As believers called to make disciples of all nations, Gloria Furman, Lauren Hansen, Jeany Kim Jun, and Regina Robinson discuss how we can carry out the Great Commission in our workplaces. What kinds of sensitivities and clarity are biblical and effective? What is the role of the church? How can we shine the light of the gospel in our various places of work—whether an office, a kitchen, an artist’s studio, or a classroom?
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Lauren Hansen: We are going to discuss our lives, our experiences, how the Lord has moved. And we’ll start off though by doing brief introductions. I’m Lauren Hansen, your moderator. And let’s just start with Jeany.
Jeany Jun: Hi, everyone. I’m Jeany Jun. I am a daughter, wife, a mother of three with my oldest being 17. I’m also a ruling elder’s wife and I have been discipling women for quite a while. And by training though, I’m an ambulatory care pharmacist and a pharmacy professor, and I’ve been one for the past 16 years. And furthermore, our family served in Cambodia for about 3 years from 2010 to 2013. And most recently, my husband served as the moderator for the 45th General Assembly of the PCA. And I’m just so thankful to be here amongst all these women for God’s mercy for allowing us to be here and talk about evangelism in the workplace.
Regina Robinson: Hi, I’m Regina Robinson and I live in Boston, Massachusetts, with my husband, Jua and our four children 12, 10, 8, and 5. And yes, fun bunch. Our second-oldest, our 10-year-old turning 11, has Down syndrome. So thrust us into the world of special needs and he’s a rock star. And I’ve been in higher education for 20 years. I’m currently the dean of student affairs at Cambridge College. And higher ed has been my primary profession. But five years ago, I entered into more public ministry in the City of Boston, and four years ago, I was appointed by our mayor to be the Boston School Committee member representing families impacted by disability.
We have 57,000 students in Boston Public Schools and 11,000 who are on IEPs, individualized education plans. So, over 80% are students of color, over 40% are English language learners. And then you combine English language learners with special ed, we have a lot of complexities that we grapple with. And so evangelism in the workplace is a special area near and dear to my heart because I wear a parent hat, a public policymaker hat, but also a Christian. So I’m excited to be here today.
Gloria Furman: I’m Gloria Furman my microphone is on now. Hi, I’m Gloria. I live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where we’ve lived for the past nearly 10 years this August. Before that, we were in the U.S. studying in seminary and working on campus in college, in different universities. And it’s been a fantastic journey of church planting in Dubai where 85% of the population are ex-pats, which means that 85% of the population came there explicitly for work.
So our church, 100% of the people who are in our church came there for a job. And my husband as the pastor, tells them, “You did not come here for a job, God brought you here to be an ambassador for Jesus.” So evangelism in the workplace is what our church is all about.
And another topic near and dear to my heart. I also have four kids, we’re on the odds years. So the odds years were 11, 9, 7, and nearly 5, that’s how I keep track of myself.
Hansen: Great. Well, let’s start off talking about as believers called to make disciples of all nations, how do we carry out the Great Commission within our workplaces?
Jun: Can I first ask a question? How many of you are working? Could you just raise your hands? All of you? Beautiful. Well, that’s great you guys know that we are all working for the same boss. That is Jesus Christ. Any stay-at-home moms? Okay, you’re not off the hook because your workplaces are with your children obviously. Any students in the room? A few of you, your workplaces are your schools and your classrooms.
So I recently read this book called The Gospel At Work written by Sebastian Trager and Greg Gilbert. And they say that, you know, who your boss is in real life is inconsequential because ultimately we’re working for the King of Kings. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord.” So as I shared, I’m a clinical pharmacist. So my classroom with 80 to 120 students, students that I have on rotations with me, anywhere from 1 to 4 students at a time. My patients, my coworkers who are nurses, social workers, physicians, family practice residents, they are my workplaces. And so God placed me there to share about Christ.
