As many of you may already know, a big obstacle I needed to overcome before I moved to Botswana was paying off a good amount of personal debt – $17,000 dollars, in fact. If you’ve been paying attention to my fundraising journey at all, you’d realize that the amount of debt I owed was actually more than (and on top of) the amount of money I needed to raise ($14,000) in order to spend a year on the mission field.
About a year ago was when I first met with my missions pastor to discuss my desire to go into the mission field. One of the very first things she asked me was, “Do you have any personal debt?” I, of course, shamefully, had to say yes. It was a big “ouchie moment” for me, and at first, it really discouraged me and began to make me reconsider going to the mission field at all. What was I thinking? I couldn’t afford to do this. This is impossible. Raising $14,000 AND paying off $17,000 of debt is impossible. I can’t do this! Or so I thought…
I began to pray, and within the course of a week, God began to change my heart and renew my mind. Romans 12:2 talks about this: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Spend enough time with God, and you’ll get on the same page with Him. When you’re on the same page with Him, you’ll have the ability to filter through your thoughts, desires, and intentions – then you’ll know with full certainty what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
After a week of focused prayer, the Holy Spirit flipped this switch inside of me and I began to get really angry. It was a good kind of anger. I got angry at the fact that I was spending a good majority of my life for the past several years working for the purpose of making payments to my creditors. The Bible talks about this in Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” In a very real sense, I was a slave to my debt. I didn’t want to be a slave anymore. I had been a slave for so many years, and now this financial bondage was keeping me from pursuing what I believed God was calling me to do – this was the realization that really ticked me off. I wasn’t going to live this way anymore. I was DONE.
I decided that I was going to do whatever I needed to do in order to pay off my debt. I would sacrifice whatever I needed to sacrifice. I counted the cost, and I knew it was going to be a very humbling process. For starters, I had to admit that I really had no idea how to manage money. Around this time, I had some good friends invite me to take a money management class at their church called Financial Peace University created by a man named Dave Ramsey. Long story short, this class and Dave Ramsey became the impetus for my debt-free journey, and ultimately, my ticket to the mission field, as well as a newfound financial freedom.
For the past 10 months, I’ve worked like a crazy woman. I delivered newspapers and pizzas. I babysat, pet sat, house sat, and babysat some more. I averaged about 2-4 hours of sleep every night and my social life was pretty much nonexistent. It was the hardest I had ever worked in my life. There were so many times I wasn’t sure I could (or wanted to) make it through another day of this crazy, intense season of my life.
But I didn’t give up. Man, was it hard, but I’m so happy to tell you that I am 100% completely DEBT-FREE!!! I paid off $17,000 in 10 months! I also more than doubled my income and charitable giving from last year, and have raised over 60% of my funding to spend a year on the mission field. I’ve learned that if God can trust you with little, He will trust you with more.
Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to celebrate my “debt-freeness” by doing my “debt-free scream” live on The Dave Ramsey Show. For those of you who are not familiar with Dave Ramsey or Financial Peace University, it’s a tradition for graduates of the class to either call in to his radio show or visit his studio in Nashville to scream “I’m debt-free!” live on the radio. Getting to meet Dave and share my story on his show was such a rewarding experience and the perfect ending to this long, hard journey.
I am a slave no more.
For those of you who missed listening to me on the radio yesterday, below is a link to an audio clip of my segment on The Dave Ramsey Show. I hope my story will inspire some to pursue the desires God has put on your heart.