United Church of God

Letter From Ben Light - November 25, 2022

Letter From Ben Light

November 25, 2022

Pastor's Corner - November 25th, 2022

Beginning early this morning, or in some cases late last night - the shoppers began lining up at the various stores around the country in search of deals.

Most news outlets are reporting that the number of people out and about were up this year over the past two years as people have become more comfortable in large crowds, but interviews with individuals shoppers today told a very specific story. Many shoppers were being very specific with their purchases, and were purchasing fewer items this year as inflation hovered over the biggest shopping day of the year.

So far, the inflation rate for the month of October came in at 7.75%, down from a high of 9.06% in June. The consumer Price Index, a measure of how much prices for a basket of consumer goods have changed over time, increase by .4% in October, with food prices 11% higher than this same time last year, energy prices almost 18% higher than last year at this time, and all other items 6.3% higher than this time last year. 

As one shopper that was interviewed put it, "The prices of everything have gone up, the only thing that hasn't... is my paycheck."

Consumers are changing how they shop for the holidays and how they seek out certain items. Some of the organizations that keep track of these kind of things estimate that while the numbers of people were greater, that the overall spend will likely be less due to consumer selectivity. They also found that the inflationary pressures had a significant impact on those who are more limited in their income, while those who do not have the same limitations spent more freely.

These impacts are representative of the United States, other parts of the world, Ghana for instance is experiencing almost 50% inflation for goods produced/purchased via the U.S. Dollar due to currency devaluation. The Ghanaian Cedi is currently 14.5 cedis to the dollar. When I first started travelling to Ghana, it was 4:1, on this most recent trip, it climbed as high as 10, and we felt like that was just an asinine change.

Now it is 14.5 to 1. 

For perspective on what that looks like on the ground - locally in Salem, we have been providing for the University Tuition, room and board, and some incidentals for a young man in Ghana to go to school to become a teacher. One of the best investments we can make in West Africa is in technical skills training, University, etc.. as that is a donation that continues to provide lasting value for many generations. 

The first year we provided these funds - the entire year's tuition, room and board, etc.. came to 3500 Ghanian Cedis, roughly $875 U.S., this year, as we prepare to send the funds for his tuition, the cost only comes to $241 dollars U.S. to send him to school for the entire year, plus room and board. So while this is a benefit for us going the other way - as you can imagine - it is a significant challenge to those in country. 

The Book of Revelation records a coming time in which a quart of wheat, a large mason jar, would sell for a denarius (a days wages) and three quarts of barley for a denarius. (Revelation 4:6-8) The average median salary in the United States today, is approximately $54,000 a year. Or roughly $1040 a week. 5 days for that pay, causes an average days wages to be $200.

A quart of wheat berries, ground, will make about 2.5 loaves of bread. Can you imagine spending $200 for a little over 2 loaves of bread? That's what Revelation says is coming.

We're seeing the effects of inflation now, and I believe it is likely that as God allowed us to see how quickly things can change politically, societally, etc.. with the COVID pandemic, mandates etc... that this inflationary jump is helping us to see just how quickly the cost of items can increase. God helping us to see things in a controlled fashion, to help us to perhaps prepare more effectively for what is to come - to help alleviate some of the challenges while placing our trust fully in God for his providence and protection.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a happy Sabbath!

With Love,