Volunteer spreads biblical finance

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Ray Louth regularly visits eight ARC locations, teaching wise money management.  

One volunteer regularly visits eight Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) across Southern California, teaching the biblical principles of personal finance to participants of The Salvation Army’s cost-free, biblically based six-month program to overcome addiction.

Ray Louth studied business management and worked as a collections manager at a lending institution following college, which eventually led him to this volunteer role.

“I saw firsthand how debt can bring stress into a person’s life,” Louth said of his time supervising a team of people who collected on past due loans.

When he took a Crown Ministry financial course at his church, learning the biblical principles of handling money, he said knew he had discovered his passion at the intersection of faith and finance. Over the last 15 years, he has led the course at five Southern California churches and was introduced to a new avenue of ministry through the Army while recovering from a surgery.

A friend of Louth’s and employee of The Salvation Army, Leroy Thieme, visited Louth who shared that he was looking for new volunteer opportunities to teach the biblical financial principles he learned through Crown Ministry.

“His teaching is focused on what the Bible says about money, which is a great skill to have as everyone has to handle money,” said Thieme, director of finance for the ARC Command in the West. “Money problems could be a trigger to relapse for many of our ARC graduates, but if they have these biblical principles in hand then that’s one less thing to threaten their recovery.”

Louth presented the principles and the benefits to those in rehabilitation to a regional meeting of ARC leaders

“I told the leaders how God’s word shows us why it is important to stay out of debt, save for the future, be a responsible, hard working employee and be generous in giving to God’s work,” Louth said. He now teaches at the ARCs in San Diego, Anaheim, Long Beach, Pasadena, Riverside, Canoga Park, Santa Monica and Bakersfield.

“I think it is important for the beneficiaries—and everyone—to learn biblical principles of handling money because it teaches us to be good stewards of our money, and the Bible shows us why,” said Major Brian West, administrator of the Canoga Park ARC. “I value these classes because we all can learn that a steward is a manager and God is the owner.”

It’s an important lesson, West said, as the men and women engaged in the ARC program have had problems in the past in how they handle personal finances—and many have never had instruction in wise money management.

“The class teaches them financial disciplines so they know the difference between ‘what they essentially need’ or ‘what they just want and desire,’” West said, noting that after every class participants stay to ask questions. “I hope that the men and women in the ARCs across the region will grab hold of the principles of saving, not getting in debt, not co-signing loans, and many other principles that Ray presents in his seminar so they can become ‘wonderful servants’ of our God.”

A number of Louth’s students have graduated from the ARC, and contacted him later to share their progress.

“I investing in these people so that they can turn their lives around is so worth it, Louth said. “I consider it a great privilege to serve God through a great organization like The Salvation Army.”

Look for a series of columns on the biblical principles of personal finance by Ray Louth in upcoming issues of New Frontier Chronicle.

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