Since her first paycheck at the age of 16, Danesca Baez says she’s always embraced a “cheerful” mentality about tithing and giving.
“I was a brand-new convert, in love, on fire for God,” she said.
At that time, she worked a fast-food job in New York City. She’d grown up in shelters and a group home in the Bronx after being removed from her family due to parental neglect.
”So, I started tithing when I was in a group home. I felt like God – like he was my everything. I didn’t have a problem with showing him how grateful I was for everything, especially coming from nothing.”
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Danesca put herself through school, and from an entry-level position, she worked her way up to middle management in healthcare administration. As a wife and mother, she tithed and lived pretty much debt-free. She got into serious financial trouble after her marriage failed.
“No child support, no alimony. No one is helping financially. I had to figure it out. My income was half of what all of my bills were.”
Christian friends babysat her two young children while she worked. That cut daycare costs, but she quickly fell into deeper debt when hit with emergency expenses like costly car repairs and a hospital stay.
“And there were times I wouldn’t even want to get out of bed. Like, ‘how am I going to keep doing this over and over and over?’ ”
One month she was maxed out of credit with zero cash and no food.
“And so, I got on my knees that morning, and I said, ‘God, I do not have food for the kids. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I need you.’ ”
That morning she arrived at work to find a co-worker had left a basket of food on her desk.
“I see this basket, two days of food in this basket, and I literally just started crying.”
In mid-2016, Danesca journaled about a series of dreams in which she believed God told her to get out of debt.
“So, the first thing I did was I printed out my bank statements, and I was like, ‘okay, what are my habits?’ I just started highlighting and just seeing, ‘okay, you should never have spent this, this, this.’ But I was just very irresponsible. I won’t budget the right way.“
Another dream warned her of a job loss followed by a new direction in life. She trusted God was leading her, so she called a family meeting to cut expenses.
“The cable, out the window; wi-fi out the window.” Like I cut my phone bill from like $130 to $35 a month.”
They cut coupons and ate meals at home. One item that remained in the family budget was tithing and giving.
Danesca recalls, “That was like the first thing I gave. It was like no questions asked. I knew that was my principle like I’m going to be still debt-free, I’m going to have – I know I’m going to have extra money now, but I’m still going to give to you, God.”
After only 16 months, Danesca paid off over thirty-eight thousand dollars of debt.
Danesca exclaims, “In 16 months, 16 months. Yeah, and when I told the kids, it was even – even what they said was, “you don’t owe anyone anything.”
Danesca was also able to save several months of her salary as an emergency fund. A month later, her boss told her that due to corporate reorganization, her position had been cut.
‘So, I was just like, “okay, Lord, you’ve got me, and I don’t know what you’re going to do next, but I trust you.”
Danesca immediately found two part-time jobs in Christian ministry. Within nine months, she was hired full-time for her dream job in a respected worldwide Christian organization.
“I believe that it was his faithfulness, tied with my obedience with the tithing and the giving. I think His Word [The Bible] is full of principles, like Malachi 3:10 where it’s – basically summarizing, it says ‘bring your tithes to me, and won’t you see that I will bless your money, I will not only bless it, but I will protect your finances.’ And all He’s telling you is, ‘trust me in this. Trust me a little bit of everything that I’ve given you and just watch and see great things with it.’ I really believe it.”