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Join in with the CAP Prayer Advent Calendar

calendar27 November 2018

Alicia Chapman's avatar Alicia Chapman

Join in with the CAP Prayer Advent Calendar

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’ –  John 1:14

I love Christmas. Even more than the twinkling lights, cosy fires, familiar carols and smell of roasted chestnuts, I love to think about the God who came close. The God who didn’t stand at a distance but, just as John 1 tells us, ‘took on flesh’ and stepped right into our mess and brokenness. The God who upholds all things by his word, becoming a baby who couldn’t utter a single one. The God who set the stars in place, submitting himself to the care of his own creation. The God of heaven who came close and ‘dwelt among us.’

In this time of advent, where we eagerly anticipate, wait and prepare for him, what better time to lift our voices and hearts to him in prayer? You see, he still does it. The God who lay as a baby in a manger is still, right now, stepping into broken, hopeless situations and bringing transformation, restoration and hope. He still listens to the sound of his people’s voices, draws close and acts.

This is why prayer is so important to us. This is why every single day at CAP HQ we take time to ask the God who steps in to do just that, and to break through in the hardest situations. This is why we’re inviting you to join us in doing the same, through the CAP Prayer Advent Calendar!

Every day throughout December until Christmas Eve, across our social media platforms, we’ll be giving you the opportunity to hear from a range of voices across the world of CAP. This includes our patron the Archbishop of Canterbury, our Founder John Kirkby, some friendly head office and frontline faces, and more (watch this space!)

There’ll be scripture for us to reflect on, prayer needs to lift up together, and really quick, really easy ways to engage and respond.

This December, let’s come together and call on our mighty God to step into the complex situations faced by CAP’s clients, to pray for the future of this organisation and for the society we live in, and to remember and be thankful for everything he has done already.

I believe we will be changed as we pray. I believe that situations will be changed as we pray. I believe that Emmanuel, the God who is with us, will do what he loves to do and step right in.

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Alicia Chapman is Prayer Leader at CAP's head office.

Catch up

‘The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”’ – Genesis 2:18 (NIV)

As far back as Genesis, God saw the importance of community. In the act of making Eve for Adam, he proclaimed that we are not intended to be alone; that we are infinitely more powerful when we are together, unified.

This year, Christians Against Poverty, for which I am patron, has been campaigning for an end to the desolate isolation brought about by poverty. Millions across the UK are trapped with nobody to talk to, or silenced due to fear and shame, when they are most in need of help. However, through organisations like CAP and the local Church, God is at work, placing the lonely in families.

Today, will you join me in saying this prayer for those who are isolated and lonely?

Heavenly Father, thank you that through your generous love for us, you taught us how to love one another.

We pray you would make your Church a refuge for the isolated, filled with people ready to welcome in new brothers and sisters; a reminder of your love; a place where they would find family.

Lord, we ask that this Christmas you would send your Holy Spirit to anyone who is lonely, so that they may know that they are never truly alone.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.

– Written by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and CAP’s Patron

 

‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ – Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

Do you ever have those winter mornings when it feels like the sun will never rise? Minutes then hours tick past, but still the darkness refuses to budge. Just like our clients so often feel – you are longing for light.

Isaiah prophesies into that longing. Not just to those in twilight or near night but to those in ‘deep darkness’. He sees that the ‘great light’ of the coming king matters most and shines the brightest, in the most hopeless places.

This is the light we see in Jesus. It’s the light that changed my life 26 years ago, and it’s the light that 8,000 CAP clients have now experienced by inviting his light into their lives.

Today, let’s pray for thousands more CAP clients to see this great light at carol services this December.

Why not try this to focus yourself?

Turn off the lights, close the curtains and surround yourself with darkness. Picture the clients who feel the weight of that darkness over their lives. Now imagine yourself in a candle-lit church as the first carol is sung.

Pray that:

  • Those being helped by CAP would go to a Christmas service this year
  • They would feel welcomed, loved and accepted
  • They would respond to the great light of Jesus and invite him into the darkness

– Written by John Kirkby CBE, Founder of CAP

 

‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ – 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)

This Christmas time, as we prepare festive hampers to share with CAP clients, we have the wonderful opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Yummy food, an invite to join Christ’s family celebrations – it all helps to show people that they are loved and valued.

Three years ago, a client responded to the Alpha invitation in his hamper. He was overwhelmed by our generosity. Not only were his physical needs met, but his eternal destination was changed as he welcomed Jesus into his heart. These hampers are an expression of God’s abundant provision. He wants to lavish his love upon us.

