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A spiritual approach to money

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“It was a fantastic experience. The group of 14 people wound up giving $40,000 to five organizations dealing with poverty around the world,” says Mako Nagasawa, of InterVarsity Campus Ministry. He and Gary Vanderpol, a Boston pastor, initiated the program, and worked with BFJN to offer it to churches in the area.

For Jo Hunter Adams and her husband, Eugene, the small-group experience brought remarkable results in their own lives along with an increased capacity to give.

“Creating our first budget and sharing it with the group really helped us. We didn’t buy anything we didn’t need, and we didn’t eat out,” says Ms. Adams, a public health worker. “We stayed away from ‘lifestyle inflation.’ ”

Instead of moving into a larger apartment as they had planned, Adams and her husband remained where they were.

As a result, the couple managed over the year to reduce the $50,000 they had in student loans to only $3,000. “It was miraculous!” she says.

A step in the process that really opened her eyes, she adds, was checking their financial position in the global economy on the website, After entering their annual income, she learned that they were among the top 0.7 percent in the world. While she had always thought she could give time and energy to good causes but not much money, “now I see I can give a lot of money, actually,” she says.

What she most appreciates, however, is being able to live her Christian values more consistently. "I tended to think that being saved was the most important thing. Now I’m more interested in reflecting God’s love as much as possible,” she says. “And God wants us to be involved in dealing with poverty and justice.”

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