David and Goliath
Occasionally a moment in time breaks open, an opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than you are, a God-given opportunity to participate in a David and Goliath moment. For people of God in Missouri, that golden moment is here! When something is so wrong that it is easy for people to see, doesn't require a lot of explanation or subtleties that are complicated to understand, and there is actually a solution in sight, we have to seize the moment!
In the next month there needs to be enough signatures on an initiative petition to Cap the Rate! at 36% on predatory loans (payday, car title, and signature loans all fall into this category). The Goliath in this moment in time is a conglomerate of lending institutions and big banks who provide those lenders their loans (even when they are denying loans to homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes!). These big businesses and banks are not even located in Missouri, so the literally billions of dollars they are sucking out of our state on the backs of those who are most financially vulnerable is shameful. We are the Davids who believe that this petition can not only win its place on the November ballot but also believe it can be voted into legislation despite the millions of dollars they will spend trying to stop us!
The only way they will defeat us with their treasure chests that sponsor false and misleading ads and send threatening letters is if people like you and me sit back and do nothing. If we don't make the effort to not only sign the petition, but also encourage our friends and neighbors to do so, too, we will let them win. They will have proof that people of faith don't have enough faith (or the will) to do this.
1 Samuel 17 tells how all the Israelites fled in fear when they saw Goliath! But young David ran towards him, full of faith and hope, and with his 5 smooth stones he felled the giant. David's reputation spread far and wide because of his fearlessness in facing the giant based on his trust in the Lord. God’s gives us opportunities to see how seriously we take his commands to care for the poor and to free the oppressed. Much of the time we feel helpless to do much. Sometimes we don’t even want to think about all the injustice in the world because we feel so powerless to make a difference.
Here is our opportunity! We MUST take courage and join the Lord in slaying this giant of oppression who takes advantage of people in their most vulnerable times and become wealthy on their backs. That's what these loans are designed to do--get people caught up in a spiral of debt.
How desperate is this Goliath? Desperate enough to get at least 3 other petitions out there that look very similar to this one! They are trying to trick people into signing their petitions so that they will turn down the opportunity to sign the legitimate Cap the Rate at 36%! How clever of them. Beware of those other petitions: one seems similar but the cap is 350%; another looks even better because it says the rate will be 17%, but when you read farther you see that that rate will be "negotiated" when they get the loan; the other one calls for a constitutional change that will allow these predatory lenders to have no regulation from our state legislature--in other words, they can charge whatever they want whenever they want! How dishonorable and dishonest is that?!
Have you signed a petition yet? Be careful of which one you sign, but please sign the Cap the Rate at 36% one! It's not too late! If we win this, we show the state that our faith matters, that we take biblical admonitions seriously, and that we truly desire that our state moves up from the bottom of most lists to become a wonderful, vibrant, safe place to live and rear children. If we lose, we also lose credibility and our future work for social justice will be imperiled. Now is the time to take a stand! Make this moment in history count! Stand with the “least of these,” as Jesus instructed us! This is our moment in time!
You can contact Jeanie McGowan, Churchnet Leadership Development Team Leader, at (888) 420-2426, ext. 707 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Learn more about the Cap the Rate at 36% effort by visiting http://www.moresponsiblelending.org/. Also, visit http://www.missourifaithvoices.org/ to learn more about a faith group working on this an other issues. There will be a breakout session at the Churchnet Annual Gathering that will cover the topic of “Community Advocacy” as it relates to the predatory lending ballot initiative.