The Power of Words

This post has been sat in my drafts folder waiting for another editor of another blog to hit publish. Today is the day. Not sure if my birthday is the day I would have chosen, but I trust in God’s timing.

I want to tell you about an exciting writing opportunity that’s happened recently. But to do it justice we need to rewind my story three and a half years. Lets go back to my first year of university, at 19 years old. Back to my room in my University Halls, to one of many long nights on the internet, desperately searching for hope. We must go back to a time where the world looked so dark, the future devoid of hope. Back to a girl who felt  lost and alone, struggling to come to terms with a depression that was stealing her joy.

It was this girl, at this time, who read these words:

” You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story”

~Jamie  Tworkowski, TWLOHA Founder

 By chance I had stumbled across the American charity ‘To Write Love on Her Arms’ (read more here), whose mission is to help those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Those words spoke to me. They whispered hope back into my life at a time when it was hard to hold on to. They were thirteen important words on the journey towards acceptance and healing.

Words have power, whether we realise it or not. We can use them to build up or to tear down. We can speak encouragement or insult. Words can bring comfort and community, or hurt and loneliness. They can bring hope or spread despair.

That night, three and a half years ago, I began to appreciate the power of words. It was then I decided that my story was going to be one of hope. That in sharing that story I may be able to one day bring hope to others. Today I hope is one of those days.

A few months ago, TWLOHA, the charity that inspired me those years ago, invited people to send in guest submissions for their blog. Thinking it would come to nothing, I sent them a piece  about hope and depression. About the power of hope’s whisper. Today is the day that post has been published, and shared with all their followers and supporters. Today is a chance for my words to spread hope, to those who find themselves in the same darkness I’ve journeyed through.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. These words could cost me.  They could be met with misunderstanding, with judgement and rejection. Maybe some of you will look at me differently.

But I believe in a future where people understand the brain can get sick the same way the body does. A future where those with mental illness are not made to feel ashamed and embarrassed. I believe that God’s heart is aching for the church to show these people love and acceptance. I believe in the simple power of sharing a story.

I am not the same girl I was three and a half years ago. The years have shaped and strengthened me into who I am today. I write now from a brighter place, a place of health and happiness. My story will continue. But I write for those people today who feel like they have reached the end of their own story. For those who feel lost and alone. I share these words with the prayer they can bring hope.

This post is for all those who have walked with me on my journey so far. For all those who have whispered hope back into my life, on those darker days. I will forever be grateful to you. These words are for those of you who encouraged me to keep writing, who reminded me I have a story to share. This is just a chapter of mine, but I offer it to you with hope.

“Truth isn’t measured in the volume of the voice. Sometimes the most precious truths can be found in those persistent whispers, in those words that pull us back from the edge, and in those words that ground us and keep us going.”

http://twloha.com/blog/hope-whispers

The Ones That Love Us Never Really Leave Us

First a little warning: I’m aware that for those of you who know the weight of today this may not be an easy read. I needed to write this, but it might be that today isn’t the day to read it, and that’s okay. Look after yourselves.

In many ways today is just another day. Just one of the three hundred and sixty five that fill our year, full of it’s own challenges and possibilities. I’m sure many things happened on June 20th 2013, children were born, couples got married and friendships blossomed. That day will mean many things to many different people.

But for me, it was also the day we lost a dear friend James in a hiking accident, whilst we were away on a trip to Norway. I was on the trip with James and some other friends. As we started our trip, nestled at the foot of beautiful Norwegian mountains, we didn’t know tragedy would strike that day.  I had no idea the words I exchanged with James would be our last, didn’t realise I was saying ‘goodbye’ instead of ‘hello’. I thought we had hundreds of ordinary days to come, that I had time for all the words I’d meant to say. I didn’t think tomorrow would be too late.

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I felt just a fraction of the damage that day left, I know I experienced only a small part of that grief. A grief that was felt then, and is still felt today. I also know that for me, and for many others, June 20th will never be just another day.

Two months after returning from Norway I moved to a place where no one had ever known James. I realise to the new friends I have made he has become ‘my friend who died’. But that isn’t who James was, he isn’t defined by his death. Rather we love and remember James because of the way he lived.

