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Christians in Debt - Seeking Help
I wrote a month ago about a Christian friend who has gone bankrupt. He still doesn’t know what to do. A counselor is urging him to file for bankruptcy. But this has shocked another Christian friend, a businessman, to whom the idea of filing for bankruptcy is anathema. Offer the bank (to whom the debt is owed) a settlement, he has urged.
My friend is in his sixties and has few assets. It probably doesn’t matter a lot either way. But it has led me to think about this issue.
Where do Christians in debt go for help? Because I suspect that, frankly speaking, most churches – the place where Christians are supposed to go with their problems – are not equipped to give much in the way of financial advice.
I note that the latest Today’s Christian website (part of Christianity Today) carries a Q&A on this topic with a financial adviser, David Ramsey. Here’s an excerpt:
Q: I'm sitting down with my sister soon to analyze her financial situation, and I suspect it's not very good. At what point should someone file for bankruptcy?
A: Filing for bankruptcy is almost never a good idea. I tell people to file for bankruptcy about as often as I tell them to file for divorce - I don't. There are always situations where good people get into bad things, but I think many divorces are the result of people just giving up - and most bankruptcies are, too.
…She's probably not bankrupt, but she's out of control and has lost hope. It may take a little while to clean up this mess, but you should never file bankruptcy on something you can clean up in two years. Never!
Well, that’s pretty straightforward advice. But plenty of other opinions also exist out there. Type “Christian debt” into Google and you’ll be faced with more than one million web pages.
Crown Financial Ministries is a Christian ministry with a big library of financial resources, including a section on debt and credit.
Its article Getting Out Of Debt offers five practical steps towards relief, and it concludes:
No one who is financially bound can be spiritually free. Generally speaking, if these steps are faithfully followed, the average family can usually be debt free in about five years.
Accomplishing debt freedom can produce a radical change in lifestyle and a reevaluation of family values that can help prevent similar debt situations from recurring.
Sound advice, in my opinion, for all Christians with the same problems.
May 8th, 2006