Four years ago, the Bullock family left the familiarity and security of life in the UK to serve God cross-culturally in Zambia. Writer Ivy Chiu spoke to Dan and Ruth about why they took such a bold step, and what life is now like for their young family. 

"...we were settled. We had good jobs and the kids were happy. But I had a spiritual restlessness that I could not deny."

Moving overseas with four young children is a huge undertaking! Why did you do it?  

Dan: In a worldly sense, we were settled. We had good jobs and the kids were happy. But I had a spiritual restlessness that I could not deny.

Ruth: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” These words from Matthew 9 came up so frequently and in so many different contexts; it was clear that the Lord was speaking. Initially, we wondered whether this calling was for the future when the kids were older – our four boys were very young at that point! But God laid on our hearts the urgency of mission.

Dan: We felt real confirmation from God when he placed this calling on both our hearts, not just mine. If God was calling us to serve him overseas, we knew it would be a calling for our whole family.

Were there things you were frightened of moving to Zambia?  

Dan: Of course, we were afraid about some things – we worried about whether the kids’ socialising and education would suffer, and whether we’d be able to raise the amount of financial support we needed.

But we wanted to be led by the Lord, not by fear. We stepped out in faith, trusting in his promises. The reality is that if God calls your family, then he will meet your needs. We couldn’t have imagined how things would unfold, but he has provided for us and silenced so many fears.

How did you prepare your children to go?  

Ruth: A common prayer in our household is: “God, lead us where you would want us to go, and help us to be obedient.” We have always prayed this with the kids, so talking to them about following God to a new place was not a surprise! We also prepared them practically; making scrapbooks of what their surroundings would look like and talking to them about what would be different, like wearing shorts and t-shirts on Christmas day!

What are some of the challenges you face serving in Zambia?  

Ruth: There are always needs here. It’s so hard to say no! The challenge is to learn how much I can do physically and when I need to say no. God has given us a heart for the Zambian people, but the reality is that there is only one of me and I can’t be spread in too many places! We are determined to make sure that family life is always a priority.

What are some of the joys of serving God as a family? 

Ruth: The joy and privilege of living by faith! The kids are growing up seeing how we trust in God for everything, and they witness him providing in unexpected ways.

Dan: In the UK there is a pattern to life that we tend to follow – school, university, then getting a job and so on. It is a joy to step out of that as a family and to think differently about how God wants to use our lives. The kids see this lived out. We pray they’ll make decisions because they are led by the Lord, rather than feeling it’s the next step they should take.

"The kids are growing up seeing how we trust in God for everything, and they witness Him providing in unexpected ways."

What Would You Say to Anyone Considering Following God’s Call and Moving Their Family Overseas?

Dan: Consider whether you could serve cross-culturally on a short-term outreach first or go on a vision trip to help confirm God’s calling.

Ruth: Trust that he has gone ahead of you, that he has prepared good works for you to do for the sake of his kingdom. He will quiet your fears and gently lead you forward.

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