And when I first started being a pharmacy preceptor, I felt very disconnected from my spiritual self. And I was training students how to become good clinical pharmacists, but really was not talking about the whole person and the whole spiritual aspect. And so one of the things that I was learning as I was going on is to be intentional in the relationships that I make. You know, God places people in your lives for a certain period of time. They’re not always going to be there. And so for me, I try to take advantage of that. And I try to invest in them and get to know the students that are there, get to know the patients that are there for the time that I have them, and try to build a relationship with them so that I can get to share the gospel with them after I’ve invested with them.
And then one other thing was in the way that I talk, I’m very purposeful about what I say. I stopped saying, “You’re so lucky.” But I do say, “You are so blessed,” because you are acknowledging that the blessings come from God. And so I think in our words, we can be very intentional about how we speak to show that you are a Christian. When I was in college, I changed my major from biochemistry to Russian studies. And depending on how I feel about whether or not I want to share the gospel, I can give a different answer. If I don’t feel like sharing, I go…well, somebody asked, “Why did you change your major?” I go “Just because I felt like it, something different.”
But if I felt like sharing the gospel, I would say, “Well, it’s because I was on a short-term mission trip to Russia after my first year of college. And when we went there, nobody spoke Russian, so we were sharing the gospel like this,” which I don’t know what it translates to exactly. But I was so frustrated that I came back started taking Russian language classes. Fell in love with it, changed my major, went and studied abroad in Russia for a year, and was able to finally share the gospel in Russian with somebody. I feel like that’s a more powerful testimony if I feel like sharing about the gospel. I believe God has given each of you probably a story where you can choose to share it one way or another. So I pray for boldness for you guys when you are given an opportunity.
Robinson: Well, I have always been in the field of education. And being a preacher’s kid growing up in the church, I’m really grateful to have had a father and a mother. My mom is here with me today. And so I get to have girlfriend time with my mother. And I’m grateful for the upbringing because they walk the walk and they talk the talk. And church was a place where we were a family of believers but that wasn’t the only place where we were engaging our faith. I can remember, as a teenager, my father taking us to a detention center so that we could conduct Bible studies with the kids there, singing songs. My mother is an amazing singer.
And so I just remember, as kids, we were always engaging people in the community, at youth camp. We saw what it looked like to live out our faith and learn, from an early age, the power of your testimony and the power of your story. And as a youngster, my story didn’t really seem that powerful because, you know, God didn’t pick me up and turn me around and set my feet on solid ground. I didn’t have that kind of testimony, and I always idolized those who did. And I would wonder, like, when am I gonna have that story? And I realized that the gospel has transformed me even as a child to understand the biblical truths that will serve as a foundation for the rest of my life.
And what I’m grateful now, as a parent, is those biblical truths that are the foundation for a child’s life. If you’ve accepted Christ, at an early age, is that 30 years later, when you get a diagnosis of your child having a disability and the doctors tell you to terminate the pregnancy, those biblical truths need to be in place. Because at the time a verse didn’t come to mind. But I knew that in the deepest pit of despair for those following months that doctors kept encouraging the termination option, I had to rely on something more than their words, my words, my feelings, but God’s truth of who I am and who my child is, even before he comes. And so I learned the language of advocacy before my son was born. But I learned that I have a God who loves me even in the dark spaces. That is a part of a theology that is instilled as a child.
So evangelism in the workplace needs to take place in the home first, needs to take place in the dining room, needs to take place at the dining table, needs to take place in the car rides to school, needs to take place not just in youth group. So why I’m excited about what it looks like to be in the workspace, and why I’m excited about what it means to engage people and have a testimony is when you have a personal relationship with Christ, it is seen in the public spaces. And we’re gonna talk practically about it a little later. But I wanted to first and foremost just share that the foundation is really critical. Those Bible stories and Bible verses that you learn as a child are really critical when life is happening, and when someone else’s life is happening and you can share God’s truth with them in a practical way.
Furman: And in all of your diverse workplaces and diverse roles and jobs, you have the same message and the same the gospel that you share. That Paul says, “He delivered as of first importance what he also received. That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” This same gospel, whether you work in one place or another and have one job or another, it’s the same one you share everywhere.
