Seventy people at one company, sixty employees at three other companies and countless individuals in three countries all shared the Good News with friends, family and co-workers because two people decided to meet with God.
In 1991, two Christian women at Northern Telecom in Atlanta, Kelly Roe and myself, decided to study the Bible together during our lunch hour one day a week. Kelly invited one friend. That friend invited another. The next friend told a group and at the first meeting, originally planned for two, twelve people showed up.
For nearly a year, the group held weekly Bible studies during lunch hour, occasionally showing Christian training videos such as a series on stress produced by the Minirth-Meyer Clinic, and a program entitled Your Work Matters to God. The group grew too large for the conference rooms available, so they decided to divide in half, each group meeting on a different day. Unfortunately, the reality of a heavy fourth quarter work schedule took its toll on the divided group and the number trickled to a few.
Instead of taking an hour away from work, I began sending out short e-mail devotionals when the group could not meet. These were passed from friend to friend to friend, and the original group receiving e-mails soon doubled. The devotionals were requested on a daily basis, and a Bible verse-a-day calendar became my inspiration.
A change of organizational make-up moved a small number of the Atlanta group to Raleigh, NC, and the transplanted workers shared e-mail devotions with their new friends. Someone in Raleigh had a friend in Chicago, to whom she sent an e-mail. That person forwarded it to a friend going through a divorce in Maine. He sent them to a former co-worker in Ohio, and that friend knew someone in Canada… and the story goes on.
By the end of 1993, a friend of mine at church, Paul McGraw, asked for copies of the e-mails on disk. After receiving approval from his supervisor at Intecolor, Paul began sending out the daily devotions to two other Christians where he worked. For a year, only the three of them were “enrolled.” But by the end of 1994, there were fifteen people. Paul then began forwarding the messages to a co-worker transferred to London, England, who shared them in the office there. A friend of Paul’s at Scientific Atlanta began sharing the devotionals in his office, and one at Hewlett-Packard soon was added.
Then, in late 1996, due to a misunderstanding concerning corporate policy, I felt it would be best to cease sending the devotional literature at work (later on, I learned that it is okay to send out emails to an established receiver list, as long as these people have requested that their names be put on the list. An example in point is the Nortel Christian Fellowship, which operates as a registered club within Nortel, and sends out emails on a regular basis to an established receiver list of over 300 people, which includes some 50 managers and directors within the company). Presently, a co-worker forwards prayer requests among those of us who chose to receive them. As well, my friend Paul now sends me the same messages I wrote more than four years ago. I feel it’s a tribute to the miracle of God’s living word that, when I re-read what I once wrote, the original message was transformed into something fresh that was needed now.
Several people have asked about the wide acceptance of the devotional material, since it crossed not only denominational lines, but also workplace, gender, race and age. My ministry of writing was based on Isaiah 55:11, which says that God’s word will not go out void, but will accomplish the purpose to which He set it. Read that again: God’s word, not mine. No one is particularly impressed with another person’s opinion – unless it agrees with his/her own – but Christians who believe in the power of God’s word are enthusiastic about anything the Lord has to say. Therefore, I took pains not to base the devotionals on what I thought about a subject, but what God had to say.
Their style was simple: a verse of scripture, an expository account of what it meant, followed by a prayer of application. For example, one week was spent doing a daily thought on John 3:16, each with a completely different viewpoint and application. Day one discussed the words “for God,” and showed that salvation came from His side to ours; not a work we accomplished on our own. Day two: “so loved” chronicled godly love and its willingness to sacrifice. Day three: “the world” which is a Greek word meaning cosmos, or the entire universe. God’s love was not for a select few but for all. Day four: “that He gave” the greatest gift at the greatest price for the greatest reason. Day five: “His only begotten Son” the way, the truth, the life, by Whom is the only road to God. A closing prayer might be as elementary as: “Father, teach us to love others in the way You loved us. Teach us to give beyond the limits we set for ourselves. And may each of us experience the truth of the phrase ‘the world.’ Amen.”
The earliest sign that God was using this ministry came when a young co-op student approached me about the devotionals not long after I started sending them. She had seen a printed copy of one from the Psalms, and wanted to know if I was Jewish. This led to the discovery that she had been reading my work without knowing who I was, and she was profoundly touched by my ability to express God’s word. Discovering that I was a Christian was a surprise to her, since she herself was Jewish. She had the same love of God’s word that I did, and we soon agreed that, because she did not work on a computer, I would give her a daily, printed copy of what I wrote. If it disagreed with what she believed, she would be free to accept it or not. I found in her a challenge not to argue for the Messiahship of Christ, but to present the love of God, and the truth of His word, in such a way that she would eventually come to recognize Jesus not only for Who He really was, but also for Who He wanted to be in her life.
Seasons changed, and my young friend went back to school. Upon her return in the winter quarter, she again asked for the printouts. She asked if I knew what she did with them, and proceeded to describe her synagogue’s youth group. Each week, they would meet, read the material I’d written during the week, and discuss it. They could barely wait for her to return to work so that she could bring new ones again.
I felt at that moment as if God’s mighty hand squeezed my heart. This is the reason I work here. The words came to mind with such clarity and vigor that I could not speak for several moments. Rarely have I had so clear an understanding of God’s will for me before or since. Peace, calm, assurance; each swept over me in a continuous wave of hope. Here was my calling; here was my goal.
Missionaries had long reached out to God’s chosen people, the Jews. Prayers had been sent up before God’s throne for centuries that He would open the ears of His chosen and soften hearts bound by law. And here, from a cube on the fourth floor of an office building, I glimpsed Him reaching down and doing it. What an awesome sight, and what a tremendous privilege to be part of so wonderful an endeavor.
Though my friend is not yet persuaded, she remains open and excited about materials I share with her, and is genuinely interested. My heart’s prayer for her is that she will know the truth, and that the truth will set her free. Jesus is the truth!
Friendship, compassion, prayer, sharing, vigilance and walking in the light are ways we all have to share God’s word. Bible studies, written devotionals, verbal witnessing, videos, books and invitations to Christian programs at church are also good ways to share Jesus Christ. But the love of God, the acceptance of people as they are – these are far above all the rest. When we love people as He loved them, when we give to others as He gave to us, when we seek the lost as He sought us, then, only then, will we find souls He wants found.