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Releasing People Trapped in a Cycle of Poverty

Contact: Tony Wiles, Grace Period, 412-552-8798

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 14, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Allegheny Center Alliance Church (ACAC) is confronting "one of the biggest justice issues of our day, and one that the Church, as the leading defender of the poor and the vulnerable, needs to take seriously," Chuck Colson reported in his November 11, 2011, BreakPoint broadcast.

With the help of ACAC, Dan Krebs and Tony Wiles founded Grace Period, Inc., an alternative to payday lending companies that offers financial assistance and education to people trapped in a cycle of poverty. According to Christianity Today, the two "learned about the dubious practices of payday lenders . . . through a sermon preached by their pastor."

"Most payday lenders set outrageous interest rates, some starting at 390 percent APR," Colson said. The Center for Responsible Lending states that the average customer ends up paying $800 for a $300 loan, he adds.

Working in partnership with a local credit union, Grace Period "aims to turn its clients into savers rather than borrowers, by implementing a system in which they contribute to a credit account while paying off their loan," said Colson. The nonprofit offers $300 loans for emergencies, with the requirement that the client enroll in a 12-month educational program. "To date, more than 3,600 people have accessed free loans through the company," said Colson. "It's a brilliant idea, and one that seems to work."

Colson concluded, "Just because the victims of predatory lending don't wear visible shackles doesn't mean that they are any less enslaved. Isn't it time for the Church to get serious about putting predatory lending out of business?"

Grace Point was also featured in Christianity Today online, December 6, 2011 and in the October 2009 issue of Alliance Life.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance is a worldwide family of Christians mobilized to fulfill the Great Commission by living out the fullness of Jesus Christ in personal experience and building His Church worldwide. Today, there are more than 2,000 Alliance churches in the United States and more than 20,000 fellowships in 81 countries around the world, where nearly 5 million Christians call themselves "Alliance," united by an unquenchable passion to reach our communities for Christ and provide access to the gospel where no access yet exists.