Churches across the UK are committed to tackling the causes of poverty in their local area by providing free debt help and community groups. Below you can hear from just a few of the people whose lives have been changed as a result.
Churches across the UK are committed to tackling the causes of poverty in their local area by providing free debt help and community groups. Below you can hear from just a few of the people whose lives have been changed as a result.
Stories from the people we help
I was owing well over 20,000 pounds. I hid it from anyone else, from everyone else, I didn’t even want to open my doors. So I shut my door, I shut my mind to everything else. It was that part of me that I just thought, “No, nobody needs to know.”
I used to work in the IT industry. I lost the job and then everything changed from there. And then I was offered another job in the school, which was part-time. So I had to just adjust myself based on what I was earning part-time and then the bills just started coming up. I hid it from anyone else, from everyone else, I didn’t even want to open my doors to friends just in case the bailiff turns up while they’re here. So I shut my door, I shut my mind to everything else. It was that part of me that I just thought, “No, nobody needs to know.”
And the first time I actually spoke to somebody about it was with CAP and that felt very, very liberating. I was owing well over 20,000 pounds and the first option was paying it off monthly, which would take a long time and that would not be practical for me in terms of raising up my son. He would be a man. He would be a full grown man by that time, he’d probably have to pay for me as well, God forbid. But it would be a very long time and he would’ve been well in his twenties at that point. Because my debt was over a certain amount, the decision would be bankruptcy. And then I was told about the fees to actually file for the bankruptcy, which I did not have.
But I was also shocked to find out that the CAP has a bursary section to them where they get some generous people that donate and they will be able to actually raise that fund for me. And for them, I say a very deep thank you, a profound thank you for that. I wouldn’t be sitting here free and liberated, I would not have the chance to start all over again. If not for them, I wouldn’t have a new mindset or clarity to be the best that I need to be for myself and as a mother. There was no judgement, there was no condemnation. I tell you, literally, I slept differently that day, just knowing that there was somebody to listen. We got the green light to say that it’s been approved, the fees had been paid, and that I would be going bankrupt. This was in December and that was the best Christmas.
I have a chance to become a better mother and actually train my son, my children, in a way that they should do it so that they don’t make the same mistakes. And I remember when I was in that gloomy stage, he would come up to me, pull up my cheeks, and say ‘You need to smile, Mummy.’ And now he doesn’t have to do that anymore. And he actually noticed that and he said to me, ‘Now Mum, I don’t even have to remind you to smile.’
To be debt-free is very, very peaceful. It feels like heaven. It feels very, very liberating knowing that I have a second chance. I’m excited even talking about it.
Jenny and Steve’s story
- So I think the worst day, our lowest low, if you like, was we’d been told by a tenant that we were renting a house out to, that she wasn’t gonna pay the rent anymore. We were trying to pay rent here, trying to pay the mortgage as well. The credit cards were maxed ’cause of trying to do repairs on a house that we didn’t live in. I had 68p in my wallet, no food in the house, the children saying, “Mum, I’m hungry,” and I couldn’t do anything. I took them to the supermarket, I thought, “Well 68p, that can get you a lot if you’re a bit savvy.” And I picked up a bunch of four bananas, I couldn’t afford them. I could not afford four bananas. And I just, I melted. Not being able to actually feed your children is the lowest point you can get.
- Just as a husband, trying to provide for your family and seeing that you still working really, really hard but you’re not getting anywhere, crumbled me and crumbled Jenny.
- As soon as Angela heard that we were in trouble, she was straight over, same day. Angela was our debt coach and she came around. She helped, she literally said, “Bring every piece of paper you have,” so we did and there was a pile this high, it was massive.
- And it wasn’t like, “Oh wow, crikey, oof, you know, this is gonna take a long time.” It was, “It can be done, let’s take it from you. Let’s sort it out.”
- Becoming debt free was like a huge weight was lifted off of our shoulders. And we could just breathe easy, I mean, obviously-
- We could sleep, we could sleep at night.
- Yeah, we could sleep at night.
