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The 700 Club

Credit Crisis to Financial Freedom  

Cheryl Wilcox - 700 Club Producer

Michael, an educator, and Sandy, a case manager for the disabled, met on a Christian singles website. They hit it off and fell in love. A year later, in 2010, they married! It was a long-hoped-for first for them both. And along with that hope, the Cromwell's dreamed of something else…

Michael says, "Now, another part of the American dream, you know, was owning a home."

Sandy says, "I wanted to host Thanksgiving dinner! That was something that was really important to me; all my family over, have some space to do that."

Michael remembers, "We definitely prayed about it. We asked God to lead us in the right direction, and the first thing we started doing was going to lenders."

With a combined debt of over 40,000 dollars, they didn't qualify for a home loan. Michael's student loans were part of it. However, they both had racked up credit card debt in college.

Sandy remembers, "I jumped on the bandwagon. I was like, ‘oh, yeah, credit cards, free money.’ I got a couple of credit cards, maxed them out."

Michael says, "I did not save. It all went to what I wanted to do, having fun, partying, sometimes I could barely pay my rent.”

Sandy says: "And then it was like 'oh, you got to pay this stuff back.' It's really not free money."

Michael recalls: "If a credit card bill came, I wouldn't necessarily pay it or pay it on time." 

Michael was a newspaper reporter when he turned his life over to Christ. Later while serving in the Army, he began tithing and reading the Bible, going to church, and watching Christian TV.  

Michael remembers: "Pat was, he was a part of that."

Pat Robertson on The 700 Club: "In Malachi, God is speaking through the prophets and says: 'bring your tithe into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house and see and prove me this day if I don't open the windows of heaven' …look at that, 'and pour you out a blessing until it overflows' '…

Sandy knew about tithing from her mother and grandfather, a Baptist minister. Yet, out on her own and in credit card debt – she believed she couldn't afford to tithe.

Sandy says, "My mindset was I needed to pay my bills first and then give to God if there was anything left over."

That cycle lasted into Sandy's mid-thirties.

Sandy recalls, "And I just felt like something needed to change because my circumstances were not changing. I was still behind in my debts. I was like, 'I need to trust God'. You know, He's been in my life all these years. So, I started tithing… first fruits. I would, you know, do my 10%, then I would pay my bills."

By the time they married, they were both committed tithers, and they'd stopped credit card spending. However, their mediocre credit scores and an old judgement on Michael's credit history was why they were denied the home loan.

Michael remembers, "It was embarrassing, you know, to me. Because I felt like I was bringing Sandy down because of my financial situation."

Sandy recalls, "But, we decided we would continue to pray and continue to tithe and try to get our debt down."

Michael also started giving to CBN.  Michael says, "The CBN stories that deal with medical missions; children born with cleft palates, CBN goes into their communities, and they have doctors that help to repair that, and that's very heartwarming, very touching to me and very valuable to spreading the Gospel to helping other people because they can learn about the Gospel if you go and help them."

Another year passed as they budgeted and paid off more debt. 

Sandy says: "So that kind of helped our credit score go up."

Then Sandy met a realtor at a Bible study who put her in touch with a new lender.  

Sandy recalls: "He saw places where things were paid off or closer to pay off, and God was looking out."

Right at that time, Michael was promoted from a part-time online college instructor to a full-time educator. With Michael's increased income, his credit judgement removed, and with  50% of their debt paid off – they were approved for a VA loan. The Cromwell's were able to move into their own home!   

Sandy remembers shouting: " 'Thank you, Jesus!' I was saying that a lot, just being grateful that God does provide like we actually saw that."

Michael says: "I couldn't have gotten the house without the job. It was definitely a result of giving in every way, financially, my allegiance and devotion to the Lord, showing where my heart is for Him."

Sandy states: "If we had stopped tithing, you know, I feel like we still would have been in the-the same vicious cycle, probably still would have been in that same little apartment, still spinning our wheels and trying to pay down our debt."

Now, their old consumer debt is nearly paid off. In 2021, Sandy got a supervisory promotion along with a 10,000 dollar raise. So now, their combined annual income is 25,000 dollars more than when they first married.

Sandy says: "God totally helped us be wiser with our money, by instilling tithing and continuing to pray and being faithful to Him."

Michael says: "You can have security and stability, financially and otherwise, in a world that does not have those things if you devote your life to the Lord."

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