If you have been in Christian circles, you surely have heard of Dave Ramsey. He is not without controversy, people say you either love him or despise him. Dave Ramsey is the developer of Financial Peace University (FPU), a bible rooted program leading people to overcome their debt, live on a budget and begin saving. FPU is a 10 week class that gives participants a better understanding of their debt and how to overcome its chain. The other special thing that FPU does is it gives the participants community and accountability. FPU has been a big part of our story and how we make decisions. We started our journey with FPU about ten years ago, and the freedom we gained allowed us a clear path to confidently start on our missions journey. God has been preparing us in every aspect of our lives, and our finances were no exception. But for me, God used this particular FPU class for a few other reasons
When we first arrived in Florida and became involved with Lifebridge Church, I (Jesse) wanted to get plugged in. There was an FPU class starting up, so I asked about helping to co-coordinate. In addition to this being a chance to serve, I wanted to go through the class again. I felt like having a refresher on the key ideas would be beneficial as our family moved into a new season of living on support. God worked in some amazing ways through the class. I made some wonderful connections with our new church community and grew in my understanding of a global concept of money. Our class was filled with people of many different cultural backgrounds. Out of about 20 people, around 15 were internationals. There were also several people who were Americans but were returning from living overseas. Immediately I knew that this class was going to be different, as this collective life experience was much different than my own. Over the course of the class, my eyes were open to the misconceptions people have coming into the US about money. Many of them were misled (often unintentionally) by people who were helping them assimilate into American culture about the US financial system. For example, people were told that they should buy (exorbitantly) on credit to establish their credit score, even if they could not afford the costs. Some of my classmates came from cultures that had no credit system, so this idea was foreign and confusing. Being subjected to all the new “American culture” was hard enough, and compounded by their new consumer debt burden. This was eye opening to me as to how I could also be targeted when we get to France as a “new immigrant” in a foreign land. What pitfalls await us that we cannot currently see?
Another memorable part of the class was when one couple who had been long-time US residents, Eduardo & Katia, became citizens. Their immigration process culminated in tandem with the FPU class, so we were able to celebrate with them in “real time” during the 10 weeks. Their testimony about how God had a hand on their life with their move to the US really touched me. They talked about how they struggled with their identity as Brazilians who now identify as Americans, the strain on their extended family, and the heartbreak that comes with being so physically distant from family. They are loving their life here, and finally being accepted as Americans. Watching them in this process gave me a deeper appreciation of how my family is so familiar with life in the States and will be stepping into the foreigner role in France. I imagined how I would feel as they shared about their journey’s ups and downs. Watching the collective excitement of our class was inspiring as they made this significant life transition as Americans.
The class also gave me a front row seat in seeing God work in a job transition. The main coordinator, Eric, decided to make an unexpected job change. Eric is a very calculated guy. It is out of character for him to do anything unplanned. Watching him decide to quit his job without a safety net was an amazing testament to his faith. He didn’t know how God was going to use him, but I encouraged him that he had done the right thing. Within a few weeks God opened some unexpected doors, and he ended up landing a much better job than he had previously. The only way to describe the events would be divine intervention, God had a plan for him. It was great to watch him make this transition gracefully with the power of the Holy spirit.
Being a part of this FPU class was God softening my heart for this upcoming transition. I had the idea that it would be a time to refocus on our finances, but He put the group together with other intentions. Watching others navigate their cultural changes gave me a better respect for the upcoming changes when we leave the United States for France.