He was the friend who always had time to help you with your coursework, even if he was overloaded with work himself.  Without his patience and willingness to explain a topic, I’m not sure I would have graduated with a 2.1 degree in Mathematics. He showed me what it means to be selfless and generous. And he was a loyal friend, a friend who really cared, and  listened to the answer when he asked you how you were. James had a passion and enthusiasm for life that was contagious. It was him who inspired me to take up photography, after he let me borrow his camera on a trip away. He had a joy and love of life that I admired and aspired to.

I don’t think I ever saw James do anything half heartedly, whether it was in his studies, hobbies or friendships, he gave it everything he had. And he was dedicated to growing in his faith, committed to following God as closely as he could, eager and excited to learn new things about Him. James was all these things and so much more. I can see he taught me so much through the way he lived his life, even though I did not realise it at the time.

And writing this I miss him, as all who loved him do. It still hurts to know we won’t see him again this side of heaven. But the beautiful thing about relationships is they change us. When we are loved by someone they give us a piece of themselves, and we are shaped by that investment. That change cannot be reversed. I see so much of James in those friends he has left behind. I see the way his life has impacted and improved our own. That whilst in one sense he is gone, in another sense he is so present to all of us. We will carry James with us into our futures, carry everything he taught us. Though he is not with us in person, I know he will continue to influence my life, mould the person I will become. He can never be forgotten.

Today is going to be tough and painful for so many of us. For some it may feel like too much to bear. It would be so easy to make today about death and loss, darkness and despair. But if James has taught me anything it’s that today should be about life. About the wonderful and inspiring way he lived his, the ways he continues to inspire us.

As you read this I will be travelling down to Southampton, to spend this day with some of James’ friends. There may well be tears, but I know there will also be laughter, as we celebrate all that James was. I thank God for loaning us such a brilliant friend, knowing he is now home where he belongs, at the start of his greatest adventure. As I look into the faces of some of those people James loved, I know I will see his fingerprints over their lives, see how knowing him has changed us for the better. How his influence will be with us for years to come.

And once June 2oth has passed us by again, I’ll continue to carry with me all James taught me. I will do my best to grab life with both hands like he did, to live my life without regrets or ‘maybe tomorrow’. To seek to know God more, to learn and grow in Him each day. I will strive to be compassionate and generous with my life, to be a loyal and caring friend. I will continue to capture as much beauty as I can through the lens of a camera, thinking of him as I do.

Each of us who loved him will carry a different part of who James was with us, letting it live on within, treasuring the memories. And as we carry him with us, until we see him again, we can know he hasn’t really left us. The ones that love us never do.

Before the Dawn

Today is the day we refer to as ‘Good Friday’. The day where we celebrate how Jesus died all those years ago. It seems strange to celebrate a death, especially one so agonising. To stop and recall how one man died on a cross, must seem like foolishness to many. How can a death be a victory? Why do we remember the scars, the hurt, the pain of one man? In part it’s because that cross was meant for us, that death should have been ours. We know the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), our rebellion could never go unpunished by a just God. Today we celebrate that we have been spared, that one perfect man died for us all. We rejoice because we know what came with the dawn of Easter Sunday.

But that first Good Friday, was not one of celebration. Jesus’ friends and family must have thought this was the end, as they watched the man they had loved and followed, die in pain and misery. Surely it was all over? There would have been weeping, shouting and raging at God. Grief raw and consuming, ripping wounds in their hearts. The mother who watched her baby die before her eyes, in the worse way imaginable. The disciples, who believed they were going to liberate the Jews, left with the bitter taste of failure in their mouth; on their own, with no teacher to lead the way. This was where they found themselves before Sunday dawned.

I think for us too there can be times in our lives where we find ourselves waiting before the dawn. Confronted by fear and failure, grief and pain. Waiting for our Saviour to return, but not knowing when He will come. We can feel alone, lost and abandoned. We doubt, we rage, we mourn. As we wait in the darkness of this world, before Jesus returns again in glory. Living before the dawn.

Good Friday will be to many a day full of a mix of emotions. Sorrow tinged with joy. Hope mixed with heart ache. Longing and relief. We can see echoes of so much of our lives in this one day. A day full of emotion and brokenness, so human and yet so far beyond our understanding. A day of darkness with whispers of light to come. We wait before Sunday dawns, waiting for the glorious sun rise bringing with it the wonder of the empty tomb, of Jesus’ return. Sin will be defeated, death will loose it’s sting, we can have new life and hope.

