We talk to an OMF worker whose ministry is carried out as he works in a secular workplace. As you’ll see from this interview, reaching China’s cities is a challenge, but with creativity, the church can rise to meet it.
Q: Why did you decide to give up working in your home country to do the same thing in China?
A: I realized that I can do what I do back at home over here, in a place where there is a really big need for “salt and light.” I felt that I could make an impact by the way I work and that by “being in the trenches” alongside my colleagues, I could build meaningful relationships beyond work and be an influence in their lives as well. It was a really good opportunity to use the skills and credentials the Lord has blessed me with to access another place and be a blessing here.
Q: What have been some of the biggest struggles?
A: The work culture here is intense. In addition to the long hours and the various cultural adjustments that I’ve needed to make, one of the biggest struggles has been trying to model Christ-like values. I don’t always know whether these values are being received well or being perceived as strange, distracting or even lazy. For example, I try not to work really long hours all the time, because I believe that this is honoring to God and sensitive to my family. But when others around me are working till midnight many nights, I never know if my values are respected or perceived as lazy.
Q: You’ve been working in a Chinese workplace for over five years now. What advice would you have for someone considering how they can use their work to witness for Christ there?
A: The reality is that it’s hard, tiring and at times frustrating. With pressure all around, there’s also often the temptation to just witness by actions and hope that someone is noticing. But I’ve been reminded that witness requires relationship, and words—God’s word—to be truly meaningful and effective. It’s not about preaching at co-workers. I’ve realized that there needs to be intentionality in gospel speech and that I need to be bold and not afraid to let people see my relationship with Christ.
While it’s not easy, there definitely are real opportunities to walk alongside believers in the workplace and mentor them. As we struggle through this together, we grow together. In the workplace, we can have access to people who are otherwise really difficult for the church to reach. All in all, the impact of being in the marketplace is a process; it requires time, is not fast-acting, and the fruit is not always obvious. We need to persevere in this kind of work.
Interested in bringing your profession to China and using it for Christ? Click here to explore opportunities to serve in urban China.