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UK News

‘I never envisaged anything on the scale of what God has done’: Founder of Christians Against Poverty retires

by Tola Mbakwe

The founder of debt relief charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is stepping back from his role, 25 years after the organisation was set up.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the charity's patron, described CAP founder John Kirkby as having a "passion for financial justice".

The organisation was founded in Bradford, Yorkshire, in August 1996 and works with a network of churches.

It has a commitment to its services being available to all, regardless of religion or belief.

“I literally started it in my office in a bedroom, in Bradford, and literally went out onto my local streets with some bizarre idea that I could help a few people who were in debt,” Kirkby told Premier Christian News.

“My personal experience, my shattered life, my mistakes, finding Christ, all sort of brought me to that point of starting it, but I absolutely never envisaged anything on the scale of what God has done.

Over the past decade or so, the charity has helped more than 21,000 people clear their debts. As well as the UK, the organisation is also established in Australia, the United States and Canada.

Kirkby had worked in the finance industry before founding CAP and was able to use his expertise to help people trapped in debt, negotiating with creditors and setting up budgeting systems.

The charity now offers debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills groups and support for people breaking habits which are controlling their lives.

Kirkby told Premier CAP doesn’t stop with financial help, but also offers spiritual guidance. He said over the years he’s seen the UK church rally around CAP’s mission.

“I do believe and I have seen the dial of the UK church around churches reaching the poorest in their communities, but also ensuring that we are not ashamed of the gospel.

“Christians Against Poverty proclaims the good news of Jesus, we offer to pray with people.

“We've seen over 10,000 begin their journey to know Christ,” he said

Kirkby will officially leave his role at the end of June.

It is expected both he and his wife Lizzie will take a sabbatical over the summer, as they consider possible future plans.

Most Rev Justin Welby said: "John's religious conviction and passion for financial justice has been the driving force for an organisation which has grown exponentially since its inception and helped thousands of people free themselves from the prison of debt."

He added: "I would like to offer my prayers and warmest wishes to John as he steps down from his duties with Christians Against Poverty, which he founded 25 years ago this year. I hold both John and Lizzie in my prayers as they embark on their next calling and I remain honoured to be part of the organisation."

Kirkby added: "I'm delighted to look at the organisation CAP is now and wholeheartedly know that I have played the part I was called here to do.

"I see an organisation made up of people who are strong in mission and faith, ablaze with passion and overflowing with compassion for those they help."

Paula Stringer, UK chief executive of CAP, said: "There is no doubt that John's personal commitment and sacrifice in the past 25 years have genuinely been life-saving for countless people in the UK and beyond."

Listen to Premier’s interview with John Kirkby here:

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