- We’re just a lot more secure, aren’t we, we’re just… we’re a bit more sure of ourselves. We know, actually, if somebody invites us out to the pub, yeah actually, we could go to the pub if we wanted to. If somebody wants our kids to come to a birthday party, “Yeah, that’s fine.” You know, we never would have been able to come through this as a family, without the help from CAP and without the wholeness in the way that they deal with it. They’ll don’t just deal with the money, they deal with the emotions and they deal with the, you know, the practical things as well. Our boys are thriving in so many ways now. They’re secure because me and Steve are secure. You know, we talk to each other, we have time for the children. We take them out to clubs that they’ve chosen. You know, they’re just really, really happy kids. And it’s lovely to see kids that are just so secure in their family that they’ve got no worries, it’s beautiful.
- Being with CAP has shown us and taught us how to almost pass this knowledge that we’ve learned onto our children. We give them some pocket money for doing small jobs around the home. And we say to them, you know, you could spend that money or you could save it and increase your money. And then you could get something far bigger than, rather than spending what you’ve got and getting the small things. You know, just encouraging them to save and to think of the future rather than what’s in front of them.
- I’ve asked the kids what they want to be when they grow up and they come back with different things sometimes. But the one that has stuck out for me has been, I think Ethan wants to be a YouTuber but he also would like to join the RAF. Silas has always said he wants to be a marine biologist, quite consistently and he’s really clever. Quinn once told me he wants to be a sausage roll. I’m hoping that ambition will change. For the time being, he’s not given me any other indication what he wants to be. As long as he’s happy, I’m happy. The future for me looks really bright for our kids and for our family and actually having the promise of a better future is priceless.
It all started when my house was repossessed because I couldn’t keep up with the payments. It was just sad. Sometimes the children would ask me to get them something and I wasn’t able to afford it, which went on for quite a long time. It was a bit difficult living in debt because I constantly had to try and keep juggling my finances just to make ends meet. I was struggling to buy food. We had to end up going to the food bank. I was constantly worrying about how I’m going to pay the debt. And it was a bit of a stressful time.
The first phone call was a bit nerve-racking but I’m glad I made the call because I was able to get help. When the team came, they took me through all the options and offered me food shopping, emergency food shopping. All the paperwork that I had, Andy gave me an envelope to put all my letters with debt. And he came and picked them up and I think that was a big relief for me because I knew it was getting looked at now. And I was also advised on the best course of action, yeah.
I think I thought it would punish my future if I had a bankruptcy record, but after all the information, I felt okay about it. My perception of bankruptcy has changed through working with CAP because of all the information that I was given and the process itself was simple, quite simple and straightforward.
What I’d say to others who are feeling nervous about going bankruptcies, I would encourage them to embrace the opportunity because it actually sets you free from the burden of debt itself. Through my CAP journey, I’ve been able to manage my finances better.
The biggest changes for me right now is I don’t have to worry about debts anymore. I think my children have noticed a difference now. It’s just been easy. When they ask for things, you don’t have to…you still have to manage your money, but things have got affordable. Going debt free was quite a big relief for me. I’m more hopeful for my family now for the future, yeah.
I didn’t wanna let my kids down. You know, I didn’t wanna have it where they lost their roof over their heads, or the food in their belly, or where I couldn’t look after them anymore. My mental health took a turn for the worse. I had to seek some professional help. Darkness and depression are the two words I would use in that time.
So my name is Anthony. I’m a father of two. I hit financial difficulty around about the early stages of March, 2019. I have autism and I have to self-manage that majority of the time anyway. We were always working in a deficit. My expenditure was more than my income, but through no fault of my own.
It wasn’t very fancy buying or anything like that. It was literally, my gas has gone up, it’s 200 quid, I’ve only got 150, but I also need to do a food shop.
So you’re left then having to try and find the balance. Something’s got to give and that’s where I started accruing quite large sums of debt. It was a lot harder during lockdown than I’ve ever had it. It became very lonely. It became very isolating. Trying to help them with the extra needs which would be provided by a school, would be provided by a playgroup or something like that, and also having to deal with my disability.