Hansen: So hitting on both highs and lows, tell us something about your personal ministry and the workplace experiences. So we can mix it up or go right down the row, however you want. You look ready, Jeany, so you go for it.
Jun: I’ll start off with the low. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” And I always had this verse on the back of my mind, but when an opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t utter the words. When I first started teaching, as a preceptor with students on rotation, I was assigned three students, one was Buddhist, one was Muslim, the other was Jewish, and I was a Christian. And at the end of rotation, I take them all out to lunch with me.
And in the car, the Jewish students proceeded to ask, “Dr. Jun, you seem to have a lot of peace where does that come from?” And in my heart, I was so happy that she asked me this question because that means she saw something different in me. And I was like, “Oh, it’s because of Jesus.” But then other thoughts kept creeping into my mind. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, the Buddhist student and the Muslim Student are in the car. I haven’t given them their grades yet.” And I was like, “Oh my gosh, what do I say? What do I say?” So I just came up with like, “You know.” And I was so thankful we got to the restaurant and we had to get out of the car. And I knew I had failed miserably.
And all throughout lunch, all I could think of was the verse in Luke 9:26, where it says, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the son of man will be ashamed of them.” And I was feeling really bad about this encounter. So I went to go talk to a colleague of mine who I knew was a Christian, an older sister, and I told her what happened today. And this was about the time when they were all talking about prayers in schools is a no-no, and this is my first year teaching, so I didn’t know what was appropriate to say and not to say. So I asked her and so she told me, “If someone asks me, then I’m free to tell them about my faith. I’m not shoving it down their throats, I’m not holding it over them before I give them a grade. But if they come to me privately and ask me sincerely, then I’ll answer sincerely.”
So armed with this new knowledge and confidence, God me some other opportunities to share the gospel at work. And I feel like my whole work trajectory is really a story of God’s grace and mercy. So when I started teaching at a new institution, I told them, I spent three years in Cambodia with my whole family. And it’s very natural question, “Why did you go to Cambodia?” And it’s a very natural way for me to share about my faith in Christ, this is why we went to missions.
Robinson: I would say that many of my…the ones that come to mind, evangelism highs came from lows. As I shared earlier, our journey in Boston 12 years ago was to plant the church, and God did so much more. And those of you who’ve heard me in other sessions are like, “Regina, the third time you’re gonna tell the story.” But I’m a pastor’s wife, church planter in Boston. And I would say that 12 years into our ministry as church planters, as pastor/wife team, we’re not known in Boston for our church ministry. We’re known in Boston as advocates, as parents who advocate for kids with special needs, who are advocates for educating students, who are advocates for parent engagement.
And because the world disability can be exhausting and at times it’s dismissive and disregarded, which is why it’s a marginalized population, people don’t sometimes understand why you don’t fit in the box that you’re supposed to fit in. “Regina, why haven’t you fallen apart?” I’m like “You caught me on a good day.” Because the reality is parenting can be challenging. And then parenting a child with special needs where you’re constantly having to advocate, where you’re constantly having to sometimes push back on the feelings of rejection that just took place on the playground when you thought you were just gonna have a good day on the playground, or when you receive bad news from the doctor when you thought it was just gonna be a routine doctor’s appointment.
The way that evangelism takes place is through your witness, and through the everyday life, and sometimes through the dark spaces. And I’ve learned in these 12 years that sometimes the darkest spaces and the hardest spaces of our lives is where God can shine the most. Because people wanna understand, why do you have peace? How are you still making it? And sometimes I can jokingly say, “Well, I’ve got concealer and lip gloss on today, and today is a good day.”
But I can also on any given day say “You know what, my faith is really important to me. And at the end of the day, my relationship with the Lord and my relationship with Jesus really helps to keep me grounded, even on the tough days.” And it’s not a pat answer, but I know that “On Christ, the solid rock I stand,” like, that isn’t just a song folks, you know when you’ve hit rock bottom, you kind of need that solid rock to bring you back to where you need to be.