  • Please pray for all the hampers that are being given out this Christmas time
  • Pray that God's love will be experienced by everyone receiving one
  • Pray for opportunities to share the gospel too

Could you stretch to give to our emergency food aid appeal this Christmas? Ask God, he loves a cheerful giver.

– Written by Elaine Loe, CAP Debt Coach, Wye Valley

Find out more about our emergency food aid appeal here.

 

‘And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in his plan and purpose for you].’ – Romans 12:2 (AMP)

Romans 12:2 gives us permission to let go of the ‘superficial values and customs’ we’ve been conditioned to follow at Christmas and to rediscover the godly values of family, peace, love and joy that the season is really about. It’s a time of year that brings lots of financial pressures, which is extremely stressful for our clients on a Debt Management Plan who are trying to stick to a tight budget.

How amazing it is to be freed from the burden of needing to spend money on the novelties and expectations of Christmas and to realise that we have an everlasting, overflowing source of all we need this season, whether it’s hope, peace, or joy.

Take a moment to thank God for those things you are rich in, whether material or otherwise. Let him remind you of all that he’s provided this year, big and small.

And ask God to bring peace to those for whom Christmas is a stressful time, and reassure them that they have all they need without having to fork out for material things that are way beyond their budget.

– Written by Hayley Tearall, Communications team

 

‘When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.’ – John 6:5-6 (NIV)

God has drawn me to this well known story. It struck me as I read it again that all ‘the boy’ had to do was open his hands and give what he had to Jesus, and Jesus then took his offering and multiplied it to have an impact on thousands of lives.

It’s a simple act of faith and yet we can often find it so difficult to be ‘open handed’ and give everything to God. This story illustrates the huge impact we can have if we open our hands to God, allowing him to use all that we have.

Today, take some time in a quiet space and open your hands before God, asking him what he would like you to give to him.

Is it your time? Is it your finances? Could you be involved in opening a new CAP service? Does God want you to support a friend? Is God asking you to pray for someone? Is God asking you to volunteer to help CAP clients?

God will use whatever you are able to offer him.

– Written by Nicola Robinson, Head of Church Engagement

Find out more about opening a CAP service in your church here.

 

‘Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.’ – Leviticus 25:10 (NIV)

In Leviticus, we see the year of the Jubilee. During these times, the law saw people enslaved because of their debts. The aim of the Jubilee was to see people released from slavery, all debts written off and land returned to its rightful owner.

The Jubilee was to happen every 50 years. Historians believe that there is little evidence to suggest the Jubilee was regularly observed, if at all. Thankfully in 2018 we don’t have to wait 50 years to be released from poverty – we have insolvency law that enables the release from debt and gives that fresh financial start to people who need it.

At CAP, our insolvency clients, who are unable to repay their debts within a reasonable time, often have restricted budgets with little money to live off. 38% of our clients have been struggling with their debt for over three years. We saw in Leviticus that people who had been indebted for 50 years would finally be released from their burdens and restoration brought to them.

Today, please pray for our insolvency clients who are struggling to make ends meet until they are ready for their insolvency to be processed. And praise God for insolvency law that enables the release from crippling poverty and a fresh financial start.

– Written by Rachel Saxton, Insolvency Support team

 

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

December is one of the hardest times of the year to be unemployed. The peer pressure for good cheer is outrageous; the financial pressure of gifts is huge. When we feel that things are out of our control we tend to worry, but how do you stop worrying? Most of the awful things we imagine will happen never do.

However, as a Christian, we believe that God has everything in his control. We only need to trust that God will take care of everything as promised.

This Christmas, let's resolve to not spend excess money that we don't have, and to give the gifts of time and love, which have a far greater impact than mere physical gifts.

Today, please pray:

  • For those who are unemployed at this time of year; that God would help them to be content in every situation, through the highs and lows of life, the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need, and claim his promise that they can do all things through him who strengthens them
  • That God would grant them a generous spirit in spite of their circumstances, and that he would supply every need of theirs according to his will

– Written by Steve Hudson, CAP Job Club Manager, Skipton

 

‘They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.’ – Isaiah 61:4 (NIV)

This verse, written by Isaiah, shared God’s promise to the Israelites, that their land would be restored to them. I rely on God’s promise of restoration and rebuilding when speaking with CAP clients who are going through the trauma and devastation of being faced with eviction from, or repossession of, their homes. There’s such a sense of hopelessness and fear, and a sense that hopes and dreams are being destroyed in these situations.

There are people all over this country, in every town and city, perhaps on our streets, our neighbours or ourselves, who are faced with potential eviction or house repossession.