So I’m having to try and keep myself in check to make sure I’m coping well. We also had to shield my daughter as well because she has strong asthma. Got to a point where I couldn’t even afford bread and milk. And I was always being faced with the question of fuel versus food, or clothes, or something like that.
You know, sometimes you just wanna stay in bed, but you can’t because you’ve got your kids. You’ve got to get up. You got to get on with the day. Times at night would be spent not sleeping but crying, sometimes sobbing into my pillow. I came to a point where even my life itself was under question. I didn’t see a way out. I was left feeling like hopeless with it. Feeling like where is the solution to this? I need a solution fast and I didn’t see it.
So, little did I know in the background my mom was sponsoring CAP with a Gift Aid donation towards the work that they do. When I approached my mom saying I felt like I couldn’t cope, she guided me towards the website and the hotline. So I picked up the phone to call CAP and that’s when everything changed. I had a person answer the phone.
He was very sympathetic, empathetic. They put me in touch with a local debt coach. We went through the process of becoming debt free. I went bankrupt during the early part of lockdown. And that’s not always the solution, but that was my solution. I got a phone call, but there was a great celebration in the background, a round of applause for being debt free. And it made me feel like I was part of something. Now becoming part of the society again. I just felt happy. I felt the hope was there.
We then went through the stages of looking at how can we prevent this from happening in the future. So there’s a prevention tactic that we drew up to help learn to re-budget. I’m now starting to get some savings. A small amount each time, but it is a step forwards.
I’m now starting to stand on my own two feet, which is what I wanted from the get-go. All along the way, after making that phone call, I had CAP working and alongside me. You know, they even phone me up now. And they’ll phone me up just out of the blue and say, “Hey, how are you doing?” you know, “Is there anything you need?” or, “How are you getting on?” That weight that I talk about on my shoulders was now being shared and it became lighter and lighter. You know, being debt free means an awful lot but being able to control my finances means a lot more, and that’s where I’m at.
I’m now at the point where the darkness isn’t as dark anymore. I have credit on my metre. I have food in my cupboard. My children, I now can safely say, go to bed with a full stomach. That as a parent, you know, alleviates a lot of stress and it does make you feel stronger and happier. For me, I suppose I can now focus more on being daddy rather than being the person that is hiding a secret, you know. So I feel that my kids, without them even knowing, get more of an open person from me now than ever before.
I owed so many people. I just didn’t know what to do. You know, you start getting letters off debt collectors, and threatening with bailiffs and county court, and everything else. And instead of opening the letter, it got to the point where I wasn’t opening the letters, I was just put- chucking them into a pile and ignoring them. I was really down in the dumps, you know, and I couldn’t go much lower.
I thought, well, ‘I’ve got to do something’. I come to Baglan Community Church, and they had a thing about CAP. It was the only way I could see of getting out of debt. Once I’d made the phone call, I felt better. I thought, ‘I’ve done something now’. Things were in motion, you know?
CAP is like the good Samaritan. CAP came along, picked me up, dusted me off, and put me on the right road to being debt free. It’s hard to describe the feelings. It’s hard. It was so much of a relief, and that- that was the weight lifted off, the whole weight, and it was amazing. After I was debt free, it meant I could do things again. And not listening for the door to be knocked all the time. Or when the phone rings, you know, I’m not afraid to answer it now.
I know where my money’s going now, which I didn’t before. And I’ve actually got, I get my money fortnightly, and I’ve actually got money left every fortnight. I can even go on holidays, which I couldn’t do before. I’m glad I picked CAP.
As I say, they’re a Christian organisation, and they- they’ve got your best interests at heart. Don’t ignore your debts. The worst thing you can possibly do is- is ignore them. The best thing you can do is phone them and get on the right road. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me. Definitely.
