God At Work

Published: 08th November 2006
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Rich Marshall

CEO, ROi Equipping

I recently had the opportunity to do some training for a large company in Barbados. This company is owned by a respected businessman, Kyffin Simpson. He owns business in every Caribbean nation and territory and others in the UK and the USA. His goal in the training was not only to enhance the abilities of his managers in such skills as Team Building, Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution, but to also plant deep in their hearts his own principles and values that are totally Biblically based. We were able to do this in a non-threatenting way and in such language that even those who might have normally been skeptical were very receptive.

I know that this could happen only because of the impact that Mr. Simpson's life has had on his employees, and in fact on his nation. He was recently awarded an honorary Doctorate by the University in his nation and was asked to give the graduation address. The people applauded when he said; "I am not sure that I can add anything that would be helpful for these graduates beyond what the fine professors have taught them, but I can tell you about Jesus."

[I Recommend reading these books: www.godisworking.com]

I served for 35 years as a pastor in a local congregational setting. During many of those years I was under the impression that God's ministers were going to be found primarlily in church structures. In more recent times, God has called me to provide training and equipping for business leaders that He is bringing to the forefront. As you might suspect, this has caused me to reexamine many of my traditional interpretations of the Bible. Now I am seeing how God has always been working in the world through people not ordinarily recognized as "professional" ministers. Through this progression of thought, I havecome to understand that truly God is showing up in the workplace more and more.

A few years ago, a friend of mine had a business idea that he wanted Gunner Olson to consider. He invited me to the meeting, but the proposal soon took a back seat in my mind. After meeting Olson for the first time, in a few seconds this kind-hearted Swede created a lasting impression. When he spoke, I wanted to shout back, "Yes, sir!" even though he was addressing someone else. His authoritative voice and considerable presence commanded a hearing.

As the founder of the International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), Olson is making an impact on all the continents of the world. Perhaps the most notable examples are the chamber's educational outreaches in China and connections it has forged with business leaders in Israel. These are fascinating projects.

Despite its official Communist policies, China is experiencing dramatic changes, including expanding Christian influence across the nation - as chronicled recently by former Time magazine bureau chief David Aikman in his book, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. The ICCC has seen reality of this, too. Several years ago, the government invited the organization to film a ten-part series on entrepreneurship titled, "You Can Start a Business." Writing the curriculum, ICCC's training division used biblically-based principles as the foundation of the series. Although not allowed to use direct references to the Bible or Jesus, narrators would say, "It is written" before introducing a chamber member who delivered a talk on how following a certain principle aided his business.

These teaching tapes were so well received they have been broadcast on the nation's second-largest television network (a potential viewing audience of 40 million) and adapted for use in 165 government-owned distance education learning centers. By mid-2003, more than 42,000 college-age students had viewed it. The ten-part series is being expanded to thirty lessons, with a second series, "Developing a Leading Business," scheduled to become an accredited, university course.

While it doesn't attract the kind of news coverage that conflict and charges of anti-Semitism generate, ICCC is also building bridges with Israeli businessmen. This process began a few years ago with a process designed to create new opportunities for Israeli merchants. These beleaguered business owners were suffering from the triple plague of continuing terrorism, decreased tourism, and a worldwide economic slump.

With members in some ninety nations, in the summer of 2002 ICCC brought a delegation to meet with Israeli officials and businesspersons. This wasn't a specifically-Christian initiative. Instead, its purpose was to fulfill God's command to show this nation Christ's love. Not only did this result in 1,100 face-to-face discussions about potential business deals, Olson spoke at a banquet that week attended by 200 top business leaders. The audience included such people as a software developer who had sold one of his companies to AOL for $450 million, CEOs of leading corporations, and other giants of industry. Not only did Olson's remarks draw a standing ovation, the ICCC delegation received an invitation to return later that year for a "solidarity conference" organized by the prime minister.

I mention these examples from nations like Barbados, China and Isreal to make the point that God is a business minded God, and that He wants the opportunity to bless your business and your workplace as well. In fact; as I have read the Bible I have found that Jesus loved business as is evidenced by His blessing on Peter's fishing business. He brought success to these frustrated businessmen by simply redirecting their efforts to the other side of the boat where they caught more than the nets could hold. Of Jesus 132 appearances in the New Testament, 122 were in business settings. Of the 52 parables that Jesus told, 45 had a workplace content. Of the 40 miracles recorded in the book of Acts, 39 were in the marketplace.

As we come back to the 21st Century; it is obvious that we are need of some huge changes in the way we conduct our businesses. You only need to read the daily newspaper or listen to a news broadcast, to have another example of the lack of ethics within corporations, government, the educational systems and even the church.

This is why companies like BFCI are making such an impact in the corporate world today . On October 31, 2004 The New York Times Magazine featured an article "With God at Our Desks." This rather lengthy article recounted the reality that God is at work in places like Riverview Community bank in Minnesota, Intel Corporation and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Riverview Community Bank in the Elk River, Minnesota, area opened its doors in March of 2003, backed by $5.5 million of investment capital. Prior to opening, the founders met with federal bank officials and projected reaching $16 million in deposits by their first anniversary, a healthy growth rate. They also forecasted writing fifteen to twenty loans a month from their mortgage division, which in atypical fashion started operations two weeks prior to the bank.

A year later, bank examiners' eyes popped when deposits reached $50 million, with eighty-five percent of those funds lent in the community. New mortgages have ranged from thirty to fifty per month, depending on prevailing interest rates and other conditions. Not only did that rank Riverview alongside larger banks in wealthy suburban areas, this occurred in a small community-Elk River has fewer than 20,000 people. And, this growth came amid competition from two locally-owned, century-old banks and a host of nationally-networked banks and mortgage lenders.

Equally impressive is the spiritual activity occurring at Riverview. In its first fifty-two weeks of business, senior vice president Chuck Ripka recorded fifty-three people praying to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, including a Hindu. More than forty people were healed, including one out-of-town visitor who came by with a pastor one evening so Ripka could pray for him. Soon after, the man learned his prostate cancer had vanished. Chuck commonly prays with people (including non-customers) in the conference room, his office, or over the phone.

When the bank started, Chuck told the head teller, Gloria, "The Lord has shown me you are going to be praying with customers at the drive-thru. I take the authority that I have as the senior vice president and give you permission and release you to do that as the Lord leads you to do that." About six months later, Gloria noticed that a customer was struggling and offered to pray for her. The following week the woman returned and came inside the bank to thank Gloria for praying for her that day.

God is at Work; in banks, high tech corporations, schools and government offices. God is working everywhere!

I Recommend reading these books: www.godisworking.com

Rich Marshall -

An international speaker and trainer, Rich brings over 40 years of in depth knowledge and hands on experience in pastoring, church planting and now business consulting and counseling within both the private sector and the non-profit sector of businesses. Rich and Wilma Marshall founded ROI, an inspirational and equipping ministry to the business community.

As a speaker, he has conducted conferences, seminars and training sessions in over 35 nations and over 100 cities in the USA. Drawing upon his years of experience he is able to train leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, churches and marketplace ministries. In Rich's broad spectrum he has worked with multi-national companies as well as single proprietor operations.

Rich and Wilma live in San Jose, California. They have two grown children and six grandchildren.

Read his books: www.godisworking.com

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