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Christians Against Poverty – One Year In

Birthday cake with one candle.It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since I called my first CAP client, on the day the debt centre opened. When I say that the debt centre ‘opened’ what I really mean is that I switched my phone on, opened up the laptop and was ready for clients to book in. In the pandemic world that we have been living in, the debt centre has been run from a corner of my front room, but that has been fine, we have still been able to help and support clients which is what it is all about.

So what’s the year been like and has it gone as I expected it to? What words of wisdom do I have from the first year of walking alongside clients in their journey out of debt? The words that spring to mind are from Joshua 1 verse 9.

I have to say it’s been a really humbling year. Many of our clients face challenges that I could not even begin to imagine how I would face. And many of them are confronted by those challenges without knowing Jesus, nor having a church family around them. I am often incensed at how unfair life can be, and at how our society seems to stack obstacle after obstacle in the way of those who are already disadvantaged. It would be easy to be discouraged at times, particularly when no one seems to ever answer their phone, but I know that God will be with me wherever I go. Confidence comes from knowing that God told us to do this work, and therefore we can be courageous knowing that his presence is with us.

And he really has been with us. God’s presence has been a constant reality over the last year: When I’m prompted to call someone just when they’ve got a really distressing letter and need to talk; When someone is touched by the Holy Spirit while we’re praying over the phone; When someone says out of the blue, “I think I need God in my life!”; When I just know which befriender will connect well with a client; When I need to make a difficult phone call and he gives me the strength to do it…It’s the Holy Spirit who can open someone’s eyes to the truth, who can draw them to want to know more of Jesus and who can bring healing and peace where there is sickness and anxiety, and I definitely can’t do any of those things without him.

All in all the year has gone much as I hoped it would (pandemic aside.) We have had contact with 37 clients so far. 3 clients have already gone debt free and 1 client has completed the CAP money course. 4 clients are talking about coming to church and 1 has already come. Ros Hyde has joined the centre as a debt coach which is a wonderful step in the right direction. We have been able to bless clients with hampers at Christmas, with food shops and with gas and electricity meter top ups. We have a team of people praying for clients and a team of people signed up as befrienders.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead with anticipation. The lifting of some restrictions, and the purchase of The Boathouse will make it possible to do more social and evangelistic events. I’m looking forward to our first client event in September where we will be able to treat clients to some nice food and share the gospel. We are also looking at setting up a regular social/ bible study/ drop in  as we get further into the year.

One of the challenging things about the pandemic is that when we provide the debt service over the phone rather than face to face, we don’t get to take a befriender to the appointment.

Befrienders are key as they can pray, be a friend, offer to bring clients to church etc… I have loved the few client appointments that we have been able to do face to face, and take another member of the church along. We are really short of befrienders, so if you’ve got some time to spare, and are happy to come along with Ros or I to a client appointment (don’t worry you won’t have to help at all with the debt stuff, just be friendly and maybe pray if you’d like to) then please get in contact. If you only come along to visit one client, it would be a great help!

So final thoughts; what a humbling privilege it is to introduce people to Jesus and walk alongside them in their walk to becoming debt free. To be trusted to help at a difficult time is a real honour. It’s not easy to admit that you need help, and it’s not easy to share your financial information with someone that you’ve only just met and yet people do. What an honour to be that person. And what a joy to work with such a great team at the debt centre as we help our clients take steps towards financial freedom and maybe, just maybe, spiritual freedom too.

by Charlotte Walker

Debt Centre Manager

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