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California quake

"California quake" Continued...

Issue: "Shattered dreams," April 5, 2008

Fillmore refers struggling parishioners to trained financial counselors to help with the dollars-and-cents aspects of the problem. Meanwhile, he counsels them spiritually-and realistically: "It's not that God's just going to wave His finger and they're going to get out of this deal. They're going to need all the grace and wisdom and mercy they can get."

Ben Sigman, co-pastor of 4,500-member Eastlake Community Church, said several families in his church have lost their homes to foreclosure. Sigman is quick to point out that even people who have handled their money relatively responsibly-putting 10 percent down and financing a home with a standard adjustable-rate mortgage, for example-have been caught in the rate-rising, value-falling crunch.

"Emotionally, it can be devastating," Sigman said. But the ultimate impacts are not all bad. Sigman has counseled three different families who lost their homes because of high-interest, high-payment loans, but who did not lose their jobs. "These families are finding that to rent a similar house, even in the same neighborhood, is often a couple of thousand dollars a month less," Sigman said. "That's the weird thing I didn't anticipate: For some families, this has been emotionally difficult, but there has also been financial relief."

One woman told Sigman that she and her husband had been focusing "pretty much on money," laboring to maintain an upper-middle-class lifestyle. "Now they're getting their focus back on Jesus," Sigman said. "She said losing their home was the hardest thing that's ever happened to them financially, but probably one of the best things that's ever happened in their marriage."

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