I counted the applications, job applications, one year — 500, over 500 job applications and I received about six answers, four confirmations that I’d actually applied for a job and actually two interviews. Trying to get a job when you’re over 50, it’s a definite, sort of, bad start if you like. ‘What did you do last?’ ‘I used to fit carpets.’ ‘So why don’t you do that anymore?’ ‘Well my knees are bad.’ I’d been out of work for a long period of time and I’d heard — I thought I’d heard everything. So we did this interview session, I had a real interview the following day — every question that we’d gone over was asked me again that day and it was so, so easy, it was such a breeze, I was so relaxed — I believe that’s one of the reasons I got the job. And most of the people that I started with are good friends and most of them have jobs! Yeah, the CAP Job’s brilliant, there’s something for everybody that’s out of work and since I got a job within the first month, absolutely fantastic. He said, ‘How ya doing?’ He rang me. I said, ‘I’m stood on two rocket ships, I’m just going up and up.’ I thought this is brilliant is this, I wish I’d have been in touch with these guys earlier!
My abuser went for me, and I realised what I had gotten myself into. I thought I was done and dusted. I was worried about the kids, you know, what’s gonna happen? ‘Cause I had three children to him. We went into a refuge for months. But then even when I came out, he carried on with the abuse. And the physical abuse you heal from, but you still know the threat’s there, and you’re scared of them. I felt useless, worthless, unlovable. I felt just worn out and drained. I had lost my whole identity because when I was with my ex, I wasn’t allowed friends, and I wasn’t allowed a social life or nothing. Obviously, suicide comes through your mind. It’s just horrible, horrible. Basically, in the end, I couldn’t take it. I had a nervous breakdown. My neighbour just said, “Are you okay?” when I was going to the shop, and I just broke down crying. I went to the doctors and I got pointed towards the Life Skills Group. I thought I’ll give it a go. And it was down at our local church, the New Brighton Baptist Church. And at first, I was thinking, “oh, they might be a bit, I don’t know, judgmental.” But they were far from it. Just, all’s I’ve had from all of them, is, support, and encouragement, and practical help, left, right, and centre, and friendship. It is, it’s amazing. It actually does make you think about your finances and cooking, and we’ve planted things, like our own tomato plants, and they’re teaching all sorts of really good stuff. You know, I’ve got a lot more confidence, I go more places, I don’t worry so much, and I have actually got a social life now, an extended family. If they say I can’t go, I’m gonna volunteer to help. I was getting invited to CAP events. I went to the one at the New Brighton Baptist, with Sandra there and Moira. When I felt the love of God and the peace, you know, fill my heart, that was just incredible. That’ll last me a lifetime. And so I said the prayer without hesitation, and it’s filled a hole in my heart that nobody else could fill. Day-to-day life for me now is so much better. You know, I’ve got friends to go and see. I’ve got places to go. I love taking photographs, photography, painting, writing poetry, going to church. Just enjoying my life, actually enjoying life. It was like almost as if everything was black and white, and now it’s in Technicolour. It is absolute transformation. Forgive me, Lord, I went astray, But even so, you heard me pray. You sent me friends that guided me, And now I’ve found my family tree. Your roots so strong and branches tall, I know, my Lord, you’re there for all. I’m just a leaf upon your tree, But now I know your love for me. Oh Lord, you are a mighty tree.
What has inspired me today about what I’ve seen and heard about CAP here at this centre at the Baptist Church here in Great Yarmouth is meeting one of the clients who just was clearly lost, and was given hope.
And secondly, the simplicity of the approach and the way that CAP take the burdens.
Paul says to the Galatians, bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. They’ve taken the burden of handling his debts.
What attracted me about CAP was that it does work through the local church, and the local church is the hope and the glue and the cement of so many communities. And it’s also that CAP believes in the local church. It’s not instrumentalizing the local church, it’s not making it a tool for its use, it’s working in partnership for the good of the class, and to bring people to living faith in Jesus Christ.
I’ve been encouraged by this visit because it’s just another example of a life that shows good chance of being turned around, of hope, where there was despair, and of Christians just getting on with the job of being Christian.
[Conference Host] Once again, give a massive Christians Against Poverty welcome to the amazing Martin Lewis. Martin, come on up!
Christians Against Poverty isn’t about helping Christians. Christians Against Poverty is about helping people. I, not as a member of your faith, will continue to support you with every ounce of being that I have because you are doing good.
And I don’t care whether you wear a Christian hat or a Jewish hat or an agnostic hat or a secular hat. If you are doing good, you should be lauded and supported, acclaimed and applauded. And I will do all of those things.
