From The UK To China – The Gates Family Story
Experiencing a China Team as a Family
Posted by Ben Chhoa October 10, 2013
Helen and Simon Gates are a couple from London who took their whole family on one of our summer teams this August. This was their second time going as a family. They were part of a group of people who went to Hengyang in the boiling heat and humidity of a China summer.
Samuel aged 9, Anna aged 12, Charis 14 and Mum and Dad (age unknown) travelled to Hengyang to spend 17 days working with children they have been supporting for the last few years. We asked Helen and Simon why they went back on a China Team – what impact did it have on them as a family?
Helen says “It's something that we can all do together when the family interests are so different and diverse. ICC is quite unusual in that they accept children to serve on their teams alongside their parents. Also, it’s a practical expression of what we believe, that faith is about making the world a better place. For our children it was a fun experience, and also faith building for them, too.”
Charis, Anna and Samuel really are an inspiration. They personally sponsor ICC children and have committed to raising the monthly sponsorship by baking, selling jam and doing jobs for people. They have all spoken at school assemblies (even Samuel, at such a young age spoke to his whole school about his friendship with Yang Fu Ju in Hengyang) and have advocated to their peers in a powerful way. Theirs is an example of stepping out in faith and doing what they can with amazing results!
Anna worked with the babies and toddlers and has this to say about her time in China: “It’s the connection with the kids that is so amazing. They get used to you and accept you really quickly. I realized that I didn’t need other people as much as I thought and that really built my confidence. Going to China helps you to grow up. You have a lot of responsibility. You have to get on with it but in a good way! And its so much fun!”
Older sister, Charis, says, “I found myself alone with a group of kids and suddenly thought, 'aaagh - what will I do?!' It is sometimes hard to see God at the time but I could see afterward that he was there with me all the time. So, China helped me to experience God myself in a new way. But it is harder to keep it up when you get home. In a way the kids showed me God’s love. They showed me the unconditional love of God. They just loved and accepted us. I think they helped me to see God at work in the world.”
Mum and Dad also found themselves slightly out of their comfort zones. Simon admits to being a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of spending two weeks with the same children and not knowing what to do. He gave us his view on our organization.
“ICC is trying to change a nation in a very beautiful way of working alongside the culture and influencing with values that don’t compromise the gospel but also aren’t confrontational. There is a great generosity of faith and openness within the teams and the people I have met through ICC.”
Helen’s final word seemed to sum up what we have come to know as truth for all our China team members. “You go with what you've got, and give what you've got, but then God gives you what you haven't got to fill the gap”