Following the breakup of his marriage, corporate lawyer Chris decided that the way he lived his life needed to change – along with his relationship with God. He decided to visit Zambia with Tearfund Go – it was the wake-up call he needed.
Starting from scratch
‘When I was younger I never really did any of the traditional gap year stuff,’ remembers Chris. ‘Then I got married, got a career in the city, had kids and there just wasn’t time for anything else!’
The demands of a high-powered career had called the shots for many years. However, that was about to change.
‘A few years ago my wife and I separated, which was devastating,’ Chris continues. ‘I moved out and had to start a new life. My whole reliance had to be on God, letting him start from scratch with me.’
Letting God lead
For Chris, part of this difficult transition was thinking about how he would spend his annual leave when he didn’t have the children. Taking a leap of faith, he signed up to be a team leader with Tearfund Go, which offers volunteering placements around the world. He chose a two-week placement in Ndola, Zambia.
‘Landing in Zambia I remember thinking, “God, you’re going to have to do some pretty amazing stuff here, because I’m not qualified to do this!” That’s been my experience over the past couple of years, with my marriage breaking down and having to start a whole new life. I have been weak and had to trust in God. He has made me strong.’
One of the biggest challenges Chris faced was leading a Sunday service in one of the local churches, along with his team. It was way out of his comfort zone but, with God’s help, it all came together…
‘When we arrived at church the worship was underway, but without the pastor and with only a handful of the congregation present. They sing and worship with their whole bodies – dancing, clapping, lifting their hands to heaven and even parading around in a sort of holy conga line. I was blown away by the energy of Zambian worship!’
It was an important lesson for Chris – the congregation had so little materially, and very little security. However, rather than what could be seen as weakness, they had something far stronger.
‘Again and again, I saw God’s strength working through people in otherwise bleak circumstances,’ says Chris. ‘It was people's relationship with Jesus that sustained them. It helped me understand that this is the one thing that brings true peace and joy – the sort which underpins everything else happening in your life. And that’s what I needed.’
Reflecting on his two weeks in Zambia, Chris explains how God was giving him a new sense of purpose for his life.
‘Volunteering with Tearfund has made me reflect a lot on who I am, the skills that I have and how God can use them,’ he says. ‘Are they just for my work as a senior lawyer in a pharmaceutical company, or has he given me these skills for other purposes? My experience in Zambia felt like God making me more into who I was meant to be – it was incredible.’
But the difference in Chris’ life didn’t stop there.
‘Seeing people living in such difficult circumstances has changed my outlook and even, to an extent, my politics. Since coming back from Zambia I’ve started donating to Tearfund every month and I’ve become a trustee of a local homelessness charity.
‘The biggest impact from my time in Zambia has been the way I raise my kids. I’m even more committed now to helping them engage in God’s call to care for those living in poverty. In fact, I plan to do another trip with Tearfund Go, but with my kids next time!’
Thank you that when we are weak you make us strong. Like Chris, help us to seek out your purposes for our lives.
We thank you for Tearfund’s partners and volunteers, for the work of the church in Zambia. Would you bless them as they continue to bring change and hope to local communities.
Take your own career break with a difference. Check out our placements online at www.tearfund.org/go.