By Melissa Wuske
A recent study by LifeWay Research found that more than three-quarters of Christians think loans where the lender profits by hurting the borrower financially, such as high-interest payday loans, are sinful—and nearly 20 percent have taken out payday loans themselves.
Christian leaders agree: “Payday loans with their exorbitant interest rates operate far outside of what is ethical or biblical,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for policy of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, said, “A payday loan may look like an answer to prayer—a way out of a financial crisis. But too often payday or title loans lead to long-term indebtedness, making a small problem into a large problem.”
Recovery and the Church
Over the last few decades, deaths due to drugs and alcohol have been on the rise among working class Americans. It’s left many churches and ministers wondering what they can do—if anything.
Revival Recovery Services is a Christian rehabilitation program in California that knows firsthand the benefits and challenges of working to end addiction. Ray Perea, CEO, sees a critical role for the church: “The church should have a role in helping people with any type of addiction.” But “people need to reach out and make their struggle known in order for the church to help. Many people would rather keep their problem hidden,” Perea added.
The complexity of addiction is also a factor, as Janet Perea, Revival’s executive director explains: “In many cases there has been some sort of trauma (death; physical, mental, sexual abuse; and/or abandonment) at an early age. Usually the one suffering from the addiction doesn’t realize where that trauma is. They may hold on to one life event that they believe to be the cause, but many times it’s even further back than what they remember.”
Falsely Imprisoned Man Forgives Cop
Jameel McGee spent four years in prison for selling drugs, a crime he didn’t commit. After his release, he began to rebuild his life, eventually getting a job at Cafe Mosaic, a faith-based employment agency. There he came face to face with a new coworker: Andrew Collins, the police officer who had arrested McGee and who had eventually spent time in jail for falsifying McGee’s crime and many other police reports.
Collins owned up to his mistake: “I falsified the report. Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest.“ He told McGee he was sorry.
By faith, McGee forgave Collins. Now, rather than being enemies or simply coworkers, the two are friends. They spend time together outside of work, and McGee even told Collins he loves him; Collins responded with tears: “He doesn’t owe me that. I don’t deserve that.”
Octopus Dramatic Escape
Aquarium workers in New Zealand found themselves in a slippery situation. Inky, one of the aquarium’s octopuses, had escaped, slipping out of the tank and going across the floor. Then Inky “managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went. Didn’t even leave us a message,” said Rob Yarrall, the aquarium’s manager.
Alix Harvey, of the Marine Biological Association in England, notes that such behavior was likely hardwired in Inky’s nature: “Octopuses are fantastic escape artists. They are programmed to hunt prey at night and have a natural inclination to move around at night. They have a complex brain, have excellent eyesight, and research suggests they have an ability to learn and form mental maps.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).