The State of Evangelism at UPS
I’ve been asked from time to time how things are going ministering to the Deaf at UPS. I’ve been pretty silent in every instance. Truth be told, it is difficult to minister to anyone at UPS. The people — Deaf and hearing both — are as hard as their lost hearts, myths and misconceptions abound about things of faith, and there is a deep culture of gossip, lies and mistrust among the regular (non-management) workers.
It is not unusual for me to hear (from both hearing and Deaf) stories about sexual conquests, drunken parties, malicious gossip and slander against co-workers and management, and ignorance and outright hostility about religion and spirituality. And that’s just in addition to the generally negative attitudes about everything held by the vast majority of employees I encounter.
Add to this that many of my co-workers in management are largely secular, and you get a good idea of what the Christian — management or non-management — faces in his desire to glorify God in his vocation. Christians face intense social persecution in the secular workforce, especially in a place like UPS where we are in the vast minority. Whatever makes you think that evangelism could ever be successful here unless God was truly sovereign?
My friend Timmy Brister, a fellow 3rd shifter at UPS, recently shared a story that illustrates quite graphically the challenges I and other believers face in the secular workplace. Appropriately titled “The Cross Isn’t Sexy: A Dying Man’s Confession,” his story is quite similar to what I face each night, and gives a good look at what believers at UPS must deal with. An excerpt:
As the night was coming to a close, a supervisor from the management team who I work under came to me, and the first thing he asked (in a rather firm manner) was, “Timmy, have you been preaching on the belt tonight?”
I replied, “Well, it depends on what you mean by “preaching”. If you mean sharing my life in the conversation with another person, then yes, but if you mean forcing Christianity down the throat of my co-workers then I have not.”
He replied, “I have been notified by others on the belt that you have been pushing your religion on other people, and they were deeply offended by what you said. You cannot pass judgment upon people and tell them how they should believe.”
At this point, it hit me that the co-workers who had been listening found the cross as folly and a rock of offense. Making my appeal to the manager, I said, “What was said tonight has to be taken in context. I was having a conversation about life, about family, kids, and the kind of jewelry on people’s neck. If you are going to have such a conversation like that with me, which happens everyday here, Jesus Christ is going to be talked about. It’s just who I am, and I cannot change that.”
Not liking my response, my manager again reprimanded me, “Timmy, you cannot do that. You cannot talk about your religion and tell people how to believe. You are pushing your religion on other people.”
I encourage all of you to read Timmy’s response to his manager. I thankfully have not yet had to endure such a confrontation, but I pray that I will have the same boldness as my dear brother in Christ.
Let us all pray that our efforts for the Gospel at UPS will bear fruit as the Holy Spirit works to give his witnesses perseverance and as he turns those hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.