Jason and I had one of THOSE discussions last night… yes that topic that no one ever talks about… MONEY! And our conversation left me pondering the topic further today…
The topic came up because we went to visit a friend here in Numbulwar (she is the only other white mum with a baby in town) who commented on the fact that many local ladies had been asking her for money. She also showed several paintings and baskets that she had bought from local craftspeople. It was mentioned that one local aldy in particular had visited her asking for help to get a car loan from the bank. The topic changed and on our visit went.
But later that evening Jason and I were pondering this issue further… we have lots of questions but not so many answers….
What should we do when people ask us for money?
Should we give people money, when they do have enough money to live on, but have spent it on sound systems or televisions?
What do we do about the mother and child who come asking for money, because their husband has spent whatever money they had on alcohol, drugs or gambling?
What can we do about the husbands who do nothing all day, while their wives work to earn money, but then they spend it all?
Two of the ladies my friend mentioned are church ladies that we know quite well. One of whom has a job and earns a good salary, the other doesn’t. We often talk about the fact that working with MAF we have the opportunity to live in this community and share life with our indigenous brothers and sisters. But to be honest, the circumstances of life here for our friends and neighbours often seem so overwhelming that we wonder how we could ever make a difference. But perhaps this is one of way we can make a difference by challenging some of the ideas about money and how it is spent with those friends we have.
Handling money is something that needs to be taught. Our use of it is influenced by our parents, our spouses and any teaching we’ve had on the subject from school, church and other sources. If all you have ever seen in your life is the idea that money is there to be spent on what you want, then how would you even comprehend another way? Our indigenous brothers and sisters have been given all the benefits of our cash driven society, but not any of the education that needs to accompany it. In Numbulwar we have a bank, at least 3 atms, credit cards, basic cards, salaries for jobs, Centrelink payments, but where is there teaching given about the cost of living, budgets, saving, needs vs wants etc.
I remember one day in ym Year 12 Bible class having a discussion about money and what the Gospel of Luke had to say on the topic. Some how we sidetracked and I was telling them about how Jason and I manage our money, how we use different bank accounts for different purposes, what we do about tithing, how we make sure there is enough money for essentials, extras and savings. For me it was one of the most meaningful lessons I ever taught as this group of 17/18 year old Christians looked at me in amazement commenting that no one had ever discussed this topic with them in detail before.
As ususal, this blog has no huge revelations or answers to change the world… but perhaps it has reminded me that we need to talk about money with each other. We need to be willing to discuss it even if it is uncomrtable and threatening. Why do we find it so? I think because like a quote I once read said, your bank account is a good indicator of your heart and priorities… and that is a convicting thought. So maybe we need to be willing to think, pray and talk with others about our finances… not just here in Numbulwar but everywhere. But I think we also need to stop and consider what the Bible suggests about how to use our money and resources in a God honouring way, and share what we’ve learned with others.