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Yet today we wait before the dawn. Maybe you’ve been waiting here for many months. Waiting for the light to break through, for victory and hope to come. Waiting to find that tomb empty; for that loved one to return, or that problem to be defeated. Let me tell you that dawn will come, that night will come to an end, just as it did for the disciples. Know that the war is  won, even if you still find yourself in a battle. But today, on this Good Friday, the church around the world will wait with you, waiting together, before the dawn.

CAP Needs You!

You could probably gather from my last post that we’ve had a challenging couple of weeks on the internship. There have been their fair share of frustrations and anxieties. However, I want to make it clear that everything that has happened hasn’t changed how I feel about CAP. I still love Christians Against Poverty and all the work that they do. It is still the same charity that caused me to leave everything behind and move up to Bradford to work for them. And despite the challenges and difficulties the move has confronted me with, I would do it again in an instant.

The thing that drew me to CAP, and that still draws me in, is the way we can bring hope to those in completely hopeless situations. Debt can be a pit that can be near impossible to climb out of on your own. Our clients find themselves under incredible pressure with constant letters and phone calls, too afraid to answer the door or open the curtains. The people we serve are often the poorest in society, borrowing money to pay the bills, getting caught in the downward spiral of debt. Then with all their money going on debt repayments 70% of our clients will miss meals, with budgets so painfully tight that parents don’t eat so their children can. The longer this goes on, with debts rising by the day, it can seems like there is no way out, no hope. In fact 36% of our clients considered suicide before coming to CAP.

Yet at CAP we are blessed and privileged to be able to hold out hope to these families. To help them to find a way out of debt. Enable them to get food on the table once more, to be able to provide for their children. We have a debt counselling and budgeting system that really works, with 1,808 households going debt free last year. Combining the care and compassion of the local church, with an award winning professional service. We are able to bring the love of God to the most vulnerable and neglected in society.

But why am I writing this today? I suppose it struck me this week that I have less than five months left at CAP, the time will fly by. Before long the internship will end and I will be likely to move on. This is my window of opportunity to inspire you about this wonderful organisation. That I owe it to all our clients, but even more to the clients who we currently have to turn away because we don’t have a centre in their area. They are the reason we do what we do, and it would be dishonouring to them to keep quiet.

Because the thing is: CAP really does need you. Without receiving government funding, we are hugely reliant on regular monthly donations from supporters, to allow us to do what we do. The reality is, if these donations stopped or even if we failed to get new people on board, then CAP would be finished. Ultimately we would have to give up and go home (probably not before half the staff had worked for free for months or years, re-mortgaged houses and used all their savings- if you don’t believe me you really need to read ‘Nevertheless’ ). As uncomfortable as it is, we need money to do what we do. Without it we can’t offer a hope and a solution to those in debt, we cannot help the poorest in society, we would have to walk away.

We firmly believe that God is in this work, that it is anointed by Him and that everything we have achieved is for His glory. We are carrying on the work that Jesus started when He walked upon this Earth and said:

‘The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good new to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ Luke 4:18-19

We follow a Saviour who is the Lord of second chances and new beginnings. He didn’t turn the poor and the needy away. His was a message that was meant for the last, the least and the lost. We were never meant to keep this message hidden in our churches, but to take it out and meet people where they are. I believe that our Father’s heart is aching for these clients to find hope and find Him.

So today I ask you simply to consider whether God is asking you to join in with this work? Whether perhaps you would be able to give a minimum of £3 a month to support the work of CAP, helping us to reach more and more people in desperate situations. If the answer is yes then you can do so here (if you put my name in the box marked ‘what prompted you to give to CAP’ then it will go towards my fundraising- but either way the money goes straight to CAP). And if not then please go in peace and remember us in your prayers.

I passionately believe that the church needs CAP and CAP very much needs people like you.

Courage Does Not Always Roar

It’s been a long and challenging week, for reasons I can’t write about here. It’s been a week that has shaken the foundations of the life I have built here in Bradford. A week of questioning and doubting myself. Where I have even wondered whether I should stop writing, if perhaps it’s too much of a risk. But writing this blog is something I love and has been a lifeline to me. I’m unwilling to give it up.

The inspiration for this post comes from one of my favourite quotes of all time:

‘Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow” ‘       Mary Anne Radmacher

We often think about courageous people as being men like David in the bible who take on their own Goliath. Individuals who bring justice against the odds, or who overthrow corruption, putting themselves in harms way for the sake of others, or bravely fighting the forces of evil in this world. These are the people who you will see on the news, who will have books published chronicling their lives and documentaries made about them after they die. And they should be recognised and honoured, these men and women show great courage and valour. Yet I think there are other, less appreciated, but equally valuable forms of courage.

