Sunday, April 19, 2009

Town Hall For Hope

This Thursday, along with over 6,000 other venues nationwide, we'll be hosting a live feed of financial advisor and media personality Dave Ramsey's Town Hall For Hope. This event is entirely free! And it is sure to be one of the most inspiring experiences of your life related to money.

If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey, you're simply missing out. He is doing the kind of work that I wish more Christians were--occupying "secular" space in the public square and bringing to it an informed, competent, practical, uncompromising, compelling Christian voice. Both his radio program (6:00pm, 970 WKHM) and his TV show (8:00pm & midnight, Fox Business Network) focus on the financial questions, problems, and needs of all kinds of people. Dave listens to the questions with patience and compassion and answers them with a clear, no-nonsense message that is rooted in biblical principles.

While Dave is unabashedly Christian (his signature sign-off for each hour includes the injunction: "And remember, the only way to financial peace is to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus"), he is not a Bible-thumper or a blowhard. He understands that he has an audience with a diverse spectrum of beliefs, and his goal is to help each one of them, but he does so always using sound, biblical financial principles. While his answers and comments are always consistent with scripture, he only occasionally makes the conection explicit for his audience because his show is not intended to be a biblical studies class. And yet his audience knows clearly where Dave is coming from.

One of Dave's great strengths is to bring a calm head to any financial situation--whether a caller is struggling under mountains of credit card debt or simply wanting to know the best way to diversify their portfolio. He has a clear, easy-to-understand, practical way of explaining finances that ordinary people can understand. He's funny and engaging. And, perhaps more importantly, he gives people a roadmap to travel by, empowering them to make good financial decisions and imparting hope that they can actually get to their desired destination.

In Jackson, there is a great deal of economic struggle, and this has been our condition for some time. The recent national/global recession has only intensified our local one. Unemployment in our county is now at 12.7%; statewide unemployment is 10%, highest in the nation. The daily news about the auto industry leaves little optimism that anything is likely to change here for the better soon. And yet each one of us has the power to make our own decisions and chart our own direction. Even in today's economic climate, there are things that each of us can do to take charge of our financial present and future--regardless of what our past experience has been.

All of this is why I'm so glad to be able to bring The Town Hall For Hope to our community. We are an area in need of hope. Each of us are surrounded by neighbors and friends and family in need of hope. All of us need to be reminded of our ultimate hope, which rests in Christ. This is yet another opportunity for us to trigger a dramatic reaction between our neighbors and Christ in a fusion of real needs and real love.

I want to urge each of you to carve out a little bit of time on Thursday evening to attend this nationwide event. I'd encourage you to also bring someone with you that you think may benefit from a message of hope and encouragement. Let's bring hope to Jackson!

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