“Come over to Macedonia and help us,” said the man in the dream which Paul had while he was busy preaching and teaching in Asia. And so the good news of Jesus spread to Greece. It wasn’t what Paul had intended doing at the time, but it was what God intended for Paul.
With just such a call from Crieff Christians in 2017, “Come over and help us start a Debt Centre,” CAP Highland Perthshire found itself with an ever-expanding area of work. What really convinced us to go to Crieff was that several ministers there were signed up to CAP and where the ministers lead, the churches generally follow. It took some time – frustratingly for all concerned – to get things going, but there is now an excellent talented Steering Group in place, working towards having their own Debt Centre in Crieff within the next year. The initial level of debt enquiries from the Crieff area confirms we were right to help them – and it even suggests that Crieff supporters need to move faster than we expected to get this centre up and running.
We were already dealing with debt enquiries from the Blairgowrie area where we’ve been working for the past two years, with client numbers slowly growing. In that time, we’ve identified a great team of CAP supporters who now have formed their own Steering Group and they too are focussed on getting a local Debt Centre up and running. In Blairgowrie, the driving force is the grass roots Christians; their challenge is to engage the local church leadership which isn’t always easy to do. Church partnership is key to future developments there, because CAP UK only works through local churches.
These new developments have been made possible by two key factors: firstly, the Go For It Continuation Funding which we sought for precisely this purpose: to develop sustainable CAP Debt Centres in two satellite towns where some areas featured in the lower or lowest quintiles in Scottish Index of Multiple Depravation (SIMD) rankings. The second key to these emerging ministries has been the sterling work done by Pam Thomson, CAP Highland Perthshire’s part-time Community Links Coordinator. Pam has worked tirelessly with the various public sector agencies in both Crieff and Blairgowrie gaining their confidence, so they see us as equals, worthy of respect for the professional way we go about our work; many of them now confidently refer potential debt clients.
When God wants a job done, He provides every resource needed – above and beyond what we can ever imagine!
We are deeply grateful to God for both the Go For It and other funding and the staff and volunteers whom He has provided. And in the process, in both these satellite towns, we see churches working together across the denominations to bring the love of God and CAP’s practical solutions to people trapped in the prison of debt.
One last point to make: it’s great when an outside source validates the work which CAP does and who better than the London School of Economics (LSE)? A recently published, independent report from LSE has reviewed the wider social impact of Christians Against Poverty and its partnering churches – and valued it at a whopping £32M a year. Entitled “Never just a Number”, the report finds that for every pound spent on poverty relief at CAP, society benefits almost four-fold. Led by Professor Anne Power, Head of LSE Housing and Communities and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, the research team carried out more than 100 interviews with staff and clients and worked through more than 12,600 client records to find out just how CAP works and the social impact on society.
It says CAP provides ‘crucial’ face-to-face support which goes far beyond simply debt advice. It describes the debt help as ‘intensive and holistic’ and ‘highly professional.’
It’s good to see the value of CAP’s work being recognised in this way. And, of course, this reflects also on CAP’s partner churches who are the power houses behind everything, inspired by our amazing God who called us to partner with Him in this ministry in the first place.
Chair of the Strategy Team
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Highland Perthshire Debt Centre
About CAP Highland Perthshire Debt Centre
CAP Highland Perthshire Debt Centre are using a Go For It Main Grant to provide a free debt counselling service and one to one support; working with each client until they become debt free, and teaching budgeting skills.
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