And so you know, I can think of some of the kind of the darker spaces, some of the lows of when I just didn’t really feel like living and letting my light shine as Matthew 5 says. And it was in some of those dark spaces that, you know, with doctors who would say very cruel and mean things and dismissive things that the light of Christ was able to push back and shine through and say, “You know what, you’re talking about my son, you’re not talking about a management option of termination.”
When doctors would not call him by his name and would just talk about the management option, I was able to let the light of Christ shine and push back and say, “His name will be Josiah.” And as Dr. Alan Crocker, one of the few doctors during our journey who spoke life said, “Let him come and show you what he is capable of doing.” And that, for me, was the Lord again just breathing hope and life into a very challenging situation.
And so I see evangelism yes, as the verses and yes, as the experiences, but when you least expect it, God’s light is able to shine through. And the Bible says, “Be ready to give an answer of the hope that is within you.” Be ready even in the dark spaces to give an answer. And it may not be a perfect answer, but being human really does attract people to Jesus and not just trying to be a saint.
Furman: I think for myself, highs and lows in evangelism are directly connected to my awareness. I live on autopilot and it’s hard to remember God is sending me, I’m an ambassador with a message of reconciliation everywhere I go. You look at the earthly things and you say, “Oh, there’s no milk in the fridge therefore, I must go to the grocery store.” But all of this foreordained by God to sovereignly send me wherever it is he’s sending me.
So highs in evangelism come when I’m fully engaged in that process. I wake up aware and excited, “God, I’ve got penciled in some plans today, take me where you will send me. Would your spirit go before me, prepare hearts, I’ll go wherever.” And to see how prayers are answered all along the way, it just fuels my faith and makes me excited. And that’s a high. It’s a great evangelism buzz just to wake up and be excited about where God will send me.
And then the lows, it’s very similar to what Jeany said about realizing I was not ready for that moment, I should have expected it to come. I am an ambassador of Jesus Christ, that is my primary calling in this world, that’s why I’m here, and I blew it. So the lows, I can certainly relate to those feelings of not feeling aware that God is always at work, not just when you’re on your A-game in evangelism, and you’ve got an answer, and you’re like “Give me the question come on, come on, I’m ready.” But He’s always working.
Hansen: So how have you grown in your personal witness over time, and what have you learned that might be encouraging and helpful to others to hear? So we’ll mix it up. Gloria, how about you go first this time?
Furman: Encouraging for you to hear, things I’ve learned. This is the hard way, this is learning the hard way of like along the lines of what I just said. Expecting, expect that God will use you to shine his light in the dark world, whether or not you feel like you are able. Whether or not you feel you’re qualified, that you’re spiritual enough that day, that you read your Bible long enough, or prayed enough. He does His work through broken vessels. Of course, he’s going to use you.
So learning that the hard way that expecting him to be at work everywhere, to not get caught off guard, like be ready, in season and out of season, being ready. So part of being ready means expect it. Expect that everyone you meet is not a mere mortal. Expect it, expect that God is at work in people’s lives in ways that you can’t even fathom or understand. You have no idea if he is moving in the heart of the lady standing next to you at the office, and he’s been preparing her heart to hear the gospel, the word of truth. And here you are his temple in-dwelled by the Holy Spirit placed in this spot. She also walked up at the right time. Expect that God is moving and, be ready for those things.
That’s kind of the biggest thing that I’ve been learning lately and seem to keep relearning, even in circumstances that I think are on the surface, an obstacle to evangelism. Like, “Oh, no, she’s here, I don’t speak her language very well. She doesn’t speak my language very well. I’m not very well versed in this, I’m not ready for this, I’m distracted. There’s a child on my knee.” Like, expect that God wants to use you in your brokenness and through your weakness to show the power of the gospel. And it’s not your brilliance, but his brilliance that is the light that is shining.
Robinson: The growth process has been painful for me just in the last decade, not just in my parenting journey, but also in my professional journey in higher ed. One of the books that I’ve had on repeat has been Larry Osborne’s book, he’s a pastor in California, called Thriving in Babylon. And he talks about the story of Daniel. Also, books that I’ve had on repeat that has been serving as respite for me has been Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, which talks about Moses. And both of those books have worked in tandem because it’s been kind of a painful growth process in higher education.