As a society we can do so much better than this. Everyone deserves a good, safe, affordable home.

Some actions we could take are:

  • Ask God, 'Father, lead me to make a difference. Show me who to speak to and the actions I can take'
  • Contact local and national politicians (councillors and MPs). Visit writetothem.com to send a message to the politicians representing your area – as a locally elected councillor I regularly raise issues of housing standards and homelessness
  • Offer shelter by renting out a spare room

Every action we take can make a difference in the hand of God.

– Written by Michelle Swallow, CAP caseworker & local councillor

 

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ – Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Advent is a time of preparing for the birth of Jesus, and this verse reminds us of what this child brings into the world. Joy. Peace. Hope. Jesus came as a sign that God is with us, here throughout our time on earth and beyond, and that we’re safe in the knowledge that we can trust in him wholeheartedly.

Trust is the decision to fully surrender yourself into God’s hands, just as Jesus did on the cross. By continuing to trust in God, you will overflow with hope by the Holy Spirit – what a gift! Today, let’s just stop for a few minutes and remember this.

Listen to Living Hope by Phil Wickham, or your favourite worship song. You could do this on your way to church, on a run, in the bath, or during some specific devotional time – whatever works for you. Praise God for the hope we have through Jesus.

Then, why not share this message with a friend or neighbour who may not have heard it before? You never know the impact this could have on their life.

– Written by Ruth Wiseman, CAP Debt Coach, Swale

 

‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.’ – Isaiah 54:2-3 (NIV)

We’re at a critical point with our centre network capacity right now. We have Debt Centres that are fully booked for the next several months. In October, the busiest month in history for our helpline, we had to turn away 400 people who needed our help. This is not a place we want to be in.

Our vision is to see every area in the UK covered and every person able to access our services. We want to spread out to the right and to the left; we want to settle in desolate cities and restore lost hope. But for that to happen, we need more churches to come on board and partner with us.

Today, will you ask God to move through the many local UK churches, inspiring and encouraging their decision-makers to address the need in their communities and find out more about joining with CAP?

You could also help by booking a CAP Speaker to come along and inspire your congregation about the work of CAP.

– Written by Mark Cooke, Head of Network Operations and Head of Debt Centres

Find out more about partnering with CAP here.
Book a CAP Speaker for your church service here.

 

‘He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.’ – Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)

Thanks to your support of CAP, thousands of families have become debt free in 2018. Hundreds have found work, overcome habits and dependencies, and learned new life transforming skills. Together we are living out this verse in Isaiah.

Today, we’re bringing you a beautiful poem written by Jenny, a CAP Life Skills member. As you read it, please give praise and thanks to God for the amazing things he has done this year.

•••

Forgive me Lord, I went astray,
But even so you heard me pray,
You sent friends that guided me,
Now I've found my family tree.

With roots so strong and branches tall,
I know my Lord, you're there for all,
I'm just a leaf upon the tree, but now I know your love for me.
Oh Lord, you are a mighty tree!

– Poem written by Jenny Henry, CAP Life Skills member

 

‘“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.”’ – 1 Kings 17:12 (NIV)

Picture for a moment the widow’s situation. She was a single mother with a young son, barely able to provide for the household. When Elijah met them, she and her child were on the brink of death. Thankfully, through God’s grace they endured and were provided for. God performed a miracle in the darkest of situations.

This situation is eerily familiar even today. Families without food and without heating. Houses so cold that the toilet water freezes over. Parents unable to afford to turn the heating on so they can cook a meal for their children. But remember: God still performs miracles!

Take a few minutes to pray for those families who will be without this Christmas. In particular, please pray for:

  • Protection for families having to endure the cold this winter
  • Those who need provision in a time of famine to receive it, just as the widow did
  • The CAP Debt Coaches visiting those cold homes; that they would be like Elijah and speak the word of the Lord into those places

– Written by Paul Walmsley, Utilities Coordinator, External Affairs team

 

‘Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”’ – Acts 16:26-28 (NIV)

There are multiple miracles taking place in Acts 16. One of the more subtle miracles is the grace that Paul and Silas showed to their guard. They were in prison, in pain, and yet they held nothing over the guard’s head. He ended up getting saved because of the grace he was shown.

The thing is, we can be Paul and Silas AND the guard. When we’re trapped in a prison of our making, based on our own decisions, it’s easy to punish ourselves, both when we’re trapped and when we’re free again. It takes the form of regret, shame, guilt, and fear of it happening again. Paul and Silas could have let the guard kill himself because of the torture they endured, and let his shame take over, but they showed him God’s grace. It’s time that you did the same for yourself.

