At the recent National WMU January Board Meeting, we approved a revision of an important document that impacts our work in WMU. Called the Church Base Design, this document provides the frame of reference for WMU, defining our objectives and how we will do our work. All of the printed materials from national WMU that churches use, such as leader guides and curriculum, are based on this foundational document.
As we are inundated by the calls for expanded gambling in Kentucky as well as host of other social and moral issues, I returned to this document. I was reminded that what we call mission action includes efforts to correct social and moral problems. Here is a portion of the section on mission action:
“Mission action is a direct and personal way to express a church’s belief that all people need God and must come to Him through Jesus Christ. Through mission action a church can identify itself as a ministering body and demonstrate concern for people who are separated from God.
“To meet a person’s needs in Christ’s name calls for positive and practical action. The ultimate goal is to bring the person into a relationship with Jesus Christ that leads to her or his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In some situations, the witness may be indirect and in others it may take time to gain the confidence of the person being helped to the point that she or he will be open to a presentation of the gospel.
“In mission action, believers care for the whole person and have a concern for the spiritual, mental, social, emotional, and physical welfare of people. The needs to be met may relate to efforts to correct social and moral problems that victimize people.”
WMU efforts through Project HELP are based on our concept of mission action, which includes both direct ministry and advocacy to combat the problems. Our currect Project HELP: Human Exploitation is such an effort.
Right now we in WMU need to take efforts to stand against expanded gambling seriously. How can we support government efforts to promote an industry that makes its money on the financial losses of our citizens? For state government to reap the touted tax benefits (which are overstated), it would require the citizens of Kentucky to lose millions of dollars. I do not believe the families of our state can or should afford those losses.
In WMU we need to speak out about all social and moral issues which victimize children. When adults gamble, children are often victimized. When adults use drugs, children are often neglected. When adults drink and drive, children are often hurt.
I have been approached about joining in the effort to cap the interest rates on the predatory lenders known for Payday Loans. Here are a few statistics: Data shows that Kentucky payday lenders keep borrowers indebted for 160 days a year on average, much longer that the advertised 2-week loan. Kentucky payday lenders charge $15.00 per $100 borrowed, plus additional fees every two weeks. This means payday loans carry at least a 391% APR. A typical Kentucky payday borrower was trapped in 10 payday transactions in 2010, typically taken out back-to-back, thus costing $529 in fees alone for a $317 loan. Despite marketing claims of a short term loan, payday lenders depend on these long term, repeat users. Over 90% of payday loan revenue is generated by borrowers with five or more loans a year.
If you are against the victimization of the poor through predatory payday lending, contact your state representative and urge support of a bill to cap interest rates at 36%. Learn more at: http://kyresponsiblelending.wordpress.com/
Combatting social and moral problems includes involvement in stopping human trafficking, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, pornography, and the list goes on. These problems seem overwhelming, yet WMU is a mighty army. Will we unite? Will we speak out or take the route of apathy? Will we invite speakers to our churches who can educate our people about the issues and the consequences that are at stake? Will we spend time praying for God’s intervention?
I am an absolute novice in the political world. My only foray was in 2008 to participate in a WAGE Rally. Women Against Gambling Expansion spoke up, wrote letters, and were a part of the resistance effort which has stalled expanded gambling (and don’t be fooled by the word gaming – it’s all gambling) in Kentucky. My involvement even now is not about politics. I simply go back to the foundational document for WMU, the Base Design, and see that mission action includes our efforts to correct social and moral problems. Expanded gambling will create more problems than any tax revenue it generates. Payday loans that take advantage of people create more problems for the people who need help. Expanded alcohol sales create more opportunities for alcohol abuse and drunk driving accidents.
There are a variety of web sites and other resources to help you. I would encourage you to visit the Kentucky Baptist Convention Committee on Public Affairs web site (http://www.kbcpublicaffairs.org/). There you will get updates on legislative activity, ways to respond, and links to other resources. You can also subscribe to receive updates by email.
Scripture is clear about dishonesty, greed, the victimization of the poor, and justice. Here are just a few references. There are many, many more. Proverbs 11:1 – “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 12:11 – “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” Of King Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 22:17 – “But you have eyes and heart for nothing except your own unjust gain.” Hosea 2:9 – “Woe to him who unjustly gains wealth for his house.”
Pray. Seek God in these matters. Then act. Your voice counts!