Getting Out of Debt
By D. A. Sharpe
Our Pastor at Canal Street Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Rev. Dr. Robert A. Pitman, had had significant impact on the spiritual life upon which Suzanne and I embarked early in our marriage. He and my father had jointly conducted our marriage ceremony September 30, 1962. In the summer of 1965, Pitman took a call to be Pastor at the Casa Linda Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas.
Being a solo Pastor there, he began search for an associate pastor to be a Youth Pastor at Casa Linda Church. His search among ordained pastors did not yield a choice. Since our service at Canal Street Church was serving as lay Directors of High School Ministry, he invited us to Dallas to consider being called into full time ministry. This was in September 1966. A position I served at Canal Street Church included being Clerk of Session (the chief non-staff administrative manager of the Elders of the church). Pitman couched the purpose of our visit as my being the keynote speaker for an Officer Retreat for his Elders at Casa Linda for training.
The weekend was successful and a pleasant experience for Suzanne and me. Soon thereafter, a call to professional association was offered, and we began the spiritual exploration was to whether this was God’s direction in our lives.
Early on, we realized the employment offer was compensation approximately half of what was my income at IBM. Even though we imagined being able to live on that amount, what became evident was the matter of debt. Our income had been such that we had felt free to exercise the use of debt, keeping a new car every couple of years, keeping credit card debt balances rolling forward, etc.
Searching for God’s will took us to Romans 13:8, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another….” Immediately we realized we’d led an economic life that hemmed us in from being free to respond spiritually to any calling not necessarily as prosperous as what we’d lived.
Our determination was that we were being taught to get out of debt, and that was the purpose of our Dallas encounter. We declined the Dallas offer, and gave them our appreciation and blessings.
The first thing we saw was that our residence was on a bus line that went directly to my office at IBM, and that my position was not one requiring a car. We immediately sold out eight-month-old financed car in January 1967 to be rid of its debt, and I began riding the bus to work. We did the same to go to grocery stores, etc., as well as to church.
Another ministry activity in which we were involved at Canal Street Church was with our Associate Pastor, the Rev. Mr. William Joseph Brown, who was starting an Inner-City Ministry for our church to reach people in what was called the Irish Channel, an area that could be described a New Orleans slum. The constituency of that ministry evolved mostly African American teenagers (trending toward getting into trouble) and to white adults with criminal records or backgrounds, or even in current criminal activity. At one point, Suzanne and I developed a leading that we were to reside in the Irish Chanel to be among the people.
There was another young couple at Canal Street Church who also had interests in the ministry. We found a 16-room Classic Greek Revival architrave home constructed in 1866! In May of 1966, Dr. Joseph A. Snead and his lovely bride, Charlotte, purchased that home at 1619 Prytania Street, and proceeded to convert it into a duplex! Not long after that, Pastor Brown and his family (Mark Lou and their three children) rented a similar large old home in which to reside. We were beginning to build a community there. Soon, two single men joined the staff of Trinity Christian Community (the new name of this ministry), and they resided down there as well.
This evolvement and development spiritually in our lives had a main element to be the conviction to be out of debt! We lived and worked down there till 1972, when we moved to Saint Louis. My full time Christian work on the TCC staff began in January 1970.
This photo is in 2017 with our son, Taylor, myself and Pitman
Though we did use debt for homes in New Orleans, Saint Louis and Dallas, we stayed away from the credit card type of debt, etc. We managed our financial lives in such a way as to be able to retire in 2004, purchasing a retirement home in 1999 and having no dept. We have never had any debt this century!
We attribute that ability to avoid debt with our conviction and practice not only of tithing 10% of our income to whatever was our local church, but giving over-and-above to other ministries with whom we felt led to be supporting partners.
In our “retirement” years, our schedule is as full as ever with voluntary choices of time management, which includes centering our life in our home church, Eagle Mountain International Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Their teaching of the Bible’s word is strong and consistent, and the matter of God’s prosperity for us and the expectation of avoiding debt is a value with convincing emphasis. Pastors George and Terri Pearsons, along with the other dozen pastors on the staff all present convincing proclamations about the spiritual admonition of staying out of debt. We like it and we follow it with enduring faith!
That is why we exhort all friends to consider a debt-free life!
Dwight Albert (D. A.) Sharpe
With Suzanne, my wife
805 Derting Road East
Aurora, TX 76078-3712
Who is D. A. Sharpe?