Olly Black was close to ending his life after severe debt left him feeling depressed and hopeless. He explains how meeting a Christian changed the course of his life
I had a medical condition that meant I couldn’t work. We were relying on benefits to get by and there was never enough to pay the bills, so the debts started to rack up.
I was very depressed and started drinking heavily because of it all. When I was in debt I couldn’t face going out. It didn’t seem worth it. I felt like I couldn’t get out of that situation.
It was like a black hole and I was going further and further down. Twice I almost took my own life.
I have four kids and it was devastating to not be able to provide for them. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I’d have to decide whether to spend money on food or electricity that week – that’s how bad it got. So of course I’d feed my kids, but then I couldn’t power my home and we were in the dark.
Finally, I realised I couldn’t do it by myself. The first moment I opened the door to Mark from Christians Against Poverty, it felt nice because someone understood where I was coming from.
They helped me in so many different ways. Our bed was broken so they got us a second-hand one. We were out of food at home so they got us foodbank vouchers. Mark even invited me round to his house for a meal. He’s like a guardian angel; a real good friend. To this day I can call or message him at any time.
One day, Mark said: “Would you like to go to an Alpha course?” I was an atheist then and I went along just to shut him up! I was the most sceptical person, but I liked it and I wanted to know more.
I found I had more questions than answers, so I went away and did some research and Mark answered my questions. In the third to last meeting, I gave my life to Jesus.
Going to church has been a total life-changer. It’s like a big family. I’ve never had so many friends! I never used to keep a diary but now I need one to keep up with all the things I’m doing!
Being a Christian has made a big difference. I’m less stressed and I enjoy life more. I think I have more love for everything now; I appreciate what I have.
In February, I became debt free through working with CAP. I didn’t think I was ever going to get out of that spiral. Now I can have a good night’s sleep.
I feel at peace. I’ve stopped drinking – I’ve been sober for eight months now and that’s largely down to the help of CAP. Without CAP and without the church I wouldn’t be here today, that’s a definite.
By Olly Black