This is an activity we do as part of our Fresh Start groups:

  • List a few of the mistakes you’ve made that you haven’t forgiven yourself for yet. Now, take a minute and forgive yourself for each of those items by name using God’s grace as your inspiration and strength. God never intended on us living a life of regret and shame. He delivered us from death so that we could truly LIVE.
  • Finally, listen to the songs Forgiveness and Mended by Matthew West.

– Written by Tina Perry, Fresh Start Manager, Gloucester

 

‘“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”’ – Isaiah 43:18-20 (ESV)

Many clients who come to CAP have been struggling for a long time. They may have been attempting to pay a mortgage that is unaffordable to keep their family home. They may be crushed by years of the legal battles involved with a messy divorce, custody or probate. They may be fighting with the benefits or social system, unable to get the help they need. Many can’t see a way out, wandering in the wilderness. This is where the Resolutions team comes in.

The options process allows a client to step back and view their situation. It is chance to see that, beyond the immediate struggle, there is a river in the desert. However, it can be hard for clients to do something new, particularly letting go of their home.

Please would you say this prayer with us today?

Lord, thank you that you are a mighty God. You are mightier than the sea, mightier than any army and mightier than any problem that we face. Thank you that no matter how long we have been wandering in the wilderness, you are a God who makes a way for us. You know the way even when it is inconceivable to us.

We pray for clients being helped by the Resolutions team – you know all of them inside and out. You know their struggles and their fears. We pray that they will know you are with them and you can make a way out of their situation, learning to trust you even when that means letting go themselves. We pray that they will know your love and guidance through the Resolutions team.

We pray also for the team, that they will be sensitive to your leadership when they present advice to clients. We pray that you will guide and uphold them in their work.

Amen.

– Written by Amanda Brown, CAP caseworker

 

‘Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all, and in your hand is power and might; and it lies in your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.’ – 1 Chronicles 29:12 (NASB)

Working in the Supporter Phone team, I have the privilege of praying with many of our supporters. It often strikes me that there is little difference between the prayer requests of our supporters and clients. We pray for the provision of jobs, return of health, restoration of relationships. It causes me to reflect time and time again that it is truly only God who has power and might, who is capable in every situation.

Us humans – we are all as vulnerable as each other to needing help, to being impacted by poor health, to needing support with finances. These are all things that can easily rob us of the joy of Christmas time, the joy that was gifted to us through Jesus’ birth.

As you go about your day today, reflect on the fact that our Father created all the beautiful things around us. The world is a reminder of his power. Let’s turn to him with praise, and with any requests we might have, because it lies in his hand to ‘make great and to strengthen everyone’.

– Written by Agata Cienciala, Supporter Phone team

 

‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.’ – Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

‘Hope you have a great Christmas’ people write in their Christmas cards, but what if you know it’s hardly going to be a vintage year?

Like most of us, I’ve had a few corkers when I was hardly in the party spirit. The one where a family member was having emergency surgery was a low point… or the first one after my father’s death. Hardly ho-ho-ho!

At these times, the festive songs can especially grate on the emotions.

No, I don’t ‘wish it could be Christmas every daa-ay’. No, it’s not ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

Sorry for the inconvenient reality check, but who are we kidding if we think life switches to perfect mode the minute we hit December?

But, in these times, uncluttered by the froth of the festivities, the hope offered by Jesus is actually every bit clearer. He is close.

This ‘hope’ isn’t about wishful thinking like you might hope to win the lottery. Godly hope is a solid assurance that our messy lives don’t go unseen. We are not forgotten. Our God came to be born as one of us and will stay with us, bringing light into our darkest days. He’ll be with us when those days become lighter too. Finding it hard to believe? Don’t worry, he is faithful enough for both of you.

Today, have a cup of tea with Jesus.

  1. Make the drink.
  2. Sit quietly with your hands around a hot mugful.
  3. Know that Jesus is with you, holding you as you hold the cup.
  4. If you are having a difficult time, tell him about it.
  5. Ask him to strengthen others who struggle.

– Written by Marianne Clough, National PR Manager, Communications team

 

‘Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.’ – Proverbs 3:27 (NIV)

One of the many proverbs of Solomon, this particular proverb falls in a list that offers guidance to the young. I love this proverb because it encourages good for the sake of good, not reward.

Over the year, here at CAP we’ve seen many, many supporters look at what is in their hand and choose to use it for good. Some people hold a little, some hold a lot, but we’ve witnessed so many make a decision to not withhold good from those to whom it is due – namely, our clients.

