Black Wall Street — Biblical Financial Principles at work
How can Christ Followers (really anyone) be the most Productive, Prosperous, & Generous people in the World?
This question has been a splinter in my mind since I became a Follower of Christ in college. As I began to grow my understanding and faith in God, the Bible seemed to come alive for me as a guide for righteous living. Not that we are able to completely, but if there was a perfect way to live in our current condition, wouldn’t the creator of the universe have told us in His written Word?
I grew up in a family that seemed to always struggle with money, so this became a passionate treasure hunt for me as I began my own adult life. I wanted to know the truth about money and how to best manage God’s resources for His glory. More specifically, what does it mean for Followers of Christ to live in community together, be of one mind and one spirit, share resources, and live out God’s plan to nurture all people unto Christlikeness? The answers are found in God’s word and exemplified in history if we are willing to look.
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Followers of Christ have a common Purpose, Vision, and Mission centered on Christ based on the Truth of His written Word. With unity we live life together, nurturing each other’s personal growth into the image of Christ. With unity, we are willing to share our blessings and resources for the advancement of our common Purpose, Vision, & Mission. We begin to transfer worldly, temporary value to eternal value by sharing what we have with others in need. We commit daily to studying truth, worshiping God, and eating together. This community living shines light throughout the world for others to see, attracting them into a welcoming community of Christ. Great power is revealed in a united community as an amazing testimony to others of God’s grace and love. The realization of God’s grace compels us to acknowledge that what we have is from God and is not our own, therefore, we are able to share openly for the advancement of all life.
These examples are consistent with Jesus’s Parable of the Shrewd Manager where he teaches us what to do with our material resources:
Luke 16:9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
The early church was intentionally and voluntarily transferring value they had stored in worldly, temporary wealth, to invest in people where value is stored eternally. This “transfer” was mutually beneficial and can be quite profitable for everyone.
There are other examples in history of this type of community flourishing in our present world.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica & History.com:
Black Wall Street, former byname of the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where in the early 20th century African Americans had created a self-sufficient prosperous business district. The term Black Wall Street was used until the Tulsa race riot of 1921.
O.W. Gurley, a wealthy Black landowner, purchased 40 acres of land in Tulsa, naming it Greenwood after the town in Mississippi. Gurley is credited with having the first Black business in Greenwood in 1906. He had a vision to create something for Black people by Black people. Gurley started with a boarding house for African Americans. Then word began to spread about opportunities for Blacks in Greenwood and they flocked to the district. O.W. Gurley would loan money to people who wanted to start a business. They had a system where someone who wanted to own a business could get help in doing that.
Other prominent Black entrepreneurs followed suit. J.B. Stradford, born into slavery in Kentucky, later becoming a lawyer and activist, moved to Greenwood in 1898. He built a 55-room luxury hotel bearing his name, the largest Black-owned hotel in the country. An outspoken businessman, Stradford believed that blacks had a better chance of economic progress if they pooled their resources.
On Greenwood Avenue, there were luxury shops, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, jewelry and clothing stores, movie theaters, barbershops and salons, a library, pool halls, nightclubs and offices for doctors, lawyers, and dentists. Greenwood also had its own school system, post office, a savings and loan bank, hospital, and bus and taxi service. In addition, it provided the backbone for greater civic and political participation by Tulsa’s African American residents.
Greenwood was home to far less affluent African Americans as well. A significant number still worked in menial jobs, such as janitors, dishwashers, porters, and domestics. The money they earned outside of Greenwood was spent within the district. It is said within Greenwood every dollar would change hands 19 times before it left the community. The community thrived throughout the first half of the century, even during the Great Depression.
There have been many other communities throughout history, even currently, that have created this prosperous, self-sufficient system for their residents. Immigrants from India have been known to work together in this way to support businesses within the community, as well as Islamic communities. There is historical information about Jewish communities in Nazi Germany doing the same thing.
To summarize this economic process:
Someone who has resources can serve, give/lend, and nurture others in their personal and economic growth (invest locally in people), so they will be able to support, serve, and nurture others.
The people of the community have control over the income being produced, the purchases that support each other, and the investments that are mutually beneficial. They do not abdicate their personal and communal responsibilities to others who may not care as much as they do about their families. When these communities start relinquishing their responsibilities, they also loose the potential prosperity.
How attractive would this loving community be to others looking in?
Acts 2:47 — “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
“Then word began to spread about opportunities for Blacks in Greenwood and they flocked to the district.”
How powerful can a community of like-minded people be when they pool their time, talents, and treasures together for the advancement of a greater Purpose, Vision, & Mission?
Notice how Black Wall Street first began: It all started by an individual controlling the banking function for himself and using it to invest in others. Others eventually came and multiplied this concept.
How could like-minded individuals come together in agreement to pool and deploy their resources for mutual benefit?
There are many ways to do this, but the simplest and most efficient way for anyone to do this currently is through properly designed, dividend-paying whole life insurance as discovered, implemented, and taught for many decades by R. Nelson Nash. He eventually wrote a book titled Becoming your Own Banker: Unlock the Infinite Banking Concept. This 92-page book may be the most valuable book about personal, and community, finances other than the Bible. His second book is a great addition, titled Building your Wearhouse of Wealth. The capabilities have been available for people to utilize for centuries, but Mr. Nash revealed it to the masses. It was created by like minded people contracting together for mutual benefits.
Excerpts from ‘Becoming Your Own Banker’:
“Economic problems are best solved by people freely contracting with one another and with government limited to the function of enforcing those contracts. The absolute best way to do so is through the magnificent idea of dividend-paying whole life insurance. It has more in common with banking than it does with life insurance. A better name would have been a ‘banking system with a death benefit thrown in for good measure.’ It has been around for over 200 years and stood the test of time. It is not compulsory. It is not a government sponsored idea. It preceded the income tax idea by a long time. It is Private Property! Also, the only people who participate in this idea are people who truly care about other people. What a great group of people to be engaged in business with.” — R. Nelson Nash
Nelson’s work is true to God’s wisdom, as laid out in scripture, for us to simply and practically maximize God’s blessings to invest in His people for eternity.