Pastor, Zion Mennonite Church
Zion Mennonite Church, Elbing, has established the Zion Financial Assistance Program, a ministry that offers small, interest-free loans to assist people who need short-term financial assistance.
This program was established because the rising costs of living, especially the costs of food and fuel, are creating a “missing class,” people who are falling through the cracks in the economy because their incomes are shrinking and they do not have the resources to meet unforeseen expenses. They don’t have the money to pay for such expenses as utility bills, car repairs, children’s school activities, or medical bills. They need financial assistance to relieve the tension on family budgets that already are stressed.
The “missing class” is a growing segment of our society. We don’t know how fast it is growing, but one indicator of the growth of the “missing class” is the growth of the short-term loan companies in our economy. They are the fastest growing segment of the financial industry in the U.S., and they seem to be doing well in our surrounding counties. Their annual interest rates are as high as 391 percent, a rate that earns them $1,955.00 on a $500 loan. They usher a growing number of people into the missing class.
Our society seems to have few alternatives to address the financial needs of the missing class. Banks should be a good resource, but most of them do not make loans of less than $500; some banks have minimum loans of $1,000 or $2,000. Credit cards are another alternative, but most of the people in the missing class have met the limits on their credit cards, which also have fairly high rates of interest.
The Zion Financial Assistance program is an effort to prevent more people from becoming part of the missing class. It is designed for people who desire to assist other people as the program assists them. The people who benefit from it assist other people by repaying the loans, without interest, to provide money for other people who need it.
If anyone needs financial assistance and desires to commit themselves to helping other people, they should call Zion Mennonite Church, 316-799-2071, ask for Bruce Bradshaw. All inquiries and support are confidential.