The price of scrap is up! For the last few loads I have taken in, general scrap brought $180 per ton (9 cents per pound). Naturally, appliance is a little less, prepared steel a little more, electric motors a little more yet, and following the scale up through, low grade copper wire, power chords, various grades of aluminum, radiators, batteries, brass, and copper till you hit number 1 clean copper at upwards of $3.00 per pound. So, a little load I took in today (only 840 pounds of scrap, 1 electric motor, several bags of aluminum cans and a bucket of cleaned brass) netted $144. This may not sound terribly exciting to you but not so long ago that same load would have brought no more than $40 – most of that from the brass. When the pandemic impacted industry negatively and piled that on top of our trade difficulties with China, the price of general scrap fell to $30 per ton – all the other prices indexed accordingly. For what it’s worth, the highest prices I have seen over the years (right before the cash for clunkers program came along and flooded the scrap market) was $235 per ton or just short of 12 cents per pound.
As we are not able to store large amounts of scrap at the church and we didn’t want to suspend the program, we never stopped taking it in (except for when the scrap yards closed entirely!) It is always harder to revive a ministry that stopped. While neither I nor the Corps of Scrap Dummies (they chose that name for themselves) are the type to object to hard work, I can tell you that it is considerably less fun to take scrap in at $30 per ton than it is at $180 per ton! I mean, we believe in keeping materials out of the landfills and in helping people get rid of unwanted metal items, but there is just something about rewards.
I object to the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ in the strongest possible terms. The point of Jesus’ atoning death and hope filled resurrection was not to fatten my pocketbook. I do not mean to say that God is unconcerned with the prosperity of His people. But I cannot find the promise that we should all be millionaires and I can find the warnings about the dangers of being millionaires (needles eyes, bigger barns, treasure/heart co-location et al). But my objections to the Prosperity Gospel do not at all mean that I miss the Biblical emphasis on rewards. Like when Jesus preached to the poor and persecuted about how great their reward would be in heaven or to the humble givers about how even a cup of water given in His name would not lose its reward. Or, as per Revelation 11:18 – when the time comes at last to reward the bond servants of God.
I know the promises about the righteous not begging for bread but there’s a lot of territory between not having to beg for bread because you can’t work or can’t find work and being independently wealthy past the need of having to work at all! And somewhere in there, peace and love and righteousness must be reckoned as reward enough for the time at hand and eternal life in the world to come as more than just recompence for all.
I am not complaining about people who have money and I truly admire those who can have great wealth without it ruining their spirit. More, I greatly appreciate the ministry many have made possible by their wealth. Nor was I just whistling Dixie when I said it was more fun to take in scrap at $180 per ton that at $30 per ton. But we never quit taking in scrap. In the end, whatever passes before then, I will be thrilled just to hear – ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy master.’
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church