And anyone here in higher education? Yes. Okay. In K-12, anyone here? Yes, lots of you. So you all know educators are smart people. That’s a nice way. Smart people thrive on knowledge, right? Thrive on learning, thrive on training, thrive on getting better, stronger, smarter, more equipped to do whatever the job is they’re supposed to do. And then higher education, it goes to a kind of even greater scale because it’s an institution of higher learning. What I’ve found is that education also can really open up the doors to a lot of pride on any given day. And when you pride yourself on what you know and what you can do with what you know, without a space for humility, it can lead to some dangerous views and some dangerous ways of engaging other people.
And in a city like Boston where, you know, 1 in 6 people have some type of education, post-secondary education, and in a city like Boston where, you know, within a 50-mile radius, you have about 100 colleges and universities, there is a spirit of intellectualism that is alive and well. The best and brightest in the world have had some type of training in the City of Boston or Cambridge. Because Harvard makes it clear that they are not in Boston, they are in Cambridge.
And so with that spirit, there’s been a lot of fits and starts, honestly, in higher education for me in the growth of my personal witness. Because it has, really, in recent years taken some of the challenges for people to really see my faith. Because in some of the areas of intellect, faith isn’t something that is respected or valued. If anything, the smarter you are, the less you should need faith.
And there is a spirit of skepticism that is alive and well in spaces and urban environments that are rife with intellectualism. So my witness has been in some of the simple ways and some of the dark ways. I know I keep going back to that, I hate to say I don’t have a lot of success stories because I think they’ve just been the challenges of life. Maybe one day the Lord is gonna allow me to have a hindsight view and he’s gonna say, “Regina, look at the fruit.” But whether it’s in church ministry or in my professional ministry, it’s been some of the little things that I felt persecuted for the most.
And it wasn’t until five years ago being appointed by the mayor, there was just this sense of “She’s not just some happy, nice Christian, she actually has a brain that is valued by the mayor of Boston. Let me take another look at her.” And there became this new sense of engagement. And for me, I had to really wrestle with my witness. Like, wait a minute, I’m the same Regina who’s always been cheerful, who’s always pushed back on gossip, or who’s always…and none of that mattered to you. But now that I have status, I’m somebody to you. And it was really painful. It’s been a painful journey.
And I’ve had to consistently ask the Lord for personal grace and personal, like, wisdom to love people who are elitist and who only value you for what you can do for them or how you can make them look. And because that’s not the base of our faith, it’s very much countercultural. And so Thriving in Babylon has been on repeat because Pastor Osborn basically continues to say throughout the book, “God is in control of who is in control.” And so those who are in high places, Daniel, Joseph, and Esther are like my go-to people, they’re like my squad because I am doing what they are doing.
I am speaking truth to power on any given day. I am rubbing shoulders with, you know, the biggest decision-makers, and policy-makers, and educators who are making the decision for educators. And I’m seeing this heavy spirit that constantly has to be fought against. Because if you don’t constantly fight against it, it can kind of overpower you. And so being led by the Holy Spirit and constantly asking to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit has had to be kind of my go-to. So that’s where I’ve kind of seen it.
Jun: For me, I have four things that I’ve learned because I never started off, you know, being very bold about sharing my faith. So the first two I already mentioned, be intentional in your relationships. Second, be purposeful in the way you talk. And third, look for opportunities. When you’re working in your jobs as working for the Lord, you should be working with excellence. And others will be watching you to see how you navigate through difficulties, sufferings, and see how you respond. And if you have established relationships with your coworkers, by you opening up your struggles and sharing with them openly, may make them more vulnerable to share what they’re going through. And in that way, you’re able to reach in deeper and create opportunities as well.
I’m also fortunate to work with a nurse who is a grandmother and she says, over time, she has learned to become more and more bold in her faith. So at the beginning of the day, she actually gathers all her staff and says, “We’re gonna go to the back and pray if anybody wants to join us, you’re welcome.” And I have students who are Hindi, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, some Christian, some atheist, but everybody is invited to come. And so they can join if they want. They don’t have to join. But it gives you an opportunity to talk about, why do we pray in the morning? So we’re creating opportunities as well as looking for opportunities.
