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But Lord I Don't Like Kids
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By Mary Haskett

Chris Chadwick sat in the information session for overseas missions and questioned his sanity. He thought I don't like travel, I don't like heat and I don't like kids, so what am I doing here? (Chris Chadwick pictured here with the Chief of the village of Finginkame. The Chief donated land for a new church plant after the outreach in Benin, West Africa)

The Project Serve Director for Youth for Christ, Canada, has travelled an extraordinary journey to get to where he is today. His mother died when he was seven and his father became angry at God and abandoned church. Chris attended church if someone chose to take him. The experience did not bode well, bullied by other children and by a perfectionist choir master he saw church as a negative part of his life. His godparents had promised to bring him up in the faith and so kept tabs on him making sure he received instruction in confirmation classes. At age 13 he emerged from the course to be told he was now a Christian. He did not attend church again until he met his wife to be. Chris asked her for a date and suggested they go sailing on the Sunday. She declined saying she had to go to church. That Sunday he found his way to the church that she attended; and soon after took the Life of Jesus course with his wife to be. At the end of the course he again heard, now you’re a Christian, and you are able to teach Sunday school. For twelve years he and his wife served as the superintendents, even though in the back of his mind, the thought persisted-I don't like kids.

Uneasiness in his spirit bothered him during this period of his life. The words uttered by Jesus played over in his mind, "...I am come that they might have life and have it to the full." (John10:10). With these words ringing in his head he and his wife attended a Baptist church for a marriage enrichment week-end. Here for the first time in his life Chris came to understand the full gospel message, and says with a smile, "My wife and I became Jesus freaks."

Returning to their own church they approached the pastor and church body and suggested that children's Sunday school and the addition of Sunday school classes for adults should be held prior to the service, so all could attend the services. The latter was vigorously opposed. The adults believed they'd had enough Sunday school when they were children. After discussion their suggestion was turned down. Chris knew it was time to move on.

After a while as members of the Baptist church, they attended a series of presentations on short term mission trips. Secretly Chris decided he would never go on one. Number one he didn't like travel, two he didn't like heat and three he didn't like children. Also, he reasoned, his wife's idea of camping was the Holiday Inn, but he thought, at least I'm showing enthusiasm for God's work. On the final night of the presentations participants were told of countries needing help. Several were listed and soon The Dominican Republic came up for discussion. Conditions were explained, including the heat and the poverty the team would witness. People interested in going to the Dominican were asked to raise their hands. Chris turned to his wife to assure her he understood that she would not want to go, only to see her hand raised high! "Oh Lord help," he muttered, as he raised his hand too.

Barriers abounded as the team prepared to leave, but eventually they reached their destination in the middle of July's sweltering heat. Chris had asked the team to pray he would be able to tolerate the change in climate. As the team crammed together in a twenty seated-bus, he noticed his companions fanning their faces with hands and rolled up papers. He commented that the air-conditioning was great, but on receiving incredible looks from his travelling companions he realized God had answered the pre-trip prayer since he felt quite comfortable. After a lengthy journey into the interior of the country they arrived at the compound to be greeted by the national staff and a number of children dressed in rags, and in need of a shower. His stomach churned.

On the Sunday evening the team joined together for prayer. Chris shared with his peers the discomfort he felt around children and asked that they pray for him. He bowed his head and asked God to break his heart for the children. He looked up and saw two little ones watching them, their small faces pressed against the bars of the window. The flood-gates opened and his whole body shook with the tears he shed—his heart decidedly moved for the little ones.

On the return trip from the mission field the pastor asked Chris & his wife to be youth coordinators for the junior high students. He went to the church alone to discuss the possibility since his wife was working— observed the unruly group and once again thought, not for me. A few days later his pastor called to see if they had made a decision and amazed at his own response he said yes. Three years of excellent ministry followed. But each fall Chris noticed the change in behaviours of the children when they returned. They moved into senior groups and when he greeted them in the hallway, it was as if they didn’t know him. He wondered at the change.

Chris then pursued studies at Tyndale where he completed a degree in Divinity of Youth and Family Ministries and a minor in missions. This gave Chris an understanding of the growth patterns and changes in youth as they mature. Upon completion the pastor of his church proposed a missions trip with the youth. Chris suggested Haiti. Road blocks abounded, and instead, they went to Trinidad. Driving the bus in Trinidad along a road with neat but small homes Chris noticed the young people peering out of the windows with tears streaming down their faces at what they were seeing. He then understood why God had blocked the trip to Haiti. The devastation and level of poverty in that country would have been too much for the young people to bear.

During their stay Chris stood one night looking out into the auditorium, and what he describes as a flash bulb scene crossed before his eyes. He saw hundreds of youth of every nationality bowed in prayer and worship.

Returning to Canada he took the Youth Missions course. On more than one occasion he heard an audible voice say, be ready. Be ready for what, he wondered. Because he heard the command several times he decided to be like Paul the apostle and become unencumbered in order to be ready for God’s direction. He resigned his post and searched the internet for jobs. Nothing materialized. A call came from the pastor of the Youth for Christ, London, asking him to volunteer there. He said no. But then the pastor offered him a paying position for six weeks and he accepted. Again he experienced another amazing situation. A young teenage girl in the centre walked across the room and told him her mother was a stripper and her father a drug addict, then she turned and walked away.

Chris heard a voice say, this is the mission field I’m calling you to. He turned around to see who had spoken-he was alone! He continued working at the centre and sometime later while driving with a pastor friend he received the same vision of hundreds of youth from every tribe and nation bowed in prayer and worship, the vision so strong he had to pull over to the side of the road, and there he shared the vision with his friend.

Chris Chadwick knew without a doubt what God required of him. Today as Project Serve Director for YFC he has taken mission trips to eleven countries and always with the same focus, to partner with Youth for Christ in such countries as Botswana, Mexico & Benin. The mission focus in Mexico now has three thriving churches, led by the Mexican pastor, with a fourth work in progress. The team’s work in Mexico included building a soccer field, helping with building projects and buying food locally to distribute to poor families in the district.


Above - Waiting in line to see
medical personnel after being triaged
-------------------
Below - Inoculations at the medical outreach

In Benin, Africa, YFC searches out villages where the Gospel has little or no influence. Once relationships are established with the chief and elders and the spiritual tone of the village assessed, summer camps are organized with anywhere from 100 to 200 youth in attendance. Concurrent with the camps, medical and veterinarian services are offered.

In the evening the gospel message is preached. Chris says once camp is finished a trained pastor stays to nurture the fledgling church. YFC has established the School of Agriculture where students are trained to identify different types of soil for growing different types of crops. They also study animal husbandry and theology. On graduation they return to their villages to implement what they have learned both on a physical and spiritual level. Sometimes students are persecuted because they have accepted Christ.

In August 2014 Chris plans to make his fourth trip to Benin. This time around he hopes to have medical personnel as part of the team, including ophthalmologists, nurses, doctors and veterinarians, as well people to help with children's camp. For anyone interested in this mission trip, and the details, Chris can be reached at 519-494-9979 or email: chris.c@yfcprojectserve.com

Chris says, "I truly want to serve in developing countries. I know this means putting my own agenda aside, and focusing on empowering the local staff. They direct, guide and teach me and the team many aspects of their way of life. It does mean that sometimes we come home with pictures of a building we helped to construct." But, he adds, "The lives we’ve connected with will serve the Kingdom better than any building."

As for the vision given to him, Chris says he's been close to seeing its fulfillment, but does not believe it has come to fruition yet. And for a man who said, but Lord I don't like kids, he is driven to soldier on to bring many of those kids to Jesus.