Lament and Hope: A Pan African Quad-Centennial Devotional Guide - Page 27

Policies Related to Subprime Loans (1970s to Present)
Weekly Scriptures Lessons:
First Sunday: “Treating Those in Need with Dignity” (Exodus 22:25-27)
Second Sunday: “Thou Shall Not Treat the Poor Unjustly” (Proverbs 28:8-10)
Third Sunday: “Honorable Investing in People and Community Matters” (Luke 19:12-27)
Fourth Sunday: “Advocacy With Our Policy Leaders Can Make the Difference” (Ephesians 6:12)
Biblical Reflection:
I have a large extended family. When I was younger, we gathered every Sunday at my grandmother’s house for family dinner.
It served as the place where our various identities as “Hamlins,” Christians, and Black people were reinforced and refined.
The history of capitalism, racism, and whiteness was also discussed. Our conversations were seasoned by our experiences of
gentrification in historic Black neighborhoods, the systemic stealing of land, and denial of access to programs to acquire property.
While our dinner table was often a life-giving space, it also was a place where the challenges of vulnerable and low-wealth
families were discussed. Sometimes our best responses were the wringing of hands, shouts of frustration, and prayer-filled tears.
Today all of us are wringing our hands as an astonishing number of families must confront bad financial actors in their own
communities. These actors are poised to prey on the vulnerability of these families under the guise of helping them by putting
them in cycles of debt. This is an economic vortex that devours financial independence and social hope. The desperation of
many families prevents them from understanding that many quick, convenient financial “solutions” to their car or appliance
repair needs are actually predatory lending schemes that can rob them of their ability to care for their loved ones.
Exodus presents God’s prohibition of charging excessive interest, usury, and predatory practices against the poor. Proverbs
pronounces judgment on those who structure these practices in business. Luke envisions income that may be enhanced when
invested wisely and justly. Ephesians warns of invisible systems that prohibit wealth-building among other life-giving measures.
In sum, financial gain that exploits poor and vulnerable people is inconsistent with God’s values.
Our faith is life-giving! The Savior came to give full and abundant life. Just as loving parents would never offer poisonous
food to their hungry children, we boldly demand that vulnerable families in need of credit not be offered poisonous predatory
financial products or programs.
Creating, Sustaining, and Redeeming God, we thank you for meeting us at the intersection of suffering and hope to proclaim a
future of hope and prosperity. Help us see the hidden institutions, policies, and powers that are barriers to the wealth-building
of families. Give us hands to feed and clothe those caught in debt traps, minds that create policies to end systemic evil, and feet
that do not grow weary as we advocate until it happens. Amen
Reflection Questions:
Week 1: How do we find solidarity with communities of color targeted by payday lenders? What voting and legislative
strategies can eliminate this?
Week 2: How have you seen governmental leaders complicit with predatory lending? What other tactics can draw attention
to this?
Week 3: What are barriers to strengthening the financial capacity of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and
their students? Despite limited financial resources, what are their many returns on investment?
Week 4: What systemic realities affect affordable housing today? What are remedies to the uneven mortgage field?
Rev. Sekinah Hamlin is director of faith affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending and former director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative.
Bread for the World


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