Praise God for the generosity of individuals and families who partner with us to do good simply because it’s the right thing to do!

As we find ourselves in this season of advent, let us reflect on our good God – he who sent his son into our world not for reward, but simply because he is who he is. What a fitting time for us to extend that goodness to those who need it, not because of anything we may get in return, but simply because we can.

Today, let’s simply be thankful for those who have sowed into CAP over the years and made the thousands upon thousands of transformed lives possible. For the 30,000 Life Changers who give every month, for every one-off gift, for the generous supporters who have agreed to match regular gifts pound for pound, and for every person who has contributed to CAP in any way, whether financially or otherwise.

– Written by Matthew Harrison, Fundraising Operations team

 

‘Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ – Matthew 6:31-33 (NASB)

In the Client Payments team at CAP, one of my jobs is making sure the money for a Debt Relief Order or bankruptcy is in place, ready for the client to get out of debt. It saddens me everyday because I see clients with no savings, some with not even £1 to their name – 87% of our clients have no savings to fall back on. Thankfully we have many trusts that help provide money for clients to go through an insolvency option; however, the need is still huge.

As Christmas approaches, let’s think about our clients who have no money to buy presents for their kids, no money to buy a nice turkey for Christmas Day. It’s so easy to take those things for granted when you have them, but when you don’t you certainly notice the emptiness!

This verse in Matthew 6 reminds us that God is our provider and takes care of us. I’m personally reminded that even though in my role at times I feel unable to help, we have a God who loves our clients and will support them in this difficult season.

Today, would you commit to spending 15 minutes praying for our clients, especially those with no savings to fall back on? Let’s each do what we can to bring them hope during what could feel like a hopeless time of year.

– Written by Helen Goddard, Client Payments team

 

‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"’ – Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

Isaiah has been called the ‘Christmas prophet’ due to his role as key messenger of the coming messiah and his good news, so it’s appropriate to turn here for advent and this key verse that has underpinned our international work.

As I prepare to move to America to pioneer yet another new CAP country, ‘feet’ really sums it up. So often we have to ‘move’, ‘walk’ and ‘go’ to take the good news – we can’t do it by holding on to it here! And what a beautiful message CAP takes to those countries: there is good news for the Church and good news for the poor.

You can have beautiful feet too! For too long we’ve assumed that missions and sharing the gospel means moving abroad. Some are called to this, but not all. This Christmas, can you use your feet to move to your neighbours across the road or in your community? Remember, you have such good news in Jesus – don’t keep it to yourself!

– Written by Simon Wilce, Executive Director of CAP America

 

‘As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.’ – Luke 8:23-24 (NLT)

A huge percentage of our clients struggle with mental illness and it can be very hard to find a peaceful space in your mind when you’re surrounded by life’s storms. The anxiety, stress and panic of day to day life can become overwhelming and it can easily feel like you’re drowning, unable to stay afloat.

However, Jesus knew he had the power to silence those storms, and was therefore able to sleep, even as the chaos around them raged.

Today, please would you pray:

  • That even when CAP clients are surrounded by life’s storms they are able to find peace, calm and emotional wellness
  • That our clients can find the same rest Jesus did, no matter what life throws at them, and know that because God is in control they need not be fearful of drowning
  • For healing over their mental illness, that the emotional and mental storms they face daily will be rebuked and that all can be calm

– Written by Liz Ewbank, CAP caseworker, Client Setup team

 

‘God sets the lonely in families.’ – Psalm 68:6 (NIV)

Across the UK, thousands will be travelling miles (often in adverse weather!) to be with those they love for Christmas Day. Yet there are those in our communities for whom Christmas means heightened loneliness, isolation, grief and seclusion - either they have no family, they’re not able to be with them, or circumstances have cut them off.

I love this verse because it reminds us that God’s heart is so for community. He sees each individual and his desire is for them to be known and loved. The Church is the family of God. Let’s pray that those who are lonely would know true family this Christmas.

Please join in with this prayer today:

Father, thank you that we can celebrate with such joy at this time of year, that you sent Jesus to us. I can imagine Mary and Joseph with Jesus and the joy he must have brought them – a new family.

I pray that you would be with those who find Christmas difficult this year, that you would draw close to them, that you would place people around them who will be your hands and feet, offering love and kindness and drawing them into your family.

Amen.

