rent and couldn’t pull herself up. “I was
frustrated, I was upset, I kept on beating
myself up,” she says. When her rent cheque
bounced, “I felt I couldn’t tell anybody.”
Her compassionate landlady at the
Christian-based housing complex where
she lives suggested she contact Christians
Against Poverty (CAP) Canada. Though
it was difficult, she took the first step, and
that has made all the difference. “The
people close to me have seen a dramatic
change in me,” she says.
When the CAP volunteer coach assigned to help Bade visited her apartment,
“I had no food in my fridge. I hadn’t eaten
for two or three days.” The volunteer returned later that day with “a cart full of
food,” stocked her fridge and worked out
a budget with her.
CAP ( www.capcanada.org) was started in Britain about 17 years ago by John
Kirkby, who had lost everything but began
a new life when he came to faith. “We had
so many phone calls from [Canadian]
church leaders saying, ‘We have massive
debt problems,’” says Helen Johnson,
who worked for CAP in the UK for seven
years. After numerous pleas from pastors,
CAP opened a Canadian office in Hamilton last March, with Johnson as national
director. CAP Canada now partners with
41 churches and has trained 82 money
coaches across Canada.
The need is “absolutely massive,”
says Johnson, quoting statistics that say
50 per cent of Canadians worry about
money. And the results of indebtedness
can be dire, sometimes resulting in mari-
tal breakdown and even suicide. CAP is
unabashedly Christian in its approach.
Every phone call and visit ends with an
offer to pray. If clients aren’t interested
in hearing about God, “We respect that,”
says Johnson. “Ninety per cent of the time
they say yes.”
While people and their money prob-
lems are similar everywhere, Johnson has
seen some worse situations here than in
Britain, because the level of government as-
sistance for the poor is lower. She has met
clients with only $50 available for food each
month, after rent and utilities are paid.
CAP coaches not only help clients with
budgeting, they also meet very practical
needs. Johnson tells of one woman whose
house was trashed by tenants who didn’t pay
the rent, putting her behind in her mortgage
payments. Some volunteers from a CAP-associated church cleaned up her property,
while others took her out for coffee. It was a
very direct way of showing Jesus’ love.
With her coach’s help Nicole Bade
follows a strict budget, carefully distribut-
ing the $147 a month left after her rent is
paid by Ontario Works. “If I don’t have
that treat money, there’s no treat for me.”
It is hard, but Bade is determined. “I never
want to get myself into that again.” FT
Debra FIegu TH of kingston, ont., is a
senior writer with Faith Today.
Aview of spending that is not God-centred would suggest that if we earn money, we get to decide how to spend it. But from a Christian perspective we are
using resources God has entrusted to us. “He owns it all,”
Fred Brogan of the Empirical Group points out. “We’re stew-
ards of it.”
That means every spending
decision is a spiritual one, says Jan
kupecz, executive director of Can-
adian national Christian Foundation.
“It indicates your priorities and your
understanding of your role as steward.
spending decisions are an indication
of where you place your faith.”
The consumer-driven society in
which we live pressures people to
believe more in material satisfaction than spiritual content-
ment. “Even some Christians,” notes Helen Johnson, national
director of Christians Against Poverty, “have lost that [idea
of]being content in what God has given us. We want to have
something new, something more and something better.”
kupecz suggests asking why before making a purchase.
Why spend the money on this item? “What does shopping
fulfil in a person? Will enough ever be enough?” rather than
letting possessions shape our identity, Christians need to
be reminded that “our identity is in God.”
If spending has gone beyond our means and we are in
debt, the issues become even deeper. Debt makes us slaves
to the lenders, it says in Proverbs 22: 7. “It eats away at our
trust in God,” says kupecz.
Debt can affect so many other things in our lives, she
points out. It can eat away at our peace of mind, leading to
depression and hopelessness, and it can harm our family
relationships. And even though debt itself might not be a
sin, “It ushers in other sins – lying to cover up spending,
“The Bible says we cannot serve both God and money,”
kupecz adds. “It is one or the other. Debt makes us serve money,
it binds us to itself and does not leave us free to serve God.”
Debt also affects our ability to be generous to others and
give back to God. “We already tend to give from our leftovers,”
she says. “With debt there are no leftovers.” FT –DF
The Spiritual Side of Spending
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