For me I think courage can also be a quiet voice. I’ve been reminded of that this week as I’ve seen friends persevering, and battling on, despite struggling with illness or difficult life events. Or in friends who have made the decision to move forward from challenging circumstances with dignity and bravery. Their courage hasn’t roared but it has inspired me none the less.

I see courage in the person who chooses to keep living and hoping each day, despite being burdened by illness or pain. I see it in the mother who loves and fights for her children, despite life throwing countless obstacles and struggles in her way. Or in those who decide to love and trust again, even though they are still wounded by all the times they’ve been let down before. I see courage in those who fail and make mistakes, but rise again the next day to try again.

This kind of courage isn’t loud and doesn’t shout. Those who are displaying it might well go unrecognised and unnoticed, perhaps only God will see it. Maybe you think it doesn’t matter. But I think the courage and tenacity of the human spirit is one of the most beautiful things about humanity. The way that we can be knocked down ten times but will rise again eleven. The world is full of people who have overcome so much darkness and difficulty in their lives, and still face each new day with hope. These people may not change the world, but their bravery and determination should still be acknowledged and praised.

Maybe this is where you are right now. Maybe you find yourself dealing with events and circumstances that are requiring every ounce of your strength and courage. Perhaps you reach the end of the day and wonder how you can do it all again. It might be that, like me, you need to listen to that quiet voice of courage saying “I will try again tomorrow”. Your courage may not roar but God, who sees your heart, will honour it.

Breaking The Silence

I’ve been thinking for weeks about whether I would write this post. I suppose in these past few months I’ve come to realise that the words I write can make more of an impact than I would have imagined before I started. I’ve been moved by the feedback I’ve received, and it’s helped me to understand that I’ve been given not only a gift but also a responsibility. One I don’t want to waste. In writing this post I know I’m taking a risk, opening myself up to the potential to be hurt. But as I write I am thinking about the future I want, a future free from shame and full of hope, for all those who have fought this battle. I can see that silence will not get us there.

You see,this week is ‘National Eating Disorders Awareness’ week. This is a cause that means more to me than most, because I am a survivor of Anorexia. It often feels strange that I get to talk about it so little, when recovering from it remains my greatest achievement to date. I suppose if it had been a physical illness that I had defeated against the odds, then that would be a socially acceptable topic of conversation, over a cup of coffee. But somehow overcoming a mental illness seems to mean you have to lock that door in your life, and take a vow of selective silence. Because after all you recover just so you can blend in again, right?

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The irony being that at this point in the year, diets is often all anyone can talk about. It seems very few people have a healthy relationship with food. Many people are locked in a constant struggle to keep off the pounds, and we consider it normal. There have been times at work when those who are dieting have congratulated each other for ‘being good’ and saying no to that slice of cake. And I have wished that people could understand that it took me twice as much will power to eat it.  Or when people sit around at the end of mealtimes moaning about how much they’ve eaten, talking of ‘food babies’, fat and calories. And I want to cry because they are verbalising the very lies I fought so hard to get out of my head. Or when someone makes a joke about anorexics, and I bite my tongue, wanting to tell you that not only have I been one of them; but I’ve sat at the bedside of a friend who I was so scared would die from the illness. That really there’s nothing to laugh about.

Living with Anorexia is like living with another person in your head. A person who analyses every calorie, judges you for every slip of control, every mouthful. Someone who whispers lies and self-hatred into every corner of your mind. Your life boils down to what you can, or mostly can’t, eat. There’s no room in your head for anything else. The world could crumble around you, but so long as you can restrict what you eat, then you can cope. In the end you feel only two emotions the buzz from not eating, or the guilt from eating. The reality being that food is not the real problem, rather a distraction, to cover over the deeper struggles.

Food is a currency in our society. We use it to socialise and to make friends, to reward ourselves for a job well done or as a punishment for breaking the rules. Our magazines are filled with the latest diets, critiquing celebrities for every pound of fat. Our televisions are filled with show after show of what happens when we get it wrong, we make entertainment out of watching people shed the pounds. Being thin is being one step closer to perfection.

