May 20, 2019

He Paid The Debt They Would Have Had to Pay

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This is a great story.

Billionaire tech investor, Robert F Smith, took the opportunity as commencement speaker at Moorehouse College in the US, to calmly wipe the student debt of every student he was addressing.

All 400 students. All $58 million of their debt.  Just like that.

As a black leader in the US, addressing the all male, black membership college, Smith then urged the stunned, then euphoric, then emotional crowd that he was giving it the opportunity to use that freedom from debt for the good of others in the community, and help another generation of students as well.

Here’s how Smith broke the news, at the ceremony in which he himself was receiving an honorary doctorate:

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

Cue gasps!

Smith then said that he expected the graduating class of 2019 “to pay it forward.”

Because we are enough to take care of our own community, we are enough to ensure that we have all the opportunities of the American dream. And we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds.

That’s just got the whiff of the gospel all over it, doesn’t it?  Deficit forgiven so that we can not only forgive the deficit of others, but so that we can add to the good.

How does that big “gospel” announcement look on the ground?  Associated Press reports one student, Aaron Mitchom calculated that he had a 25 year debt to pay off for his degree; a degree that had been financed by eight members of his family taking turns to guarantee loans for him to finish.

And just like the root of the gospel produces the ongoing, and exponential, fruit of the gospel, so too this particular good news.  College president David Thomas put it like this:

“Many of my students are interested in going into teaching, for example, but leave with an amount of student debt that makes that untenable. In some ways, it was a liberation gift for these young men that just opened up their choices.”

Freed up to serve others in ways that will transform lives down the line for generations to come.  Imagine young black men being role models for their education communities who, prior to that debt cancellation, would have been forced to give teaching a wide berth.

When you throw a gospel stone into a pond the ripples can go beyond what we could ever  expect.  And if that can happen when a financial debt that would have taken twenty five years to pay off is wiped clean, imagine what can happen when a debt that we can never pay is wiped clean by the One who has eternal wealth beyond measure!

There’s a gospel “therefore” right there, isn’t there?



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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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