Work is such a big part of life. At least 40 hours a week is spent in that place, with those people. Christians often talk about sharing the gospel in the workplace, or trying to reach out to the friends and colleagues, but how? How can we begin some of these conversations? Today we speak with Kiyoko, who has been working for the past 5 years. Her job in marketing and design has brought her to different companies and has allowed her to work with diverse teams. She shares with us her struggles and encouragements over the past few years as she has tried to initiate such conversations with her colleagues.
Many of us want to talk to our friends but don’t know how to begin! So, how do you begin these conversations with your non-Christian friends?
I often start by asking how my colleague's weekend was and what they did in order to get to know them better. From there, if they ask me what I've done over the weekend, I will share that I went to church to let them know I'm a Christian. Sometimes I also find out that my colleagues also go to church and if so, I can easily start conversations about what they believe in. During these times I’m also praying silently that God will grant me the courage to speak boldly if needed or to just be open and natural to share about who God is to me.
I think it’s important for me to first get to know my colleagues first and try to understand what struggles, interests or stages of life they are going through. This helps me to find some common ground with them. Only after gaining their trust and developing a relationship, I intentionally think about how I can share God's love with them.
I remember an incident when I was an intern in a local company as a university student. I managed to share the gospel over dinner with my colleagues who were 2 grown man that were at least 5-10 years older than me. I can't remember how I persuaded them to let me share my faith and hear me out not in the office, but a really noisy coffee shop! Although they were lightly teasing me about my faith, somehow God gave me the courage to be fearless and bold to just share the gospel. Till this day, I have no idea how my sharing would have in anyway left a mark in His kingdom, but one thing I do know, is that God's word never returns empty and that God will use this for His own glory.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa 55:10-11)
Has it been different with friends or colleagues that are internationals?
Yes! With my Japanese friends, they’ve often never heard much about the full story of Christ. Prior to any one-on-one meals I usually give a lot thought of how I can direct the conversations and ask God for ways in which He wants me to share the gospel during the meal. This really helps me to be intentional during the meal and also to find creative ways to talk about God in topics that might come up.
I recall a time when I was with my Japanese boss at work, and we were having dinner together. I just casually asked if she know anything about Christianity or about God. She mentioned she didn't know, and was open to hear what the gospel is about, and so I shared on the spot.
During these moments I'm reminded of 2 Tim 4:2 -- "...preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching". It has been a reminder to be ready to share anytime because you never know when God will just create a unique situation for you to speak about Him.
What have you done when your friend wants to find out more?
I honestly haven't done any book with anyone as I haven't met a non-Christian that was keen to find out further. What I've done, is to bring them to either conferences or Bible studies for them to hear the truth. I find it easier to talk about the passage that was taught or to follow up from there.
Over the years have you seen God at work? Could you share with us some of the ways?
Yes! God has given me so many opportunities to share my faith and some of them often very naturally and spontaneously. I also notice a change in some of my colleagues hearts over time when I talk about God or my faith at work.
What are some struggles that you've also faced?
I struggle because I feel inadequate to be the one to facilitate a Bible study or to do the Gospel primer with a non-believer. I also struggle when it comes to sharing the gospel in another language, and for me, it’s Japanese. I feel I lack the vocabulary to explain how God is different from the many gods that Japanese are familiar with. To explain concepts (e.g. trinity, justification, purification) and other big words in another language can also be extremely exhausting and discouraging when I feel I wasn't able to explain things clearly.
How would you encourage everyone to take the first step or to keep persevering?
I think if we realize how intentional God is with his time to reach out to us everyday, we should also allow Him to use us at any given day and time! If He has placed you in your current workplace, God has placed you there for a specific task to share the gospel.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us... (Acts 17:26-27)
So to those that aren't sure where to start, get equipped to share the gospel! Practice going through the primer (or any Bible passage) with someone first so you're familiar with it.
For those who are persevering, cling onto and 2 Tim 4:1-8! Our time here on earth is short. The colleagues you meet at work may not always be with you for many years to come. They may move to another company or get relocated or may not appear for work the next day. As children of God we're all called to share the gospel in a world that only wants believe and preach "fake news". Sadly, many will believe it instead of the "good news" and often we will look like fools having to endure suffering in order to do the work of an evangelist. But our lives will not just end here on earth. As the remaining of 2 Tim 4:7 says that we would have not suffered in vain for keeping the faith. God will reward us on the day when we meet him. So persevere on for it is this reason we take comfort and being reminded that as long as we're alive, we still need to run the race that He has set out for us.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Tim 4:1-8)