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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.

Categories: Commentary Tags: , ,
  1. Speaking Truth
    March 10, 2008 at 10:08 am

    This is a very interesting article – and a reminder of what we should be doing as salt and light in the world.

    Most of us think “persecution for the sake of the Gospel” is the inconveniences we experience getting to and from church.

    If we focused more on reaching out to the lost instead of reaching out for keys to the new cars and houses, then Tammy would have more help out there winning souls for Christ!

    Speaking Truth,

  2. March 10, 2008 at 10:28 am

    I remmy how hard it was to remain within the “boundaries” of the workplace about my faith. It was always hard and I always had to put my paycheck first before Jesus…its not something I am proud of but have learned alot since then…I seem to remember Paul telling his story to King Agrippa about why he did what he did, how he did what he did, and whatever else he felt led to say. Did everyone listen? no… Paul wasn’t worried about that though, he said probably the hardest thing for ANY Christian to say when being “reprimanded” ” it is not important if I can convince you or not, I pray to God that not only you (King Agrippa) but that everyone listening to me today could be saved and be just like me (Paul) except for these chains that I have”

    Whoa!!! He sunk it in and stood high towards a king. If a humble servant can do that to a King, then we can do that as well to our superiors in a bold way.

    Revelations 12:11 says…” we overcome our enemy by the blood of Jesus and by the word of our testimony”

    Its not easy, but if we are gonna be salt and light…we need to keep on talking and keep on doing what we do…if we get fired, God always has another door open for us somewhere else… thats easier said than done, i know.

    Good topic, stephen!

  1. March 19, 2008 at 1:23 am

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