And finally, we have to learn to articulate the gospel effectively. I failed in that first example because I didn’t learn to articulate the gospel. And I wanna share the story that I heard from my pastor at New Life Fullerton, Pastor Will Chang. He was talking about the great debate between Dr. Stein who is a staunch atheist, and Dr. Bahnsen who is a Christian, Ph.D. philosopher. And they were having a debate on does God exist?
And Dr. Stein, he asks, “Is God good?” Dr. Bahnsen says, “Yes, he is.” Dr. Stein says, “How do you know that?” And this is Dr. Bahnsen’s response. He said, “He saved me, he created me. He made the world and he made it good. He sent his son into the world to die for my sins.” It’s very simple, it’s clear, and it’s a very short articulation of the gospel. And I think we can learn to do this, but we have to learn to articulate the gospel.
Hansen: How can we shine the light of the gospel in our various places of work? We probably have women here from all different spheres. Spheres like an office, or a kitchen, or an art studio, a classroom. So what kind of sensitivities and clarity are biblical and effective? Regina, would you like to go first?
Robinson: So shining the light of the gospel. In education, for me, I can give one example in the K-12 space, shining the light of advocacy. One of the things that I teach my kids, I wanted to try to teach them a language of what it means to be successful in school. But what it also means to have expectations of living your life as a believer, as a light shiner. And so I gave my kids the four Ls, and these are kind of our expectations. You’re going to learn, you’re gonna listen, you’re gonna let your light shine, and you can lead your friends in making good choices.
And it’s not a should but it’s you can do this, you have the ability. You have the ability to learn, that’s why we go to school. If you’re in private school, that’s why you’re paying tuition, you know, to learn. And so I ask my kids at the end of the day, even my five-year-old, he understands the four Ls, “What did you learn today? Tell me something new that you learned? Or tell me something that you’ve already known that you were re-learning and you are strengthening that learning?”
Listening, listening to the adults, listening to the teachers, but also listening to your friends, I wanna teach them very early on. Having a child with special needs, I really wanna raise kids who are nurturing and empathetic and able to listen to one another and the needs of others. And that starts early. So we talk a lot about what it means to listen.
And then letting your light shine. I believe and I share with the kids, you know, Matthew 5 passage isn’t just about letting your light shine when you’re ready, but yet letting your light shine at any time. What is your light? And when I share this in public schools, you know, I’m sharing Matthew 5, but I’m talking about letting your light of curiosity shine, letting your light of kindness shine. Look for ways to be kind to a friend. You know, when we saw the movie, “Wonder,” and the book, “Wonder,” if any of you are in K-12, that’s an amazing book that talks about a child with special needs and his journey and his school year and the friends who befriended him and those who were not nice to him.
And there was a scene in the movie that was very striking to me that hit home and it was when the parents were with the headmaster. And if you haven’t seen the movie, I encourage you to. But it’s the scene where the parents of one of the kids who does not like the little boy are in the office with the principal and the parents are saying things like, “Well, I just don’t think, you know, Auggie should be in this school. Maybe this school isn’t a fit for him,” the kid was special needs. And, “Maybe there should be other placements.” And they were there on the board of the school.
And so I saw, again, people of power who are making decisions behind closed doors of marginalized populations. And the headmaster, good for him for just saying, “Well, that’s a decision that we’ll need to make.” And you know, he kind of moves forward and continues to keep Auggie in the school. And what I learned from that situation was being kind isn’t just what we need to teach kids. But it’s also what as adults we need to learn to do for one another and to one another, and for people who aren’t even in the room, showing kindness.
So when I’m talking to my kids about letting your light shine, letting your light of faith, yes, Matthew 5, letting your light of Jesus, and your lifestyle and what it means to be a Christian. But also practically letting your light of curiosity shine, letting your light…asking good questions. Allowing your teachers to see that you’re listening and that you’re showing up and you’re ready to learn.
