GUEST COLUMN
Debt Relief the Cyrenian Way

June 2002By A. Cyrenian

A. Cyrenian (a pseudonym) is a computer engineer in southern California, and has practiced this Project himself, giving small interest-free loans to several families. He is a frequent contributor to FaithandConscience.com.

On the road to Calvary, Jesus, having been scourged and crowned with thorns, struggled as He was forced to carry His cross. Eventually, the Romans enlisted the help of Simon of Cyrene to help carry the cross. While Simon did not take Christ’s burden away, he did lighten the load in a very real way. This is the idea behind what I call the Cyrenian Economic Project.

The Cyrenian Economic Project is not really a project at all, but an idea that tries to marry biblical admonitions to care for our fellow man with a non-standard approach to aid those in need. While it is best suited to be practiced by the wealthy, it could be utilized to a lesser extent by anyone who can afford to risk a given amount of money.

We have all read reports of the staggering amount of debt being carried by individuals in our society. Since undergoing some preliminary investigation in connection with the “Project,” I tend to believe these reports may, if anything, understate the problem. In many cases, people have reached the point where, at best, they can only “tread water” and never make any substantial progress toward reducing the debt, because their debt often incurs exorbitant interest payments.

One solution often tried, but not always successful, is to use the services of a debt consolidation organization. These groups negotiate with creditors for lower interest rates and try to consolidate loans so that the interest payments are lessened and the debtors can finally dig themselves out of the hole they are in. The Cyrenian approach takes debt consolidation one step further. Instead of negotiating with creditors, a Cyrenian takes a personal approach and replaces part or all of the current debt by lending the debtor money out of his own pocket at an unbeatable interest rate — nothing.


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