I want to encourage you to think about at least one other way to help people who are struggling with debt. The Internet has made it possible for people with money to connect with people struggling with their personal finances. There are social networking sites that give you the opportunity to lend small dollar amounts to people in this country, and there are other sites that give you the opportunity to fund a micro-business entrepreneur in a Third World country. Both represent interesting opportunities to add meaning to Sabbath.
Prosper.com and Lendingclub.com are sites designed to match Americans who need money with people who have money. Sites such as Microplace.com, Kiva.org and GrameenFoundation.org facilitate micro-lending to grassroots entrepreneurs across the globe.
If you are in a position to fund loans through a website such as Lendingclub, you are in position to help someone reduce their debt load. Typically, the people who post loan requests on Lendingclub have large outstanding credit card balances, paying interest rates of twenty percent or more. Their goal is to refinance at a more manageable interest rate. People willing to lend even as little as fifty dollars can help borrowers substantially lower the cost of their debt. Prosper is an interesting site too, although it is not accepting loan requests at this time. I am assuming they will resume regular service before too long.
The beneficiaries of micro-loans have a much more difficult challenge than Americans who have over-spent on credit. Micro-loans typically are aimed at the poorest of the poor -- people who make less than one dollar per day. Lifting people out of poverty is a difficult proposition, but in some cases a micro-loan is the key. Hope for the City, a Minneapolis-based charity, runs a micro-loan program in India. Their loans range from one hundred dollars to five hundred dollars. One Indian used a Hope for the City loan to buy an iron and started a laundry business. Another used the money to buy a water buffalo; the milk feeds a family and provides a small but steady income.
The human family is enormous; God invites all of us into the Sabbath rest in order to develop our relationship with him. Every human wrestles with something that holds them back. For some, financial stress diminishes the prospects for periodic rest. The GEO Principle means working in a way that honors the Sabbath. Manage your debt so you don’t enslave yourself. If your own financial affairs are sufficiently ordered, consider what you might do to help someone less fortunate. One of the best ways to work on your own journey into the Sabbath is to help others to get there as well.