But then the last one, leading your friends and making good choices. This, for me, has been really critical in teaching our kids, but also teaching the kids in the Boston Public Schools what would happen if our classrooms were filled with kids who wanted to be leaders and leading others and making good choices versus being followers of whatever is going on? And I’ve learned very early on that kids will rise to the occasion if we set the expectation that they can do it. And so in teaching my kids, it was an eye awakening experience for me to say, okay, Regina, you’re teaching your kids this, now how are you letting your light shine at work?
How are you practically letting your light of kindness shine? How are you looking for opportunities to be kind to someone who in the meeting yesterday threw you under the bus in not a subtle way? Because it happens all the time in education. The smartest one in the room always shows up first, you know. So I’ve learned that those four Ls aren’t just like great little quips and quotes to teach my kids. But letting my light shine at work means sometimes turning the other cheek. It means sometimes intentionally being kind to someone who is not being kind to me. It means that I am willing to give an honest answer when I’ve had a hard day. And I’m letting my light of Christ and the humility that he has given to me shine in the workplace.
Furman: Letting your light shine. I wanna encourage you that the gospel will have its intended effect and that’s all in God’s hands. Really encouraged by this text in 2 Corinthians, Paul is talking here, he says, “When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was open for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession. And through us, spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
There’s two effects. One is, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To one, a fragrance from death to death. To the other, a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” These two intended effects of the preaching of the gospel, the fragrance of aroma of Christ being spread, he asked the question, “Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not like so many peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity as commissioned by God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ.”
As you faithfully preach the gospel, God will faithfully bring about the work that he has planned. The good works he’s prepared for you to walk in, he will lead you in. He will. So remembering that as your light is shining, you can’t control if that little light of yours is like, “I love it, let the light shine. Oh, I love it” Or if as your light is shining people shrink away and they don’t want anything to do with the light, I faithfully keep letting your light shine.
Woman 2: Where in 2 Corinthians is that passage?
Furman: 2 Corinthians chapter 2, sorry, chapter 2, I read verses 12-17.
Woman 2: Thanks.
Furman: Sure. While preparing for this particular session, I read a lot of blogs, articles, and books on evangelism in the workplace. And there were five themes that were pretty common throughout all of those articles and I wanted to share those with you. And the first that they mentioned is let others know you’re a Christian or put Christ on the table. Do people at your work know that you’re a Christian? Or would they be surprised to find that you’re a Christian? Colossians 4:5-6 it says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
The second was work with excellence. You’re working for the King so you can’t do work that is not up to par. Demonstrate faithfulness and integrity and work without grumbling or complaining. The third thing was love your peers. Love them genuinely and nurture a relationship and not consider somebody a project. Fourth was be prayerful. Listen for God’s voice. Pray for your colleagues. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that you will grow in boldness. And seek discernment from God to know when to share and when not to speak.
And finally, said, “Be prepared to answer those who ask.” So live a life that others will see something different that will come to ask you for the reason for the hope that you have. Bill Peel from the Center for Faith and Work summarized it like this. He said, “Faith filled by grace affects the winsomeness of our character, the quality of our work, and the sincerity of our concern for others. Those who work around us can’t help but wonder what makes us tick.”
Hansen: So with a few minutes before we take some questions, we’ll do a lightning round. So if there’s a question you feel passionate to answer, please jump in. We might just have a couple of ladies speaking each thing or one or we’ll keep our answers snappy because we wanna make sure to have a little time for questions. So, in evangelism in the workplace, what is the role of the evangelist and the role of the Holy Spirit? You kind of touched a little bit on that, Gloria, with being lights and not being responsible for the response to the light. Any other thoughts on the role of the evangelist and the role of the Holy Spirit?
Jun: Sure, I was gonna say, I think God’s using all of us to be his hands and feet. We don’t know exactly why you are pleased with the people that you work with, but God placed us there. And so I think what we share with them can be seeds that get planted, but it is the Holy Spirit that causes the growth, right. We can also be sharing and their faith may be growing, but again, it is the Holy Spirit that causes the growth. I heard a missionary from Wickliffe say that, “You can count the number of apples in a seed, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed.” Because you never know how much fruit it’s gonna bear. The Holy Spirit will bear its fruit, but it’s our job is to plant seeds and continue to water.
