I’m always trying to counsel people to stay out of debt. Debt seems to be one of the biggest sources of frustration and depression for families that I know. My usual rule of thumb is to stay out of debt for anything unless it appreciates in value. And these days, who knows what will appreciate? But now I am to rethinking this advice—well at least in one particular place.
As I think back on my recent mission to Haiti, one person tends to overwhelm my memory. His name is Moise (Moses in our language). Moise is our Christian Relief Fund representative in Cap-Hatien. Two words captivate his spirit. No matter what you say to Moise, he tends to answer you with—“Thank You!” Indeed Moise is a person with an attitude of gratitude. Even though he lives in a poverty stricken place with the aftereffects of earthquakes and cholera, you would be hard pressed to find a happier man.
It is not only his attitude that is impressive, but his schedule is also unbelievable. Moise runs our CRF school which has hundreds of children. He also is the preacher at our church on that location where he preaches three times a week. Moise also runs our two orphanages and a home for the elderly. He also teaches music one hour a week to all the children and leads a marching band. He drives a big truck around the city to transport children (kind of like a school bus driver). At 5:30 in the morning, he mentors younger men to be ministers like him in a preaching training school. His community hospital doesn’t feed the patients, so Moise brings food in for the infirmed. And he even does welding and construction on the side to help with income. How does he do all of this? I’m not sure. Why does he do all of this? I think I got it when I was planning a Vacation Bible School for children with him. We were buying food for about 300 children, but he wanted to buy food and invite 200 more. I said that we didn’t have the room or money. He said, “But it is 200 more people who need to hear about Jesus. How can we leave them out?”
Then someone told me that Moise had a lot of debt. They said that they couldn’t see how he could ever pay it off. How tragic. It seemed like the flaw in the immense portfolio of goodness. Just like so many other people today, he had extended his credit way too far. Or was it just like everyone else?
What I found out was that Moise had gone into debt to help orphans and widows. People needed help. Some people simply couldn’t take care of themselves. So when he ran out of money, he borrowed money to take care of others. Have you ever heard of such a thing? People I know go into debt to buy cars, clothes, houses, and luxury items—certainly things for themselves. He went into debt to buy for those who couldn’t help themselves.
Paul says in Romans 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” He tells us to pay our debts off, except for one—a debt of love. Could that be what Moise is doing? Maybe he is literally practicing this verse. Perhaps he is going into debt for what will truly appreciate in value. I’m not sure what to say. I think I will have to rethink debt.