And actually, one of the best decisions people can make, if they’re there, if they’re struggling with their finances, if they’re hurting and not knowing where to go, is to Christians Against Poverty. Thank you for having me.
[Conference Host] Your very own personally engraved… Harmonica!
Church and community
What does a thriving church look like? I think you’d have to look at the people part of the church and whether they are thriving.
The thriving church is much more about the heart that is, that is beating in that church. Is the heartbeat of that church to, to reach out to its community?
Where people care about people who are struggling, about people who are lost, about people for whom life is difficult.
I don’t like the idea of a thriving church being seen as one that has lots of people necessarily. I think there are churches that are all about people, that are small, steady, faithful work.
When we do stuff in our kids clubs, we know that one in four of those children are coming from homes where they are struggling to, to heat the homes or to feed the people in them. Our community needs people who are gonna come with the love of Christ to give them hope.
Inverclyde; it’s one of the worst areas of deprivation in Scotland. And I don’t think we can start to talk about how much God loves them when their basic needs are not met.
We want to really practically serve our community with food and with relationship, with love, with inclusion.
Some people will come in and access those services and then leave again. But for others, they find renewed hope. They find renewed strength. They find a home and a family and a reason to keep going.
These volunteers are all there serving them and are able to show them in a real practical way, how much they’re loved and valued.
If the church wasn’t there to do that, I don’t know where else that comes from.
The street pastors here in Inverclyde have been able to share and have testimony come back that it has prevented somebody going to commit suicide. You know that this is the light of life that we have. Those things do not go unnoticed, that communities are waking up and seeing what the church are doing now.
You start to become known as a place in a community that does help. And so people turn up at our door at different points and say, ‘I’m facing this situation, and I’ve heard this is a place you come to’. I think that strengthens the church because you end up in a situation where the church more represents the community that we live in, which is what church is meant to be. It’s meant to be multi-generational. It’s meant to have people, you know, rich and poor worshipping alongside each other, who can say that they have one thing in common, and that’s Jesus. It’s the joy of the gospel truly being for everybody and not just for, not just for a few.
The job club has really become, here, a kind of catchall term for our community outreach work. The beauty of working with CAP is that they know how to do these things, and they equip the local church to do them.
We’ve recently been able to double our Debt Centre capacity, which is amazing. We’ve seen 22 people go debt free, which we know wouldn’t have been possible without partnering with CAP.
Across the town, as a partnership of churches, we also run a Debt Centre. And I think for myself, as a pastor, it’s great, that it’s not all about CAP. But it’s actually about the wider work of the church and how that fits in. And so our CAP ministries tie into what we do in toddlers and what we do with families and what we do in food bank. And it all comes together to serve the the mission of the church.
Collectively as a church, our heart has increasingly broken for the poor and vulnerable in the city.
And we are determined to support people who are struggling with mental health, with poverty, with all the challenges of life. Go into the community and don’t complicate it. It’s really simple. The church, you know, that’s the starting point.
I never planned to get involved as a Befriender. It was a friend of mine. We were just visiting some older people in the church. There was nobody to see. So we rang the CAP centre manager, I was wondering whether you had anybody who would be up for a visit this morning. And she said, there’s somebody that would really appreciate a visit. That was the beginning of a four year befriending relationship. How did it go at the hospital yesterday?
Happy for everything.
Yeah. Yeah. It stems from their first phone call saying that they need some help from CAP. So how are things going with the budgeting?
I’m still managing to stick to it.
But it is a real struggle. It’s hard.
[Woman] If there’s somebody within my area that they feel is suitable for me to go and visit with them, then I go along and I’m literally introduced as a befriender. You were doing the CAT money course.
How did go?
It was fascinating. I learned so much doing that, actually.
[Woman] It’s just like any other friendship, birthdays. I usually drop a present round and a card.
If there’s anything going on at church invite them to come along.
The first time I heard about CAP was that church.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that does make a difference in them feeling valued and actually wanting to continue on their road to get in debt free.
