Travel to the city centres of any Asian country and you will see a skyline dominated by tall buildings. These skyscrapers are full of men and women working to satisfy the demands of worldly masters, while many have no knowledge or understanding of their heavenly Father.
The best way of spending time with these people is to enter the workplace as a fellow employee. Who they are working with and the faith expressed by colleagues can play a significant part in the gospel reaching them. However, though the need would seem clear, entering the workplace to achieve this may appear to some as worldly or tarnished. In reality, working as a professional in Asia is often not understood by Christians back home to be mission work. Who would choose to move to that place and work alongside those people who dearly need Christ? I have walked this path; maybe you too will follow his call to ‘Go’.
A busy bus or train ride should remind you of your call to be here: you are standing only inches away from another commuter. You could not be standing closer to these people if you tried. However, proximity isn’t enough for them to experience living faith; time is another important aspect in building relational faith.
The working week is long and tiring. Hours in the office take you away from the community in which you live. Spending time with neighbours happens in the remaining hours in your week because they work too. The balance of work, family life and ‘ministry’ time is a difficult set of responsibilities to balance. When relocating with family, they will need to support you in this. At times there is a very real cost to be counted because work pressures can eat up more time in busy periods.
The balance of work, family life and ‘ministry’ time is a difficult set of responsibilities to balance.
How can we use our time? Well, God’s agenda may well clash with your own. While his priorities will be an expression of his heart, a love for all people, your work agenda might be set by someone else, full of appointments and meetings. But how you act, speak and respond could be significant to God’s agenda.
As an employee, your work will be reviewed and evaluated. Being from overseas won’t protect you from criticisms or allegations. You may be unfairly treated, overlooked for promotion, despised or dismissed. However, these challenges are opportunities to display integrity. You have the chance to model love in the work place. Not a greeting card kind of love that is quickly discarded, but a deep consistent love that doesn’t give up. Maybe you will need to show respect to an ‘unlovable’ boss, working as though the Lord was your boss. Maybe you will stand up for a colleague or challenge an unethical decision, but whatever the future, you can be confident that God will be with you, working out his plans and purposes for those he calls his own.
Marketplace worker in Southeast Asia
This story originally appeared in OMF (UK)’s Billions magazine May – August 2017.
Will you pray for Marketplace ministry?
- Pray for more Christians to consider taking their profession overseas to meet people in their workplaces
- Pray for workers seeking to balance their different responsibilities to do this well
- Pray for home churches as they support members working in professions overseas