“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for disaster, plans to give hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29-11

Chris Lee, Team Leader of Sydney Catholic Youth was the guest presenter for Pints with a Purpose on September 7.

The event took the form of a zoom meeting which allowed young people to connect from around the diocese; with people also joining in from Sydney and Queensland.

Chris opened up the talk by saying that he would’ve never had seen himself working for the Church in his current role and he ended the talk by noting that his biggest passion is to work with young people and help them in their faith journey.

During the talk Chris took us on a journey that takes place in his high school years where a young Chris Lee was chasing his childhood dream of joining the Australian defense force.

In order to enter the Army in the year after school, Chris not only needed to keep up his grades, he also needed to pass an extensive medical and fitness test.

In order to reach the BMI requirement for admission Chris needed to lose a total of 30 kilos and maintain the weight loss for a period of 6 months.

Chris was very determined to achieve this goal and would run day and night, keeping to a strict diet and fitness regime whilst also juggling his studies, family life and Rugby commitments.

Chris who comes from a close-knit Australian family of Fijian decent is the eldest boy of four siblings and was also enduring the pain and struggle of his beloved father’s ongoing health difficulties.

Chris’ father passed away at the young age of 42 and this was a turning point in his life.

Chris had achieved his goal of being ready to enter the Army at the age of 18 but he put this on hold to do what he could to support his mother and family.

Two months after Chris’ father had passed away, Chris found himself admitted to the same hospital.

On a night that changed Chris’ life forever, he went out partying with a group of friends in Kings Cross.

At about 1am Chris’ friend suggested that they go home but Chris, wanting to continue the night insisted that they go to the next pub.

As the group were walking to the next bar, they came across another group who had been drinking as well and beginning with words being exchanged it soon escalating to a street fight.

Chris does not remember much after this only that he woke up in hospital on Easter Sunday badly battered and had sustained horrific injuries. Chris had been stabbed in the left eye, had his head stomped on and was left for dead.

The man who was responsible fled the scene and has not been identified since that day.

As a result Chris was left blinded in the left eye; his dream of entering the Army was shattered and a phone call from his project officer confirmed this.

The loss of his father, a crushed dream and the abandonment of his friends in the months following propelled Chris into a place of depression.         

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…" 2 Corinthians 12-9

During this time, Chris’ older sister would often invite him to a young men’s group which she heard was running at her university but he would refuse. After some time, Chris eventually said yes and joined a group of young men who would pray the scriptures together using Lectio Divina.

“We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, whom he has called according to his plan.” Romans 8:28

The group helped Chris develop a personal relationship with Christ and begin to question the attitudes and beliefs he had. This led him then at the age of 19, Chris co-founded a non-for-profit organization called “Conviction Group.”

The group run programs for schools to help give young men a forum to talk about mental health and to talk through issues such as peer pressure, decision making and fostering resilience.

At the age of 23 Chris took a position to lead the Sydney Catholic Youth team, the youngest appointed director at the time. Chris has said that this was an amazing moment of seeing how the holy spirit had guided him in his life even in the moments when it seemed he was alone.

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