Hi, Jane, how are you? If I had never been involved with CAP as a Befriender then my faith and walk with God wouldn’t be where it is now. Seeing miracles happen is just a big, absolute wow to my faith, just in awe, really of what God has done.
I love the clients. That’s why I do it. I really, really love the clients. It’s a chance to help and stand beside people and give them that service is the thing that I really love. I absolutely love the job, I love the clients, working with them, and seeing their lives changed as they realise that there is an alternative way to resolving their debt than some of the ways they think there is. People who are struggling with the pressure of unmanageable debt can be helped, can be supported, can be worked alongside and supported until they become debt free, which is an amazing thing to watch.
There’s always hope for people, no matter if someone has really, really struggled or no matter what their background is, we can always give them hope. And see them get a route out of debt and move on in their life and take away — help them take away the worry. Give them the tools that they can help themselves and just stand alongside them to do that. I always have the feeling that we’re taking our clients further and further along the path to becoming free from the unbearable pressure of unmanageable debt, and that is very motivating. The work of CAP is so life-changing and life-transforming, and it is, it truly is a way of being able to work with people and see their lives changed.
The visits at the houses, the first few visits, you can see people’s faces are really worried. And by the third or fourth visit, sometimes, the debt has worked out and we got a route out of debt for people. So we see people’s lives change, and that worry that’s been keeping them up at night and getting them down, their faces change, and it gives them a chance to see the freedom of being free from debt. For every Debt Coach, the term that we all love hearing is someone becoming debt free, brings a smile to our face. For me, personally, to be part of that is actually a privilege, a real privilege. Well, when one of my clients goes debt free, it’s a major celebration. Honestly, it makes my day. I skip around all day and it’s a wonderful experience to celebrate with a client who’s worked so hard. We’ve had some clients that, when we met them, were in really desperate circumstances. And now we’re still in touch with those clients having seen them go debt free and seeing their lives transformed.
For anybody who is struggling with debt, please deal with it now. Don’t delay, deal with it sooner rather than later. Come talk to us and find out ways of being able to change your life and get yourself debt free. Christians Against Poverty is right here to help you, we don’t judge, we can help. Please lift the phone and ring the 0800 number and we can get cracking on your debts. Because really, a burden shared is a burden halved. So take that time to phone someone because that first phone call is really important.
Hi there, well, we’re here at the House of Lords where we’ve just had a reception with a bunch of dignitaries, people from the finance sector to launch our CAP client report. This is built from a survey of all the people that we’ve helped over the last year and they keep telling us that things are just terrible, they’re dire, they’re living without beds, they’re living without boilers, without central heating, they can’t put food on the table, but Christians Against Poverty were able to bring hope into any situation. Hope with debts, hope with unemployment, addictions, people struggling on low incomes and this is what this client report is about. Yes, it’s bleak out there, but there are rays of hope going everywhere! CAP delivers effectively what it promises to do. It is people centred, it is effective in helping people deal with debt, they are brilliant at building partnerships, they’re tough minded and I invite you to join me in supporting CAP as they continue to try to bring greater peace, security and a stronger sense of community to tens of thousands more. Thank you very, very much for being here this evening.
