Most citizens in our adopted country belong to a religion that is hostile to the gospel. The people around us have grown up hearing all kinds of untruths about Jesus. Their hearts tend to be resolutely closed to following Him. What a privilege and honor it has been to rub shoulders at work day in and day out with people who would not or could not set foot in a church building.
How did we get here? In the late ‘80s my husband, Peter, and I attended a student missions conference. We learned that most of today’s unreached people live in a growing number of “restricted-access” countries that won’t grant missionary visas—but that welcome business people like Peter and teachers like me! The doors flung wide open for us! Peter and I felt validated and called by God to take the gospel to the nations, using our professions.
“God is teaching us that the only metric for success in the business world, or any other sphere, is love.”
We have now been living in the Middle East for nearly three decades. For two thirds of that time we have stewarded a business with the goal of spiritual transformation. Our prayer is, “May Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” as people in our community are changed through our business activities.
This calling is birthed—and bathed—in prayer. Our business manual is the living, breathing Holy Spirit—His written and spoken words. What a Guide!
The Holy Spirit is actively involved in every area of the business. God is the CEO and exclusive owner of the company. We are the stewards of what He has given us; not the owners. This subtle difference changes everything.
Last year, the economy collapsed: a crisis of mammoth proportions for any small business! If we were the owners, we would have been stressed and sleepless. As stewards, we made an appointment with the boss to inform Him of the situation: “Boss, there’s an issue with Your business. . . .” We discovered, of course, that He saw the collapse coming. He was totally relaxed and unflustered by the whole situation. (You might even say He was asleep in the boat!) We left the problem on His desk and walked away greatly impacted by His peace.
We’ve set aside a special “office” for the CEO. We call it “the prayer and reflection room.” We invite everyone who enters the premises to come and meet God in the prayer room and spend some time in His presence. Many take us up on it, providing meaningful opportunities to pray with our staff. Peter and I have made it our goal to be with the Owner in His office as much as we can. We are learning that when we spend time in His presence, we begin to see things the way He does. His perspective rubs off on us, as does His creativity. We’re discovering that He has creative solutions for the most complex business situations, whether they are people- or product-related.
One night our staff was working very late, implementing new software to manage business operations. After dinner, Peter and I were on our way to a prayer meeting when traffic became so bad that we decided to give up and head back home. The Holy Spirit spoke up: “Go and drop by the office and encourage the workers there instead.” We turned around and surprised the staff with snacks to keep them going. We quickly discovered that they had encountered a problem that they expected would take four days—and nights—to correct. The entire business would be on hold until the issue was resolved. Peter and I interceded right there, asking God for a creative and quick solution. The next morning, the staff told Peter that within an hour after we left, they had a breakthrough and miraculously resolved the issue! What an interested and involved Owner we serve!
If God is so interested in the operational details, how much more so is He passionate about the hearts of the people. Jesus Himself is actively pursuing every individual we hire and every client we work with. Recently I asked four of our staff if they’ve ever seen “the Man in white” (Jesus) in their dreams. One of them answered right away, “My daughter sees Him all the time.” Another woman described a dream she’d had just the night before! The Holy Spirit is at work in amazing ways here, wooing and drawing hearts to Himself.
“The Holy Spirit is leading us in powerful ways to be intentional in fully integrating work with the call to the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world!”
To sustain and encourage us, God has given us multiple promises for the salvation of the people we work with. The other day, I was in the prayer room when one of the promises, Zechariah 8:21 (ESV), came to mind, in which one group says to another, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek Him; I myself am going.” I began to praise God that His promises are Yes and Amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), and as good as done. Minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Fatima walked in, followed by Gül. “I don’t know why, but it’s like God drew me here with a magnet,” Fatima said. “Yes,” Gül continued, “She came to me and said, “Let us go at once to the prayer room and ask Elizabeth to pray for us. I myself am going.”
As He woos their hearts, He’s also drawing us in. God is teaching us that the only metric for success in the business world, or any other sphere, is love. What does love look like in the business world? It’s simply “stopping for the one,” that is, taking the time to treat each person as valued and deeply loved by God. This includes everything from simple acts of kindness, to radical obedience, to biblical teaching, to stepping out in faith with bold acts of prayer for healing and deliverance.
A few years ago, the Lord challenged us to pray with every person in our company who became ill. Soon one of our leaders had major surgery, and Peter and I went to see her in the hospital to pray. We discovered that she had developed an infection and spiked a fever. The doctor had told her she couldn’t leave for at least another week, and that her recovery would take six months. I shared the story of the paralytic with her and asked permission to lay hands on her and pray in Jesus’ name. After I finished praying, she said, “WHAT is in your hands? I felt this HEAT. . . .” That evening, the doctor confirmed that her infection and fever were completely gone. He sent her home the next day! Two—not six—months later, our CFO was back at work, telling everyone, “Jesus heals!”
The Holy Spirit is leading us in powerful ways to be intentional in fully integrating work with the call to the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world! God’s mercy and love expressed in practical and miraculous ways in our business give us hope for gospel transformation in individuals and society. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5 ESV).
All names have been changed.