Thirty years ago, I had a mental breakdown and went to stay with my mum for support. Because I was there for a long time, the council property I lived in was taken away, including all my belongings. Suddenly I was homeless.
After requesting another council property, I was offered a two-bed flat for me and my sons. It was lovely. But then, in a short space of time, I encountered abuse from my neighbours. I was so afraid of them that I wouldn’t go out. I also struggled to get the council to carry out necessary repairs on the property. It was a nightmare.
All the while, I was struggling with thousands of pounds’ worth of debt. I had to stop working when I had the breakdown, and raising a family on benefits was hard. I struggled to afford basic everyday things that most people find easy to deal with, and my mental health condition made everything more difficult.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Philippians 4:6 (NLT) – one of Melinda’s favourite Bible verses
Asking God for help
Even when my boys grew up and left home, I couldn’t handle the issues that confronted me. I had always believed in God, but I didn’t know how to ask him for help. All I did was say, ‘Please, please God, let me get another flat’. Besides the abuse I’d been enduring from the neighbours for years, I was told I could no longer live in the property as it had two bedrooms and I was the sole occupant. It felt hopeless.
You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.Matthew 21:22 (NLT) – another of Melinda’s favourite verses
I viewed six properties, all of which were substandard. At the sixth, I was so desperate that I said I would accept it – but God had other plans. The woman showing me around rejected it on my behalf. She didn’t believe I would be happy there.
Meanwhile, the cost of living started to go up, and my energy bills rose from £89 to £268 per month. I was using credit cards to buy food which meant I wasn’t able to clear any of my debt. Then, in the space of one week, my washing machine, cooker, fridge freezer and TV all gave up. I didn’t know where to turn.
At one point I was so low that I attempted suicide. When I woke the next morning, I really cried to God for help. The plea was from the bottom of my heart. Strangely enough, it was from then on that everything began to turn around. I was under the care of a mental health hospital and was referred to a local charity that helps those over 50, and they suggested getting debt help from CAP.
When I met CAP
The first time Peter and Jill from CAP visited, I didn’t own a sofa, so there weren’t enough seats for us all to sit on. Peter immediately started thinking about how he could help me, beyond the debt, and he was able to get a lovely, comfortable sofa for my flat. Both he and Jill were supportive, helpful and understanding right from the start.
Peter gave me a list of scriptures to read. There was one in particular, Psalm 118:5–6, that really helped me: ‘When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ I started to feel that I wasn’t alone.
Peter invited me to his church, and I’ve been going regularly ever since. Attending church gives me something to look forward to as I live by myself and don’t have anyone to talk to. I was able to ask for prayer for my family, as well as for my search for a smaller, more peaceful property. I’ve rededicated myself to Jesus Christ and found that I can pray in earnest and truth. Although sometimes I doubted, I quoted scripture in my prayers where the advice was to ask anything in faith and believe that it would be given. I’ve learnt that when I seek God first, he will give me everything I need.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.Psalm 51:10 (NLT)
He really and truly has answered my prayers. Thanks to CAP, I’m now debt free and I’m able to put some money into savings. And, this summer, I moved into a lovely, one-bedroom, ground-floor flat with a garden. God even supplied a place that had been fully refurbished. There’s nothing I need to do!
I still have struggles with low income and my mental health, but having God in my life and a church community around me has made a world of difference. I want to encourage anyone reading this that, no matter what you are going through or longing for, seek God first. Read your Bible and pray every day. Find a church group where you can gain fellowship and receive spiritual guidance and direction. Most importantly, trust in him. He is with you.