Christians Against Poverty - CAP
CAP Talk 2021
Paula Stringer, CAP CEO
Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.
When my sister was around 13 years old, she became very poorly. She was in severe pain, suffered debilitating exhaustion and terrible sickness. For almost 15 years, she went backwards and forwards to the doctors who told her it was normal ‘girl’ stuff and sent her away. As time progressed, Kirsty got worse and worse. She ended up so poorly, and in such excruciating pain, that she couldn’t even move or eat some days. My sister is tenacious though and, even when desperately poorly, she decided that she needed a second opinion. She did her own research to see if there was anyone else she could speak to and asked to see her medical notes. Once she received them, to her absolute horror, written on her medical notes were the words Munchausen syndrome. For years, her doctor had written off all her physical pain and suffering as a mental illness, and hadn't even told her.
Kirsty was devastated. In fact, this triggered a complete breakdown for her. She really believed that she must be crazy and that it was all in her head. Not one medical professional took Kirsty seriously, probably because of what was written on her medical notes all those years before, and she was forgotten. She was completely invalidated, ignored, ashamed and desperate. After countless prayers for healing were poured over her, Kirsty did eventually get to a point where she was well enough to do a part-time job. She got married and began to live a relatively normal life, though still in severe, sometimes debilitating pain. Despite everything, Kirsty and her husband, Ben, decided they wanted to start a family. Sadly, Kirsty just couldn’t get pregnant and, in the end, she had to have investigative surgery. It was here that everything changed.
When Kirsty came out of the surgery, the doctor sat down next to her, took her hand and told her that she had the worst case of stage four endometriosis he had ever seen. Her organs were completely stuck together inside her and she would never be able to have children. Had they caught all of this earlier, they might have been able to keep on top of it. By now, it was too late.
As you can imagine, Kirsty was torn between complete devastation and utter relief because she now knew that everything she had ever experienced was, in that moment, validated. She had spent years feeling like she didn’t matter. No one, aside from us – her family – listened. She had felt very much alone and had been judged in the most awful way – in a way that made her believe she was crazy.
I wonder how that story makes you feel? The thought of Kirsty being labelled in-valid, discarded and overlooked. For me, it just makes me want to scream! But whilst so many others were writing her off, I praise God that he never forgot Kirsty. He never forgets even one moment and he never stops working through all our situations. In fact, praise God that he has an extra special passion for those in need, the poor, the hungry, the sick, the in-valid. As his followers, he implores us to always remember those people – take Galatians 2:10 for example, where James and Peter impressed upon Paul and his companions one thing they considered absolutely crucial: ‘All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.’ ‘Continue to remember the poor.’ Why, above everything else, did they say ‘remember the poor’? Why not ‘remember the gospel’ or ‘remember Jesus’? No, ‘remember the poor’ they say. Why? Perhaps because it’s the poorest that are most easily forgotten.
For many people, the loss of human interaction has been one of the hardest things about this last year. And yet the heartbreaking truth is that there will be people in your community, in the prison of debt and poverty, who have been living with that deep sense of isolation for years. I believe that your church has a unique and powerful part to play in seeking out the forgotten, taking the initiative and lifting up all those who have been shamed, judged and in-validated. That’s why CAP partners with 493 churches across the UK – so that together we can show these people that they are not forgotten, and provide the practical help they need. Our Debt Help service is one way we do this.
Here’s the story of Edith, just one of the thousands of people CAP supports on their journey out of debt every year.
4. Video - Edith’s Story
Wow, isn’t Edith amazing? Every year at CAP, we see over 2,000 amazing people like her break free from the prison of debt. God is doing incredible things to lift up the poorest and the forgotten through his Church. For you, perhaps this is just the encouragement you need to persevere in the good things you are already doing. But perhaps you are wondering what you personally can do to make a difference where
you are? Let me share a couple of ideas.
a) Attend a course
I’m so excited that your church has partnered with us to run the CAP Money Course, a fantastic tool to help your delegates review their finances and make the best decisions with their money.
The CAP Money Course is for everyone, and it has so much potential to both prevent financial hardship and to help us all grow in how we manage our money. It works best when the whole church goes along to see what they can learn, and to be able to recommend it to those around them. So don’t miss your chance to get involved when the course is run. CAP also has a number of other services you could run in your church. These can help you to connect with those who are marginalised and isolated in your community. Please go to our website, capuk.org, to find out more.
b) Train to run the CAP Money Course
One simple thing you could do is train to run the CAP Money Course. There are people in your community who are struggling financially and the CAP Money Course will give them powerful tools to review their budget and make better decisions with their money. And you don’t need to be a financial expert, as all the teaching is done through videos. To find out more, or learn about other ways that CAP could help you connect with those who are marginalised and isolated in your community, just visit our website, capuk.org.
9. Support CAP
Another way you can help is by joining over 30,000 people who give a monthly donation to CAP. Through your gift, big or small, you will help transform the lives of those who feel forgotten across the UK. Every month our helpline receives over 1,500 calls from people desperate for help, and that number is set to grow significantly in the coming months and years as people come to terms with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over one year, just £12 a month can take someone like Edith from that first call to our helpline, all the way to having a debt solution in place. Not only that, they will experience what it means to be known and loved by a church community, given the opportunity to discover Jesus, and in time a fresh start in life, free from debt. Is that something you would join with us to do today? Of course, £12 is just a suggestion. Please don’t feel excluded or limited by it, and please only give above and beyond anything you already give to your local church. You can set up your monthly gift right now – it’s that easy. You’ll need a phone, tablet or laptop with the internet open. I’ll give you a moment to get that ready.. Now go to the following website: capuk.org/respond600. That’s capuk.org/respond600. Then follow the prompts on screen. That’s
capuk.org/respond600. We’ll leave that onscreen for the rest of this talk.
I want to finish by reminding you how much God cares. He cares so much that he does miraculous things. Despite the fact that my sister should never have been able to have a child, in 2010, against all odds, she found out she was pregnant. Kirsty and Ben ended up with a miracle baby – Charlie, my beautiful nephew, who is nowten years old. A perfect gift from a God who never forgot.
Father, I pray today that you shine a light on every person that needs help at this time so that we, your church, can see that need and bring help and hope. I particularly pray for those in the prison of debt, who are struggling to feed their families and who feel forgotten. This is an isolating and dark time for those in this situation and they really do need a light to navigate a way out of it. Father, give us eyes to see, hands to help and hearts full of compassion – let us never forget those who feel isolated, marginalised and forgotten, just as we know you never forget.