Aaron and Jennifer Smith got married in 2007 and headed straight to Africa to serve in missions. Their ministry took them from Africa to Florida and then Canada, where they heard about Dave Ramsey from a friend who was working to get out of debt.
They never got sucked into credit card debt or car payments, but they did have Aaron’s student loan debt looming—a tough thing to face while living on a few hundred dollars a month from supporters. They deferred payments for a year, but they eventually had to begin sending that $200 check every month, an amount they could barely afford.
“We felt a huge call from God for us to head back home to California and become debt-free and get out of that bondage so that we could move anywhere as missionaries and survive.”
So, they left the mission field, knowing it would only be a matter of time until they could re-enter it without the burden of debt. They rented cheap, got full-time jobs, and even started a photography business together, and in two years, they paid off the full $19,000! Check out their time-lapse, debt-free video on YouTube!
They became active leaders in their church and were free to do ministry in a whole new way—leading couples in marriage ministry, facilitating a small group in their home, and serving on the missionary team at their church.
This is a couple who was doing Kingdom work together from the start of their relationship. Find out from them why being debt-free really is a big deal:
Why do you think being debt-free really matters?
We believe being debt-free is so important for following Christ, because we have the freedom to serve others around the world without limits—without the burden or worry of being slave to a lender. Our motivating force for being debt-free was commanded in Romans 13:8! Being debt-free will allow us to travel and do missionary work wherever God calls us, living at minimal costs, without the burden of sending our paychecks to a lender.
What would you tell someone who’s in debt but who wants to do more ministry?
We would encourage others that God calls his people to be debt-free. We always promote Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University because it's a realistic and applicable strategy to eradicate debt. Testimonies are a huge persuader, so we will always share our story of what little we did under the bondage of debt compared to the great things we are doing free of debt.
What does “Lead Without Limits” mean to you?
My wife and I are mission-minded ambassadors of the gospel. Leading without limits means that we can lead the gospel into every nation in the world, across any border and within any class of society. We will not be hindered or slowed down by the slavery of debt and the weight of its burden. Leading without limits to us means traveling the world "unhinged," yielding to the Holy Spirit’s direction. If God calls us somewhere, we are ready.
What could the people of God do for the kingdom of God if they were debt-free?
We can envision a body of believers with selfless attitudes looking out for each other as a family and ready at every opportunity to further the kingdom of God. If a congregation were debt-free, they would have fully funded missions spreading the gospel, local needy families having needs met, and cities being rocked by an outpouring of love from the church. The Bible says not to conform to this world, so when the world is full of debt, shouldn't Christians be not of this world by being debt-free?
Biblical stewardship is seriously lacking in many churches. It’s a subject most have tried to avoid at all costs! Dave Ramsey has created a program called Momentum to help bring people back to God’s view of money management. Learn more now.