Collaboration brings hope to the Hunter 27 Apr 2018 Beth Morrow In the heart of NSW’s Hunter Valley, between the wineries and spa resorts there’s another reality — families facing relationship breakdown, loneliness and unmanageable debt. There was a cry for help and the local church responded, but it took a bit of teamwork. We interviewed our CEO Rosie Kendall, about how this all came about. How did CAP become aware of the need? Rosie: Sadly, there is poverty and need right across Australia. But at our CAP Head Office, we were receiving an increasing number of calls from people in Cessnock and the surrounding Hunter Valley region of NSW. However, without a CAP Debt Centre in the area, we were unable to help in the way we so desperately wanted to. It often takes people years to have the courage to call us and ask for help, so it’s heartbreaking when we can’t provide that! What happened from there? Rosie: CAP partners with local churches to provide our services, so we contacted several local pastors in Cessnock. Despite their desire to help, none of the churches felt they had the capacity to run a CAP Debt Centre alone. Thankfully there was already established connection between these local churches and ultimately, they asked if they could work collaboratively. This was an exciting ‘first’ for CAP and on the 7th of December 2017, five churches from different denominations opened a CAP Debt Centre. Together, they are providing an incredible service in this community and it’s such a beautiful example of the body of Christ. How does CAP actually equip churches to tackle poverty? Rosie: CAP currently offers three services that tackle the different root causes of poverty: CAP Debt Help, CAP Job Clubs and CAP Release Groups. We recognise that different churches have different passions and resources so we create partnerships that are most appropriate for the life and stage of each church. CAP provides all the training and tools required for churches to successfully run one or more of these services in their communities — services that will help people become debt free, find employment and stop a life controlling habit. These practical tools create a bridge into the community and provide unique opportunities for sharing the gospel and seeing Jesus’ ministry come to life. Why does CAP choose to operate (its services) through the local church? Rosie: The Church can be a place of belonging and healing and is ready to provide the key for fighting poverty here in Australia — community. It is in community that our clients find practical help and wholeness through Jesus. CAP Australia has been operating in partnership with local churches for over 17 years and has seen thousands of people not only break free from poverty but also have a whole life transformation by coming to faith in Christ. What can churches do if they see a need in their area? Rosie: I’d encourage churches to call us! There is a need in all our communities, we just need to open our eyes and see what is hidden and happening behind closed doors. CAP is here to help your church reach out to the poor and hurting in your communities. By partnering with CAP, your church has the opportunity to demonstrate God’s love in action. Perhaps you don’t have the resources to make it happen alone, maybe this could be something you do as a group of churches working together to be The Church to your community. Since the Cessnock CAP Debt Centre opened, Centre Manager Wayne Cook has seen three clients and one has already been activated and are on their way to becoming Debt Free. PHOTO (L to R): Pastor Steve Wood (Cessnock Congregational Church), Christians Against Poverty Cessnock centre manager Wayne Cooke, Pastor Amanda Francis (New Vine Vineyards Church), Pastor Tim Cairns (The Vines Community Church), Captain Darryn Lloyd (Salvation Army Cessnock) and Pastor Luke Main (Beyond Church) discussing the debt relief program that is now available in Cessnock.