Challenge Weekly Publisher's Letter

Home Ownership

Publisher's Letter - John Massam

Challenge Weekly 9 March 2009, Vol 67, Iss 8, page 2

The world is struggling with the issue of debt, with governments seeking to solve the financial meltdown by making unprecedented advances to companies and banks in crisis.  How easy it is to get into debt.  A signature on a piece of paper and a debt is secured against you and all you own.  The borrower is truly servant to the lender and that, particularly for the uninitiated, can easily develop into a form of modern day slavery.

You work hard to get your own home.  It is in your name.  You pay the rates, insurance, maintenance but the bank effectively is the owner.  This is alright in good times but so different when things go sour.  Tough times arrive for us all when we least need or expect it, which is when we need help.  Because it is so easy for families to fall to bits under financial pressure there are groups offering to help and doing a great job.

But rather than just being an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff we should be laying good foundations for strong marriages and healthy families.  Every marriage needs a place to live, call your own, call home.

The government, and rightly so, provides houses for those who struggle.  That some abuse this privilege should never deter our community from caring for those who need help.

But what about those closest to us, our families and neighbours.  Something that Christians should be committed to, having clear goals and ways to fulfil them.  A church in Rotorua sets a goal for its members.  It encourages tithing but it also has emblazoned on the wall of the sanctuary, "100% Home owners, 100% Debt free, 100% Kingdom".  A goal that every family should set for their children and every church for its members.

We must applaud and support groups who are providing a helping hand for families to own their own home debt free, giving a help-up and not a hand-out.  It starts with families who provide security or interest free loans for the children.  These arrangements must ensure that the children are helped and not beholden to their respective parents, particularly when one set of parents is better endowed than the other.

Alongside this, it is exciting to read of the success of Liberty Trust, encouraging saving and providing interest free loans.  Interest is a killer.  It is a double whammy.  The home owner pays interest with money that has already been taxed.  The Liberty Trust loans are not only interest free but are provided by a supportive lender, which gives great comfort.

Groups like Habitat for Humanity are providing the same sort of help in a different way.  Getting alongside people who would never be able to build their own home and working with them to make this possible and then mentoring them afterwards.  Let us join together to set people free.