30 April 2013
Leading in tough times
Gavin Galver, National Director of Youth for Christ and his wife, a writer, share a personal story of how to lead when your faith is being tested in every possible way.
Gavin: When I took over leading Youth for Christ (YFC), I had to fill big shoes. Roy Crowne had served faithfully and reached many young people for Jesus. It was the beginning of the credit crunch in Britain and the financial challenges were tough, but I felt privileged to be given the opportunity to lead YFC. However, as soon as I found myself as national director, it felt very different: the buck stopped with me, it was lonely and there were big decisions to make. What I had not bargained for was family life getting complicated.
Anne: When I was 17 weeks pregnant the consultant said that our baby was extremely anaemic – with fluid surrounding the heart and lungs – five antibodies were attacking and his life was ebbing away. They had to operate immediately: a transfusion that involved a needle going through my tummy and into the baby, taking out some of his blood (that looked like pink water) and putting some of the new donated blood in. We waited for three hours for a further scan because in a baby that tiny, there was only a five per cent chance of survival. The greatest risks were cardiac arrest and brain damage. Miraculously the procedure worked but the antibodies continued their rampage, resulting in blood transfusions and periods of desperate waiting every 10 days.
It was so hard knowing how much pressure there was on Gavin at work and yet still needing to have his support. I knew I had a choice how to respond – I could blame God and get angry, I could turn my back on Him, or I could cling to Him – I chose the latter. My plea was: "Jesus I don't know how I will get through this, but please make me, don't break me, through this." My heart longed that we would become more like Jesus through the struggle.
Gavin: It all felt so unfair. There I was serving God with everything. Couldn't my family be ok?! And yet I know that the only way that I coped through that time was by totally depending on Jesus in and for everything. I simply didn't have it in me to lead YFC – and I have no idea how I did, because I was so consumed with the pregnancy. People talk about 'not leading in your own strength' but this was the first lesson I learnt at the helm. If we depend on ourselves, we will fail. Jesus is enough for us, no matter what we face. When things are easier, we still need to depend on Him.
Anne: Amazingly Daniel was delivered safely at 31 weeks and after weeks of intensive care with more transfusions he was allowed to come home (soon after the end of Gavin's first year leading YFC). When we look back on that time, the biggest lesson was constantly turning to Jesus however we felt, and being honest with Him and other people; then the Lord and His family could carry it with us. We cannot 'go it alone' and we shouldn't expect to. Our faith is stronger as a result.
Gavin and Anne's latest book, Stumbling Blocks, unpacks their story further and looks at how you conquer the stuff that holds you back.