– Written by Ruth Cracknell, CAP Debt Coach, London Camden

 

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ – Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

God calls us to always keep seeking him. To seek him first, whether things are good or bad. We know that this can be one of the hardest times of year for our clients (or would-be clients), who feel the commercial pressure, who struggle to even put food on the table, and can really lack the courage to call for help.

We find the highest number of calls to our debt helpline happening before and especially just after Christmas, where people are really seeking hope, seeking a solution to their situation.

We know God is the ultimate source of everything we need, practically, spiritually and personally. Let’s push through for the things we’ve been asking God for, those impossible situations, or just simply make him our first response, whether things are tough or going great – especially around this season when we remember all that Jesus has done for us.

Please pray:

  • For our clients and anyone who is struggling, that they will be able to ask, to seek, to knock – not just for the debt help they need, but ultimately for an encounter with the love of Jesus

Also:

  • Thank God for all that he is doing in your life
  • Pray and make him your first response, the one you seek in the things that are tough

– Written by Grace Moxon, Helpline Operator, New Enquiries team

 

‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.’ – Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)

I spoke to a CAP client called Emma, who told me about the utter dread that filled her when enforcement agents banged on the door – sometimes as late as midnight! She didn’t know what to say, she didn’t know her rights, so she sat full of fear, crushed in spirit.

Thankfully she called CAP. As we all celebrate Christmas, our head office and frontline teams will continue to speak up for people like Emma. We’ll demand justice, call off the enforcement agents; we’ll speak up and demand they get the protection they need. Some of them will be cutting their Christmas holidays short and will be back at work, because they know that injustice doesn’t break up for Christmas, so nor can we.

Together, can we pray for them as they serve the poorest in this way?

  • Pray for God to give strength to our clients as they face harsh collection tactics
  • Thank God that CAP has encouraged 75% of all enforcement agent companies in the country to agree to reduce action once we’re involved
  • Pray for our staff as they support clients over the Christmas break

– Written by Matt Barlow, CEO – UK and International

 

‘The subject of the conversation, the original light, came into the world, the world that had arisen out of his willingness to converse. He fleshed out the words but the world did not understand. He came to those who knew the language, but they did not respond. Those who did became a new creation (his children), they read the signs and responded.’ – John 1:9-13 (Clive Scott ©)

I love this translation of John 1. It gives new meaning to the translation of the Word and brings it to life, painting the picture of a relational God who invites us into conversation and partnership with him.

All new beginnings come out of conversation. Like the original new beginning, light and creativity came out of a conversation in the heavens between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As Christmas Day approaches and we prepare ourselves to celebrate the original light, Jesus Christ, let’s remind ourselves that all of his creativity and light is within us and, as we enter dialogue with him, he births new beginnings in us everyday.

Around this time of year, we often start thinking about New Year’s resolutions that invariably last approx. 17 days (at best). Yet I wonder if there is a new way of framing these resolutions that seems less of a static goal and more of a dynamic conversation with the creator God in the mix, hearing his voice, bringing him your desires and hopes, asking for his help and creativity for you to continue on the journey of new birth and transformation well into the year ahead.

What are next year’s items for discussion between you and the master creator? How is he prompting you to join him in conversation to bring creativity and light to your life and to the world around you?

– Written by Joy Blundell, Location Pastor at Alive Lincoln, Founding Director of Acts Trust, and CAP Trustee

There’s more to Christmas than more spending

calendar22 November 2018

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

There’s more to Christmas than more spending

­­Every year, Christmas always involves a lot of pressure to spend. With modern day traditions like the Black Friday sales and its offshoots, including Cyber Monday, the push to spend, spend, spend, and spend it quickly has never been greater.

And while we’d never suggest you shouldn’t compare prices and buy when it’s cheap, you can easily get whipped up in the excitement of the sales and end up buying things you don’t really need. Retailers often reduce the items they know would be hard to get rid of if they weren’t discounted.

One common tactic that retailers and advertisers use to pull us in is giving us the feeling that everyone else is having a better Christmas than we are. This is especially tempting if you’re living on a budget – there’s often a feeling that we need to keep up the pretence that we don’t have money worries, and so we wander from our plans.

For one CAP Debt Help client, Margaret*, the drive to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, as they say, was one of the things that led to her falling deeper into debt.

‘I was prioritising the wrong things – buying my kids flashy trainers, going out for meals, doing everything I shouldn’t be doing instead of paying my mortgage, paying my bills. I was trying to live a life that really I shouldn’t have been, and it just was a downward spiral.’

Margaret admits she would bury her head in the sand, and as a result her debts grew worse and worse, until eventually she was facing enforcement agents at her door. Sadly, Margaret lost her house.