People ask me when CAP started. Well, it started really in 1996, but that’s not where it really started. In the early 90s I had a really, really difficult time. I had a very difficult early childhood and as a young adult, my father died when I was eighteen and my mother was sectioned under mental health and I was left on my own. I had a very difficult early life. I’d been reasonably successful working in the finance industry. Things had looked really good as we got into the early 90s but underneath that veneer of success was still very much the broken guy that I’d been earlier in my life. I basically lost everything; I ended up massively in debt. I lost my first marriage, had to move out of the home, ended up just living one room of a friend’s house. When the girls were with me they used to have to sleep on these horrible camp beds. I was hounded by debt collectors, I was pretty poor, struggled, really struggled with life. But it was in the midst of this that the most amazing thing in my life happened and I met these amazing people. I now know what it was that drove them, but I couldn’t work out why they would be bothered with me, why they seemed to care about me, why they were always asking how I was and helping me and my two little girls. They were showing me the love of Christ. I had a massive hole within my spirit and within my soul that only the love of Jesus could fill and that’s where I found Christ as my personal saviour. Within a few weeks, I was baptised and when I look at this picture I can see myself punching out of the water. I was born again. I did have a fresh start. I did have a future and a hope. God began to rebuild me, and very much part of that rebuilding was meeting my beautiful wife, Lizzie. We met and over a couple of years
we decided that we would get married and we would spend our life together, and everything looked brilliant. By now my career was back on, I was paying my debts off, I’d got my old home back and I’d seen my kids and my life begin to turn around, and then God came knocking at my door. I felt a real sense of him saying, ‘Come on, Johnny boy. Let’s go and help the poor!’ So literally two weeks after we’d got married, just after our honeymoon we sat down in my home office and started Christians Against Poverty. We had a few pounds, an old computer, and started to help poor and needy people. Wow, I haven’t been here for so long! There it is: the office where it all started. We had a titanic struggle in those early first few years. We really, really did struggle; the story is well known. We were on our knees on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, praying and asking God to provide. And people ask me, ‘Why didn’t you stop when it was so difficult? Why did you carry on when you had to leave this house? Why did you keep going?’ And the truth was, the reason was, the people I was helping. It was here that we saw the first clients’ lives touched by amazing debt counselling. This is where we saw the first clients find Christ as their personal saviour and be drawn into the local church. The reason why we didn’t stop is we couldn’t stop. We couldn’t stop because a few families, there were only so few at the beginning, relied on us and were working with us and were seeing the fruit of what we were doing. And even though no one else noticed and no one else recognised it, we knew God was in it. We knew he was with us. And I remember the first clients that gave their heart to Christ in our front room. We remember the first mailshots we did on those evenings around the kitchen table. I remember with such amazing joy the first Centre Managers who came to our home to be trained around our kitchen table, the first staff that joined, the first money that came in. So many firsts. It was a very, very difficult time. It really was difficult. But it was also amazing and it also built within us a faith that God would provide and that he was with us. It’s amazing to think what happened in that room twenty years ago. I’m really glad I started it. Well, we have come a long, long way since we started in that small home office over twenty years ago. So this is our Bradford office complex, we have over 50,000 square foot
of offices, over 300 workers here supporting over 1,000 frontline workers in 500 CAP centres. Every year we celebrate thousands of families going debt free, hundreds of people being released from addictions and dependencies, and hundreds of people finding work that have been unemployed for so many years. It’s a place of celebration; it’s a place where people’s lives are transformed and it’s been an absolute miracle to see how far God has brought us from one small office to this in twenty years. What an amazing God we serve! ‘If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing the finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry and meet the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, your night will become like noonday. The Lord will guide you always, he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age old foundations. You will be called repairer of the broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.’ I believe Christians Against Poverty is an Isaiah 58 ministry. We have seen this word become life. We have seen this word become real. I’ve seen it in my own life and I know that these words are as true today as they were when I first picked them up some twenty years ago; that my God is a faithful God, that he will do what he has promised. As we look forward to the next five years of seeing CAP expand around the world and particularly here in the UK to double in size, to have a thousand church based services. We still need God, we still need the miraculous intervention of the living God. We still need thousands of people to support this work; we need people to give, to pray, to join in. We need hundreds of churches to get involved in this fantastic thing called Christians Against Poverty here in the UK and around the world. I used to come up here just to spend time with God in those early days. Hey, I believed that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was on me but I wanted God to make it real, I wanted him to expand and grow and provide for our ministry. And hey, we all know the story, it’s been a remarkable twenty years. CAP has grown beyond anything that I would have ever dreamt or imagined. When I see what God has done, when I look at my family now, when I see the grace of God in it and the amazing transformation that he has done, I’m inspired of the tens of thousands of other families that we can reach, who twenty years from now will be grateful for an organisation that brought God’s love in action to their home, of a church that was willing to step out in faith, and a bunch of ordinary people who were willing to do some extraordinary things. And I pray that you’re inspired by this amazing thing that God has done. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for supporting us, and I pray that you’re inspired to get involved and see this vision become a reality.