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Zambian bushland from coach window

Wake up Call

By Ben Cohen | 04 Feb 2019

After his marriage broke up, corporate lawyer Chris decided that the way he ‘did life’ needed to change – along with his relationship to God. He went to Zambia with Tearfund Go. It was the wake-up call he needed.            

‘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 to change.       

‘About 18 months ago my wife and I separated, which was devastating. 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 provides volunteering placements around the world, where Tearfund is collaborating with local Christians. He chose a two-week placement in Ndola, in Northern Zambia.

The Tearfund Go volunteer team at the airport

‘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 – as I have been weak and had to trust in God, he has made me strong.’        

One of the biggest challenges he 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 first arrived at church the worship was already 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!’        

Big Questions         

It was an important lesson for Chris – the congregation had so little materially and very little security. However, in their weakness, they had something far stronger in their lives.

Chris drawing water from small well in Zambia

‘Again and again, I saw God’s strength working through people in otherwise bleak circumstances. It was people's relationship with Jesus that sustained them – it helped me to 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 time overseas, Chris explains how, through the two weeks, 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. 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.’        

Take your own career break with a difference. Check out our placements online at www.tearfund.org/go.

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Written by Ben Cohen

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