Since getting in touch with CAP, Margaret has managed to find a way out of debt and has moved into a new home. Now she’s debt free and things are looking up. Through CAP, she also got connected with a local church, which has had a huge impact on her life.

‘I started going to church with my CAP Debt Coach; it changed my outlook on the world. I didn’t need a big house, I didn’t need fancy cars, I didn’t need anything. When I moved into a rented house a stone’s throw away from church, suddenly all these people started helping me to furnish it! I’m remember thinking, ‘This is a bit weird’, because none of my friends from my old life would’ve bothered. Everything I needed for the house was generously donated through the church and through CAP.’

For Margaret, it wasn’t about the ‘stuff’, the physical items. It was about the act of generosity and love shown to her by the local church.

Do you remember everything you bought last Christmas? Or do you remember the time you spent with the ones you love? Do you think it’ll be the same months from now, looking back? Christmas doesn’t have to be a race to collect the largest pile of stuff and spend the most money, if you don’t let it. What could you cut down on this Christmas? What do you have to be grateful for?

*Name has been changed to protect identity

It’s time to talk about money

calendar12 November 2018

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

It’s time to talk about money

Money affects almost every part of our lives. It impacts where we live, what we eat, and even has a knock on effect on our relationships. Yet, despite the power money has to pretty much determine how our lives pan out, many of us still feel uncomfortable talking about it, even with the people we love.

There are many reasons people may find it difficult to talk about their finances. It can be an incredibly personal topic for a lot of people. They might worry about being judged for not knowing something or for having money trouble. The reality is that no matter how much we know about money and how much we earn, debt can easily be caused by circumstances that would’ve been impossible to predict or prevent.

Sadly, in the culture we live in, wealth is paired with status and opportunity, whereas money troubles come with shame. This is something we need to change; one in three of our clients have waited more than three years before seeking help with CAP, and they often spend those months feeling more and more isolated, fearful and hopeless. Imagine how different things could have been if those people had found help when they first needed it.

That’s why we’re joining in with Talk Money Week this November. The campaign urges financial charities and organisations to talk with each other about how to make their services even better. It’s also aimed at breaking the stigma attached to our finances, getting people talking about their money in their own life, with their friends and family.

Why not use this week as a chance to open up to someone about your financial struggles? Why not start a conversation about it with your friends and family? It’s often hard to know if someone could do with a little help managing their money, so what better opportunity than this week to simply ask?

We’ve all picked up tools and wisdom along our own journey that would hugely benefit someone else. When we come together we can help each other out. You could also help provide the emotional support that someone desperately needs. Debt can be so isolating; 37% of our clients said that their debts made them afraid to leave the house. Offering a listening ear could make a huge difference.

Don’t forget to let your friends know about CAP. We exist to rescue people from the grip of poverty, across the UK, in partnership with the local Church. Our free debt counselling service exists to help those struggling with debt, no matter their age, background or faith. Thanks to our amazing debt centres across the country, we’re seeing people not just find financial freedom but their whole life transformed by the holistic support of a loving community.

‘I rang up and told them the situation. I felt quite ashamed. The woman on the other end of the phone was absolutely amazing. She didn’t judge me even though I judged myself. She said we can help, it’s okay. I left it in her hands.’ – CAP Debt Help client

As well as providing our life changing debt counselling service that sees thousands of people find hope every year, we also offer the CAP Money Course. This award winning course empowers individuals to take back control of their finances, with a bunch of practical tools such as how to budget, spend and save in a way that allows people to plan for the future.

I hope you’re feeling encouraged to talk to someone about your finances, knowing that as you break the silence you could be extending a lifeline to someone you love.

If you or someone you know needs CAP’s help, give us a call on 0800 328 0006 or click here to start the conversation today.

Five reasons why you should apply for a job at CAP

calendar05 November 2018

Justine Barnes's avatar Justine Barnes

Five reasons why you should apply for a job at CAP

There are so many reasons to love working at CAP. I arrived nearly seven years ago as a caseworker. My decision to apply came after my own struggle with severe debt, one that lead to bankruptcy and saw my home repossessed. I wanted to help others in the same position and loved doing that for a long time. Now I manage our HR team and I’m passionate about looking after our staff well.

