St. Charles, Illinois is a growing, upscale town of 27,000 just 35 miles west of Chicago. Its old-fashioned Midwestern charm is being quickly enveloped by the latest wave of suburban sprawl. A core district of beautifully restored, early 20th-century Victorian homes and 1950s-60s ranch homes form a center around which expanding belts of yuppie starter mansions string out for miles. Known for its good schools, a wonderfully retro downtown movie theater (complete with massive pipe organ), and a nice mix of upscale shopping and dining, St. Charles could be the poster city for the good life, American style, circa 2000. Paul Swaes, 46, is a financial planner, certified public accountant, and partner in the firm of Harczak & Swaes, whose office is just a block north of the town's main drag. During the day Swaes helps his clients with their tax planning and investment and estate planning. In his spare time, this husband and father of three uses his business skills as a volunteer referral counselor for Larry Burkett's Christian Financial Concepts, advising people on how to extract themselves from financial quagmires. A native of Chicago's South Side and from a Polish Catholic background, Swaes obtained his master's in taxation from the University of Denver in the early 1980s and moved to northern California. It was there that he underwent a conversion experience through the evangelistic efforts of Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, California. Moving back to the Chicago area soon thereafter, he first encountered Larry Burkett over Moody Bible Institute's radio station, WMBI. Intrigued, and "figuring that if I was a Christian, I needed to know about what the Bible said about money," Swaes obtained Burkett's materials. He ...

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