Column 10.19.18

Skillman sisters find ministry to many in bluegrass music
October 18, 2018
Technology and our everyday life
October 18, 2018

Column 10.19.18

Having grown up in a Christian home and attended a Christian school, I expected a secular workplace to be filled with persecution. But when I started my first job during high school, I discovered that this was not always the case. I think sometimes—especially in America where we have freedom of religion—Christians unintentionally exaggerate the amount of oppression they feel.

Because of this, I grew up with the perspective that as soon as I stepped out into the world and people found out I was a Christian, I would be made fun of and isolated from others. This made me quite nervous starting my first job. Not only was I going to be working at Starbucks—an outspoken company when it comes to controversial topics—but I also lived in New England—the most unchurched region of the entire United States.

The reality is that my coworkers respect me for who I am and what I believe, and I discovered that a secular workplace is a perfect opportunity to share my faith with people who may never grace the doors of a church. My coworkers quickly realized I was different—namely, I talked about going to church and I didn’t swear. But instead of steering clear of me, they treated me just like anyone else. This surprised me. For the first time in my life, I was outside my Christian circle, but I was being treated the same.

I did have the blessing of having one Christian coworker as well. This gave us the opportunity to talk about our churches, beliefs and opinions. For me, I was thankful to have a coworker who believed the same things as I did—not only did this keep me accountable, but it also allowed us to have spiritual discussions that our other coworkers overheard.

As my coworkers got to know me better, they started asking me questions about what I believed and what the Bible said.  I have learned so much from these experiences—how to explain spiritual concepts to people who did not grow up learning about God and how to have a better grasp on why I believe what I believe.

I’ve been asked who Cain and Abel were, if I could list the Ten Commandments and what Jesus did on earth. I’ve had to thoughtfully explain my positions on alcohol, marijuana, abortion and tattoos. One time, a coworker literally asked, “What does John 3:16 mean? I saw that on something the other day, and I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

What a perfect question! I was able to clearly share the entire Gospel message with him at that time. My coworker Rishi has been the most interested in Christianity. Coming from a strong Hindu family, Rishi understands the concept of God and spirituality, but in a much different way than I do. However, he has been open to my beliefs and is interested in learning about religions other than his own.

Through my friendship with Rishi, not only have I learned about a different culture and perspective than my own, but I have also been able to clearly present my beliefs to him at length. This past year, Rishi even came to my church with my family and says he wants to come again. Interestingly, I did not have to seek out most of my opportunities for deep spiritual conversations because God allowed my coworkers to initiate many of them.

While I talked about God and tried my best to show Jesus’ love to them, I rarely started deep spiritual conversations because I did not want to force them to have a conversation they didn’t want to have. But because people could see my Christian character,  these perfect opportunities to share the Gospel  presented themselves to me. I tried to get to know them for who they were.  They saw a difference in me and wanted to know why.

Persecution does still happen—I have seen a few instances of it throughout my time at Starbucks. But it has been so far and few between that it is insignificant. While not every moment in a secular job is perfect, the chances I’ve had to share my faith with my coworkers and customers by far outnumber the few times I’ve felt any kind of suffering. In addition, I’ve made friendships that I can cherish.

In an area that has lower church attendance than anywhere else in the entire country, I have been able to share the love of Jesus with people who might never hear about the Gospel otherwise.

God has truly given me a unique opportunity to grow and share my faith—and I’m thankful for every second of it.  Having grown up in a Christian home and attended a Christian school, I expected a secular workplace to be filled with persecution. But when I started my first job during high school, I discovered that this was not always the case.

I think sometimes—especially in America where we have freedom of religion—Christians unintentionally exaggerate the amount of oppression they feel. Because of this, I grew up with the perspective that as soon as I stepped out into the world and people found out I was a Christian, I would be made fun of and isolated from others.

This made me quite nervous starting my first job. Not only was I going to be working at Starbucks—an outspoken company when it comes to controversial topics—but I also lived in New England—the most unchurched region of the entire United States. The reality is that my coworkers respect me for who I am and what I believe, and I discovered that a secular workplace is a perfect opportunity to share my faith with people who may never grace the doors of a church.

My coworkers quickly realized I was different—namely, I talked about going to church and I didn’t swear. But instead of steering clear of me, they treated me just like anyone else.

This surprised me. For the first time in my life, I was outside my Christian circle, but I was being treated the same.

I did have the blessing of having one Christian coworker as well. This gave us the opportunity to talk about our churches, beliefs and opinions. For me, I was thankful to have a coworker who believed the same things as I did—not only did this keep me accountable, but it also allowed us to have spiritual discussions that our other coworkers overheard.

As my coworkers got to know me better, they started asking me questions about what I believed and what the Bible said.  I have learned so much from these experiences—how to explain spiritual concepts to people who did not grow up learning about God and how to have a better grasp on why I believe what I believe.

I’ve been asked who Cain and Abel were, if I could list the Ten Commandments and what Jesus did on earth. I’ve had to thoughtfully explain my positions on alcohol, marijuana, abortion and tattoos. One time, a coworker literally asked, “What does John 3:16 mean? I saw that on something the other day, and I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

What a perfect question! I was able to clearly share the entire Gospel message with him at that time. My coworker Rishi has been the most interested in Christianity. Coming from a strong Hindu family, Rishi understands the concept of God and spirituality, but in a much different way than I do. However, he has been open to my beliefs and is interested in learning about religions other than his own.

Through my friendship with Rishi, not only have I learned about a different culture and perspective than my own, but I have also been able to clearly present my beliefs to him at length.

This past year, Rishi even came to my church with my family and says he wants to come again. Interestingly, I did not have to seek out most of my opportunities for deep spiritual conversations because God allowed my coworkers to initiate many of them.

While I talked about God and tried my best to show Jesus’ love to them, I rarely started deep spiritual conversations because I did not want to force them to have a conversation they didn’t want to have. But because people could see my Christian character,  these perfect opportunities to share the Gospel  presented themselves to me. I tried to get to know them for who they were.  They saw a difference in me and wanted to know why.

Persecution does still happen—I have seen a few instances of it throughout my time at Starbucks. But it has been so far and few between that it is insignificant.

While not every moment in a secular job is perfect, the chances I’ve had to share my faith with my coworkers and customers by far outnumber the few times I’ve felt any kind of suffering. In addition, I’ve made friendships that I can cherish. In an area that has lower church attendance than anywhere else in the entire country, I have been able to share the love of Jesus with people who might never hear about the Gospel otherwise.

God has truly given me a unique opportunity to grow and share my faith—and I’m thankful for every second of it.