One of the most popular questions we get asked by candidates as interviews draw to a close is, ‘What do you love most about working at CAP?’ As we are in an exciting season of being able to recruit a number of people into CAP, I thought it would be fun to share our top five answers with you…

1. We get to share Jesus at work

Many people find this both remarkable and exciting – a workplace where we can pray together, share our faith with clients and supporters, and openly put Jesus first. In fact, being Christ-centred is one of our core values and this will never change. If you want to come into work and celebrate all that God is doing in your life, we will celebrate with you. If you’re having a hard day, we will pray for you. The recent BBC documentary was certainly proof that we don’t hide our faith!

2. We are a family

Our culture is one where we support each other, enjoy working together and have lots of fun in the process. At CAP HQ we have a social space, which was recently refurbished, where we can build friendships and get to know new people every single day. We also have team days out, department lunches and staff conferences – all great opportunities to strengthen our friendships and be inspired during our working day.

3. We get to see lives transformed on a daily basis

What a privilege! Our client stories are truly inspiring. Every week we take time out to hear how they became debt free, met goals through our group services and even how some have started their walk with Jesus. We are well known for the bell we ring when someone makes a commitment to Jesus and our debt free harmonica celebrations – reminders of lives transformed through everything we do each day.

4. We are professional

I have lost count of the amount of people who tour our Bradford offices and express surprise at how big we are. Some expect just a couple of offices and a photocopier! We employ over 300 people and our facilities are excellent, including an extensive IT team, over 60 well trained managers, a staff team that are fully committed to their roles and a very comfortable working environment. To stay professional, providing the best for our clients whilst stewarding our income well, we provide excellent training to help all staff thrive in their roles. Those who may struggle to meet performance standards are treated with fairness and compassion.

5. We are committed to looking after our employees well

In fact, we’ve won awards for it! We have a great rewards and benefits programme including a competitive pay structure, an Employee Assistance Programme with Health Assured, generous pension contributions, long service awards, a season ticket loan scheme, an extensive Learning and Development programme and many other benefits.

Are we perfect? No. But every day we do our best to recruit amazing people and look after them well. Many of our applicants want to make a difference, and that is probably what I love most about working at CAP.

Now that you know a little bit more about CAP as an employer, head over to our jobs page and have a look at all the roles we have available at the moment – you may just find something that’s perfect for you.

View all the roles we have on offer.

The true face of UK food poverty

calendar01 November 2018

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

The true face of UK food poverty

When I say poverty – or more precisely, food poverty – what picture comes to your mind? Do you see someone emaciated and malnourished? You’re not alone.

The media feeds us a certain image of poverty. Starving children in Africa, ribs visible, wasting away. All of this is a terrible truth of the developing world, but the reality we see here at CAP in households across the UK is very different and very real.

Every week we meet people in situations where their income is so low that food stops being about enjoyment and nutrition, and becomes about staying alive and keeping their family alive. 67% of CAP’s clients say they had missed meals due to poverty.

Costly staples like fruit, veg and fish become a luxury, and inexpensive refined carbohydrates that fill you up become the norm. A study by the Food Foundation thinktank found that 14.4 million households are unable to afford the diet that is nutritionally recommended by the Government.

Indeed, for the price of one cabbage from Tesco (79p), you could buy a loaf of budget range bread (36p) and two tins of Everyday Value spaghetti hoops (21p each) – several meals, carb-heavy and filling, but with next to no nutritional value.

Similarly, for less than the price of one loose pepper (55p) you could buy a 1kg bag of budget range white rice (45p) that could last you a week or more.

Think about it. You have £1 in your pocket. You haven’t eaten in days. You need to feed your kids. What are you going to do? Well, that’s the problem – you don’t have a choice.

On top of the severe lack of nutritional value, there’s the matter of the amount of saturated fat, sugar, salt and various other nasties in the kinds of foods the poorest have no choice but to rely on.

For example, a bag of oven chips in Asda’s budget range costs 60p per kilogram, but contains two times the fat and 25% more salt than their standard range, which costs more than twice as much, at £1.25 per kilogram.

What does all of this lead to? It’s a depressing pathway to a multitude of health problems including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and, you guessed it, obesity.

Suddenly, that picture of food poverty with which you’re so familiar starts to look very different. You start to realise that food poverty in our culture isn’t necessarily about the quantity of food you can afford, but more often it’s the quality and the poor nourishment it provides.

With food bank usage in the UK hitting an all-time high earlier this year, and low income being the most common motivator, this is a crisis that’s far from over. Heartbreakingly, it’s on the rise.

The need is being recognised – food banks are doing incredible work, schools are hosting kids’ clubs in the morning and during the holidays to make sure children aren’t going hungry – but there’s so much more to be done. It’s time we raised our voices to turn judgement based on body size into compassion based on understanding what UK food poverty really looks like.

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