning for a trip without knowing where the money is coming from, but to actually go on the trip before it’s paid for seems to go against what Jesus is telling us in Luke 14:28.

What is Our Responsibility?

As a missions organisation we need to ask ourselves about what our responsibility is to our staff and students in regards to debt. Are we enabling our staff and students to go into debt, or are we helping them to avoid it.

Here are a few questions that I think we need to ask:

  • Do we let our staff and / or students go to into debt?
  • How do we handle it when our staff falls behind on their staff fees?
  • Do we ask questions about peoples personal debt in our application process?
  • Is there teaching or plans in place to assist people get out of debt?

Are we teaching our staff and students wisdom in regards to their finances or are we teaching them to be reckless with their finances? Do we confuse “faith” with “foolishness”?

Debt in YWAM

Another great article that I found after I had written most of this article is on the YWAM Associates web-site entitled “The Curse of Debt”. You can read the article here. There is some great information about debt in YWAM in that article including:

  • Between 5 – 80% of staff at any given YWAM location are in debt
  • Most YWAM Centres have lost staff because of debt
  • Some YWAM staff have to take outside jobs to pay off debt

Have a look at the full article to read more.

Tools to Get out of Debt

There are some great tools out there to help you get out of debt. Someone who I have been listening to for a while is Dave Ramsey, the source of those quotes above. Here is a link to some of the tools that he offers for free on his web-site:

photo credit: Josh Kenzer

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4 Responses to Debt and Missions – A Toxic Mix

  1. […] Mission (YWAM) is the area of personal finance, or financial stewardship. Debt is something that is crippling to missionaries and missions agencies when it comes to being released into what God has for […]

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