Financial ministry helps manage money with faith

By Darrell Todd Maurina

When the Rev. Randy Mullin of First Baptist Church of Farwell began hosting a financial ministry this past fall, he couldn’t believe the response.
“It’s been incredible,” Mullin said. “When we launched this thing back in November, I guess probably the best way to describe it is we hit a very sensitive nerve. We had 22 families go through the ‘Financial Peace University’ the first time, and of those 22 families, we have retired about $50,000 in debt.”
Mullin said one of the best things about the program has been that about a third of those attending the intensive 13-week program have been from outside the church. Some drive from as far away as Portales to attend the Sunday afternoon series of videotaped lessons and small-group studies featuring the financial teaching of Dave Ramsey, a nationally-broadcast radio speaker heard locally on weeknights on KGNC-710 AM from 7 to 10 p.m. Texas time.
“Basically it is God and Grandma’s way of doing money; he has just learned to package it in a way that is fun, entertaining, motivating and effective,” Mullin said. “It’s not that my wife and I have been in any kind of financial trouble, but even as a minister’s family, there are areas in our marriage that we need to tweak and work on. We’ve seen a lot of ways we can benefit.”
Mullin said Ramsey’s teaching uses many of the same principles as Christian financial speaker and author Larry Burkett, but he doesn’t limit his audience to Christians.
“Dave Ramsey, though he is a devout Christian and is open about his faith, targets the secular community and has been well-received by the secular community,” Mullin said.
Unlike some Christian financial seminars, the Ramsey seminars have an admission fee of $90. However, the church is sponsoring two no-charge introductory meetings at 3 p.m. Feb. 8 and at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 to explain the seminars.
“The orientation is completely without obligation; it gives you an opportunity to see what it will be like,” Mullin said. “For somebody who has questions, this is a way to get them answered.”
Mullin said Ramsey’s method centers on four main steps:
> Establish an emergency fund of $1,000 for a family and $500 for a single person or couple to avoid the need to use credit cards for unplanned expenses.
> Use the “debt snowball” effect to pay off the lowest-balance credit card first, and then take the payments from that card to pay off other cards in ever-increasing amounts.
> Establish a fully-funded savings account of three to six months of income to cover major problems such as medical issues or a job loss.
n Build wealth through such techniques as mutual funds.
Program coordinator and First Baptist member Chad Byrd said his family have succeeded through using Ramsey’s steps.
“We were to the point that we could not take any other payments and anything unexpected would have to be put on the credit card,” Byrd said. “Thanks to Dave Ramsey, we have got our finances back in order. Since November 2003, we have managed to save $1,000 for our emergency fund. We have also dropped $12,000 in debt. We plan to be debt-free except for the house by June 2005.”
Mullin said he’s hoping to have a large attendance at the next classes. For further information, call the church at (806) 481-3202.