Leading debt counselling organisation Christians Against Poverty is now offering its free debt help service in Cessnock, thanks to the collaborative efforts of five local churches.
New Vine Vineyards Church, the Salvation Army Church, The Vines Community Church, Cessnock Congregational Church and Beyond Church (formerly Hope Valley) have partnered form Cessnock Region Care, which will facilitate the debt relief centre in Cessnock.
The partnership came about after some local pastors learned that the Newcastle branch of Christians Against Poverty had received more than 50 calls from Cessnock-area residents in the past six months.
Christians Against Poverty has been operating in Australia for 17 years, and has helped hundreds of people call each year to begin their journey towards financial freedom.
Local volunteers, trained as ‘debt coaches’ visit people in their own homes, and pass client financial details onto Christians Against Poverty’s head office, who then negotiate a sustainable budget with creditors, and supports clients right up until they are debt-free.
The Cessnock debt centre is the 40th in Australia. It will be managed by Wayne Cooke, from New Vine Vineyards Church.
Mr Cooke, formerly of the Central Coast, said he has seen debt centres in operation, with good results.
The partnering churches agreed that it was important to put people on a path towards independence.
“Jesus didn’t want to see people go hungry,” New Vine Vineyards Church pastor Amanda Francis said.
The Vines Community Church pastor Tim Cairns said while many of the church’s programs provided a hand-out to people in need, the debt help service will provide a “hand-up”.
“It’s something to change their whole way of life,” he said.
Cessnock Congregational Church pastor Steve Wood said providing the program was a way the churches could show “practical love” to their communities.
“It’s locals helping locals,” he said.
Pastor Luke Main, from Beyond Church, said it was a “natural step” for the church to get involved in the program.
“It’s important for the community to see the church as a holistic organisation,” he said.
Salvation Army Cessnock corps officer, Captain Darryn Lloyd said the program offered hope.
“Poverty is real – and it needs real solutions,” he said.
To find out more, call Christians Against Poverty’s toll-free phone number 1300 227 000 or visit www.capaust.org.