September 21, 2017
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a woman and a lost coin:
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
For years, Mario Brathwaite read that parable and thought, “Yeah…that’s not me.”
Victoria and Mario Brathwaite have been married for 29 years and FPU grads for about five.
Never mind that the parable is actually about God’s tireless love for sinners. It’s the financial aspect that needles Mario. “I’d be the opposite of the woman with the lost coin,” he says. “I’m more inclined to think, ‘It’s one coin. I have others. There’s more coming with the next paycheck. And anyway, it will turn up eventually.”
That was before Mario enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at Galilee. Dave Ramsey is a popular radio host with the heart of a teacher, who shows ordinary folks how to deal with money like it matters…spiritually.
Mario explains, “When I enrolled in FPU five years ago, I realized that instead of being a good steward of my resources, I buried my money in purchases that added no value to my life or to the lives of others.”
A new session of FPU begins on September 24. Click here for info.
Mario isn’t the only Brathwaite who took to Dave Ramsey’s Bible-based financial advice. His wife Victoria also enrolled in FPU, about a year after Mario. “I liked it,” says Victoria of the class that teaches the importance of both generosity and staying out of debt. “Even if we don’t do a monthly budget as carefully as we should, the class helped prioritize the things we spend money on.”
For the Brathwaites, “priority” means family and faith.
Mario and Victoria met at Uniondale High School on Long Island in the 80s. Victoria was involved in church at the time, while Mario and his family had pretty much stopped going to Episcopal services. Yet Mario recalls, “My mother sometimes watched “The Hour of Power,” Dr. Robert Schuller’s televised worship service. Generally, I was in the room or nearby when that was on.” The then-high schoolers hit it off and were married in 1988. They began attending church together and started thinking about a family of their own.
In the 1990s, they moved to Northern Virginia and arrived at Galilee in 1996. “Galilee is a warm and inviting church,” says Victoria. “We have had struggles that without our church family would have been difficult to get through.”
“Northern Virginia is an interesting place,” thinks Mario. “Money is our answer for most things. NoVA residents are more willing to open their checkbooks than roll up their sleeves! Family life is tough here. Two working parents, long commutes, kids in extracurricular activities. None of that leaves much of a family time. The work-life balance definitely swings more toward work.”
That’s one reason why church has been important to the Brathwaites.
Tim (16), Nate (20), Victoria, and Olivia (18). Mario is a professional photographer, so he’s often behind the camera.
“I enjoy Galilee, as does my family,” says Mario. “When we began here, we had all our kids in the preschool. They also went to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I’ve gone on satisfying mission trips and Victoria is involved with the choir and Bible studies. Our oldest kids went on mission trips, too, and made friends they retain. These days, my youngest is usually sitting next to me in the pew each Sunday morning.”
Then, of course, there is Financial Peace University. Mario has just re-upped for a refresher course that begins on Sunday, September 24.
“The class is great. It teaches you basic skills that you need to get your finances under control. If you’re like me, you never received any real training in running your own finances. This course gives you techniques and confidence that helps you remember the reason why getting your money under control is so important: so you can do good for others.”
Mario stood up in front of the church a few weeks ago to explain why he was excited about an FPU refresher. “I’m taking the course again for a number of reasons. First, I learned a lot of great practices when I took the class five years ago. Did I hold on to all of them? No–that’s why this is a refresher. Second, Dave Ramsey and the course facilitators offer a number of simple tools that really help take the fear out of money.”
What NoVA needs: more family time, less time worrying about money.
“But those aren’t the real reasons why I’m returning to Financial Peace,” Mario explains. “The fundamental reason is that I want to be a better steward of the gifts that have been given to me. I want to strengthen my financial skills to do what I should be doing: easing the struggles of others and bringing a little joy into the world.”
“Getting control of your finances can be done. I can’t say that it’s easy, but it is doable. The steps are straight forward. Work the plan and things will work out.”