Depression. Addictions to numb the memories of childhood abuse. Illness. Surgery. Breakdown. Job loss. Bills they could no longer pay. Fear and isolation.
This was life for Pete and Betty until they got in touch with Christians Against Poverty. By this time they were desperate, but just making the call felt like a major step forward. They were soon visited in their Southampton home by a Debt Coach from King’s Community Church and started on their journey out of debt and isolation.
Betty had first turned to drink to deal with the pain of her childhood. She finally managed to quit alcohol, but filled the void with scratch cards, even spending money she’d borrowed from friends to pay bills. The stress this caused for her husband, Pete, along with three operations, was too much for him and led to a complete breakdown. Afraid to leave home by himself, he says, ‘My head was like a heavy cloud.’
After starting to work with CAP, Betty accepted an invitation to church and felt so welcome that she says it felt like family. She went on to do the Alpha course, gave her life to Christ and now loves being part of the church. Pete came to her baptism and started to connect with Betty’s small group. He began to trust people again and knew that they were on his side. He then did Alpha himself and became a Christian!
Everything has changed for Pete, who says, ‘I used to push people away and cry for no reason. I feel so much more confident and I know it comes from the inside out.’ Betty says, ‘We really struggled in our relationship, but now I am so in love! I couldn’t have a better husband.’
Aneli Stark, who leads the debt ministry at KCC says, ‘Pete and Betty have worked with CAP to become debt free. A huge weight has lifted and the transformation in their lives is wonderful. They now help out whenever they can, they are cheerful and bright and fun to be with.’ She continues, ‘Over the last six years our CAP team has visited 185 individuals or families offering hope and friendship. We are able to meet people at their most vulnerable. They let us into their homes, their circumstances and their hearts. As people have found a way out of debt, we have also seen many come to faith and join the church family.”
Andy Johnston, who leads the team at KCC says, ‘Christians against Poverty is an amazing organization for us to partner with as a local church. They’ve equipped us to share Jesus’ gospel manifesto – to proclaim freedom for prisoners. Pete and Betty’s story shows that debt cripples, but Jesus sets people free!’
CAP have a stand at The Catalyst Festival and will be running a seminar on “Social Action that Bears Fruit” in the Social Action Zone, from 3:30pm-4:30pm on Monday afternoon. Come and get some fresh ideas for your church and your social action projects.
Written by Aneli Starks and Steve Haines