Hansen: Okay, how do we know when the timing is right?
Robinson: So I don’t always know when the timing, but the role of the Holy Spirit is the prompting. And I believe in the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I believe in cultivating and developing the fruit of the Spirit. Because as you’re developing the fruit of the Spirit, you’re developing that fruit of peace in the midst of chaos. Then the Holy Spirit can prompt you in chaotic situations to be countercultural to everyone else around you. Hence why sometimes I get those questions of, “Why do you seem so calm,” in an IEP meeting? Or, “After I heard about the way you advocated for a one-to-one paraprofessional, how are you able to stay calm?”
Well, you know, besides my husband gently tapping my knee underneath the table because I said in the last session, because I have to wrestle with not having an ABW moment, an angry black woman moment, and only choosing to have an articulate bold woman with a witness. Because either is gonna be remembered, we know that, right? And so the prompting of the Holy Spirit when you want to press in to a situation, whether it’s something as…you know, I tell a lot of stories because it just seems like it’s a constant thing. Whether it’s something like in an IEP meeting they don’t want to have a bus monitor for my child anymore.
And I want to lean forward and ask the question why because that doesn’t make any sense for a child with special needs not to have an assigned bus monitor. And in a city like Boston, where advocacy and activism is alive and well, those muscles have been exercised within the community. I’ve learned a lot of skills. But I realized the prompting of the Holy Spirit sometimes requires me to lean in and ask good questions, direct questions, and sometimes to lean back and wait and send an email, talk to someone, get some wisdom, get some guidance.
The fruit of the spirit of long-suffering. Suffering is real. Suffering took place in the Bible and suffering happens today. How do we take the long view to suffering? Requires the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Gentleness with our tongue, gentleness with our touch, gentleness with our actions. So the role of the evangelists and the Holy Spirit requires a working together. But then I believe that the timing comes with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And as we are prayerful, as we are mindful, those scriptures and those songs, you know, “There’s a Sweet Holy Spirit In This Place,” like those aren’t just songs.
Sometimes those have to be what actually calms me down before I know I’m going in to advocate for someone else, as I’ve had to do in the workplace when I saw a coworker getting verbally bullied, and I had to call it out. And I had to go through the proper channels through HR because I knew what I heard was not right. And the backlash that took place because of that, and the isolation and the loneliness and the second-guessing of myself. But knowing I had to do the right thing for someone else. And for that coworker to tell me a month later that the night that that situation took place, she saw a train go by and she wished she could have jumped in front of it. And I knew at that moment there was a prompting of the Holy Spirit to pull her shoulders squaring to me and say, “Your life is worth living.” And, “You are meaningful. You have a meaningful life. You matter to us, you matter.”
And to speak truth and love. And to share that light of Jesus, that was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. But it was prompted because I needed to be prompted to advocate for her. Because I knew she wasn’t able to do that on her own. And for her to then send me an email later and tell me in person, “You were Jesus to me that day.” And I started crying when I read it. And then she called me on the phone. “Did you get my email?” And I said, “Yes, I did.”
And she’s a woman who has had church wounds and completely stepped away from faith, like completely, and as an adult is living a life of her own. So for her to say that, “You were like Jesus to me. You didn’t have to do it, you laid down your reputation, you laid down your comfort to speak up for me, and I will forever be appreciative for it,” was a full-circle moment because at times, it was also a challenging work relationship. So the timing of the Holy Spirit, I believe, comes from the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And it’s not always prompting to have a successful experience. But it can be the prompting to have a courageous conversation or have an advocacy moment.
Hansen: Last question before we’ll take some of yours. So if we might have just one of you who’s passionate about this question take on the answer. What is the role of the church?
Furman: To equip the saints for the work of the ministry. If there are equipping classes at your church, avail of those as you have time. I hope you are attending a church that is regularly preaching expository sermons, feeding you a rich diet of truth.