I was your textbook Anorexic. An overachiever in her late teenage years, desperate to find control and order, in a world that made so little sense. I was a child of the ‘obesity crisis’, fed with an onslaught of healthy eating advice, of ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’, healthy and unhealthy. It was not much of a leap to think that if it was good to cut down on these foods, then surely it would be better to cut them out altogether. Fuelled by low self esteem and unhappiness, I believed the lie that I would be happier if I was thinner. Maybe then I would fit in.

From that point on Anorexia is a slippery slope of obsession and denial. Rational I knew I was thin, knew it had to stop. But at the same time there was such a high from not eating, a thrill unlike any other, deadly and addictive. And the guilt and the shame from eating was so intense, it could make you dissolve into tears over a bowl of cereal. At times I thought my illness would be the end of me, there were days when I wished it would. I found myself trapped in a prison, so consumed by the lies in my head, that I hadn’t seen the bars descend around me. I thought that this was it, that the course of my life would forever be dictated by food. I thought there was no hope.

But I’m writing this today because I was wrong. There is life after Anorexia. Recovery is a hard road, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t take every ounce of my strength to climb out of the hole I had fallen down. And yes there are still times now when it’s difficult, times when I’m stressed and unhappy, when I can hear that tempting whisper again. In fact this summer the whisper was louder than it has been in the three years since recovery. It took a lot of effort to get my diet back to what it was pre-Norway, to coax my appetite and my motivation back. I am not complacent enough to label myself as ‘recovered’ and forget all I’ve learnt. Recovery is a road I may always be travelling down. I know I may always have to be on my guard, to make sure nothing falls out of my diet. I will never again fast, no matter how many church sermons are preached on it. Nor will I ever cut out a food item for lent. It will never be okay for me to deliberately diet, regardless of how many of my friends are on one.

However, I have come so much further than I ever thought possible. There are days, weeks and months where worries about food don’t even enter my mind. Hundreds of mealtimes free from guilt and fear. I’ve been a healthy weight for nearly four years, moved away from home, graduated with a 2.1 degree in Mathematics. I live a completely normal life. I’ve come to appreciate that every pound of my weight has been hard fought for, and it must be respected. And whilst I would not wish this illness on anyone, I am proud of what I have overcome. I have journeyed through the valley of the shadow of death, but me and God made it back into greener pastures. It has made me far stronger than most people my age ever have to be. Therefore, I refuse to be ashamed of an illness I did not choose and was not my fault. I rejoice that I have learnt what it really means to have a God who:

“redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”  Psalm 103:4

I write this firstly for all those who are still fighting this battle, those known to me and those not. For all those brave and precious people who still find themselves in that valley. Know that recovery is not only possible, but it’s achievable. Your story does not have to end this way, I believe in you. You are strong enough to beat this. It really is worth all the hard work. Remember that your worth cannot be measured in the number on the scales. Please don’t give up and don’t loose hope. 

And for those who have never had to fight in the war: I ask simply that you be aware. Be aware that, for those of us in this unheard minority, food can be complicated. That those throw away comments often find their mark in us. That we need your prayers, your love and understanding.

I share a part of my story today because it is a story of hope, of new life and restoration. And I believe that is worth breaking the silence for.

Where Love and Justice Meet

Before I start I just want to say Thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog, especially to all those who have taken the time to comment. Thankyou for all the kind words of support and encouragement. I love having the opportunity to write, but I must admit I never really expected anyone else to want to read it. Some of your comments have got me through many a bad week, so thank you, your words count more than you realise.

CAP logoToday I want to write a bit more about CAP and what we do. I realise I’ve got a little sidetracked of late and haven’t told you very much about what my job involves and why we do what we do. The department I work for is called the ‘Creditor Liaison Unit’ (or CLU for short because its a bit of a mouthful). As the name suggests we are the team that works directly with the creditors, we have very little client contact. The debt we handle in CLU is all what’s called secondary debt, that means it’s not secured against anything and you cannot go to prison for not paying it, and includes things like credit cards, most loans and bank debt. The main part of all our jobs is processing the volume of post that comes into CLU, sent in from both the creditors and forwarded from the clients. Last year we dealt with over 200,000 pieces of post, it’s not very glamorous but it is essential. Whether the client is able to repay their debt or they have to pursue insolvency (bankruptcy is one type of insolvency), we communicate with the creditors on the client’s behalf. We set up payment plans, negotiate to stop excessive interest and charges, and fairly distribute the client’s money to each of their creditors. We’re not talking small scale either, last year CLU handled an average of £69 million per month of secondary debt.

