In the never-ending struggle for truth, justice, and Kingdom-thinking, I am constantly on the lookout for God’s heroes in the workplace. These men and women understand that their work matters to God and see themselves as a Kingdom outpost of God’s grace everyday of the week. They are not just serious about their faith on Sunday, but Monday through Saturday as well. My search this time led me to a cab driver.
In a recent weekly email devotion from my friend Patrick Lafferty, he told the story of Mosab Hassan Yousef, who was following in his father’s footsteps. His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is a founder of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. After the son was arrested by the Israelis, however, he agreed to work for the Shin Bet Israeli security service. But something extraordinary happened to Mosab Yousef in the course of an ordinary day in an ordinary place. He met a British cab driver.
Unbeknownst to Yousef, when he stepped into the cab, he stepped onto holy ground. You see, the taxi driver was an agent of the Kingdom of God. He gave Yousef a copy of the New Testament and invited him to a small group Bible study. Reading Jesus’ story for the first time, Yousef was “drawn to the grace, love, and humility that Jesus talked about” and in time, embraced Christ as his savior.
You can read more about Yousef’s amazing story in a Wall Street Journal Online posting. But while this sensational conversion tempts us to focus on the terrorist-turned-follower of Jesus, the real story is about an unnamed taxi driver who took his faith to work and walked through an open door with the gospel. It’s a pretty sure bet he wasn’t pushy or aggressive with the “son of Hamas.” I imagine he started a casual conversation like cab drivers do, and because he was spiritually alert, he saw an opportunity to talk about Jesus and he took it.
Your workplace is holy ground as well. There might be people there who Christ is drawing to himself. And you might just be one link in the chain of people who help them come to Christ. That is, if you are spiritually alert.
For more information about how you can take your faith to work click here.
At a recent workplace leaders breakfast a seasoned real estate developer spoke about how God had carried him through the real estate catastrophe in the late 1980s. He said, “I felt as if someone had torn out the asset page of my balance sheet, leaving me with only liabilities.” But then he reminded the group that as Christians we each have “hidden” assets to draw upon. Here are some of those assets that God adds to our balance sheet that can never be taken away from us:
- Scripture to remind us of the truth
- Prayer to call out to God and ask for help
- Abilities given by God to accomplish his purposes
- A God who cares about our work and is personally present
- Other Christians to encourage us
- The Holy Spirit to remind us of the truth when we forget it during the day
You may be feel the same way when you look at your net worth these days. But don’t forget to add in the multitude of deposits Christ has made into your personal account. What else can you add to this list?
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
In this blog I’ll address the second Big Idea that can change the way we do church.
Big Idea Two: Evangelism is a process, not an event. As I examined both the Scripture and my own experience, I stum
bled on a fact largely ignored
by modern evangelistic methods: evangelism is not an event, but a journey that takes place over a course of time as a person makes a multitude of small, incremental decisions leading to faith in Jesus.
If I had intelligently read passages like Matthew 13 and 1 Corinthians 1, I would have seen this, but I took my cues from men and women who seemed to be ahead of me spiritually, and so I accepted their idea that evangelism is all about telling the message. In John 4, Jesus makes it clear that the “harvest” (a person coming to Christ) is dependent on the “cultivation” of the soil (preparation of the heart). What this means is that each time a Christian has an encounter with a non-Christian—whether we talk specifically about Christ or not—we are either drawing or repelling a person to Christ. Of course, God wants us to intentionally seek to draw them by both our words and actions. But most people today will need to develop a trusting relationship with the gospel messenger, before they accept the message. In fact, on average, nine to sixteen individuals help cultivate the soil of the heart and plant seeds of truth before a person finally decides to trust Christ. That’s why I define evangelism as not just telling the gospel message, but helping a person take the next step toward a relationship with Christ. This is not to reduce the importance of the message in any way. It needs to be told “clear and simple.” But the seed of truth needs to fall into a heart well cultivated in order for growth to occur.
So where do we find hearts that need cultivating and where can we be most successful in this organic type of evangelism? For most of us it is in the workplace. It is here as colleagues, clients, and customers discover whether the gospel is credible by watching us—words and actions. What would happen if churches equipped people to live the good news at work as well as tell the good news? What would happen if pastors began to realize that the words, thoughts, values, and actions of their congregation Monday through Saturday were more important to the Kingdom of God than what was said and done on Sunday? It would certainly change the way we do church.
These four Big Ideas are found in Going Public with your Faith
Thanks to Rae Allen for the image.
Posted in Church, Evangelism, Workplace Faith
Tagged 1 Corinthians, CHrist, Church, cultivation, faith in Jesus, harvest, Jesus, John, Matthew, organic evangelism, process
I just read an email devotional that posed the following dilemma.
“A chaplain for a major league baseball team lost his position and was publicly excoriated for nodding his head affirmatively in answer to a question from a ball player. The question? Do people who don’t accept Jesus Christ end up in Hell?
“The media reported it, the team owner suspended the chaplain and apologized profusely to the public; and major league baseball wrung its hands and pledged to re-visit the idea of chaplaincy in baseball.
“How should the chaplain have answered that question?”
The writer of the devotional proposed that we answer with Jesus’ words not ours. In other words: All I have to go on is what Jesus said himself, “No one comes to to Father but through me.”
Good answer in my book. But an answer is not always the best way to answer a question. As Jesus shows us, often a question is better than an answer, especially in a “politically charged” situation. I’m not suggesting that we evade the issue, but rather make sure we understand what the first questioner is really asking and why is he/she asking it. Another reason is that questions often make people think for themselves. Quick answers often polarize people in their shallow thinking.
How would I have answered that question? I would have first asked, “What do you think?” and then responded from there. Ultimately I would have tried to get back to the issue, but formulated it in a different way. I really like how C.S. Lewis framed this issue. He said that ultimately there are two types of people in the world: those who say to God, “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.” The real question is who is Jesus. If he is God as he says he is, then that’s really the question. If you believe that he is, then you’ve answered your own question, because he did say, “I am the way the truth and the life and no one come to the Father except through me.”
To read more about this kind of “Socratic” evangelism see chapter 11 in Going Public with Your Faith.
Steve Bigari is a hero in my book and also to the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. They named him Business Citizen of the Year recently. I met Steve in 2003 while we were taping the Going Public video curriculum where he tells his story. At that time Steve owned 12 McDonald’s in central Colorado and was passionate about Jesus, his business, his 500 or so employees, and helping hourly wage earners become successful citizens. His method: love them in Jesus name and provide them the tools they needed to stay employed–healthcare, transporation, childcare, education. Unheard of in fast-food franchizes, he offered benefits to workers at the bottom of the wage scale. Today, Steve has seen a dream come true in the establishment of America’s Family, a non-profit organization that spreads what Steve has learned to other hardworking Americans beyond his business. Check out America’s Family at www.amfol.com and Steve’s new book at www.theboxyougot.com. You’ll see why Steve is a Kingdom Hero and why no small number of former employees whom Steve has helped come back to talk about Jesus.