I think what I love about CLU is that we stand in the brink, in between the clients and the creditors. We have the ever present challenge of trying to get a fair deal for the creditors, whilst protecting our clients and releasing them from the burden of constant letters and phone calls. For me CLU is where love and justice meet. Some days the love part is easy, when you read some of the notes on the client’s file and see what a difficult time they’ve had. Other times when you’re unable to do your job because a client isn’t sending in the paperwork, it can be harder. I think it can also be too easy to demonise creditors, assume they are these horrible people who set out to ensnare people. But often the reality is they are just people and companies who offer a service, expecting to be paid, we have a good relationship with most of them. At the end of the day most of the time the client has taken out the credit with full knowledge of the potential consequences, we have to do our best to honour the creditors and try to get their money back. At the same time there has to be justice for our clients who find themselves crippled by debt, completely unable to find their way out. Whatever the decisions were that got them into debt, everyone deserves a second chance. There has to be justice on both sides.

I know for some people when it comes to those in debt, they can have an attitude of “why should I help? They’ve got themselves into that mess in the first place”. For them, debt is seen as something purely self-inflicted and avoidable, and therefore not their problem. Maybe you’re thinking: If only people had a good handle on their finances then there would be no debt? I am afraid it is just not that simple. Whilst some of our clients do get into debt simply because of an inability to budget, it is rarely the only reason.

The first problem we face is that our society functions on credit. We use it to buy our houses, or take it out in the form of credit cards. The Centre for Social Justice reported in 2010 that the average UK household has debts of £54,000. Like it or not credit is often the currency of our nation, far more than pounds and pence. This does not mean that everyone will end up with unmanageable debt, in theory if you an keep up with repayments you should stay in the clear. However, it does mean that often all it can take is a slight change of circumstances, for someone’s finances to slip out of control. And once you fall behind on payments, the interest and charges can be so punishing that it can be easy to slip further and further into debt, until you find yourself in a hole you can’t climb out of.

The second problem we have to confront is the widespread poverty across the UK. We like to think that poverty is something reserved for nations less fortunate than ours. I found that when I told people I was going to work for Christians Against Poverty, people would assume we were combating poverty abroad. But the reality is, whether because of low wages or unemployment, there will be parents today across the UK, who will be skipping meals so there children can have the little food they can afford. There will be people having to decide whether they pay their electricity bill or buy food for the week. And with rising energy prices and the difficult economic climate, more and more families will find themselves in this position. There will be cupboards in many homes bare of food, families facing eviction or taking out more and more credit just to survive.

Once who find yourself in debt, it can be a deep and dark hole. Many of our clients will have been forced to shut the curtains and stop answering the door to avoid bailiffs, with constant phone calls and ready supply of threatening letters. Can you imagine the stress and pressure? How hopeless you would feel knowing you couldn’t repay, unable to see a future, or a way to climb out? Under the weight of this pressure and hopelessness, 36% of our clients say they were suicidal before coming to CAP. There will be mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbours, who today will be feeling so completely trapped and desperate, that they will be considering ending their own lives. We cannot simply do nothing.

This problem is bigger than us. It’s bigger than the 220 plus staff we have at head office, it’s bigger than our centre network, it’s even bigger than all the thousands of supporters, partner churches and volunteers. It’s bigger than CAP, because it’s all about God’s heart for the poor. Jesus himself declared:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4:18-19

God calls us to ‘Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (Proverbs 31:9). And that is what we try to do at CAP, I know we won’t always get it right. But our mission will always be to reach those who find themselves in that pit of debt, and to do all we can to help them to climb out. To show them there is a hope and a solution, and a God who loves them completely. Last year we helped 1808 households become debt free. We are giving the church a relevant way to help their communities, empowering them to bring freedom and hope, to the people society forgets.

So this is where I’m working, at a place where love and justice meet. No, it is not easy, and has been some of the most challenging few months of my life. But every time I feel frustrated, every time it feels like I’ll never hit my fundraising target (only £200 to go but somehow still feels out of reach), every time I miss my friends and family down south; I can remind myself that the work I’m doing really does make a difference. There are people across the country who wouldn’t be here without our work, families who have found freedom and are able to enjoy life again, couples facing a bright future together instead of apart. These people are worth fighting for.